Sources Say: Emmons touts his cred to tackle growth
Portland architect Stuart Emmons became the first City Council candidate to forcefully question the pace and style of change in town last week. In a Feb. 22 email news release, Emmons said, "Are you happy with what new buildings are doing to Portland? Are you happy with how Portland is growing? Are you happy with the homelessness and unaffordable housing? Well, I'm not either. Now you can do something about it!"
Perhaps surprisingly, Emmons, who is running for the seat being vacated by Commissioner Dan Saltzman, is the first council candidate to focus on the issue.
A November 2016 poll commissioned by Metro found that almost 60 percent of regional residents are dissatisfied with how their local governments are handling growth.
Although Emmons did not offer any specifics in his release, he said, "One big reason the changes in our city lack direction is because we do not have anyone on City Council who understands design and creative problem-solving, or someone versed in architecture and urban planning. We need someone on our City Council who understands how all the parts of a city affect each other so everyone benefits. Especially now."
Let's just declare Peterson the winner
Although the filing deadline for the May 15 primary election is not until March 6, you might as well declare Lynn Peterson the winner of the Metro president race.
For starters, no one else had filed as a candidate by press time. Peterson also has raised more than $197,000 for the race and still has more than $76,000 in the bank, according to the most recent campaign filings. Contributors include business leaders, labor organizations and other elected officials. And she has been endorsed by just about every current and former politician in the region.
Peterson's dominance is especially impressive since she last held elected office in 2011, when she was chair of the Clackamas County Commission.
After that, she served as a transportation adviser to former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, chief executive officer of the Washington State Department of Transportation, interim executive director of 1000 Friends of Oregon and, most recently, senior transportation policy advisor for the Portland office of Smart Growth America, a national advocacy organization.
Growth wars in California
Should the state of Oregon override local zoning policies to increase residential densities and ease the affordable housing crisis? A bill to do that in California has ignited a firestorm of controversy, according to a recent article in The Guardian, headlined "Declaration of war: liberals divided as California mulls housing push."
The article focuses on a bill introduced by state Sen. Scott Wiener that eliminates height and density limits around all transit stations and major bus routes in the state, to allow construction of buildings five to eight stories high. It has won support from developers, smart growth advocates, and a group of 100 Silicon Valley tech industry leaders, who signed a letter saying workers desperately need the housing.
But it is strongly opposed by some homeowners and local elected officials, including Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin, who calls it extreme. "This will change the character of neighborhoods in the Bay Area and throughout the state," Arreguin says in the article.
That's a different reaction than here in Portland, where Mayor Ted Wheeler did not opposed a bill introduced in the 2017 Oregon Legislature by House Speaker Tina Kotek along the same lines as Wiener's bill.