Version: #19, April 3, 2017

Suggestions or corrections
happily accepted.

Portland government's
inadequate supervision
of contractors:

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.

  1. Eviction: 60 people will lose their jobs. The present plan for renovation of the 730 SW 10th Ave parking structure requires the eviction of all the businesses on the 1st floor.

    One of those businesses is extraordinarily successful. The world-famous The Real Mother Goose is one of the largest galleries of contemporary art in the world. The Changes Designs to Wear artistic clothing store is part of the gallery. Together they occupy the entire block on the south side of the building.

    More than 950 artists will lose a place to sell their work. It is apparently impossible to find another block-long retail space, so the gallery would be forced to close.

  2. The Portland City government has threatened eviction every year for the last 9 years! Some tenants left the building, lowering city income. The gallery stayed, but has not invested as much in business improvements because of the eviction threats.

  3. The PBOT lost money every year because of the eviction threats! Because every tenant would soon be evicted, the Portland Bureau of Transportation changed leases to month-to-month rentals, and charged less.

  4. To make more money, contractors exaggerate the needs. In this case, they say the elevators are too slow and must be replaced. Recently I timed one of the elevators. It took 20 seconds from the 6th floor to the ground floor.

  5. Portland allows contractors to charge huge amounts per hour. An August 15, 2016 Portland city document, PDF file page 7, says that a sub-contractor, KPFF, can charge $75 per hour for clerical employees. See below for more detail.

  6. Much of the work in the present plan is removing 2 of the 4 elevators from the parking structure, as shown in artist's drawings below. Removing half of the elevators will make using the parking structure less convenient, sometimes far less convenient. Half of those who park will be expected to walk farther past car traffic inside the parking structure, and then farther again when they reach the ground floor.

  7. The profits from the no-bid contract will go to a company based in England. The contractor listed in the solicitation documents, Howard S. Wright, no longer exists as a separate entity. In 2011 it was bought by a company based in England, Balfour Beatty.

  8. Only Balfour Beatty was allowed to bid; the city documents are misleading. The documents say there was a "solicitation", but I was told only Balfour Beatty was allowed to bid.

  9. No one outside the Portland City government is allowed to see the renovation plan, apparently. City officials and a local manager of Balfour Beatty gave no help in understanding what is planned, other than forcing eviction of all tenants.

  10. Upscale tenants would prefer to be near the gallery. The very successful gallery draws thousands of people. Forcing the closure of the gallery makes the area less attractive to new tenants.

  11. Near the parking structure, it has been difficult to find new tenants. Of 2 new retail locations in the new building next to the parking structure, only one has been filled, and only after more than a year of availability.

  12. Finding new tenants may be difficult, considering that the present tenants will be forcibly evicted. I was not able to find any research done by the city about the difficulty of attracting new tenants.

  13. The Portland City Auditor is not allowed to audit without approval of the Portland City Council! I was told several months ago by someone in the auditor's office that the Auditor's office can be of no help. Basically, there is no real auditing service or supervision of government projects for most issues, because auditing requires permission from someone who may not want to give permission, or may be too busy to want to make a decision.

The author

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
contractor profits!

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:

Kathy Odell Clerical $ 75.00
Christine Le Jeune Clerical $ 75.00
Mark Kastner Clerical $ 75.00

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:
  1. "... a November audit found the bureau suffered from poor oversight, distributed money unequally and failed to establish and execute plans."

  2. "Fritz gave Alarcon de Morris a glowing performance review and significant raise in January, two months after the city auditor issued a scathing report on the bureau. It noted rudderless leadership and a failure to correct funding inequities."

  3. Auditors found Alarcon de Morris failed to write a required annual action plan every year since she took over the bureau's management in 2006.

  4. "... the bureau does not hold the grant recipients accountable for their work. They neither require planning documents nor measure benchmarks for success, auditors found."
That story above is a useful example. It is typical of the former extreme sloppiness in city management. Besides the apparently unnecessary eviction of the parking structure to do renovation, and the mismanagement mentioned above, I have found 11 other areas of sloppy city management. It seems extremely likely there are many more.

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.

Michael Jennings
®, Inc.
Michael Jennings <>

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: (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

File name:
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."

File name:
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)

Page 2:

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

Files available:
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

Files available:
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 RFP.pdf
00000245 SW 10th and Yamhill Report.pdf


Elevator analysis
quotes and comments,
from the city document
00000245 Appendix 1.pdf

The file "00000245 Appendix 1.pdf
" says on PDF page 55, "Elevator Analysis" by Lerch Bates Inc.
  1. Page 55:

    Preliminary analysis and IBC 2009 code requires the operation of four elevators, one in each corner of the parking garage without major renovations to the building."

    Comment: That seems to say it is not necessary to change the elevators, and that 4 elevators are required. So, 2 could not be removed, as shown in the present plan.

  2. Page 55:

    [The existing elevators] "are currently providing marginal service serving the five levels with a large percentage of people using the stairs because of the long waits."

    Comment: I've been using those elevators for more than 30 years. I've never seen "a large percentage of people using the stairs".

  3. Page 56:

    "Transaction data from 12/13/2004 showed a peak incoming traffic of 247 vehicles and exiting the same period of 274 vehicles during one hour. This date indicates this is a holiday shopping period."

    Comment: Apparently the entire analysis is based on the peak Christmas shopping period. Also, maybe no one from Lerch Bates visited the parking structure.

  4. Page 58:

    We have determined that four elevators adequately handle the population and will provide the required elevators in proximity of stairs."
Faster elevators are not a big issue for anyone. Apparently any contractor that is hired, in this case Lerch Bates Inc, will recommend expensive changes. In this case Lerch Bates is recommending that the elevators be 3.5 times faster.

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:
  1. "The city wants to replace the parking garage at Southwest 10th Avenue and Yamhill Street in downtown Portland.

    "Portland city officials have moved a step closer to replacing a much-maligned downtown parking garage with another garage topped by 20 stories of offices and condos or hotel rooms."

  2. "Retailers and theater owners prize SmartPark's spaces but loathe its poorly designed elevator shafts and stairwells smelling of urine."

    Comment: That is wildly exaggerated. Part of the problem was that homeless people had no public bathroom. The situation is improved. Replacing elevators won't solve social problems.

  3. "The Portland Development Commission has approved a preliminary agreement with developer John Carroll to explore a $160 million project replacing the 7-story SmartPark garage at Southwest 10th Avenue and Yamhill Street.

    "Under the plan approved Wednesday, the city would chip in up to $30 million for the $160 million project - about the same as the cost of renovating the existing, city-owned garage."