Friday, April 9, 2010

Old Town neighborhood association on PDC lease renewal

The association's full motion can be found in the Oregonian piece by Ryan Frank. The motion makes several good points about the consequences and inappropriateness of the move. The article indicates that PDC will narrow down four proposals to two at the next PDC meeting on April 14.

[Immediately following is a revised paragraph because of a second look at the agenda.]

A look at the agenda indicates that there is an item possibly relating to the lease renewal of the headquarters, it is called office lease negotiation. There are no documents available yet for viewing. And, there is an item regarding an extension of the storage lease on the premises adjacent to the main PDC building.

It is interesting that this “storage” lease adds one more to the building list of justifications for a move. It turns out that the space subject to this lease, executed in 2005, is not now a proper space for storing public records. Thus, PDC after 5 years has discovered that the space is improper.

“Use of this space for storage of public records could put those records at continued risk due to the facility not meeting city standards for the maintenance of public records. PDC staff will take into consideration this issue when evaluating the potential relocation of PDC’s offices or the renewal of our current office space lease agreement as of September 1, 2011 and will make our best efforts to work with Kalberer Company prior to the new lease expiration date to address these deficiencies. “ [PDC Report 10-32 on the agenda].

Look - there is no doubt in my mind that the decision has already been made. What we have is a pretext by PDC that what Old Town has to say has relevance. Not that Old Town shouldn't rise up and storm the Bastille of hypocrisy.

But, I am not sure that Old Town residents and businesses get it. If PDC moves – Old Town's development has reached its zenith and will plummet to its nadir. Kiss any hope of an Asian market goodbye. Say goodbye now to the University of Oregon; they only lease those buildings. Say goodbye to those ancillary businesses that located in Old Town only because PDC was there.

You might as well burn all of those copies of the Old Town Chinatown development plans. Property and business values? Apparently, the city has no qualms about their decrease – they will still collect property taxes irrespective of losses assumed by property and business owners.

Redevelopment of the Skidmore Oldtown Historic District long promised and long overdue will be long forgotten. The Lan Su Chinese Garden may well become a lost asset.

While the city has made an attempt to ameliorate the effects of the move by saying it will fill the building with other city employees, it is a hollow statement. The city not only hasn't made a promise to that effect, but also it has not indicated one positive effect for Old Town nor countered any opposition argument.

While I am less than sanguine about the possibility of PDC staying put – I am conscious of the fact that it can be influenced to change its mind given the right opposition. It is not that PDC doesn't have the gonads - it is that it has to be reminded that it has a pair.

And, it matters not whether the main lease is on the agenda or not. PDC provides time at the beginning of their meetings for anyone to speak on any subject. I am hopeful therefore that at the next meeting Old Town will be there to demonstrate their outrage – not just concern.

Organization may well be key. A spokesman for a group sounds like a good idea, but I submit that quantity with quality of argument is best. The audience ought to be filled. Each person ought to have an argument against the move with the result that a goodly number of people speak presenting in total a list of opposition.

Finally, if the April 14th meeting is where in fact the final two proposals are selected, I hope that Old Town will have enlisted supporters, like League of Women Voters, to testify.

It is one thing to lose - but to lose without a fight is unthinkable.

© 2010 Larry Norton

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