The League of Young Voters


The Local Issues Committee launches! by Patrick Banks
December 3, 2007, 3:34 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

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Hey fellow young people! The cost of living sure sure does suck, don’t it? I mean, you’re an artist/musician/writer/whatever who moved to Portland to take advantage of the cultural opportunities here. Only you can’t make a living off of your labor of love so you have to take not one, not two, but THREE craptastic minimum wage jobs just to survive. Oh, and don’t forget – you need to find time for the classes you’re taking at MECA/SMCC/USM/UNE. And who knows, maybe you’re a single parent as well. That’s more than enough stress to deal with. Too bad your landlord is raising your rent. Double too bad one of your bosses (for the job at the mall) want’s you to come into work on Sunday. Triple too bad that you rely on the bus to get there and that the buses don’t run on Sundays.

This is not an acceptable situation. How can it be better? Obviously higher wages and better jobs are a part of the solution, but there will be no substantial change without tackling a couple of other issues – increasing and improving Portland’s supply of affordable housing, and increasing and improving our options for non-automotive modes of transit. This is an issue that is right up The League’s alley, and we’ve created a new Municipal Committee that will tackle these issues and other local issues of importance to our fair city’s population of under-35’s. Our inaugraul meeting was kicked off by a rant-and-rave among the attendees. Lack of affordable housing and decent transit dominated the discussion, with more than one person pointing out that our sprawl-enabling zoning laws created this situation. Additionally, many of us expressed displeasure at the lack of jobs that pay a living wage. As for those occasions when one must absolutely have a car, a couple people mentioned Zip Car, which is a service whereby you can rent vehicles on an hourly basis for simple tasks such as doing laundry or going grocery shopping. Sure would be nice to have that here in Portland!

Moving on from there, we heard presentations from housing expert Liz Trice and transit activist Christian McNeil. Liz pointed out the absurdity of mandating suburban parking requirements foisted in an urban environment like Portland. As such, a lot of land that might otherwise support additional housing is wasted on automobile storage instead. Obviously this needs to change. Too bad bureaucrats on the planning board can’t believe people would acutally choose to live without a car. Liz also talked briefly about a housing development she’s working on at the corner of High and Danforth Streets. It sounds pretty sweet – it’s geared toward people who don’t drive very often, though residents will have the opportunity to share a community car. However, the process of getting it approved by the city is flabberghasting. Liz said the permitting process will probably take longer to navigate than the actual construction of the building.

Christian McNeil touched on many of the same points as Liz and took some additional digs at what he called the “Socialized Parking” mindset. What’s really got Christian fired up, though, is the misplaced priorities of PACTS. You know who they are, right? Ha-ha, just kidding. A lot of people don’t. Anyway, PACTS is short for Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation Committee (yeah, I know, they can’t even get their acronym right), and pretty soon they are going to submit their wishlist of transportation projects to Uncle Sam. Wouldn’t you know it, that list is chock full of highway expansion projects, yet woefully devoid of any sort of project that would make life easier for walkers, bicyclists or train riders. Christian strongly urged everyone to write PACTS a sternly worded letter telling them to get their priorities straight.

To sum it all up, The League wants affordable housing and transit options that don’t involve single occupancy vehicles. We’re in this to win it. So why not join us at our next Real Deal on December 11, where we’ll be talking about PACTS’ misplaced priorities. That’s going to be right before PACTS has a hearing at city hall, by the way, so why not attend that as well?
Here’s more information about ZipCar: http://rightsofway.blogspot.com/2007/11/want-zipcar.html
Here’s more information about PACTS here: http://rightsofway.blogspot.com/2007/10/action-alert-nix-freeways-support.html
Those links, by the way, take you to Rights of Way, a blog co-authored by the aforementioned Christian McNeil, and, occasionally, me. Check it out: http://rightsofway.blogspot.com
Christian’s other blog is pretty good to. It’s called The Vigorous North and can be found here: http://vigorousnorth.blogspot.com

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