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Hotel opponents appeal unfavorable court ruling

by: COURTESY ILLUSTRATION - Artists rendering of proposed Headquarters Hotel.Opponents of Metro's proposed Headquarters Hotel are appealing a Multnomah County Circuit Court ruling that invalidated their attempts to refer part of the financing plan to the May 20 ballot.

Although the Coalition for Fair Budget claims it collected more than enough signatures, Judge Eric Bloch ruled on March 3 the part of the financing plan it addressed was an administrative decision that could not be sent to the voters.

The coalition was attempting to refer a decision by the Multnomah County Commission to allow transient lodging fees collected at the hotel to be dedicated to paying off $60 million in Metro-issued bonds to help finance the approximately $200 million project.

“The more than 20,000 people in Multnomah County who signed our petition for a public vote on the flawed hotel deal deserve to have their voices heard, and so we are today asking a higher court to order Multnomah County to move forward with the referendum process. We continue to believe strongly that the people should have the final say in this matter, and we will continue to fight to make that a reality,” says Paige Richardson, a spokesperson for the coalition, which is compromised primarily of existing hotel and motels in the Portland area. The include Provenance Hotels and the Portland Hilton and Executive Tower.

Richardson admits it is unlikely the appeals court will rule in time for the measure to make the May ballot, as originally planned. It is unclear whether the court could put it on a later ballot.

Metro says the hotel will increase the number of national conventions at the nearby Oregon Convention Center, which it owns and operates. Project partners include developer Mortenson Construction of Minneapolis and Hyatt Hotels.