Hospital Apologizes, PDC Repeats the Tragedy

Last Friday, Legacy Emanuel Hospital held a breakfast to apologize to the North Portland community for bulldozing nearly 300 homes and businesses 40 years ago. Hospital administrators conspired with Portland urban renewal officials to secretly plan a 55-acre expansion in the Albina neighborhood. By the time affected property owners were informed, the final decision had been made. The city used its powers of eminent domain to seize all private property within the district, destroying a vibrant African American community.

Hospital officials now admit they were wrong and promise never to do it again. Unfortunately, their colleagues at the Portland Development Commission (PDC) haven’t learned the same lesson. PDC is teaming up with TriMet to build the Portland-Milwaukie light rail line. Sixty-eight businesses and twenty residences will be destroyed to make way for the slow train, at a taxpayer cost of $1.5 billion.

This is a tragic waste of money, time, and energy. The Portland-Milwaukie corridor is already served by five TriMet buses, including express and local service. There will be no public benefits to the light rail line, yet 88 private buildings will be lost.

If urban renewal officials refuse to learn from experience, we should take away their powers. The State of California did this last year when it abolished all urban renewal districts. Oregon should do the same when the legislature convenes in 2013.

John A. Charles, Jr. is President and CEO of Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Land Use Laws, Transportation, TriMet, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Bob Clark

    PDC is such a sham. Last year, I think it had to write off 6% of its loan portfolio against the more typical write off rates of 1 to 2 percent (in the private sector). Two folks got replaced on the PDC after the City Auditor questioned the fiscal prudence of this city agency. One of the loans written off was supposedly a million dollar loan to a sitting Multnomah commissioner, forgiven I guess. Now, the latest thing is the PDC I think is involved in giving out public monies to start up ventures, and these businesses don’t even have to give the PDC an equity stake; meaning for the taxpayer, it’s tails you lose, and heads I the entrepreneur wins all.
    If the PDC quit wasting public monies, maybe Portland City hall wouldn’t be asking citizens to coff up $35 per year for its surrogate Arts agency, the Regional Arts and Cultural Council. Vote NO 26-146, the unconstitutional Arts head tax.

  • I have often wished my home would be seized through eminent domain. Sometimes I just get sick of the maintenance but get depressed thinking about moving. Could use a boot I guess. Especially if I could get a civil rights lawyer to inflate the price for me.

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