An article in today's Portland Tribune catches our notice, and it scratches at an itch that's been twitching ever since WWP moved to Oregon some 27 years ago: Why are the property rights of builders more important than the property rights of existing owners?
WWP got his start on this topic in 1979, as a reporter for the Grants Pass Daily Courier, when he penned an an ill-fated op-ed piece opining about the expectation of builders in Josephine County to have unlimited building rights at the expense of existing property owners nearby. [If memory serves correctly, the issue had something to do with "fill-in" higher-density neighborhoods in the proximity of older, long-established homes along the Rogue River, the city's fame-to-claim view.] Not long after the ink had dried on WWP's flame-in-print, the Josephine County realtors began to rail against the newspaper and began demanding a retraction or apology. How dare the newspaper challenge the unlimited property right to build as one wishes? Every new property checkmates the last!
The newspaper's owner would have none of that, despite the realtors' considerable ad volume. In fact, John Voorhies, the paper's ever-independent publisher, to his ever-lasting credit, retorted to the local realtor guild with one of his forever classic lines: "Go piss up a rope." Try as they might to boycott the Daily Courier, the self-importantized realty cudgel never gained traction, and the issue eventually went away. Nevertheless, there remains today an entire neighborhood in Grants Pass, Oregon, whose first-class riverview property values continue to thrive and grow, pretty much at the expense of having taking others' value away.
Fast forward to 2006.
Today's Tribune examines how the views of Mount Hood and the Willamette River, long-cherished by neighborhoods like Corbett-Terwilliger, Lair Hill and others nearby, have -- by virtue of Portland's well-entrenched crony pay-for-play development scheme -- have now been transferred from regular folk so that city hall insiders/developers might resell them for more money to Alexan-like views. [And if you think it's anything less than views they are selling, well, we've got some swampland to sell you.]
There are two views on the matter of transferring property rights, now at conflict. One is the "Kelo" case, which controversially permits municipalities to condemn property in the interest of converting them to being a higher tax-paying properties, so that more property taxes might be collected now and in the future.
And then there is Oregon's Measure 37, which seems to argue the other way. Reduce my property value in any way, and you must pay me the difference, or so the argument seems to go.
And so we wonder: Does the city of Portland, by its actions to improve property in one area [SoWa] at the expense of another [Lair Hill], invoke invitation to Measure 37 scrutiny? In other words: Would property owners in Lair Hill and nearby property owners so obviously and negatively affected by the Aerial Turd [rimshot] and the eastern concrete/glass wall on the riverside of the so-called SoWa "improvement," now have grounds, as so many others elsewhere are now claiming, to say: "Okay, screw me; but now pay me"?