This is why politicians should be recalled:
In the heart of the South Waterfront district, a gravel-covered lot is littered with a rusty lawn chair, a dusty 40-ounce Budweiser bottle and broken promises.
Nearby, a tram car glides up the hill. The streetcar whirs past a new park. Thirty stories of luxury condos jut skyward. The only thing missing is what was supposed to be on the lot: an apartment building for the poor.
Seven years ago, Portland city leaders pledged that South Waterfront would include 430 apartments or condos for low-income residents. But the city has failed to deliver a single one.
South Waterfront remains a neighborhood exclusively for the affluent despite more than $125 million in taxpayer support.
The Portland Development Commission, the city's urban renewal agency, has spent $13 million buying South Waterfront land, among other things, for affordable apartments. Most of that money has gone to South Waterfront's lead developers.
What happened? The city's ever-changing plans and the recession made financing difficult. And in spending taxpayers' money, city executives failed to follow their own policies and didn't flex powers they fought for in talks with developers.
PDC leaders say they did their best while pressured by City Hall and developers to get other South Waterfront projects built. "Had this been a normal transaction, our policies would have been followed to a T," said Bruce Warner, executive director.
But housing advocates remain frustrated with the city's empty lots and empty promises. More than 6,000 households are seeking low-income housing in the region, according to the Housing Authority of Portland.
"The people in charge of this should be ashamed," said Susan Emmons, executive director of the Northwest Pilot Project, a Portland nonprofit that helps low-income seniors find housing. "We're turning people away from shelters."