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Capstone Loses 12th Ave Appeal

Capstone’s student housing project not yet under construction at 13th and Olive has hit a legal snag, losing an Oct. 11 Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) ruling to neighborhood advocate Paul Conte on the city’s vacation (termination of public right to use the street) of West 12th Avenue between Olive and Willamette. 

The LUBA decision says that the city committed a procedural error because it accepted Capstone’s revised application for the vacation “without providing a reasonable opportunity for parties to submit responsive evidence,” which violates the right of the public to give testimony regarding vacation decisions. Capstone had to revise the application after the public record was closed because an adjacent property owner wanted to retain public right of way to a portion of the alley adjacent to his business.

Conte says he’s fighting decisions made around the Capstone project because the rushed process has unfairly tilted in favor of developers at the expense of the community. “It was also just one more example of the city manager directing staff to do whatever it takes to prevent any community involvement that might force Capstone to play by the rules if that would slow down the project,” he says. 

In addition to the 12th Avenue vacation appeal, Conte is appealing the Multiple-Unit Property Tax Exemption that City Council granted Capstone to the state Court of Appeals. He is also appealing before LUBA to challenge the traffic impact analysis that Capstone submitted due its lack of analysis on the impact on bikes and pedestrians.

Conte says, “Since the mayor and council seem to be encouraging the city manager to do Capstone’s bidding, I’m resigned to hoping the courts and LUBA step in to protect the integrity of the local public processes, as LUBA did in this case.” 

The city’s attorney did not return our call by press time.