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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The Skyscrapers of the Future Will Be Made of Wood

On August 8, the Oregon Building Codes Division approved a new state building code called a Statewide Alternate Method. The new code authorizes the construction of wood buildings taller than six stories, which was the previous limit. Taller wood…
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Do Uber and Lyft Make Traffic Worse?

One of the express promises of ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft was that they would reduce traffic congestion by reducing vehicle ownership. City dwellers would opt not to own their own cars but instead rely on someone else's car to get…
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Industrial Growth Booming on Portland's Eastside

The Eagle Creek fire isn't the only recent conflagration in east Multnomah County. The market for new industrial development in places like Troutdale and Gresham is en fuego also. Big new developments attracting hot employers to the region include…
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In the e-Commerce Game, It's All About the Last Mile

Legend has it that e-commerce began in April 1995 when Jeff Bezos went into his Seattle garage and boxed up the first book he sold on amazon.com. Since then, internet access has grown from 0.4% to almost 50% of the world's population. E-commerce has…
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Eagle Creek Fire Threatens More Than Just Trees

This past week brought a smoky smell, floating ash, and a hazy, deep red sun to downtown Portland. School athletics were cancelled and people advised to stay indoors. Pedestrians walk about in face masks as if this was Beijing, and our primary…
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In the Sharing Economy, Is All Real Estate Still Local?

The City of Portland has an Airbnb problem. Its citizens want to use Airbnb to earn income on real estate investments, but the City has valid concerns about safety, tax collection, non-discrimination, and Airbnb's impact on the availability of…
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The Goat Blocks Show the Value of the Long Play

The 347-unit Goat Blocks apartment project is due to open shortly in inner SE Portland. Killian Pacific's project features 347 market rate apartments, the fourth Market of Choice grocery store in the Portland area, an Orchard Supply Hardware and 98…
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Vancouver Is Not Portland, and That's Just Right

Vancouver and Portland have a relationship that is, well, complicated. For some they are too close, and Vancouver seems bland and uninteresting, lost in the glare reflected from its more glamorous neighbor. For others, they are too far apart…
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Is All Renewable Energy by 2050 Realistic?

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury recently pledged that the City and County will run exclusively on renewable energy by 2050. Is this for real? Can it be done? To answer that, this post focuses on science and…
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Portland's Commercial Real Estate Boom: Is the End Near?

There is no doubt that Portland's commercial real estate market is on fire, and has been for several years. But what goes around comes around, so when is the next down-cycle coming? Based on a recent Portland Business Journal survey, most commercial…
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Industrial Land Boom in Portland Still Can't Keep Up With Demand

2016 saw the addition of 2.3 million square feet of new industrial space in the Portland Metro region, slightly less than was added in 2015 but otherwise the largest annual growth since before the Great Recession. But that was not enough to meet…
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