Ruckus Warehouse Sale

State appeals board issues opinion in SK Northwest case

Posted by on November 13th, 2007 at 6:13 pm

The Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA), which has “exclusive jurisdiction to review all governmental land use decisions”, has issued an opinion on the SK Northwest case.

Their decision (dated November 8th) to “remand” the case means it will now be sent back to the City of Portland for further review.

(You can view a PDF of the 24-page opinion here.)

After their development proposal was denied by the Portland Hearings Officer back in July, the owner of the riverfront parcel, Wayne Kingsley, and SK Northwest’s Shawn Karambelas, appealed the decision to the LUBA.

Calling the LUBA’s opinion a “mixed bag”, Emily Gardner from the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) says it means SK’s controversial proposal to develop a parcel on the Willamette River (just south of OMSI) without allowing a key trail connection is still “up in the air”.

On one hand, the City scored an important victory in that the LUBA upheld the constitutionality of their code (Portland City Code 33.272.020) that says developers must grant a greenway trail easement through their property when one exists.

Still at issue however, and the reason the State decided to remand the case, is because the two sides have conflicting definitions of the location of “top of the bank”. The city has strict codes that prevent buildings from being placed within 25 feet of “top of the bank”.

Taken from graphics in the LUBA decision, here are the differing versions of “top of the bank”:

City of Portland

SK Northwest

So what happens now? Here are some options according to Emily Garnder of the BTA:

    1. SK Northwest can appeal the LUBA decision to the Oregon Court of Appeals (they have 3 weeks from the decision date to file an appeal)
    2. SK Northwest can drop its application
    3. SK Northwest can go back to the City for a resolution

This case is much more complicated than I’ve outlined above. If you have specific questions, leave them in the comments and maybe Emily Gardner from the BTA (or other land use/legal experts out there) can chime in with some insights.

Emily says concerned citizens can help influence this process by encouraging City Council to send a message to the City Attorney and the Bureau of Planning encouraging them to uphold the decision of the LUBA hearings officer about the constitutionality of the code. The City should also hear the message that they need to work with the developers to identify a solution that maintains the waterfront trail option.

For extensive background and full coverage of this case, including interviews with SK Northwest owner Shawn Karambelas and Wayne Kingsley, see my archives.

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Klixi November 13, 2007 at 6:34 pm

    No story on the cyclist struck by a car in Milwaukie????

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  • Jerry H November 13, 2007 at 6:38 pm

    Don\’t know the exact geography of the site (land) but would a path cantilevered over the willamette be a win win? Make SK pay for it. It seems with all of the court costs they could have paid for that already.

    Also found an interesting site for those going to meetings to study and be aware of tactics..

    (In case you aren\’t already aware of it..)

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  • DJ Hurricane November 13, 2007 at 6:40 pm

    It\’s really unfortunate that people who want to do business in Portland, and right on the Willamette Greenway no less, are not willing to give even a little access to the community, especially when that access provides so much benefit to everyone. Kingsley and Karambelas have shown their fellow Portlanders that their personal profit comes before the well-being of their own community. Their unabashed greed is a local manifestation of a national problem that has cost us countless acres of wildlife habitat, farmland, and recreational opportunities. Their absurd take on the law — that their property rights are absolute and exclude any reasonable public need — is costing Portlanders hundreds of thousands of dollars and a truly unquantifiable loss of quality of life. These men should be ashamed of themselves — their actions are unjustifiable and immoral.

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  • rixtir November 13, 2007 at 8:14 pm

    I think SK is more interested in pursuing a radical anti-regulatory agenda than it is in finding a win-win solution.

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  • Paul November 13, 2007 at 9:30 pm

    The latest Dolan case….

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  • BURR November 13, 2007 at 9:44 pm

    are you sure you don\’t have the drawings labeled backwards? It looks like they are only arguing over a small piece of trail in the footprint of one of the proposed buildings, I don\’t understand why they can\’t reach some sort of agreement on it.

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  • rixtir November 13, 2007 at 9:48 pm

    BURR, you\’re right, Jonathan\’s got them mislabeled.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) November 13, 2007 at 10:06 pm

    yes I had them mislabeled. I have corrected it. thanks for noticing.

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  • Lance Lindahl November 14, 2007 at 8:56 am

    The ultimate in absurdity is that SK Northwest wants to build their concrete box warehouse and surface parking lot on a piece of property that is far more valuable than that.

    This area may look scrappy now, but new road improvements and the introduction of light rail will have a profound effect in this area.

    All of SK\’s and the Portland Spirit\’s neighbors are looking to build mixed-use, transit oriented, environmentally friendly buildings while they appear to be stuck in the 1950s.

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  • tonyt November 14, 2007 at 9:32 am


    They may be biding their time, banking that in another 10 years the land will be even more valuable. And if they get their exceptions granted, that would make the property all that more valuable. Just a thought.

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  • Paul November 14, 2007 at 9:49 am

    Depending on where the new light rail bridge lands, the land values could be pretty different in a few years.

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  • GLV November 14, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    FYI, send your comments/letters to the Bureau of Development Services, not the Bureau of Planning.

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