Feb 16, 2006

You CAN and SHOULD fight City Hall

Tuesday night, several citizens scorched the City Council with criticism of changes we recently made to the Troutdale Development Code. Citizens complained about the new maximum height of 45 feet we approved for a short piece of the central business district. The old minimum was 35 feet.

I have to admit, ever since we voted to increase this at the last City Council meeting, I have had grave doubts about the wisdom of the new 45 foot height. Why? Because with a variance, a building in downtown Troutdale could be almost 60 feet high. That's a little too tall. That would definitely be REALLY too tall for Troutdale. We have Beaver Creek canyon already. We don't need an artificial 60 foot high canyon in downtown Troutdale.

The other citizen complaint was our approval of 16 foot minimum widths for rowhouses within the Central Business District. One citizen testified he was loaded for bear, and was ready to file Measure 37 claims, lawsuits, the works, unless the City Council reconsidered the changes.

His reasons: ( I'm going to exaggerate the emotional rhetoric of the evening for effect, but you'll get the general picture of the hostility and anger that was expressed )- ALL the new townhouses/rowhouses are or will be filled with renters, which are bad, bad, bad. These 45 foot tall, 16 foot townhouses will also cause crime, and children will have no place to play but in the streets. ALL of Troutdale, not just the Central Business District, will soon be filled with criminals and evil renters living in 16 foot wide townhouses. Oh, and by the way, the greedy developers who want to build these 16 foot wide portals of evil, only want to cash out their huge profits and then move on.

Ok I exaggerated a lot. Over the top. But I think the reason this guy and others who testified were so angry and upset was because the City Council made a HUGE mistake in passing the minimum height change and the 16 foot minimum width change without a fuller public involvement process. We discussed these items at one meeting at the request of developers who are actually interested in purchasing the hole in downtown Troutdale known as the Marino block.

The changes were only two of dozens of changes we made that night to the Troutdale Development Code. All of the other changes were vetted through the the normal process- Citizen Advisory Committee meetings, public hearings, etc.

As motivated as the City Council was in giving some flexibility to the developers, we made an error in not insisting on the standard citizen review process for the new height and width changes. So thank you, angry citizens, for showing us the error of our ways. You deserved to be angry. I mean it. We screwed up in our haste to get something going on the burned out Marino property.

The City Council voted to reconsider these items and referred them back to city staff and the Citizens Advisory Committee.

Can't fight city hall? Don't believe it for a minute. In Troutdale, you CAN and should fight city hall if you disagree with a city policy.

1 comment:

Adeline said...

HI troutfield councilman. I am in east portland. I appreciate your comment about fighting city hall. I have many times scratched my head about what to be done about this one xxx video joint by my house here. it makes me sound like a a real prude to complain about it, but I mean it's awful, there are images of half naked women kissing each other in the display window out front, and the thing is about 50 ft from a trimet stop, where lots a little kids can see it. Another favorite is the sandwich board advertising "TOYS! 50% off!" Mommy can we go there?

I wrote Merkley, he said he drove by . But you kow this is Portland, where dreedom of expression means a burgeouning sex industry. I really dont mind the sex industry, I just want all the signage on this place toned down, the sandwich boards gone, the windows, especially the window displays gone.

I wrote Blumenauer, I guess he is too busy for this kinda stuff. Not really his deal. But when the Portland City council is covertly meeting to allow gay marraige, I think I may be in the wrong city to get a serious response.

I have heard a neighborhood association might help. There is one here. But I mean, who says these folks even care about this issue? Heck, they might even stop by on their way home. I can deal with the place, I just want it to tone down like many places around here have done.

It's on the corner of Stark and 148th, thereabouts. You can't miss it, it's painted lusty purple, and there is all manner of neon lights advertising xxx videos.

Maybe i will fight city hall some day when I have the time to go around to collect a buncha signatures, call folk etc.

Good luck with your zoning and building issues. Stop by again some time, I appreciated your comments.