Version: #19, April 3, 2017
Suggestions or corrections
Portland City government plans to
force the eviction and closure of a
world-class, block-long art gallery.
by Michael Jennings, Futurepower ®, Inc.
Portland City government inadequately supervises building contractors. Contractors recommending building maintenance or construction make plans that maximize their profits, ignoring other issues, apparently. This article documents 12 years of inadequate supervision concerning one building.
About the author of this article: My company has done technology support for The Real Mother Goose gallery for more than 30 years. (If you go to that link, the store you see is the one at the Portland Airport.) However, we are not dependent on income from the gallery.
I'm just telling the story as I have been able to discover it. Others may have more or better information.
I'm writing a book about how people use their brains. I need to explain the underlying details of why poor management occurs. Investigating the idea of renovation of the parking structure has given an useful example of poor city management.
History of the renovation:
12 years of sloppy thinking
and planning to maximize
2004: The artist's rendition below, from 12 years ago, shows how the idea of renovation began. Little thinking has been done since then except by contractors who have a conflict of interest, apparently.
Dec. 27, 2004: An artist's sketch
shows an impossible renovation.
That artist's rendition shows the retail tenant space level with the street. In fact, the floors in the retail space are perhaps 6 feet below the street on the 10th and Yamhill corner of the building.
Now, 12 years later, the foolish idea that everything is on the same level has apparently been abandoned. However, the present plan still involves removing 2 of the 4 elevators, and putting an empty glass facade on the 2nd floor above where the elevators are now.
That 2004 artist's rendition is page 1 of a 178-page PDF file with the name Compiled Appendix 2.pdf. (87 megabytes).
2008: The idea was to demolish the entire parking structure!!! A real estate developer wanted to build a large apartment building with fewer parking spaces. See the Oregonian newspaper article, PDC sees condos atop downtown parking garage. (Aug. 14, 2008)
Everything I've been able to learn since then has also been wacky. The Portland Bureau of Transportation, the "owner" of the building, told tenants that it would evict all tenants because of renovation approximately 9 years ago.
The PBOT changed leases to month-to-month rentals, and charged less because everyone would soon be evicted. Every year for the last 9 years, the PBOT has given another eviction notice! My guess is that the PBOT has lost at least $2 million because of those threats and the lowered payments, maybe far more. The threats have caused some of the retail spaces to be empty for months.
Latest eviction notice: Originally the eviction was to happen in April of this year, I understand. Now it is scheduled for January, 2018. See the PDF file attached to this email.
File name: 10Y_Summary.pdf.
History of the gallery
The gallery sales grew very fast, 600 percent, 6 times, in about 20 years. There began to be problems handling so many customers. I joked with everyone that I had a solution: Issue ration coupons to customers. Maybe "You will be allowed to buy something more in 6 months."
The problems were fixed by leasing another retail space in the parking structure to use for receiving, expanding the administration area, and leasing some storage space in another building.
The gallery has very upscale customers, the kind of people that other retail stores would like to be near. For example, a jewelry designer at the gallery helps customers design jewelry that particularly appeals to each customer.
Sales have been limited by the misleading name of the gallery. "The Real Mother Goose" is the title of a children's book. Maybe the present Portland City government officials think the name refers to an unimportant children's clothing store.
There was resistance to changing the name and improving advertising. Apparently part of the resistance was not wanting the gallery to grow again. The gallery already filled the entire block-long space on the Yamhill side of the parking structure, and, as I said, a retail space on the Morrison side for receiving. More growth would be more work and would present more problems.
The 8 years of yearly threats of eviction have caused limited investment in infrastructure. It hasn't seemed reasonable to invest in infrastructure if the PBOT would evict everyone.
If the threat of eviction is eliminated, the gallery can put photos of everything it sells on its web site. Customers will arrive already having browsed what they enjoy. That will allow increased sales without requiring more help from the staff.
We already have detailed written plans for improvements like that.
Why not relocate the gallery?
There are no other block-long retail stores available, apparently. Tens of thousands of people know where to find the gallery, including people who visit from other countries.
Considering all the issues, some of which are not mentioned here, eviction ordered by Portland City managers would almost certainly cause the closure of the gallery.
I've talked with all the present tenants in the parking structure. No one in the city has shown any concern about evicting the tenants.
Is renovation without eviction possible?
Apparently yes. The block-long gallery needs improvement of the ceiling and painting, for example, but that could be done on Sunday. Or the gallery could close on Monday, also.
The air conditioner needs replacement. The parking structure needs paint and better lighting.
The city allows contractors to
charge huge amounts per hour.
