Our Opinion: Here's hoping our 2020 visions come true
At this time of year, we traditionally outline our editorial board's wishes for the coming year. Now, as the Portland area enters a whole new decade, we'd like to offer some visions for 2020 and beyond.
• First, we're hoping the new decade brings a return to bipartisanship in Oregon. The state Legislature has typically been a far less polarized than the U.S. Congress. But in 2019, that appeared to change. Several lawmakers — Democrats and Republicans alike — cite a new, heightened sense of partisan bickering, even tribalism, in Salem. Some are choosing to leave the Legislature.
This is just two years after 2017's biggest bill, a $5.3 billion statewide transportation package, passed with praise from Democrats and Republicans alike. The legislation, which benefitted urban, suburban and rural Oregonians, was based on an extensive listening tour by liberal, moderate and conservative lawmakers, taking in most of the state.
Then came 2019, with its $1 billion-per-year tax increase for public K-12 schools; two Republican walkouts in the Senate; a failed bid to protect more children from the measles; and a cap-and-trade carbon emissions bill that stalled.
All of which led to a much more divided Legislature than Oregonians are used to.
As we head into a short session for 2020, beginning in February, let's hope for a return to Oregon's bipartisan traditions.
Other wishes for the new year:
• How about peace between longtime Portland neighborhood associations — which have contributed much to the city — and emerging communities who want a seat at the table?
In past years, the Portland City Council has too often used one metric for communicating with residents: have the neighborhood associations been informed?
That's no longer enough.
Renters often don't have a voice at neighborhood associations, which tend to be dominated by property owners. This means homeless residents, and their advocates, often feel unwelcome in neighborhood associations. Many young Portlanders and newcomers also feel left out.
Widening the definition of the term "reaching out to the community" means more than newsletters to neighborhood associations. And addressing this is good, because groups that appear to have conflicting purposes often share one goal: making Portland the best city it can be.
• As TriMet enters the new decade, we have multiple transit desires: that the Division Street Bus Rapid Transit project actually proves that faster bus trips are possible; that the Southwest Corridor gets its long-awaited MAX line; and that the bus fleet makes the transition from fumes to electricity.
• Along those lines, cars and buses alike could benefit from more lanes, fewer potholes and smarter road technology. Let's just hope Metro, which plans to take a transportation measure to the ballot in November, can find an affordable way to fund these priorities.
• Everyone wants a practical solution to the metro area's homeless situation that includes kindness and respect for the homeless community and greater consideration of the effects on homeowners and businesses.
It's worth repeating what has become our mantra these past few years: This is not Portland's problem alone. Every city on the West Coast struggles to find the solution. Every suburban city feels it. Rural communities feel it. It will take smart and heartfelt resolve by cities, counties, Oregon and the federal government — along with the business communities and faith communities — to turn this around.
• Similarly, a happier future for affordable housing is needed. Voters have approved money for more government-funding housing initiatives in the tri-county region, and those projects will begin to bear fruit in 2020.
The Legislature has required all large cities to expand the definition of "residential neighborhoods," paving the way for more of the so-called "missing middle housing," such as duplexes and stand-alone "granny flats."
Every community must do its part to address the housing and affordable housing shortages. We would like to see real progress throughout the region in this coming year.
• We're hoping that the state of Oregon clarifies and strengthens the rules on governmental transparency. Public records should be made public, and without an undue burden on the person or group seeking those records. This is not an issue facing journalists alone. It's an issue facing every citizen who wants to know how tax dollars are spent, how policy is enacted and how elected officials use the power we give them when we elect them.
• For the Trail Blazers, we would hope their history of injuries to big men becomes a thing of the past, and that Jusuf Nurki? and Zach Collins, in particular, return to help guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum in the quest for an NBA championship.
• Speaking of basketball, how about if half of the women's Final Four could come from our state? With Oregon ranked No. 2 and Oregon State No. 3 in both the AP and the coaches' polls, it's not wild to imagine both teams making it to New Orleans in April. The Ducks are looking for a return trip to the Final Four while the Beavers have made four consecutive runs to at least the Sweet 16, including a Final Four berth in 2016.
One team is likely to be seeded into the Portland Regional at Moda Center, where the Ducks prevailed last season to make the national semifinals.
Either program would pack Moda Center, and perhaps give Portland momentum toward landing a future Women's Final Four.
• As for Pac-12 men's basketball, a revival is real. The teams have had a successful run in nonconference play, highlighted by wins over top-10 teams from Oregon (at Michigan) and Utah (over Kentucky). Cal, at 6-6, had the worst record among Pac-12 teams through 12 nonconference games. That's a significant improvement from 2018-19, when the Pac-12 was a combined 4-31 against quality nonconference opponents and got only three teams into the NCAA Tournament.
• In a perfect soccer world, the Portland Timbers would acquire another dynamic attacking player, one free of off-field challenges and with the on-field finishing ability that Brian Fernandez brought in 2019 before running afoul of the MLS behavior health policy.
Such an acquisition would provide competition to help Jeremy Ebobisse's development and would make Diego Valeri, Sebastian Blanco and the rest of the Timbers a more difficult matchup.
• And by next Christmas, what if Santa could bring the Rose City Rollers a permanent home? Portland's team rules the world in women's flat-track roller derby, but the thriving program continues to seek a facility to replace its digs at Oaks Amusement Park. The nonprofit has been seeking a location large enough for two tracks and seating for 750 to 1,000 spectators.
In 2019, Rose City Rollers partnered with Rock N Roll Camp for Girls to search for a venue that the two organizations can purchase together.
The Rose City Rollers are more than four-time Women's Flat Track Derby Association international champions. They also have a local league and junior programs for girls. Here's hoping them the best in 2020.
• Hoping that one of Portland's largest arts organizations prospers after big changes: Portland Opera, under the guidance of Sue Dixon, the new general director, is switching back to September-May programming for the 2020-21 season, as part of a strategic plan to reinvigorate itself.
• The Rock 'N' Roll Band Camp for Girls and Rose City Rollers roller derby organization want to find a new home they collaboratively call their own — perhaps they find it?
• Following successful TV shows "Leverage," "Grimm" and "Portlandia," the ABC's "Stumptown" has attracted some viewers in its first season. Will it be renewed? It's filmed in Los Angeles, but it's set in Portland and stars Cobie Smulders as P.I. Dex Parios.
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