THE PORTLAND BUREAU of Transportation (PBOT) is quietly planning a long-coveted bike and pedestrian bridge over I-405—and is hoping state lottery fans will pick up half the cost.
As first reported by the Mercury, PBOT's applied for $3 million in state grant funds pulled from lottery revenues and targeted toward transportation projects that don't benefit cars or trucks. The bureau hopes to add $3 million of its own to build a 24-foot-wide steel bridge where NW Flanders dead-ends at the highway.
It's a big project at a time when PBOT's casting around for new funding for basic road maintenance, but spokesman Dylan Rivera says the money would come from developer-generated fees that can't be used for most maintenance.
The Flanders bridge has been talked about for years. In 2008, then-Commissioner Sam Adams came close to moving the old Sauvie Island Bridge to I-405, but the $5.5 million deal fell through. DIRK VANDERHART
MAYOR CHARLIE HALES' plan to slap a $25,000 tax on Portland home demolitions appears to have died on the vine—and with it, millions that might have gone toward building new affordable housing.
At the December 2 meeting of Portland City Council, Hales broke with protocol by bumping his proposal to the top of the agenda, then asking his fellow commissioners what they thought. Commissioners Steve Novick, Nick Fish, and Amanda Fritz quickly revealed they couldn't approve the proposal in its current form.
In several controversial hearings over the tax proposal, Hales attempted to sell it as an innovative way to slow home demolitions in the city, and to bank between $1.25 million and $3.75 million a year for affordable housing projects. But the tax met widespread opposition from developers and some homeowners, who feared they'd be penalized for building their dream homes.
Hales said he'd bring a new proposal to the table early next year. DVH
THE CITY OF PORTLAND is investigating Airbnb misuse at four Portland homes, after the Mercury highlighted potential abuse in a story last month.
When Airbnb started doing business in Portland, city council passed an ordinance requiring homeowners to be the primary residents of any rental listings. Homeowners are also supposed to purchase a $180 permit from the city.
As part of a report on a home whose former owner felt duped by buyers who turned it into an Airbnb, the Mercury contacted Jen Clodius with the Portland Office of Management and Finance and gave her the addresses of four Airbnbs being hosted by a woman named Sydney Mead. Clodius, at the time, said the city had no record of the four homes as registered with the city—meaning they hadn't applied for the proper permits. Clodius now confirms the addresses are under investigation.
Hosts can be assessed a $500 penalty for each violation of the city code, though Clodius declined to say how many penalties have been leveled on noncompliant hosts. SHELBY R. KING
WHILE SEASONAL city workers petitioned for a raise, Portland City Council last week sweetened the pot for most city employees.
In a unanimous vote, council extended six weeks of parental leave to full- and part-time city employees. The policy was pushed forward by Commissioner Amanda Fritz, and touted as a way to attract people to work for the City of Portland. (It also pales in comparison to the year-long leaves some private companies extend to their workers.)
The vote came with an interesting juxtaposition. Not long before commissioners approved the leave policy, dozens of Portland Parks & Recreation employees filled council chambers to demand better pay.
They pointed to statements by Parks Commissioner Fritz and Mayor Charlie Hales, who've each said they'd support an easier path for these so-called "casual" recreation workers to join a union, and receive better pay and benefits.
Neither Hales nor Fritz gave any indication they planned to offer up such a proposal in the near future, however, despite demands a plan be on the table by December 16. DVH