On the Streetlight fee, Councilor Andersen has proposed a different fee schedule, raising the amount for large businesses and apartments, who under the first proposed fee schedule would be charged proportionately much less than a regular family household. That seems like a fine conversation and debate to have! (See previous discussion here.) (Monday night update - letters mostly against it here and here.)
|Starkey-McCully block, detail, 1964|
University of Oregon (Elizabeth Walton Potter)
(Obviously $300,000 today is worth way more than $300,000 in 150 years, but someone with better accounting skillz will have to figure an appropriate discount rate and all. And if the total proposed investment is about $2 million, the building's assessed value will be higher, and the yearly property taxes the City would forgo commensurately higher, but the City apparently couldn't get even a SWAG on this value. Someone should be able to model this!)
This is what I don't get about urban renewal and tax increment financing. How the heck does an investment like this (considered chiefly as urban renewal to generate a tax increment and not primarily as historic preservation) actually pencil out for the City? Why don't we have a good answer?
But again, this particular project is an ambiguous middle case (see more here), so it's not clear that one answer - to fund or not to fund by this program - is obviously superior. But it does illustrate ways that the way we analyze urban renewal funding and urban renewal outcomes is very thin. We would do better if we could say with greater certainty that this investment A will be repaid by the tax increment, and that investment B is worthy but will not be repaid and generates important benefits that cannot be directly monetized. (Like the Minto Bridge and its piece of urban renewal funding - that's a project that will not generate a direct tax increment, but yet has great community benefit that will not be directly monetized. Historic preservation, too, has benefit that can't always be directly monetized.)
(Monday night update - SKEF has withdrawn the request. In a letter they write, "In light of the complexity of the deliberation and its long ranging impact as well as our desire to keep a positive working relationship with both you and council we respectfully withdraw our request...")
|Gone: Howard Hall and Trees were leveled this winter|
Council will make two appointments to the Hospital Facilities Authority. It may be that the proposal to seat the Mayor and Councilor Lewis on the board, which facilitates tax-free bonds, is an insufficient check and balance on the Hospital's notions about facilities expansion. (Monday night update - a revised Staff Report here.)
The City also looks poised to move forward with more Real Estate/Developer types on planning commission. (See previous article in Salem Weekly for more.)
Finally, there is a new round of Legislative positions. One of the "priority" bills is SB 565. It is called the "Revitalize Main Street Act," and according to Restore Oregon, it would "create a state Historic Rehabilitation Fund to provide a 25% rebate on the costs of fixing up historic commercial buildings." It's the kind of thing that might have helped with Howard Hall, and would be appropriate for the Starkey-McCully block. Happily the City "supports" it, saying it has "the potential to benefit more than 100 property owners in Salem's Downtown Historic District." Portland Architecture also has more on it.
Several other of the City "priority" bills concern land use laws and the Fairgrounds and are of peripheral interest. Another bill on "inclusionary zoning" is being "monitored" and so far the City is not taking a position on it. (BikePortland has a good discussion, both the post and in the comments, of inclusionary zoning and its benefits and problems.)
Just as a footnote, there's an information report on an approved 29 lot subdivision going in out south. The lots are forested and abut some new development as well as what looks like actual farming. The lots will basically be clear-cut.
|Area of new 29 lot subdivision off of Landau|
The paper has a little bit more on the Starkey-McCully block.
|The Mayor: smash Howard Hall,|
don't invest in the Starkey-McCully block...
kinda interesting, don't you think?