1. East Portland is home to 25% of the city’s population, yet has historically been allocated a smaller share of city resources than other areas of town. How will you support equity for East Portland in city investments in transportation, parks, housing and economic development?
Like all Portlanders I expect results. We need to be transparent with neighborhoods and showcase both the success with community investments and where we have fallen short. I recently found out that there are 4 miles of unimproved roads in East Portland--- we should have metrics available for all of Portland—people need to have visibility to what is and isn’t working. As a City Commissioner I would like to mobilize a campaign of transparency so we can all monitor the results of these voter approved investments. Equity means accelerating investments for neighborhoods that have been historically underserved. It is time for the city government to deliver.
In my opinion the two most important outcomes that we should be looking for from transportation are: equitable access to opportunity and environmental benefit.
Parks bring Portlanders joy but we need more equitable access to clean air, trees and community centers.
Scholarships are needed so all children who qualify for free and reduced lunch have access to community centers and swimming lessons. Additionally, equal distribution of trees and investing in tree planting in East Portland.
Twenty years of doing things the same way got us here and gentrification and displacement shouldn’t be our Portland story. That means: quit dithering and build the units we’ve already paid for in the two housing bonds, provide protections and financial support to help the diverse renters and homeowners in this neighborhood stay here. Time for action and common sense, it just requires doing it.
2. East Portland lags behind the rest of the city in personal incomes and job opportunities. What will you do to increase the number of family-wage jobs in East Portland?
As CEO of All Hands Raised I worked with the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters on creating a best practice program linking youth, schools, administrators and the union together. Together we worked to partner with local middle and high schools in helping create awareness of the career opportunities available. Our comprehensive approach involved educating teachers who often have a mental model that does not hold such apprenticeships in high regards. Through our partnership teachers witnessed firsthand the transformative impact these experiences had for youth. With the "grey tsunami" approaching we must invest in trades and create more apprenticeship programs and work with communities to bring industry to those communities that need economic investment. As a City Commissioner I will replicate this model and create more funded partnerships that invest in manufacturing and the trades. I will also bring together more non profits to benefit from this program including those with workforce development programs aimed at our youth and individuals from communities of color.
3. Portland is experiencing a severe housing crisis, and East Portland residents are particularly vulnerable to displacement. What tools will you implement to prevent involuntary displacement of low-income people from East Portland?
• Grant a “right to stay” to existing tenants
• Implement a Tenant Opportunity to Purchase policy that gives all current renters, and then the city, the first and second rights of refusal to purchase a property at fair-market value before it goes on the market.
• Earmark Construction Excise Tax (CET).
• Charge a fee for any redevelopment of a property in single-dwelling zones that does not include at least two units
• Property tax exemption for any regulated affordable units built on-site, for the duration of the affordability restriction.
4. What is your strategy to bring East Portland’s street infrastructure up to the standard of the rest of the city?
This question illustrates the importance of electing a commissioner who's able to work collaboratively with other departments, and reinforces what I have been saying about the shortcomings of our antiquated form of city government where each commissioner dwells in his or her fiefdom. PBOT certainly has the right ideas about design and infrastructure - those are two important ingredients for safety, but they're not the only ones. Along with design and infrastructure, we need more education and enforcement, and for that you have to go beyond PBOT and insist that the Police Bureau make ending traffic deaths and injuries as important a priority to the Police Bureau as it is to the Transportation Bureau. A Portlander killed by a gun or a knife or a hammer is quite rightly considered a victim of a very serious crime, and a Portlander killed by an automobile should be considered to be just as tragic, and frankly even more preventable. I don't know if I will be assigned PBOT, and it seems likely that the Mayor will customarily be responsible for the Police Bureau, but I pledge to take an interagency interest in this issue regardless of my portfolio. Finally, in terms of resources, the PBOT revenues under the gas tax that is up for renewal should continue to be devoted to safety enhancements as a top priority.
I do want to call out “Vision Zero” – the program devoted to reducing traffic deaths to zero. This is yet another example of Portland adopting a high-blown promise in a policy, but then not acting quickly to actually fulfill it. I support this policy, but I am not satisfied with the pace of making the investments in street changes (for example sidewalks, particularly in east Portland) and police enforcement to take it seriously. As you all know some of the deadliest streets are in lower-income neighborhoods, and are controlled by the state government (ODOT) such as Powell Blvd., 82nd Avenue, Columbia Blvd. City gov’t needs to hold ODOT to account for its deadly negligence on these arterials.
5. If you are elected, what is your vision of East Portland a decade from now? What is your strategy to get us there?
If elected I will show that you and I share important values, like making Portland more economically accessible to more people by deregulating a wide range of housing types, and that we are in alignment in a belief that investments should lead to measurable outcomes that are more than theoretical. Like I said at the transportation forum on March 10, Portland city government is too often characterized by high-flown abstract aspirations which are then not supported by the nitty-gritty of actual practice (like the outcomes of the zoning and development process) or budget (like saying we want to reduce traffic fatalities in Vision Zero theory but not then making the expenditures that would cause that to happen.) I share an interest in finally matching Portland’s general progressive sentiments with day-to-day governing that actualizes those sentiments beyond platitudes. At All Hands Raised, I was all about translating noble but vague intentions about educational achievement into specific steps required to make achievement happen.
Dynamism and change need to be accepted as facts of life in an urban area, at least one that we hope is growing and offering new opportunities, rather than one that is always going to be as it is today. Today we don’t have as many livery stables or coal stores as we did 100 years ago and we don’t have as many video rental shops as we did 20 years ago. I am skeptical of government efforts to freeze neighborhoods in amber, particularly in terms of commercial activities. We can’t cater only to the nostalgia of those of us who have the good fortune to have been here a long time. I am a true Portlander, and I sincerely love some aspects of the Portland I knew in 1971 or 1991 or 2011. But I also know those were incomplete Portlands and that the city we have today and want to have in the future will be different as well as somewhat the same. I think the best thing we can do for neighborhood “character” and livability is to have our planning, zoning and development systems allow for growth and change so that more people can create the Portland of the future they want.