Poll on proposed urban renewal program invalid
A recent telephone poll on Beaverton's proposed $150 million urban renewal program is slanted, incomplete, misleading and therefore invalid. This is my conclusion after answering numerous questions and noting important omitted questions.
For a survey pertaining to the complex subject of urban renewal to be valid, the pollster must explain what the proposed urban renewal program means and might achieve if authorized. The pollster did not give me any information. A voter cannot answer urban renewal questions without sufficient renewal knowledge.
Most voters know only what the city has told them in speeches and color sketch booklets. One sketch shows a widened downtown Canyon Road and other 'castles in the air.' 'Taking' Fred Meyer and other downtown properties would cost more than the proposed $150 million urban renewal bond issue.
A key question was misleading. It asked my position on 'incentives' for urban renewal developers. The questions should have asked the degree of support or opposition to giving taxpayer-paid subsidies to developers. It did not.
The pollster did not ask this Beaverton resident's support or opposition to raising city property taxes to replace substantial city property taxes to be diverted to the proposed Beaverton Urban Renewal Agency (BURA) for 30 years. Beaverton can do so without voter approval because the tax base was raised years ago to finance future law enforcement.
I was not asked the degree of support or opposition to diverting Beaverton School District property taxes for 30 years from the district to BURA for non-education purposes. Beaverton schools need every cent of school property taxes. The funding bind is illustrated by word that the Lake Oswego School District may close three of its nine schools. To my knowledge, the Beaverton School District has not said whether it would close schools because of inadequate revenue or loss of revenue to urban renewal. It should.
If the School Board does not oppose loss of school district property taxes, outraged Beaverton parents may ask voters to vote against Beaverton's 'legal' theft of school district taxes.
Also, losing property taxes collected for public bodies are Washington County and park and fire districts. Fire district property taxes enable district firefighters to save lives and property. Beaverton urban renewal would not save lives or property.
Polled persons who favored urban renewal will vote 'no' on learning that the survey misled them and withheld necessary information.
Mayor Dennis Doyle, councilors, staff and consultants should be aware that the survey is invalid.
Claiming that the 'survey' supports the proposed urban renewal project would produce laughter and a 'no' vote in November.
Beaverton should make public how much it has spent on the survey and paid and promised to pay for the pending urban renewal program. Costs to date may exceed $500,000 for attorneys, consultant's generalities and color drawings of what may never exist.
(Soapboxes are guest opinions from our readers, and anyone is welcome to write one. Henry Kane is a Beaverton resident.)