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Harbor businesses to challenge Terminal 1 homeless shelter

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PORTLAND TRIBUNE: JONATHAN HOUSE - The state Land Use Board of Appeals will be asked to decide whether the City Council can open a homeless shelter at Terminal 1.A group of businesses in the Portland Harbor plans to challenge the City Council’s decision to open a homeless shelter at Terminal 1 before the state Land Use Board of Appeals.

The Working Waterfront Coalition filed the notice with LUBA on Friday by certified mail. It was submitted by Steven Pfeiffer, a lawyer with the Perkins Coie law firm in Portland.

The coalition successfully challenged an earlier council decision before LUBA to increase the amount of land to be set aside for environmental protection in the harbor.

Coalition members include the Greenbrier Companies, Kinder Morgan, Schnitzler Steel Industries, Union Pacific Railroad, and Vigor Industrial. They are joined in the filing by Portland architect Stuart Emmons at two nearby property owners and developers, Fore Property and project^.

The council voted 3 to 2 on Aug. 10 to lease Terminal 1 to the Portland Housing Bureau for up to 18 months to open a homeless shelter in a vacant warehouse on the 14-acre parcel in Northwest Portland. The land along the Willamette River in Northwest Portland is currently zoned industrial, which does not allow for mass shelters. LUBA was created by the Oregon Legislature to resolve land use disputes.

The ordinance authorizing the lease was submitted by Housing Commissioner Dan Saltzman. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the filing.

Terminal 1 is owned by the Bureau of Environmental Service, which is overseen by Commissioner Nick Fish, who voted against the ordinance.

Contacted by the Portland Tribune, Fish said that although he could not comment on the legal merit of th challenge because he has not seen it, "I am not surprised by the LUBA appeal. Terminal One is prime industrial land, and is not suitable for a 'mass shelter.'

"In the recently adopted Comprehensive Plan, the Council acknowledged the importance of protecting industrial land in order to grow family wage jobs.

"The action taken by a majority of the Council is inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan."

The ordinance approved by the council did not change the zoning at Terminal 1 to allow for a residential use. Saltzman has previously said that might be required if the council approves the permanent homeless multi-service center proposed for the property by developer Homer Williams.

The council declared a housing state of emergency last October intended in part to suspend zoning requiremtns to speed the siting of homeless shelters. That authority is being challnged before LUBA by businesses in the Central Eastside Industrial District opposed to the council's decision to relocate the Right 2 Dream Too homeless camp from Old Town to there. A ruling is expected any day.

The lease is also being challenged by attorney John DiLorenzo, who says the council has illegally set the monthly payments below the market rate value of the property. The council set the payments at $10,000 a month plus BES’s expenses for the property. DiLorenzo says the market rate is closer to $100,000 a month, and must be paid because Terminal 1 was purchased with BES ratepayer funds.

DiLorenzo currently represents a number of BES and Portland Water Bureau ratepayers in a lawsuit charging the council has misspent such funds in the past. The judge has ruled ratepayer spending must be “reasonably related” to the primary missions of the bureaus.

You can read the LUBA filing here.

You can read a recent Portland Tribune story on the issue at portlandtribune.com/pt/9-news/319542-198749-terminal-1-controversy-continues.