Molalla: The Golden Triangle of URBAN DECAY

Quote: “I don’t know of any neighborhood that wants a pawnshop to open up next-door,” says Prince George’s County Councilman Olson, adding that police say between $600,000 and $1 million worth of stolen goods were recovered last year in local pawnshops.

“As someone whose career is based upon selling homes I can assure this is NOT a selling point. In fact, gun stores, check cashers, pawn shops, etc are typically seen as an indicator of urban decay.” End quote

Last week, in anticipation of the opening of Molalla’s newest symbol of URBAN DECAY, the CA$HCO PAWNSHOP on Molalla Ave, I complied some compelling quotes about symbols of Urban Decay.

Ironically, on Saturday, I opened an envelope from Molalla plannin’ BOZO (the agent of Molalla’s FALL TO THE BOTTOM) to find that the third leg of Molalla’s golden triangle of Urban Decay is in the works: the prime downtown old Keith Brown Building Materials site is proposed to “operate a continuous flea market”. I’d define “Flea Market” as a low rider version of a pawnshop – somewhere to dump the stuff that isn’t valuable enough to pawn.

Good work Molalla plannin’ and TEAM! Ha! One building block at a time, you have created a golden triangle of URBAN DECAY with 4 bars, a gun shop, the CA$HCO PAWNSHOP (don’t you just love the all the gold letters and the $ for the “S”?) and now a  full-time FLEA MARKET within  blocks of the main downtown intersection. All we need now is a tattoo parlor and adult “entertainment” center to complete the picture of urban sleaze.

Stack those FACTS up with the piles of foreclosures, the piles of rentals (especially the new Section 8 friendly StonePlace Apts), and the empty, crumbling storefronts in  ill planned Molalla and you get a classic picture of urban decay.

As I visit METRO and read various newspapers I have noticed that Molalla – with no jobs, no services, low walkable scores, giant commute times, and low quality of life features – is trying to charge as much or more than the going rental rates in attractive cities like Canby, Oregon City and even PDX.

StonePlace Apts. must be in serious trouble due to inception during the height of the boom prices. Now with deflation upon us, StonePlace, by virtue of being “new” (read expensive to build), has to try to charge more for rents than similar units in attractive cities. No wonder they are begging for people on the dole – I guess Uncle Sam doesn’t care if he has to kick in $100 more a month for Section 8 “clients” to live at StonePlace.

Speaking of deflation, Urban Decay and building: the voters here would be insane to pass a 33 MILLION dollar bond for anything at this time – because deflation is driving the value of everything down and the continuing Great Recession means that stimulus money is  being suggested for more infrastructure improvements around the country. Wouldn’t it be just like Molalla to build a BABYSITTING WAREHOUSE SCHOOL it can’t fill – only to find out later that Uncle Sam would have paid far more to “help” as the recession deepens. Also, as prices  fall due to inflation future building and improvements could cost LESS – and have less value. Building anything on the cusp of deflation is dangerous – we haven’t hit bottom yet.

Deflation is real, it is happening now and it will affect all tax revenues as property owners demand tax relief from the County tax adjustment board. The newest economic buzz is that capacity won’t be coming back to anything like former employment levels so that means high unemployment is here to stay. Here’s a link to the unemployment/capacity nightmare if you can stand to read FACTS (otherwise just go merrily along believing that Molalla is on a roll):

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/07/unemployment-capacity-uti_n_707673.html

Anyway, thank plannin’ BOZO for “creating” an exceptionally ugly, cheap and ill planned town that can’t compete in the hard times ahead. Ask  those talkin’ parrots at the next Second Friday (before you “enjoy” that damp movie in the tiny, ugly “vacant lot” park – be sure to say “Hi” to the sad, empty storefronts for me) what they suggest can be done to get Molalla out of the URBAN DECAY mess it is in. I fear the parrots might start yelling “Fire Shane, run Clarke out on a rail along with Atkins and get a BULLDOZER”. After all, it’s ok to dream, right?

