South Waterfront, a compromise?

The Portland City Council says that what South Waterfront is shaping up to be is the result of "compromise". Of course the worst possible outcome for the public is emerging but we think I have the "compromise" thing figured out.

It goes like this folks.

Suppose a burglar broke into your home and grabbed your DVD player, jewelry and hopped into your car preparing to drive off. You catch him and say stop!

He gives you back the DVD player but forces you to give him gas money.

He calls this a "compromise" and drives off in your car.

That's South Waterfront.

A few years back the property owners and developers were given a windfall with a city gifted zone change from industrial to mixed use. The public got nothing. Then, the once 45 to 60 ft building height limitations grew to 150 ft. with additional city concessions. The public got nothing. Higher densities with more buildings were added. The height limitations grew again to 225 then again to 250. The public got nothing while a proposed greeenway, in the mix from day one, emerged as a pretense of "compromise".

Building heights grew again to 325 feet while the greenway evolved as no more than a glorified sidewalk above a sloping riverbank with hopefully more that rip rap to look at.

Throughout all of this is the commitment of hundreds of millions of tax dollars from the City and the Portland Development Commission to help pay for this development.

Now, back a the "compromise" table at City Hall are the developers looking for more "compromise". They are seeking a removal of the 200 ft. building separation requirement, a removal of the 125ft. building width limitation and elimination of the limit on overall building footprint--seeking to "compromise" away a previous "compromise".

Here again the public is offered and will be getting nothing.

The public doesn't get a real greenway, gets no planning for increased traffic, get no new plan while the proposed housing numbers soar from 2000 to now 8000 units, has their panoramic view destroyed, gets a $40 million Tram no one wants, and will be paying an estimated $1 billion in tax subsidies towards this "compromise" .

With wide buildings 325ft high, packed tightly together from the Spaghetti Factory to Riverplace, anyone living anywhere near this whole stretch will lose their entire view while paying to have it taken away.

But, remember now, this is all a "compromise" and they call it "planning".

It's been something to watch Portland ban snout houses for some greater good, and then turn around and make the public pay big $ to have the biggest snout possible, South Waterfront, stuck right in everyone's face.

Steve Schopp & Jerry Ward