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800px-Scappoose_Industrial_Airpark_OregonScappoose, Oregon, located right off Highway 30, has only 6,800 residents. Its motto is “A place to grow.” This expected growth was the subject of a recent court of appeals case, Zimmerman v LCDC, 274 Or App 512 (2015). In 2011, the city enacted an ordinance amending its comprehensive plan, hoping to add more land to its UGB designating much of it for industrial and commercial uses, particularly for airport employment uses. To expand a UGB pursuant a Goal 14, a local government must establish that land is needed to further future economic opportunities; determining such need requires compliance with Goal 9 and implementing administrative rules. In order to justify such expansion, a local government must compare the demand for industrial and employment lands against the existing supply, through a review of the “best available” information considering national, regional or local trends, site characteristics of expected uses and development potential. OAR 660-009-0015.

In May 2012, I blogged that the Hospitality Industry is on the road to recovery and Metro, Portland’s regional governing body, was once again considering an Oregon Convention Center (OCC) hotel. On September 13, 2012, Metro approved a proposal by local developers to construct a Hyatt Regency Hotel. The full development team consists of Mortenson Development, Mortenson Construction, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, ESG Architects, Ankrom Moisan Architects, Piper Jaffray & Co., Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels and Star Terra LLC/Schlesinger Companies.

The Mortenson team proposed four development options, two options for the StarTerra, LLC property (directly north of the OCC) and two options for the PDC-owned site (directly east of the OCC). For each site, Mortenson proposed two different development programs achieving approximately 600 rooms. The development program options include: 1) a 600-room Hyatt Regency or 2) a combination 420+/-room Hyatt Regency and 181-room Hyatt Place. Metro favored the Mortenson team because this team has extensive hotel development and financing experience. Further, Metro recognized that Hyatt currently does not have a strong presence in the Portland market and a Hyatt Regency hotel could serve national convention clients at the convention center as well as introduce new corporate Hyatt-based group business in Portland.

The case of Weber Coastal Bells v. Metro, is only the beginning of the long battle for approval of the Columbia River Crossing bridge and light rail extension between Portland and Vancouver. This case involved an appeal to LUBA, followed by Supreme Court review of both UBA’s remand of Metro’s Final Order, and Metro’s subsequent modification of that order on remand. Below is a summary of the first attempt to derail the project. In light of the Supreme Court’s June 28th decision, more controversy is likely ahead, particularly as to the approval of the bridge north of Hayden Island to the state boundary.

Of the 12 assignments of error presented by opponents to the Columbia River Crossing in this case, LUBA affirmed 11 of them. In its most significant ruling, LUBA found that approving a large proportion of highway improvements along with light rail did not violate a 1996 state statute adopted to authorize a light rail project. LUBA reasoned that the scope of the project under the statute includes “any highway improvements” that are described in the Draftor Final Environmental Impact Statement and these improvements need not be related, required by or connected to the siting of the rail line. LUBA agreed with Metro and other respondents that the highway improvements were “associated” with the light rail component in that it could not have been approved if it did not include a highway component as well.

The Oregon Supreme Court affirmed LUBA’s decision but went even further than LUBA in disclaiming any requirement for a connection with light rail. Rather, the court explained that the political necessity of requiring the inclusion of highway improvements along with light rail is a sufficient reason to satisfy the 1996 act requiring whatever is necessary to complete the South North MAX Light Rail Project.

The latest round of urban growth boundary (UGB) expansion in the Portland Metropolitan area is likely to go back to Metro for further justification.  On April 19, 2012, the Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) issued a staff report to Land Conservation and Development C ommission (LCDC) recommending partial approval, but remanding most of the important elements of Metro’s most recent attempt to expand its UGB. 

Metro, the area’s regional government, is responsible for adopting a comprehensive UGB for the various jurisdictions within the Portland area.  Its decisions on UGB expansions are typically complex and lengthy and this decision was no exception.  The current round began several years ago, with Metro initially adopting a decision that it would expand its boundary in December 2010.  Subsequently, LCDC postponed consideration of that decision and then consolidated it with Metro’s October 2011 decision on where, exactly, to expand the UGB.

November 9, 2011, Ed Sullivan, Bill Kabeiseman, Carrie Richter and Jennifer Bragar presented materials to the Euclid Society about climate change policy and efforts to reduce green house gas emissions throughout Oregon.  The following is a list of resources if you are interested in digging deeper into this topic area.  We will post Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition’s White Paper, “Adapting to Climate Change on the Oregon Coast” as soon as it is published.

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