Is the airport paying its share for flood protection?

This week's inflow of election porn included a couple of pitches for money. The more interesting of the two is a measure increasing property taxes to upgrade flood protection on the Portland side of the Columbia River. 

It's hard to be pro-flood, and the crazy climate seems pretty threatening. So I suspect this tax increase will sail through. But maybe it shouldn't. 

Yes, the levee should be safe to drive your Chevy to, but I'm wondering why the local moms and pops, trying to get by, have to pungle up this $150 million plus interest. (And the hipsters will shell out, too – Mr. Landlord will immediately pass this on to them in their rent. Then they'll complain that their rent is so high.)

Why doesn't the airport pay for this? One of the precious assets we're protecting is, according to the four-page glossy mailer I'm looking at, "16M+ passengers annually at PDX." And the airport has tons of money to burn, even on frills; just look at the ongoing wasteful platinum-plating of the terminal. 

We're always told that most of the airport budget is federal money that can't be spent on any of the other things that Portland so urgently needs – that it has to be spent on the airport. Well, okay, I'd say protecting the place from a flood disaster qualifies as an airport-related expense.

And so I think I'll tilt at the windmill here and vote no on 26-243. When last I checked, none other than Jim Middaugh, the political spawn of former city councilman Erik "Opie" Sten, was running the flood district. Let him go to the airport folks and get the dough from them.

The other money pitch mailer I got was from the zoo. They want $380 million to hand to their construction cronies to do the place over yet again. That one's quite simple.

The zoo really ought to be closed, not gussied up. And even if you aren't horrified by the cruelty of it, renovating it is the absolute last thing this troubled city needs right now. 


  1. I agree on both issues. When I saw the map for the area to be protected from floods, my mind immediately went to PDX. They could pay the whole sum and still come out with spare assets.

  2. Don’t forget the military and it’s air national guard NORAD contingent.

  3. Thanks, Jack. I don't get to vote on the flood issue, but my visceral opposition to it and to the Zoo bond made me feel curmudgeonly, until you explained it.


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.