THE CITY wants to charge developers a lot more to improve city parks. Developers aren't having it.
Two months after the Portland City Council narrowly approved dramatic changes to the "system development charges" (SDCs) Portland Parks and Recreation tacks on to new buildings, a coalition of seven industry groups has filed suit, asking a Multnomah County judge to undo the law.
In a filing fairly dripping with contempt, developers say city hall broke state law by approving the changes, expected to raise $552 million for parks improvements over 20 years. They also claim the city relied on faulty assumptions in calculating the rate hike, and that officials are attempting to create a "slush fund" to pay for parks improvements, with no real idea where the money will go. The groups say the increased charges will raise rents "at a time when housing prices are already unaffordable for many in our community."
The lawsuit's no surprise. Angry developers telegraphed their intent to challenge the charges at a fraught city council meeting in April. At the time, an analyst the city hired to craft the changes assured commissioners, "this is not an item I see you losing on."
We're about to find out. DIRK VANDERHART
THERE'S STILL more than a month before candidates can file to run for city office, but a line's already forming to take on City Commissioner Steve Novick next year.
At least two people plan to run against Novick in May's primary election. Fred Stewart, a longtime Portland realtor, has commissioned polling and calls Novick a "bully" for his attempts to pass a new fee to fund road repairs. Stewart lost races for city council and the state senate in 2008 and 2009.
Another frequent candidate, Michael Durrow, also says he's planning on running against Novick. Durrow's lost bids for Metro Council and Portland City Council in recent years, but in May ran unopposed for an unpaid slot on the Multnomah Education Service District Board of Directors, a school board overseeing more than 400 employees. DVH
PORTLAND SOCIAL MEDIA melted down last week when it appeared managers of a Northeast Portland affordable housing complex were trying to more than double rents.
Cascade Management, Inc. sent a lease renewal notice to at least one tenant warning her that the cost of her four-bedroom apartment at McCoy Village Apartments was going to jump from $921 to $1,926 in October. The stressed-out tenant posted a photo of the letter to Facebook and the firestorm took off from there.
A spokeswoman for Home Forward, which was listed on the letter, said her organization had no idea the hike was coming and that it must be a mistake.
Rick Berkel, the executive director of Catholic Charities, the group that owns the apartment complex, was even more appalled.
"We made it clear that whoever made that mistake has to be off our property immediately, because they can't be trusted," he said.
Cascade Management spokesperson Tiffany Roderick blamed the error on a "lack of communication" rather than a policy error. She wouldn't immediately say if the person responsible was fired, but indicated the incident was "being looked at on the internal side."
Social media comments throughout the weekend claimed the property management company has tried to pull this stunt before, and many doubted it was a mistake. Cascade Management sent a letter to the aggrieved tenant rescinding the crazy rent hike on her "affordable" unit. SHELBY R. KING