After spending the first sixteen years of its existence located in downtown Portland, Cascade Policy Institute has moved not only out of downtown, but several blocks outside the city limits to an office building in Raleigh Hills. The reasons for our move mirror those given by much older establishments.
The Rogoway family recently moved its jewelry store out of downtown after being there for 110 years. David Rogoway, President of La Rog Jewelers said “…we had our fill of vagrants living at our front door and urinating on our show windows, crackheads walking in babbling nonsense and [others] panhandling our clients.”
Schumacher Furs & Outerwear is leaving downtown after 111 years primarily because of weekly anti-fur protests that made the owners, employees and customers feel unsafe.
Cascade’s offices were just a block away from Schumachers’ current location. We could hear the protesters chanting and yelling at the store, and even at people just walking down the street.
Other businesses are leaving downtown because of the city’s and Multnomah County’s unfair business income tax regime. Essentially, businesses have the burden of paying 3.65 percent more income tax for doing business in Portland than if they moved across county lines or across the river to Vancouver.
As a non-profit, Cascade didn’t have the business tax to contend with, but we will continue to argue that such a tax structure puts Portland at a competitive disadvantage and should be phased out.
We left downtown because we found better office space at lower rates outside the city. Our employees and visitors feel safer not having to walk what could at times feel like a gauntlet of homeless youth, panhandlers and protesters to get to our building.
If Portland wants to encourage a thriving downtown business community, it will have to reevaluate how it protects the rights of everyone, including business owners, employees and customers. It will also have to reduce the tax burden on those who create the jobs city officials say they want.
Cascade Policy Institute remains Oregon’s free market think tank. We will continue to deal with issues throughout the state, including Portland. We will just do our work from outside the state’s largest city from now on.
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