Ear to the Ground
Ear to the Ground
Our attorney contributors share relevant and timely insight into real estate, energy law, water law, and environmental issues.
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Multnomah Property Taxes Will Increase to Highest Rates in Two Decades
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What's So Great About Being Great?

Of the 125 largest cities in the USA, U.S. News and World Report recently ranked Portland as the #6 best place to live. This is a big jump from Portland's #32 ranking in 2017. The evaluators at US News describe Portland as innocent and shameless…
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Repurposing Jails and Other Innovative Solutions to the Growing Homelessness Problem

If you live in Portland, Oregon, you might be “used to” seeing people sleeping in tents, openly using drugs, people without shoes or proper clothing pushing carts with meager belongings through town, or people acting strange and often frightening…
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Metro Changes Its Approach to Urban Expansion For The Better

Oregon law requires Metro, the regional government for the Portland area, to maintain an urban growth boundary (UGB) that includes enough land to accommodate 20 years of population and employment growth. Addition of new land to the UGB is always a…
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Is Change Finally Coming to Portland's Centennial Mills Site?

A San Antonio, Texas real estate development company, The Lynd Company, is at the top of a list of proposals to finally develop the 4.4-acre Centennial Mills site located along the western side of the Willamette River just north of downtown Portland…
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Conserving the White Oak Tree

I grew up in the middle of an Oregon White Oak grove, perched on about a 900' elevation foothill of the coast range. A large tree with an enormous horizontally extending branch was perfect for hanging a rope swing for my little sister. Acorns…
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Real Estate Winners and Losers Under Federal Tax Overhaul

In a prior post, I highlighted the effect the December 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has on Section 1031 tax deferred exchanges. While those changes affected investors in everything but real estate, other provisions of the Act will have a profound…
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Batteries and Solar Might Be Like Chocolate and Peanut Butter

Currently, the largest operating solar energy facility in Oregon is the 56 megawatt Gala Solar facility near Prineville, which generates electricity for Apple. But homegrown Oregon developer Obsidian Renewables has plans for something much, much…
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Portland, Oregon – Future Olympic City?

Last month, Portland hosted the U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships. While not likely what comes to mind when thinking of major sporting events, it nonetheless drew a lot of visitors to the city, with an economic impact estimated at $1.5 million.
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Big Changes to 1031 Exchanges, But Not for Real Estate (Yet)

Section 1031 of the tax code allows sellers of investment property to defer capital gains if the proceeds are reinvested in "like kind" property within certain timeframes. Prior to 2018, 1031 exchanges could be used for many kinds of property…
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Trends in Drinking Water: Part Two – Poop Water

At the other end of the spectrum from raw water is "poop water" — sewage effluent that has been transformed back into safe drinking water. Whereas raw water is completely untreated, poop water — or "direct potable re-use" if you want a more palatable…
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Trends in Drinking Water: Part One – Raw Water

The water news popping up in my email inbox recently has really run the gamut. One of the latest health fads is apparently drinking "raw water" — meaning unprocessed and untreated water. At the other end of the spectrum, there are a couple of new…
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New Clean Energy Jobs Bills Seek to Regulate Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Oregon

The Oregon legislature is currently in the process of figuring out how the state will (or won't) deal with the greenhouse gas emissions made by Oregonians that are negatively impacting the world's climate. Substantially similar drafts of the Clean…
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The Future of Freight

By now we've all heard about receiving Amazon packages by drone. Drones haven't cornered this market, though – there are also robots. But these are just the tip of the iceberg for cool new ways for stuff to get delivered more efficiently. Here's a…
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The "Disastrous" Costs of Climate Change

"Natural" disasters cost the United States a record amount of $306 billion in 2017, topping the previous record of $215 billion in 2005, the year of Hurricane Katrina. This past year also tied with 2011 for the highest number of billion-dollar…
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Portland's Fossil Fuel Terminal Ban Upheld by Court of Appeals

On January 4, 2018, the Oregon Court of Appeals issued its decision in the case brought by Petitioners Columbia Riverkeeper, Portland Audubon Society, and Center for Sustainable Economy, among others, to attempt to uphold the City of Portland's new…
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Why Mapping Apps Keep Traffic Engineers Up at Night

By now, we've all used a mapping app -- like Apple Maps, Google Maps and Waze – to find the best way from point A to point B. A primary attraction of the apps is that they can filter traffic conditions in real time and provide the quickest route to…
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Water Win-Win

In case you haven't noticed, Washington County is booming. For many years, the County's population has been growing at around 2% annually and its current population of more than 580,000 is second only to Multnomah County's 800,000. Growth means…
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Portland Residential Home Energy Score Requirement Takes Effect January 1

Starting January 1, 2018, single-family home sellers in Portland will be required to report a Home Energy Score (HES) to potential buyers. The HES is a federally-developed measurement of the energy-related use and associated costs for a home, and is…
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Willamette Falls Riverwalk Moving Forward Despite Adversity

Willamette Falls, between Oregon City and West Linn, is the second-largest waterfall in the US by volume. Home of the nation's first hydroelectric project in 1888, the falls have largely been cut off from public view since then by industrial…
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Real Market Values and "Compression" – Property Taxes Continue to Climb in Oregon

One of the most significant reasons taxes have increased so much this year is "Compression." Due to Measure 5, Oregon's constitution limits the amount of taxes that can be collected from each property for two categories of tax: Education related…
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