Code of the West

Code of the West

Ethics complaint charges stakeholders who approved West Quadrant Plan had conflict of interest

Allan Classen – Editor of NW Examiner

Conflicts of interest permeated the citizen body that advised the city on land-use policy in the inner Westside. This charge was levied in a 60-page complaint filed with the Portland Auditor last month.

Property owners, builders, developers, architects and others with a financial stake in development filled 24 of the 33 seats on the West Quadrant Stakeholders Advisory Committee, and they voted their interests.

All but one of the 17 members who voted to approve a plan increasing height limits and relaxing development restrictions had real or potential conflicts of interest, the complaint asserted. The authors say enactment of the West Quadrant Plan “will dramatically increase property values and create significantly more work for the related professions associated with real estate development.”

Where committee members stood on the proposed plan had a lot to do with their affiliations. Only one of the eight committee members without known conflicts voted for the plan. Five condemned the adoption of pro-height policies without consideration of countervailing evidence in a minority report to the SAC’s conclusions.

“The ethics violations were so egregious,” stated the complaint, “that several property owners or professionals with known West Quadrant property interests advocated openly for increased height limits or more favorable zoning for their properties or developments without disclosing their conflicts or recusing themselves.”

The complaint was filed anonymously. The city ombudsman, a division of the auditor’s office, is obligated to honor the confidentiality of complainants and witnesses. Persons bringing complaints are protected from retaliation related to their employment or civil rights under city ordinance.

Portland Ombudsman Margie Sollinger has opened an investigation of the complaint.

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