For example, an August 15, 2016 Portland city document, page 7, says that a sub-contractor, KPFF, can charge $75 per hour for clerical employees. Here are 3 of the employees:
The Portland City government is agreeing to allow KPFF to charge the equivalent of $150,000 per year for clerical employees! The Ordinance says that former Mayor Hales and Commissioners Fritz, Saltzman, and former Commissioner Novick agreed to that amount.
The contractor will certainly not pay a clerical employee $150,000 per year. The pay might be $40,000 and $10,000 for health insurance and overhead? That would mean that the Portland city government is giving a gift of $100,000 of taxpayer money, for each clerical employee, to the owner or owners of the contracting company. Why?
The file name of the contract is 187951 FFA Architecture and Interiors, Inc. 10th and Yamhill SmartPark Garage renovation project architecture and design services exhibit.PDF. See page 7.
The document is not dated, but the 4th line says it was effective Aug. 15, 2016.
The present plan for renovation,
requiring eviction of all tenants,
may damage local reputations.
The renovation contract is likely to damage the reputation of the local division of the company in England, Balfour Beatty, apparently.
FFA Architecture and Interiors was hired to do what was described to me as initial design. Apparently the public is not allowed to see the design. Several months ago I sent an email to several people at FFA, warning them of the problems. There was no reply.
If, over many years, evicting the present tenants lowers the income of the Portland Bureau of Transportation, the "owner" of the parking structure, the reputation of PBOT managers will be damaged.
People who park in the renovated parking structure are likely to be extremely upset if 2 of the 4 elevators are removed, as is planned.
Evicting and therefore causing the closure of the gallery will cause more than 950 artists to lose a place to sell their work.
Portland City government --
The good, apparently
Mayor Wheeler seems to be a better manager than the 5 previous mayors. Below are 3 areas in which there have been improvements.
There are many areas in which Portland city government management has been extremely sloppy. For example, the mayor and Portland City Council members have often engaged in personal projects rather than overall management. One example: Designing, building, and selling public toilets. At present, early in Mayor Wheeler's term in office, there seem to be fewer areas where government responsibility has been managed to become personal projects.
Mayor Wheeler took action against disruption of meetings. Many years ago, Portland became a place where people who had incompetent parents would move to get away from their families. One resulting effect has been that people who have had bad childhoods often blame their problems on local city government. Disrupting public city government meetings has become common. The acceptance of that over many years has made the disruptions worse. The attempt to fix the problem may not be perfect, but it is a start: Portland Mayor Acknowledges New Council Code Of Conduct May Not Be Constitutional. (Mar. 15, 2017)
Another example of fixing the EXTREME sloppiness: Mayor Wheeler took management of Portland's Office of Neighborhood Involvement away from Commissioner Amanda Fritz. He gave it to new Commissioner Chloe Eudaly.
Here is a story about the former management by Amanda Fritz: Portland bureau director's departure follows criticism of management. (Mar. 14, 2017)
Quotes from that story:
Portland City government --
The bad: Overview of one example
Contractors have no effective supervision. The Portland City government apparently has no one who has the technical knowledge to understand the challenges of designing and implementing renovations. The contractors the Portland government hires therefore have no effective supervision.
Conflict of interest: If contractors have no supervision by the customer, it is likely they will design and build renovations that are far more lavish and expensive than necessary.
That seems to be what has happened in the case of the plans for the 10th and Yamhill SmartPark renovation project. The public is apparently not allowed to see the plans. However, there is an artist's image on the Portland government website that shows 2 of the 4 elevators will be removed so that they can be replaced with a glassy front.
The image above is taken from the
PDF file attached to this email
that shows the Jan. 18, 2017
renovation plans. See page 3.
Removing elevators from a parking structure, adding huge glass facades, and evicting an extremely successful tenant benefits only incompetent contractors.
Government agencies must have managers who have the technical and managerial ability to supervise, criticize, and improve proposals. Government agencies cannot rely on outside contractors for advice and management because contractors have a conflict of interest; contractors make more money if they propose more complex work.
Pretend Democracy On the surface, the Portland City government and other governments in the U.S. and the world are intended to look democratic. But democracy has its shortcomings for most leaders. For them, democracy may be too demanding of social abilities.
Often the management required to do a good job is far more demanding than someone who has been elected is able to handle.
See links to documents
about the renovation below.
The Portland City government web sites are messy. The links below explain what I've found in months of looking.
This is the best information I've been able to find in 10 months of searching. Almost all city officials have refused to reply. The replies I did get gave almost no information; they were mostly directed at avoiding giving information.
This article includes my ideas and opinions. This article is only one person's ideas about the problems in Portland City government. The author of this article hopes that they are helpful in our thinking, and that others will provide information and ideas.
