Council Considers Shrinking Urban Renewal Areas

<p>Ominous skies roll over Downtown Portland.</p>

Oregon Public Broadcasting

In a late evening vote, the Portland City Council began the process of shrinking Portland's Urban Renewal Areas by about 10 percent. Its goal: To put more money back on the city and county tax rolls.

Portland has 11 urban renewal areas. The Pearl District is the probably best-known.

In those areas, the city diverts a slice of the property taxes to fight blight and fund development projects like parks and streets.

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales says urban renewal has worked in places like the Pearl. But it's also limited the taxes those neighborhoods contribute to the city, the county, and the schools.

"And now we're starting to put that value back on to the tax rolls to pay for public services for everybody, not just pay for the streets and parks in the pearl district, that's the deal," Hales said.

The City Council has directed the Portland Development Commission to draw up plans to eliminate two urban renewal areas and shrink three more.

The proposal could result in $5 million of new money for the city, the county, and the schools this year. The council will take a final vote on the plan in the fall.

This story originally appeared on Oregon Public Broadcasting.

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