Take the kiddies down to the Golden Triangle of URBAN DECAY and show them the best example on the planet of bad planning in a failed, off the beaten path, timber resource based town. Tell them that once there was balance, back in the good old days of logging when about 3,000 people lived in town and the logging industry provided over 1,000 well-paying jobs. Explain that people had little worry about aesthetics then, because auto supplies, logging supplies, welding services, farm feed stores, and other heavy industry support businesses were needed and thrived here. Who cared about plannin’, pollution or parks? It was sawin’, huntin’ and drinkin’ that ruled the day.

Then, in a heartbeat it was OVER:

(quote) “If you are driving through a city that has fallen victim to urban decay, you will be sure to notice an eerie quality that permeates the structures of the city. Buildings and city streets appear disheveled, fallen from a past glory that they may never regain. According to the Infrastructure Policy Group of the Institution of Civil Engineers, “urban decay exists in an area when the environmental standards have sunk to a level which does not support an acceptable quality of life and which fails to attract new investment from industry or commerce.” end quote

Let the kiddies know that Molalla’s URBAN DECAY is the result of short-sighted, greed based, done on the CHEAP, unsustainable growth – growth that wasn’t balanced with quality of life services and that was based on a now archaic commuter lifestyle. It’s just a basic lesson in the new demographic and economic trends – too bad that every day plannin’ BOZO collects his fat paychecks he is selling Molalla  further down the path to URBAN DECAY. Quote:

“Urban decay is the process whereby a previously functioning city, or part of a city, falls into disrepair and decrepitude. It may feature deindustrialization, depopulation or changing population, economic restructuring, abandoned buildings, high local unemployment, fragmented families, political disenfranchisement, crime, and a desolate, inhospitable city landscape. [2] Another characteristic of urban decay is blight—the visual, psychological, and physical effects of living among empty lots, buildings and condemned houses. Such desolate properties are socially dangerous to the community because they attract criminals and street gangs, contributing to the volume of crime.” End quote

Hey plannin’ BOZO and manager “I don’t live here” Atkins: How’s that much-lauded, no SDC Hart street commercial/apt. complex coming? What happened to the big brags in the Oregonian? Won’t the investment banks be tickled to invest millions to build across the street from the full-time FLEA MARKET? Maybe the promoter of the Hart street project could find a couple of blocks being torn down in METRO and drag a pile of garbage to Hart street – after all it would be a shame to spoil the ambiance of the Golden Triangle of Urban Decay with anything new!

Thank the “leaders” for an unconscionable NEPOTISM based hiring/retention policy at city hall when you note that your investment in Molalla real estate has fallen far lower than real estate in well run, quality of life oriented cities (it is simple to check on Zillow and Realty Trac to see the precipitous slide here).  Eyes don’t lie – anyone driving through Molalla would be shocked at the state of Urban Decay. GET A CERTIFIED CITY PLANNER – or better yet – CONTRACT PLANNING TO THE COUNTY!

Hello CA$HCO, gun shop and Flea Market: GOODBYE PROPERTY VALUES! Does anyone know a TATOO ARTIST looking for a new home?

Below are some random quotes about urban decay (my favorite is first because it so EXACTLY fits where Molalla is today with its “desolate and unfriendly urban landscape.” Note also the part about “lack of urban planning”, because hanging a title on an untrained incompetent and paying him in excess of $70,000 a year doesn’t equal URBAN PLANNING – that equals DISASTER!):

“Urban decay is the result of structural economic change and its associated effects of depopulation, property abandonment, social problems, crime, and a desolate and unfriendly urban landscape.”

“What is urban blight?

