Can Portland's Creative Community Survive Development, Price Surge?
Yesterday's post revealing some of city hall's internal deliberations over Mayor Charlie Hales' push to revivify Old Town and Chinatown—by investing urban renewal money, but also by waiving development fees on new market-rate housing—was full of unusually frank and wonkish discussions among city commissioners and their staffs.
Let's recap briefly!
Parks Director Mike Abbaté, in an email to the entire city council, pretty brazenly told the elected officials who run the city that taking even potential future revenue from the parks bureau at the same time as they gear up for a serious parks bond renewal campaign this fall amounted to terrible optics. (The O's editorial board printed an excerpt from that email just this afternoon. It's not mentioned where they got it from—though I do know that their city hall reporters had also been asking for emails.)
Abbaté's message had been preceded by a spirited back-and-forth among Abbaté, his boss, Commissioner Amanda Fritz, and waiver supporter Commissioner Steve Novick. And it was followed by a dagger of an email from Hales himself, who set about trying to poke some holes in Abbaté's rhetoric with pointed questions—but only after he started the thing with an extremely curt, "Really."
From there, the fallout included a tentative offer from Hales' office to Fritz's office, to buy her support or just mollify her ire, of future urban renewal money to help fund a park, some day. And we learned that parks has committed more money to projects over the next few years than it actually has on hand.
But one requested email didn't show up until this afternoon. Fritz, writing after the mayor's email to Abbaté, chimed in from her overseas vacation to complain about how the whole debate was going to go public while she was away. Which it did, last week—although a vote won't come, after some tweaks, until August 6.
That was just one of many fine points.
She started to sound the alarm that all the hubbub between her office, Hales' office, and Novick's office came close to a violation of the city's open meeting rules. Three commissioners, after all, is a quorum. And she offered some details about parks bureau negotiations over fees and facilities tied to pair of sweet development opportunities outside Old Town, the Zidell land on the Willamette that Nike had eyeballed, and the major Slabtown project on the Conway land in Northwest. And she worried, like Abbaté of the politics of offering potential parks money at a time when she'll be asking voters for more. (An effort, she writes, that Hales told her to lead.)
Anyway... for all you completists out there, here it is: