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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Urban Growth Boundary Expansions on the Rise

Metro Council, the governing body charged with managing the Portland metro area urban growth boundary, is at it again. As a follow-on to David Petersen’s April 20 blog regarding the UGB, I’m here to report that Metro Council has been busy considering…
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Urban Onion: The City of Beaverton Seeks Livable Core

The latest efforts to transform the City of Beaverton into…well, Portland, apparently shape the city into an onion, made up of distinct layers. The outer layer, formed from offices and residential developments, encloses the inner core areas of the…
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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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In Defense of Public Transit

The arrival of market disrupters Uber and Lyft has spawned many think pieces on the future of transportation. While we may think technology will solve our transportation problems, instead of focusing on new technology, state and local governments…
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Worker Shortage Hits Portland Builders Two Ways

Many years ago, a local homebuilder told me he wouldn't build in the Portland City limits anymore, because the permitting and inspections took so long and were so expensive that it ate into his profits, not to mention his psychological well-being…
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WeWork Continues to Grow and Evolve

In 2010, Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey started WeWork, a company that provides shared work spaces for startups, small businesses, freelancers and entrepreneurs. WeWork has been remarkably successful. After only eight years since opening its first…
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Drink Up, Portland!

Last week, a colleague and I went on a field trip hosted by the Portland Water Bureau to the Bull Run Watershed, which is the primary water supply for the City of Portland and its multiple wholesale customers (including the City of Beaverton). The…
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How Will Opportunity Zone Investing Impact the Portland Real Estate Market?

The federal tax overhaul (a.k.a. the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act) includes an intriguing tax incentive for potential investors in Portland real estate. If gains from the sale of assets are reinvested in eligible census tracts identified as Opportunity…
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Oregon's Land Use Laws Should Embrace Solar Energy

It's no secret that Oregon's natural beauty is one of its greatest treasures. In 2016, Thrillist named Oregon the seventh most beautiful state in the country – a ranking that should come as no surprise to most Oregonians. Our remarkable rivers…
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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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The Sparkle of Gresham's Enterprise Zone Attracts New Diamond Factory

Element Six, a manufacturer of synthetic diamonds, recently announced a new factory in Gresham, Oregon. It will spend $94 million over four years to build its new 60,000 square foot factory and will eventually employ approximately 60 people. Element…
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Oregon Growth Trends Still High

According to recent research from the American City Business Journals, Oregon ranks 8th in the US for overall migration gains. Surprisingly (to me), in gains, Texas is second, after Florida, and, in losses, New York ranks #1. The Oregon city with the…
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The Largest Property Tax Bond in Oregon History Should Have Been Much Bigger

Just one year after voters passed the largest bond measure in Oregon history, PPS now acknowledges that Portland Public School-Bond Measure 26-193 should have been much more – between $80 and $136 million more. PPS originally asked voters to approve…
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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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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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