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Posts from May 2012.

Portland received another sign that the hospitality industry may be on its way to a full recovery late last month. On April 26th, Metro, Portland’s regional planning entity, voted to issue a request for proposal on a large hotel project that was brought to a halt in 2008 due to the economic downturn.

The vote brings back to life a plan to develop a large headquarters hotel project that will serve as the designated hotel space for the Oregon Convention Center, and provide an additional 500 rooms for tourists visiting the Rose City. Local revenue generated by attracting large conventions is big business for the hospitality industry and the region. Metro estimates that national events at the Oregon Convention Center, such as the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s Convention that took place in April and the 2012 World Brewing Congress scheduled for August of this year, result in millions of additional dollars flooding area businesses over just one weekend.

Land use planning laws in Great Britain may not be on your radar screen.  But some interesting things -- besides the 2012 Summer Olympics -- are happening over there that may just make their way to Oregon.  Last July, Britain’s Planning Minister proposed that Parliament adopt a new “National Planning Policy Framework” that would make significant changes to Britain’s land use planning laws.  Depending on your particular political viewpoint, the changes would either (a) remove burdensome planning rules that are stifling real estate development and hampering Britain’s economy, or (ii) remove important environmental protection rules that preserve Britain’s countryside and other natural and historic resources.

The proposed changes included a general policy statement that “[p]lanning must operate to encourage growth and not act as an impediment.”  The most controversial change proposed that Britain’s planning system be based on a presumption that development should be allowed, and a requirement that local authorities be flexible, not delay projects, and approve proposed developments where local plans do not specifically address whether the development should be permitted or not.  The language was strong:

In an interesting case in South Dakota the owners of a truck stop were entitled to compensation for closure of a highway exit ramp when the State closed by condemnation the exit ramp to the property during a project. It is fundamental condemnation law that a government may regulate its streets for public safety and that a property owner is not entitled to compensation for closure of public street. This is referred to as the government’s police power.

From time to time, in our municipal and land use practice, and in our private lives as voting citizens, we must remind ourselves that the decisions that affect our daily lives occur at our public meetings.  Last night, as Assistant City Attorney for the City of Oregon City, I attended the City Commission and was reminded how much we can accomplish by municipal participation and why Oregon’s practice of direct democracy at City and County Commissions across the state makes it such a wonderful place to live.  Not only did the Commission make important decisions to designate heritage trees, kick off historic preservation month, and fund important infrastructure projects - it brought music to the people!  Just after the flag salute but before the business meeting began, Ellen Whyte delivered an energetic rendition of “The Blues Walked Through My Door” to the delight for all in attendance and set the mood for an engaging meeting.

The City Commission hosts music performances before its regular meeting throughout the year to showcase the city’s local talent and deepen its commitment to inclusion of the arts in our civic experience.  Due to technical difficulties last night Ellen’s performance was not recorded, but check out these links to the earlier performances of the Tonesetters, the Lucky Shamrocks, and Rae Gordon. I know I will be looking forward to performances yet to come! 

And for all of you municipal employees out there, I strongly suggest taking a tip from Oregon City and inviting a performer to your next public meeting.

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.

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We regularly update clients about changes in real estate law and on industry trends. This includes briefing clients on legislative proposals in the federal tax, housing and other legal areas affecting their businesses. Staying current enables you to anticipate and prevent legal problems as well as capitalize on new developments.
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