Proposed Portland Street Maintenance Fee
The City of Portland is claiming that it needs to raise revenue for street maintenance, but here is one example of what the city is hiding from the public about the financial dealings that have put the city in this situation.
When the city approved the deal to renovate and lease what is now known as Providence Park, it also gave away an estimated $100 million to the Portland Timbers, above and beyond renovations costs, without disclosing that information to the public. And the city continues to be actively engaged in concealing that information from the public.
That estimated $100 million is coming from stadium-related naming rights, such as the recent deal with Providence Health Services to rename the stadium Providence Park.
The lease gives the Timbers the authority to broker the licensing of stadium-related naming rights to third parties, and it gives all of that revenue to the Paulsons. But all stadium-related naming rights remain publicly-owned assets, and the lease specifically requires that the Timbers “shall” submit all price information to the city, for the public record.
In February, the Providence Park stadium naming rights agreement went into effect, but the Timbers are refusing to release the price information, and the city is refusing to enforce the disclosure requirements in the lease.
What the Timbers and the city are trying to hide from the public is the incredible value of revenue from current and future naming rights agreements that the city simply gave away during negotiations with the Timbers.
In fact, the estimated $100 million from naming rights that the Timbers will receive over the 25 years of stadium lease is twice as much as the stadium rent that the Timbers will pay during that same period of time.
So, the public has good reason not to trust anything that the city is now claiming about how it needs to raise revenue for street maintenance.
Questions on infill
Like many others, I am very concerned about the demolition epidemic affecting Portland’s beautiful old houses. Builders are tearing down good old housing and replacing it with much larger, much more expensive single family homes. (Why, because land is scarce, our urban neighborhoods are in high demand, and bigger homes sell for more.) The main reason our neighborhoods have been so popular is our beautiful original housing stock. The new buildings threaten neighbors’ sky view and solar access. They impact the community flavor and economics of neighborhoods. And they do nothing to meet the city’s goals of increasing urban density.
I have always questioned whether building these new homes a good use of resources. (A study in 2012 on the benefits of historic preservation concluded that property owners could do more to help reduce total carbon dioxide by retrofitting and reusing houses than by demolishing and building new energy-efficient ones.)
The city’s updated comprehensive plan process is happening now, and it’s time for us to stop worrying and start organizing en masse about these and other neighborhood livability issues. We have way more power than we realize if all who care about this speak up.
I plan to host a large gathering of concerned people, later this month, to brainstorm and organize effective strategies. Will you join us? We could also view Penny Allen’s film “Property”, just for laughs, about a historic Portland development protest that made a difference decades ago. Please contact me with your input, and tell others. “Like” www.facebook.com/KeepPortlandOlderHomes for details, and also contact me directly. Thanks!
Laurie Sonnenfeld, Broker, M Realty LLC