The League of Young Voters

Dear Committee Members… — by Patrick Banks
July 15, 2008, 4:37 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Dear Committee Members,

Some of you know me, some of you don’t. I’m Patrick Banks, and I am a writer for The Bollard. I’m also something of an urbanist activist and it is in that capacity that I’m writing to you today.

In short, I’m here to voice my support of the recommendations presented at last week’s transit forum. I have watched with excitement as it’s various components took shape over the past several months. Likewise, I have felt a mounting sense of dread as I observe the negative reaction sparked the the botched coverage provided by the Press Herald. I suppose I myself as a member of the media (with more partisan leeway than any PPH reporter) could have done a better job in explaining things early on. All I can say is I hope to overcome my personal inefficiencies and get on top of the ball.

In any case, opposition and skepticism were to be expected, of course. The trick now is to overcome those difficulties. That will take fortitude and patience. We have no other choice – this is the right thing to do, and we’ve known it since at least 1993, when the Time for Change came out. Allowing Portland to drown in automobile traffic would be criminal – even more criminal than the destruction wrought upon our urban landscape when much of our current auto-base local infrastructure was built in the 60’s. Oil was cheap back then and people thought nothing of driving their cars everywhere. We no longer have that excuse. No more destroying downtown in order to save it. (Failed efforts, by the way, when you consider that the Mall mortally wounded downtown anyway.) The talk in the air these days is all about the death of suburbia, the flight back to the inner cities, and the need for appropriate land use and transportation policy to make our newly densified communities pleasant places to live. But that won’t happen through magical historical forces. We have to work to make this happen. This transformation won’t happen over night, just as the attempted suburbanization of downtown Portland didn’t happen over night.

We know now that an automobile uber alles policy won’t make us competitive with a suburbia. (A settlement pattern, by the way, which will likely face radical changes itself in the years ahead.) Instead, let us recognize Portland for the dense smallish city it is and play to those strength’s. In short, please fight like mad to make these recommendations become reality. Wash away the sins of Victor Gruen, breath new life into the spirit behind the ’93 transportation study, and always remember that Dirigo is Latin for “I Lead.”

Yours truly,
Patrick Banks

“Resurgam et Dirigo”


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