Most major U.S. cities have blighted areas. Blight is a symptom of urban decay, the causes of which are complex. Urban decay is the process whereby a city or an area within a city falls into disrepair and abandonment.  Urban decay can result from poverty, lack of urban planning (Get it? LACK OF URBAN PLANNING? An INCOMPETENT pretending to be a “planner” is retained because of Molalla’s NEPOTISM), diversion of commerce by freeways and railroads, the construction of suburbs in outlying areas (Get this? A funny point, because Molalla banked on being a CHEAP! suburb and thought it could sustain a commuter’s economy – but look out, here comes peak oil and bad roads to end the commuter based suburban lifestyle – especially in low quality of life places like urban Molalla) and racial discrimination, among many other things.

Blight is a visual characteristic of urban decay………. an aesthetically displeasing concentration of pawnshops, tattoo parlors and payday lenders. Blight refers to empty lots, deserted buildings and condemned housing, as well as the street gangs, crime and other social dangers those physical features attract.

Some would argue that payday lenders and similarly stereotyped businesses drive urban blight by concentrating themselves near low-income neighborhoods and other socially and economically vulnerable areas. That argument, however, seems to beg the question at hand. The question is not simply whether gold buyers, nail salons and payday lenders make the most pleasing or highly desirable commercial mix, but whether they can reasonably be said to be precursors of the industrial decline, physical decay and poverty of which blight is a symptom.

•The Prince George’s County, Md., Council in March lowered the number of pawnshop licenses in the Washington suburb from 38 to 31. The number will drop further if any of the 31 existing stores close or has its license revoked, says Councilman Eric Olson.

•In North Las Vegas, 72% of voters last November said that pawnshops aren’t the type of business they want in their city. City manager Gregory Rose says the advisory question was put on the ballot after the city received numerous applications for such businesses.

•The Avondale, Ariz., City Council adopted a measure in November that requires businesses such as pawnshops, tattoo parlors and liquor stores to be 1,320 feet apart from each other. “The idea is if too many concentrate in a single area, it has a perceived effect that brings the whole area down,” says Dean Svoboda, the city’s long-range planning director.

……many pawnshop loans — money given customers in return for jewelry or other possessions that can be reclaimed when the load is repaid — now come with stiff fees and high interest rates. Historically, pawnshops also have had a reputation among police for being repositories of stolen goods. (Get that? Where DOES the “stuff” in flea markets/pawnshops come from?).

Causes

  • A wide variety of factors may cause urban decay. Most of these factors arise as a result of troubled socioeconomic conditions. When job opportunities are scarce as a result of shifting conditions or discriminatory concerns, most citizens of an urban center will move away in search of opportunities (Get that? Citizens MOVE AWAY for better opportunities – that is exactly what is happening in America now – and Molalla is a prime place for working families to MOVE AWAY FROM!). The few citizens who are left behind may compete for scarce opportunities and seek to draw welfare benefits ( Get that? Hello Section 8 StonePlace – here we come!).
  • If you are driving through a city that has fallen victim to urban decay, you will be sure to notice an eerie quality that permeates the structures of the city. Buildings and city streets appear disheveled, fallen from a past glory that they may never regain. (Get that? Molalla’s “past glory” was slim indeed – and now I have actually had visitors comment, after driving through Molalla, about how ugly, downtroden, and void of green spaces/parks the city is!). According to the Infrastructure Policy Group of the Institution of Civil Engineers, “urban decay exists in an area when the environmental standards have sunk to a level which does not support an acceptable quality of life and which fails to attract new investment from industry or commerce.”Urban decay is the process whereby a previously functioning city, or part of a city, falls into disrepair and decrepitude. It may feature deindustrialization, depopulation or changing population, economic restructuring, abandoned buildings, high local unemployment, fragmented families, political disenfranchisement, crime, and a desolate, inhospitable city landscape. [2] Another characteristic of urban decay is blight—the visual, psychological, and physical effects of living among empty lots, buildings and condemned houses. Such desolate properties are socially dangerous to the community because they attract criminals and street gangs, contributing to the volume of crime.

