Candidates for Council Position 1 / Timothy DuBois

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?

While historically disenfranchised, East Portland has had a couple of big wins over the last several years. Amanda Fritz, when in charge of the Parks Department, opened three new parks which allowed access to public green spaces to many low-income families who previously had no place to go. Public transportation on the east side is much more connected and intricate, whereas the west side is more sprawling and dispersed. The addition of the Orange line to Milwaukie also opens a much-needed max line in the south-east. I plan to continue these efforts, while also setting goals and initiatives for equitable housing and urban development. Over the past five years, high-rise apartments costing $3000 and up per month have been popping up. This is not the kind of construction we need. I intend to reduce red tape for the construction and to create incentives for investors to fund affordable housing. The dense transit in East Portland makes it a perfect spot for further economic development. It allows for an easy and cheap option to go between home, school, work, and shopping districts, helping to stimulate growth.   

 

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?

The best way to create family-wage jobs is to expand industry. While industry in the city is thriving, the smokestack pollution is not regulated by human health risks. These are problems we can work to fix while also stimulating job growth. By investing in green industries, such as renewable energy and electric-vehicle infrastructure, we can create well-paying jobs from construction workers to vendors to management.

 

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?

Portland’s current solution to the housing crisis is more taxes and regulations for developers, but, as has been seen in San Francisco and New York, I believe this to be the root of the problem. I bring a knowledge of real estate finance and the cost of risk to the city government that has been long missing.

We will start by eliminating the Inclusionary Zoning requirements and replacing it with a housing voucher (section 8) requirement. A voucher requirement would move the subsidy off the developers books and onto the public, as it is a public problem. It would also move the benefit away from a specific unit, to the individual or family, where it should be. No one should be trapped in an insufficient housing unit, or conversely having more housing than they need, because it would mean losing necessary support. As an active landlord to a housing voucher recipient, I understand the benefits of the program and appreciate that my tenant can move as her circumstances change.

The next approach is to reduce or eliminate subjective building standards. Subjective standards open up development to litigation. These lawsuits are usually brought for the purpose of blocking projects and have the effect of increasing risk, which increases costs, and reduces growth in supply - thereby worsening the housing problem. The first step would be to get rid of the regulatory deadwood in the system. The next step would be to consider eliminating the design commission, or more generally, all design standards and review. To illustrate why - while visiting the field for a real estate class, we reviewed the three designs of MLK 5 at the Burnside Bridgehead and all three group members liked different designs. It is not good use of public resources to regulate taste.

 

4. What is your strategy to bring East Portland’s street infrastructure up to the standard of the rest of the city?

Currently, our infrastructure budget is tied to property taxes. While a good idea in theory, this creates and encourages economic disparity. West Portland has significantly higher real-estate values then the East, producing more tax revenue, and therefore the residents are given more power in where it is allocated. This continues a trend of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, with all of the funding going to west side parks, schools, and neighborhoods while the east side shuts down schools, like Marshall High, and community centers like the Columbia Pool. We need to bridge this gap and make infrastructure equal throughout the city by increasing alternative funding options, like sponsored parks and more rentable vendor stalls in public spaces. 

 

5. If you are elected, what is your vision of East Portland a decade from now? What is your strategy to get us there?

I strive for a Portland that is clean, safe, and equal for all. One with minimal smog, pristine rivers, and well-maintained public spaces through increased pollution regulation and green industries. I want us to move towards smart density, where homes, work, transit, and entertainment are all easily accessible. I will work to end our housing crisis, and home as many citizens in need as possible through a combination of developer incentive’s and Section 8 housing vouchers.

 

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