Saturday, January 22, 2011

Disneyland in Redmond.

Looking at that picture on the front of today's Local section in the Bulletin of Redmond's urban planning made me think of Disneyland.

"An Ambitious Plan," says the headline.

To say the least.

Reading about the financing made my eyes blur. O.K. I'm just not that wonky about public policy. But what I seemed to be reading was: An Urban Renewal District would raise revenue by renewing the urban landscape and increasing land values. They would do this by investing. The money they would invest would come from ....

Oh, hell.

It's magic. Money for nothing. Land values would increase -- because....they would improve the land. Land would be improved because land values increase. A perfect fusion machine. A perpetual motion money raising machine that would cost us nothing.

If I may be impertinent, I'd like to ask a couple of questions.

1.) Are you going to raze all the existing structures all at once to create that parklike zone?

If not, how will a piecemeal tearing down and replacing affect existing businesses, who are trying to make a living now, today, and tomorrow? (Have you ever tried to conduct a profitable business while the streets and buildings next to you are torn down?)

2.) If you don't even have the money to fix up existing buildings, what makes you think you'll have the money to build brand new ones?

Are these pie in the sky schemes a Central Oregon phenomenon?

Plans are fine. Ambitious plans are....O.K. as a guideline. But really. One step at a time, One REALISTIC step at a time.


Duncan McGeary said...

You'd have to say the Downtown Bend Urban renewal was a success.

But I remember it being way less ambitious.

New sidewalks, and storefronts, and trees, and lampposts. That kind of thing.

I think much of commercial building that occurred, came with boom -- and I believe the full costs and accounting have yet to be reckoned.

Duncan McGeary said...

I also think its going to be years before land prices increase in Redmond, making the plan moot.

Twenty year plans make sense when they're broad outlines -- such as UGB's.

Being this specific is kind of nuts.

Downtown Bend came back one building at a time, driven by commercial interests.

Messy but real.

H. Bruce Miller said...

"Are these pie in the sky schemes a Central Oregon phenomenon?"

Not exclusively, but we seem to generate more than our share of them.

I attribute it to (a) naivete and (b) our general climate of perpetual Pollyanna optimism. Anybody who dares to throw cold water on these schemes is promptly denounced as "negative" and a "naysayer."

Bend Economy Man said...

"Are these pie in the sky schemes a Central Oregon phenomenon?"

I agree with HBM about the naïveté. It seems like they're framing the issue as "our urban center is run-down - how do we make it nicer?" and then answering the question with the way-too-obvious "by removing the run-down stuff and replacing it with nice stuff!"

Asked to make a plan to renew the urban core, the city officials drew a picture of a new urban core.

They glossed over the more difficult step of HOW - saying "and here's where we stick in a half billion dollars of private investment."

They pretended that the issue comes down to whether we can imagine something nicer in the center of Redmond than what's there today, rather than HOW IS REDMOND GOING TO PAY FOR IT IN A BAD ECONOMY - that's the half-billion-dollar question.

Like Dunc, I don't see how the urban renewal zone pays for the urban renewal.