Anti-hotel convention suit ‘campaign tactic’

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The group opposed to a 600-room hotel across the street from the Oregon Convention Center filed another legal challenge to the plan, just days after losing a different challenge in Multnomah County Court.

The latest lawsuit argues that under state law Metro is required to get approval from voters before using revenue bonds to help build the hotel.

FILE - An artist's rendering of the proposed Hyatt Hotel near the Convention Center in Northeast Portland. (Morteson Development)
FILE – An artist’s rendering of the proposed Hyatt Hotel near the Convention Center in Northeast Portland. (Morteson Development)

KOIN 6 News researched what powers Metro has. Part of the law reads, unless the electors of the district first approve the financing of the facilities, the district shall not construct new facilities.

“Clearly the hotel is a new construction project and Metro has caused that to happen,” said opponent Paige Richardson with the group Coalition for Fair Budget Priorities.  The group is mostly made up of people connected to competing hotels.

This is the crux of the question. Metro won’t actually build the hotel. But they are forking over $60 million of a public loan.

Metro Council president Tom Hughes, who is spearheading the effort, called the lawsuit “unfounded” and a “campaign tactic.”

He was not available for an interview, but in a statement to KOIN 6 News he said, “By attempting to tie the project up in court once again, after losing the first legal challenge outright, this is nothing more than a delay tactic funded by a small and vocal minority.”

He did not directly address the specific law cited in the lawsuit. He has insisted all along this is about creating jobs and bringing in more conventions and cash to help the local economy.

A judge will likely decide the legal arguments — again.

“It’s too important to just let it go,” Richardson said. “We believe the statute is very clear and we’ll get it to the ballot.”

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