Education and Schools
As a parent of three children in our public schools, I am very committed to ensuring that Portland Public Schools provides an excellent education for all of our children. For years, I have been active in the PTO at Longfellow Elementary and in advocating for our schools before the Portland Board of Education and City Council.
I support the 4 school bond to renovate Longfellow, Lyseth, Presumpscot, and Reiche, while continuing to aggressively pursue state funding for our other school capital construction needs. The City of Portland has applied to the State for funding for Portland High School and the PATHs/Casco Bay High School buildings, in addition to our elementary schools. Over the past three state funding rounds, Portland has been successful in qualifying for state funding for only one school in each round: Hall Elementary which is under construction, Ocean Ave Elementary opened in 2011, and East End Community School opened in 2006. Because we haven’t been successful in getting state funding for more than one of our schools in any one round (each round is about 5 years), I don’t see any reason to believe this trend will change. Hence, we should continue to pursue state funding for our schools, while also approving a local bond for the four badly outdated elementary schools.
Portland Question 1 – Rent Control/Stabilization
I believe this proposed ordinance is the wrong approach to our affordability challenges and could do more harm than good. This ballot question proposes to establish rent control along with other changes to landlord tenant laws here in Portland. We can all agree that affordability is one of our top challenges in Portland. For the past two years, I have worked with both public and private affordable housing developers to help move development of more affordable housing forward in Portland.
I am proud to have played a role in helping to craft the changes that were recently adopted to our affordable housing ordinance (Division 30 of our Land Use Ordinance) and helped to support these changes as they made their way through the Planning Board and City Council process. Because of these changes, we will see at least 2 or 3 new affordable housing projects move forward in Portland this year.
We have plenty of work to do to ensure that Portland remains affordable for all of us, whether that is the cost to rent an apartment, or buy a home or pay our property tax bills. Question 1 won’t solve these challenges.
Portland Question 2 – Zoning Changes
Our current process for zoning amendments may not work perfectly, but Question 2 would cripple our city and make it virtually impossible for us to solve our affordability challenges. This proposed ordinance could give just a few people who live within 500 feet of a proposed project/zoning change veto power over the project/zone change. There are a number of opportunities for concerns to be addressed when a zoning change is proposed and our elected officials have to vote to change zoning based on what they see is in the best interest of the whole city. Question 2 is undemocratic and will cripple our ability to address our housing shortage as well as our ability to update our archaic and overly rigid existing zoning. Neighbors already have a voice in development. Question 2 is aimed at allowing a small minority the ability to veto developments even when the rest of Portland thinks they will have a positive impact.