FRIDAY, MARCH 13, 2015 — Mayor Hales this morning hosted a roundtable with representatives from 13 environmental groups to learn about their priorities, and enlist them in helping to advance the city’s environmental goals.
“We’re in a good position right now. I spent these first two years righting the ship, so to speak, redrawing fixing the balancing a budget with a $21.5 million deficit; redrawing URAs to put $800 million back on the tax rolls; and paving more than 100 miles of streets—up from 30 from before I took office,” Mayor Hales said. “Now our businesses and development are strong; our budget has improved and we actually have some money; and we’re focusing some resources on those environmental goals we all care about.”
Representatives from environmental groups presented their priorities for Portland, including urban density, green infrastructure, electric vehicle access, and bike-friendly policies. A sample:
- Jason Miner, 1000 Friends of Oregon: Density isn’t a goal to protect some distant farms, but rather a tool to create livable communities around walkable and bikeable amenities and services, Miner said. “Let’s frame it that way,” he said. He also called for a renewed focus on Metro’s 2040 plan.
- Bob Sallinger, Audubon Society: He called for renewed investment in green infrastructure. “What’s the next big initiative to get people excited?” he said. He also questioned the 2035 Comprehensive Plan’s focus on industrial land.
Mayor Hales responded that the industrial designation is designed to work with the new economy, such as the Ecotrust project, The Redd on Salmon. Ecotrust has purchased two buildings that it is renovating into a working hub for new food-based enterprises and the regional food economy. It will help grown young businesses and connect them to Oregon’s resources. “I’m so excited about that project,” Mayor Hales said. “I want to see more like that.”
- Kristen Sheeran, Climate Solutions: After praising the inclusiveness of the Bureau of Planning & Sustainability’s Climate Action Plan process (draft now out for public comment; click here), she said her group would like the city’s help in creating electric vehicle infrastructure for Portland.
- Doug Moore, Oregon League of Conservation Voters: He emphasized the importance of Portland being a leader on environmental and climate issues.
Mayor Hales agreed: “We’ve had an outsized, catalytic effect on the world. I was at the C40 conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, and in that gathering of mayor’s from around the world, everybody knew Portland. We have influenced the conversation and action around the world, and we need to continue to do so.”
- Rob Sadowsky, Bicycle Transportation Alliance: Hitting some hot topics for bicycle advocates, he said Portland needs a bike share; needs to figure out how to include mountain biking in its natural areas; and needs to consider pedestrians and cyclists in its construction zone permits. Fencing around development that takes over sidewalks and bike lanes are dangerous, he said, pointing to Montreal as a city with a good model for balancing construction and transportation needs.
- Mary Peveto, Neighbors for Clean Air: "We were honored to participate in this roundtable with Mayor Hales and top champions for the environment. And we were heartened to hear the broad support to address air pollution challenges beyond CO2. We hope to see the City of Portland sustain this commitment to address the challenges we face to preserve urban green space, healthy environments and livability through the projected growth in the decades to come."