Indicators

Urban decay has no single cause; it results from combinations of inter-related socio-economic conditions—including the city’s urban planning decisions (oh,oh! there it is again – BAD URBAN PLANNING DECISIONS – did you know that STRIP MALLS are an anathema to good planning?), the poverty of the local populace (oh, oh! did you know that Molalla’s median income is BELOW the national average?), the construction of freeway roads and rail road lines that bypass the area (oh, oh! Molalla depends on a couple of suicide run 2 lane roads that ODOT has ZERO plans to improve), depopulation by suburbanization of peripheral lands (oh, oh! The city manager and most business owners live SOMEWHERE ELSE, like OUTSIDE the city limits on rural properties or in other, more upmarket cities – read about the “vast indifference of TEAM” in a previous post), real estate neighborhood redlining,[4] xenophobic immigration restrictions,[5] and racial discrimination.

Urban decay is the result of structural economic change (oh, oh! that’s the failed timber resource part!) and its associated effects of depopulation, property abandonment, social problems, crime, and a desolate and unfriendly urban landscape.” End quotes

NO SDCs (so there is NO MONEY FOR QUALITY OF LIFE IMPROVEMENTS), greedy, short-sighted land speculators, INCOMPETENT PLANNING, off the beaten path location, the lack of parks, open spaces and trees/landscaping,  Molalla’s failed economy that substituted CHEAP for quality during the boom and promoted “building houses” as an economy (how’s that working now?) = Molalla’s current “desolate and unfriendly urban landscape”. Good luck Molalla.

How about getting an URBAN DECAY tour going? We could bus people in from the Pearl – or from Canby or Silverton or Oregon City – or just about everywhere else that is smart enough to hire COMPETENT PLANNERS and provide QUALITY OF LIFE features for their citizens.

I bet the new FLEA MARKET could scare us up a broken down old bus. I’ll get some spray paint for the “Molalla is BUST” and “URBAN DECAY TOUR” signs on the sides of the bus. Let’s put the plannin’ BOZO’s office down as stop #1 so evolved citizens can see who is “busy” doing it WRONG in these them hills! Hell, who needs to drive up to the Corridor for tourist thrills?

“Molalla is BUST/URBAN DECAY” tour loop could feature: plannin’ BOZO’s office for a lesson in hicksville plannin’ philosophy (it won’t take but a minute because “stuff it in CHEAP” is about all BOZO could say!),  CA$HCO,  the gun shop, the new continuous FLEA MARKET, lunch time at the 4 corner/4 bars (someone needs to fill me in on the most sleazy one), a quick walk through “downtown” to see how many empty storefronts we can count, a ride to the polluted Floragon abandoned mill site to talk about “past glory”, a drive through Sunrise Acres to see what passes for city roads when you have no SDCs,  a wave at old Scott’s pollution fertilizer plant, a quick pass through some waste water overspray on the road by Coleman ranch (where we discuss how CHEAP wastewater disposal involves DUMPING INTO THE RIVER) and a REALLY long tour of the foreclosures, especially in ill-planned parkless Big Meadow.  FACT: Did you know that currently at least 70 houses sit empty in Molalla? That means that Potter should dump 196 people off the city population count (if he were honest).

On the way out-of-town we’ll wave at the “new” Section 8 StonePlace, gag at the ugly “industrial park”and explain how the now half empty Safeway STRIP MALL killed old downtown – as we note the great signs on the JUNKYARD next to Big Burger.

I bet ANYTHING would look great after that URBAN DECAY tour! I fear I might have to drive the bus to Canby or Silverton to allay the horrific visions so the tourists don’t sue the tour for creating nightmares! I bet the great CERTIFIED planner in Silverton would even come out to provide counterpoint that explains how EVOLVED cities work for quality and balance.

Hey! When do new Chamber  public money give away grants open up? I really think “Molalla is BUST” could be a big winner on the tourist circuit!

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