On the ballot this November? Portland's affordability
This past spring, my family and I moved to Portland from Brooklyn, New York. We instantly loved the Rose City — not only because of its world-class restaurants, friendly atmosphere and miles of urban bike trails — but because Portland is, without a doubt, the most equitable major metropolitan area on the West Coast.
This summer, I took the helm of the Portland Business Alliance, Greater Portland's Chamber of Commerce, and a leading advocate to building a competitive region with mission to help grow abundance of family-wage jobs and quality educational opportunities. I am amazed by the innovative entrepreneurism, energy and spirit of business leaders from large and small organizations, dedicated to supporting a vibrant future for everyone.
As we look ahead to the November election, our region and state have critical decisions to make about our future.
The Alliance does not take our positions on these issues lightly. We engage in these elections to promote the value of jobs, to help our businesses thrive and ensure the residents of the Portland region are equally prospering from a high-quality of life.
That's why we strongly support Measure 102 and Measure 26-199, and adamantly oppose Measure 105 and Measure 26-201. If, like me, these seemingly random numbers are puzzling, keep reading — or check out our recently published 2018 Voter Guide at portlandalliance.com — for a breakdown of each measure.
Here's what you should know
Measure 102 will amend the state constitution to give local governments more flexibility to work with nonprofit and private-sector partners on bond-financed affordable housing projects. If approved Nov. 6, affordable housing bonds — like the regional bond on the ballot this fall and the one Portland voters passed in 2016 — could yield significantly more places for people to live. The Alliance maintains that affordable housing is not a government endeavor alone; the private sector and our nonprofit partners throughout the state are willing, and more than able, to step up and tackle this challenge together. Measure 102 allows all hands on deck.
Measure 26-199, the $652.8 million regional affordable housing bond, is a no-brainer. At the cost of about $5 per month for the average Portland-area homeowner, the bond will increase the region's housing supply and address home affordability, a fundamental workforce issue. The bond could permanently house as many as 12,000 people in the tri-county area, primarily serving families earning between 0-30 percent Median Family Income. To put the aforementioned Measure 102 in some context, this regional bond would only house about 7,500 people if the constitution is not amended. To learn more about these important measures, visit: YesForAffordableHousing.com
Measure 26-201 is a regressive 1 percent gross receipts tax on large retailers in Portland that could generate up to $80 million per year for renewable energy projects. While the Alliance supports the intended goal, Portlanders already pay a 6 percent public purpose fee on their utility bills for clean energy programs. This tax is poorly defined and will directly impact low-income communities and small businesses in the form of higher prices for everyday goods and services, like school supplies and financial advising. At a time when Portlanders are being priced out of the city, we can't afford a new tax to fund an existing effort. We can keep Portland affordable and reach our ambitious climate goals, but this tax won't get us there. To learn more about the importance of keeping Portland affordable, visit: KeepPortlandAffordable.com
Measure 105 aims to repeal Oregon's 1987 sanctuary law and divert local resources to enforcing federal immigration law. This spring, the Alliance joined more than 100 organizations around the state to oppose this measure. The measure would roll back Oregon's commitment to making immigrant communities safe from harassment. Not only is this a moral issue for our state, but an economic one: Immigrant communities are an essential aspect of our economic fabric, supporting industries across the state and contributing hundreds of millions in tax revenue. Moreover, Measure 105 deflects the need for comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level and sends a dangerous signal across the nation that Oregon is not welcoming to all. If we want to continue to attract people and jobs to this state, this measure must be defeated. To learn more about why you should vote NO on Measure 105, visit: ORUnited.org
Above all, regardless of your political persuasions, I encourage you to vote by Nov. 6. As Portlanders, Oregonians and Americans, it is our civic duty. We can't afford to sit this one out.