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Convention Hotel Opponents Challenge Referendum Roadblock To Circuit Court

OPB | Jan. 3, 2014 4:45 p.m. | Portland

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A publicly-supported convention center has already sparked debate before three Portland-area governments. Voters may weigh in, too. But that path took a detour Friday through county court.

An artist's rendering of the proposed Hyatt at the Oregon Convention Center.

An artist's rendering of the proposed Hyatt at the Oregon Convention Center.

Courtesy Metro

Elected officials have signed off on changes to tourist taxes, to provide millions in public subsidy for a proposed Hyatt Hotel. Details are still being ironed out, but supporters say a new hotel could attract convention business and create jobs.

Opponents say it’s too much money for what they consider a risky hotel venture. But as critics moved to refer last month’s county commission vote to the ballot, county elections blocked them, saying the commission vote couldn’t be referred.

Opposition spokesman Sandeep Kaushik calls that “absurd,” and is asking Multnomah Circuit court to overturn it.

“We’ve also asked the court to let us begin collecting signatures while the matter is being adjudicated, because the

clock is ticking,” Kaushik said.

Opponents have until mid-March to collect more than 11,000 valid signatures.

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