It's for the little folks. And the planet. Really.

The "urban renewal" game is full of chicanery. There's always some doozy of a sales pitch for a "public-private partnership" that will funnel tax dollars to a developer sharpy to build a monstrosity of dubious societal value.

Some of us have been around long enough to remember the come-ons for the South Waterfront (SoWhat) District in Portland, 15 or 20 years back. It was going to be the "linchpin" for the economic development of the entire region. Hundreds of biotech jobs were coming. A vibrant neighborhood, with view corridors preserved for the existing neighborhood. An international tourist attraction, too. Go by streetcar! It was all nonsense.

The game continues today. The Trump people have brought us "opportunity zones," meant to revitalize the poorer parts of town. Sure. Here in Portland, they've been used to build a Ritz-Carlton hotel and condo complex downtown. (Apparently that particular outrage occupies an entire chapter of this new book.) You talk about abuse.

But what really cracks me up is when the charlatans won't give up their pitch, even though their coveted project is dead. That's what's happening with the ill-advised plan to tear down the old Main Post Office (which for decades actually supplied a bunch of good blue-collar jobs) and replace it with the usual collection of mixed-use bunkers. It's the "Broadway Corridor" (BroCo for short, pronounced "Broke-O").

Rather than just turn off the hot air now that the deal is defunct, the hucksters are still selling, at least a little. Forget "linchpin"; that is so 2000. Now we're on to "equity," and in a big way: 

Under the agreement, the city committed to employing firms owned by people of color and women, creating construction jobs for a diverse workforce and ensuring living wages for those workers. Contractors and subcontractors with $1 million or more a year in contracts were also required to provide workers with health benefits.

The agreement also included requirements for creating affordable residential housing, supporting affordable commercial spaces, prioritizing commercial tenants that included minority-owned businesses and businesses owned by people with disabilities and meeting high environmental standards in the design and development of the project....

The agency said it will adhere to the terms of the agreement as it moves forward with a $43 million investment in public infrastructure work on the site....

It's so fake. They're using a similar spiel for covering the freeway at the Rose Quarter. That one's supposedly all about reparations to Black people. Beyond preposterous.

What they should be setting up at the Post Office right now is a managed tent and vehicle camp. That would cost a hell of a lot less than $43 million. Just as they should be looking into condemning a big chunk of the zombie Lloyd Center for a shelter. But both of those moves make too much sense for City Hall and the "urban renewal" types. They dream on, awaiting the day when they can hand gobs of public money over to some weasels for some shiny apartments and sterile retail spaces. 

Well, it's going to be a good long while. Good luck finding a developer to build anything in that forlorn part of town, with or without "equity" conditions. Portland isn't going to be on a path to "renewal" until the tents are off the sidewalks and the city is safe to walk around in again.


  1. The workforce might be diverse, but the profits sure as Hell aren't.


Post a Comment

The platform used for this blog is awfully wonky when it comes to comments. It may work for you, it may not. It's a Google thing, and beyond my control. Apologies if you can't get through. You can email me a comment at, and if it's appropriate, I can post it here for you.