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West Linn, be careful what you ask for

My fellow West Linn homeowners should keep a watchful eye on the proposed Arch Bridge Redevelopment Project as outlined in the July 10 Tidings. “Redevelopment” in the form of tax increment financing is a fraud on the public in that property tax revenues in that bonds to fund construction are sold and property taxes in the designated area are diverted to pay off the bonds.

Property owners not in the designated area pay higher taxes to finance services and replace the diverted income. There is no such thing as free money, even though many redevelopment authorities would have you believe differently.

I have worked for developers and know how the redevelopment game operates. First they disparage the status quo, for instance planting in the media dire stories about alleged neighborhood “blight.” Then comes the happy talk about job creation and purported community benefit. Finally, they float a barrage of reasons why the sky will fall unless they should be allowed to build higher and denser than the code allows. During all this debate increased congestion and soaring public infrastructure costs are scarcely mentioned.

I do not detect any major enthusiasm in our city for new high density development. Major residential or commercial projects will invariably multiply traffic woes and place a great strain on our already deteriorated roads, which cry out for repair after years of neglect at the hands of city government. Willamette old town residents should be especially concerned about any substantial new construction due to the severe congestion already present in rush hours.

These projects are always marketed in terms of job creation. If you believe that some new minimum wage jobs will create a lasting economic miracle in West Linn, I have a bridge for sale and it’s on the East Coast. I doubt if many West Linn residents would be interested in working for minimum wage at Starbucks.

Finally, I have grave doubts that our current and lightweight City Council has the smarts to carry such a major project to a successful completion. Their decision making skills were amply revealed in the LOT project and the recent Aquatic Center debacle. If you like the new water plant, you’ll love the Arch Bridge Redevelopment Project.

Whatever form this project ultimately takes, I urge my fellow taxpayers to strongly oppose any sale of public lands to private developers for less than acquisition cost or fair market value. I will not vote for any City Council candidate who supports higher height limits. This is welfare for developers, not a prudent use of our tax dollars.

The West Linn Paper Company property will have to be dealt with, but is another junk food restaurant or a new Holiday Inn Express what we really want for our city? I like our current small town atmosphere, and I believe most of you do also. I believe that further development should be focused toward low density and recreational uses

As I have said before, West Linn, be careful what you wish for.

Charles Seims lives in West Linn.




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