What is here is only what I have been able to learn about a city government that mostly hides its activities. Apparently the Portland government hides activities partly because being public would, initially, be more work. However, that hiding has caused low confidence. The lack of confidence creates an adversarial environment that requires more effort and is far less enjoyable.
It's important to realize that, because of the lack of openness, there may be mistakes in what I have written. If I receive new information, it may seem reasonable to write a new version.
Futurepower ®, Inc.
Version: 2017-04-03, #019
Copyright 2016, 2017 by Michael Jennings of Futurepower®, Inc.
To publish all or part of this article, ask for written permission.
It is okay to give exact copies this article to anyone you know personally,
and to anyone who works for the Portland City government.
Copies must include these notices. Do not post on the internet.
Proposal: Audit and Restructure the
Portland Development Commission
Building improvements and renovation for the Portland government is so badly managed that I wrote an article suggesting that the Portland Development Commission, PDC, be re-structured.
Link to the latest version of the article:
http://futurepower.net/articles/portland/PDC/Proposal__Audit_and_Re-structure_the_Portland_Development_Commission.PDF (PDF file, Sept. 19, 2016)
In April 2017, Macy’s is closing its downtown Portland store in the 600 block of SW 5th Avenue.
One story: Macy's sets up final clearance sale for Portland store. (Jan. 5, 2017) The new owner will compete for new tenants.
No competitive bidding
187950 SW 10th and Yamhill SmartPark Garage Renovation construction project competitive bidding exemption presentation.PDF
Plans, Nov. 2016
See the 3rd item on page 3:
"Pre-application conference to discuss the alterations proposed to the Smart Park Garage that include replace existing stairways/elevators, new signage and awnings, reconstruct the entrances and ROW encroachments. Green roofs are under construction for new areas."
November 14, 2016 to November 20, 2016 Land Use Review Intakes.pdf
Plans, Oct. 2015
10th and Yamhill Parking Garage Study and Design Recommendations (PDF file)
The contractors are exaggerating the need:
Quote: "wide overhangs, dark corners and opaque stair landings attract loitering and crime"
That is an exaggeration, based on my 30 years of experience using the parking structure.
Quote: "The elevators are particularly slow..."
Recently I timed one of the elevators. It took 20 seconds from the 6th floor to the ground floor.
File name (19,188,501 bytes):
10th and Yamhill Report.pdf
Bid opening, 01/19/2017, given to Balfour Beatty
Bid Solicitation: 00000423
00000423 Pre Proposal Attendees List.pdf
00000423 Addendum 1.pdf
RFP Bid Results
00000423 10th and Yamhill Notice of Intent to Award.pdf
00000423 RFP SMARTPARK RENOVATION CMGC with Exhibits A - K.pdf
0000423 RFP CMGC 10th Yamhill SmartPark Renovation NO EXHIBITS.pdf
When there is no supervision
by the city, consultants plan
projects that benefit them.
Bid solicitation, 03/22/2016
Bid Solicitation: 00000245
00000245 Addendum 1.pdf
00000245 Addendum 2.pdf
00000245 Addendum 3.pdf
00000245 Appendix 1.pdf
00000245 Appendix 2.pdf
00000245 Notice of Intent.pdf
00000245 Proposal Receipt Record.pdf
00000245 SW 10th and Yamhill Report.pdf
" says on PDF page 55, "Elevator Analysis" by Lerch Bates Inc.
Faster elevators make sense for huge, tall, expensive new buildings like "CMA Tower, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia", one of the buildings on the Lerch Bates home web page.
The elevators are currently providing acceptable service, not "marginal service". It is true that faster elevators would be more convenient. However, there are many things in life that could be more convenient. Faster elevators in that one parking structure are not a big issue for anyone I've known who uses the elevators.
Below is a new section I added today to the investigation I'm writing.
As I've said, I'm writing a book about how people use their brains. In this case, none of the people involved want to use their brains, apparently.
Apparently there is no one in the Portland City government who wants to manage the details of the 10th and Yamhill parking structure renovation. Apparently there is no one who has the ability to be involved.
City managers and staff have consistently hired outside consultants, and apparently never given sensible management to any of the consultants.
The result is that the consultants recommend expensive changes to justify their expensive contracts. In the case of the elevator analysis, a company concerned with new, tall, expensive buildings is basing recommendations on peak Christmas traffic.
If maximum convenience is the goal, I want a strong, tall woman to carry me down the stairs. <grin>
August 14, 2008, 8 years, 7 months ago
Oregonian newspaper article:
PDC sees condos atop downtown parking garage
Quotes from PDC sees condos atop downtown parking garage, 2008: