Voices from the Edge on 05/24/12
Whose urban renewal? A look at the mayor's education urban renewal area.
Last week the Portland City Council approved the Portland Development Commission's Education Urban Renewal Plan "focused on expanding Portland State University as a leading engine of economic growth, prosperity and opportunity." The new urban renewal area will generate up to $169 million for investment in research facilities, "business accelerators," affordable housing and private development. The mayor sees the funds, which come from the property taxes collected in the area, as a strategic investment for the city.
But not everyone sees the creative use of the urban renewal process in the same positive light as the mayor. Among those voices concerns is the League of Women Voters of Portland who question how expansion of the university meets the "blight test" required by Oregon's Urban Renewal Law. The League is also concerned over the lack of details of exactly how these millions of tax dollars are to be spent. They are not alone. Other critics question how this investment can raise the overall tax base of the area - another requirement of the process - when the dollars are going to the expansion of a public university that is largely tax exempt?
This week, Jo Ann and Dave are joined by Debbie Aiona and Shelley Lorenzen of the League of Women Voters of Portland's Action Committee to discuss their concerns for the plan and what can be done to rein in the council's use of Oregon's Urban Renewal Law.
Jo Ann Hardesty is a former state legislator, former director of Oregon Action and past board president of Portland Community Media, as well as a long-time leader in the struggle for racial and economic justice. Dave Mazza is a journalist and former editor of The Portland Alliance who has covered and been involved in Portland's civil rights, environmental, labor and peace movements for over 20 years.
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Co-Hosts: Jo Ann Hardesty and Dave Mazza
Producers: Dave Mazza and Jo Ann Hardesty
Program Engineer: Steve Nassar
Audio Editor: Alicia Olson