Tri-Met Implosion 1: Urban Renewal Rebellion in Clackamas

Urban Renewal Rebellion in Clackamas
By NW Spotlight,

Over the past six months there has been a noticeable public uprising over major public projects and the spending practices which use Urban Renewal to fund them. The use of UR to fund these projects diverts large sums from basic services including schools, public safety and all other government services funded with property tax revenue.

Taxing jurisdictions have recently challenged this funding mechanism and the push back has been successful.

New Urban Renewal legislation enabled Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue to help kill a City of Tualatin attempt to approve a $120 Million UR expansion.

Out of that success by Urban Renewal critics came this graph explaining how Urban Renewal works.
At the June 23, 2010, TriMet board meeting Clackamas Co. Sheriff Craig Roberts and Clackamas Fire District #1 Chief Ed Kirchofer spoke about the increase in crime since the arrival of the light-rail “Green Line” at Clackamas Town Center and the impacts to their budgets caused by Urban Renewal. Beginning at 1:15 in this video

In their August board meeting Clackamas County Fire District began working on revised policy on Urban Renewal. (audio available upon request)
Link here.

This policy change would narrowly define the acceptable use of Urban Renewal and “Tax Increment Financing”, limiting it’s use to only projects which can be proven to promote private development and additional property tax revenue. Clackamas County Chair Lynn Peterson appeared before the board in opposition to the proposed resolution saying, “We have no other way to get funding for economic development”.

Clackamas County is seeking to use an Urban Renewal plan in the McLoughlin corridor to fund their $25 million share of Milwaukie Light Rail.
Fire district board member Marilyn Wall made it clear to Chair Peterson that the board has a responsibility to differentiate between projects and how they are funding when Urban Renewal, TIF, takes Fire District revenue.

Worried about the rising opposition to Urban Renewal, Clackamas County hired a marketing firm to provide a campaign of favorable information to persuade the public that all is well. This angered many critics and produced claims that tax money was funding a snow job. The consultant, the contract and the heat are here.

As this uprising swelled a group formed and came to the conclusion that public intervention was needed. They are about to file an initiative petition which requires voter approval for new or expanded use of Urban Renewal. The first notice, the final draft of the petition to be filed and discussion can be found here.