Sources: Hardesty challenges Wheeler on budget
First-term Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty is challenging Mayor Ted Wheeler by publicly proposing her own budget priorities for the next fiscal year, based on input from a forum she hosted last Saturday.
Although Wheeler will not release his recommended budget until May 1, Hardesty sent out an email on Monday, April 15, saying she supports creating a Portland Street Response mental health program, restoring a rapid response vehicle at Fire & Rescue and emphasizing resiliency planning to help ensure resident safety during major public safety events.
"Budgets are moral documents that reflect the values of a city. Community member input in planning, not just responding, is an important building block," Hardesty said following the April 13 forum at Ventura Park Elementary School.
Commissioners traditionally defer to the mayor before proposing changes to his recommended budget.
City Council races heating up
Even though the May 2020 primary election is more than a year away, speculation has already started about who will run for the two City Council seats that are up.
Commissioner Amanda Fritz has announced that she will not seek reelection next year.
Potential candidates mentioned in media accounts include Latino Network Executive Director Carmen Rubio and Sarah Iannarone, who ran for mayor in 2016 and who has stayed politically active.
Meanwhile, The Oregonian has reported that first-term Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson is thinking of running for mayor, even though Ted Wheeler has not yet said whether he will run for a second term. Police reform activist Teressa Raiford is the only declared candidate so far.
State Rep. Diego Hernandez (D-East Portland) has also expressed interest in serving on the council.
Is Metro for or against the Rose Quarter freeway project?
Although Metro staff was critical of the Oregon Department of Transportation's plan for easing the bottleneck caused by the intersections of Interstate 5 and Interstate 84 in the Rose Quarter area, President Lynn Peterson struck a much more conciliatory tone in a joint letter with Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler to the Oregon Transportation Commission.
The lengthy staff analysis of the project criticized many aspects and all but accused ODOT of lying when it said the additional on and off ramps were not a "freeway expansion." But in their April 4 letter, Peterson and Wheeler said "Interstate 5 is a critical economic artery for the Portland region and the entire West Coast" that needs improvements in the Rose Quarter area.
The estimated $500 million project is intended to reduce congestion and to improve safety in the Rose Quarter area and to encourage redevelopment by capping the freeways and creating bike and pedestrian connections over them. Peterson and Wheeler urge ODOT to provide stronger connections over the freeway that can accommodate redevelopment projects. They cite the truss-hung retail space on the Interstate 80 cap in Reno and Margaret Hance Park above Interstate 10 in Phoenix as two examples.
Masonry standards claim a building
The high cost of bringing unreinforced masonry buildings up to current earthquake standards is a factor in a controversial redevelopment project in Southeast Portland.
As reported by our sister publication the Business Tribune, the owner of the building that houses The Joinery furniture manufacturing business has sold it to a private developer for a five story, 178-unit apartment building. Marc Gaudin said the owner of The Joinery previously had declined to buy the building from him, citing expensive earthquake preparedness standards.
"He pointed out that the current Joinery building is unreinforced masonry and likely would be very expensive to remodel to the city's new earthquake preparedness standards," the Business Tribune reported Blumenauer as saying.
The council has postponed requiring the owners of unreinforced masonry buildings to post earthquake warning signs while it researches financial incentives to help them pay to upgrade them.
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