At Willamette Falls Media Center last week, Raymond Rendleman, news editor of the Clackamas Review/Oregon City News, hosted a debate on urban renewal because the issue will be on the Oregon City ballot in November. Guests included Oregon City Mayor Dan Holladay and John Williams, leader of citizen-initiated Measure 3-514 to disband the city program.

PHOTO COURTESY WILLAMETTE FALLS MEDIA CENTER - Oregon City Mayor Dan Holladay (left) and John Williams, leader of citizen-initiated Measure 3-514 (right), keep Clackamas Review/Oregon City News Editor Raymond Rendleman on his toes in moderating the debate.Holladay and Williams debated whether or not the projects financed by urban renewal are worth the financing tool causing others area districts to have to forgo future tax increases through the life of the urban-renewal district. However, the mayor said that the city is planning court actions to challenge the voters of Oregon City, regardless of the result of Measure 3-514.

The city has already challenged the constitutionality of Measure 3-514, but a Clackamas County Circuit Court judge said that voters should be able to vote on it prior to the city having another opportunity to question its legality. If Measure 3-514 fails, Holladay said that Oregon City will fight to keep its right to sell bonds for big projects against urban-renewal debt, without a vote of the people. In 2012, voters had thought that the success of Measure 3-407 would require votes on urban-renewal projects involving a bond sale.

At the Sept. 22 debate, Holladay said that Measure 3-407 was also unconstitutional.

“Even though that measure passed, we believe it doesn’t have any force in law,” Holladay said. “You can’t change a state-mandated program through a City Charter amendment, and we will have an opportunity to challenge that.”

Williams said that Holladay’s theory hasn’t been tested in court so voters shouldn’t pay attention to the potential unconstitutionality of the ballot measures.

“This is a common line of the mayor that everything is already legally impossible and all that, but in fact the city has spent close to $100,000 just fighting us being on the ballot on this current one… and they lost that one,” Williams said.

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