Friday, December 13, 2019

Portland: Eastside vs Westside

A series of recent conversations about where Portland, Oregon’s city commissioners live, and the democratic implications of having a majority of folks from the Westside govern the majority of the folks who live on the eastside (a claim that was met with incredulity), prompted me to dive a bit deeper into:

Portland — Eastside vs Westside, by the numbers

Currently, Portland has five City Commissioners. Let’s see how they break down:

Mayor Wheeler (SW Hills) - WESTSIDE
Commissioner Fish (Goose Hollow) - WESTSIDE
Commissioner Fritz (West Portland Park) - WESTSIDE
Commissioner Eudaly (Woodlawn) - EASTSIDE
Commissioner Hardesty (East Portland)  - EASTSIDE

Looks like WESTSIDE, 60%, EASTSIDE, 40%

However, Portland’s population as a whole is 79% Eastside, 21% Westside, as measured by population. So, even with two out of five commissioners from the eastside, the westside is still over-represented. Indeed, it would be more equitable if four commissioners were from the eastside, and only one from the westside, by sheer population.

The average households size on the eastside is 2.53; on the westside, it’s 2.0. (The citywide average is 2.4 people per household.) Due to this difference household sizes, 75% of all households are on the eastside, and 25% on the westside.

For whatever reason, though citywide 94% of homes are occupied (that is, there are 0.94 households for every dwelling unit), the occupancy rate of eastside houses is 95%, vs. 92% on the westside. As a result, 74% of all homes are on the eastside, and 26% on the westside.

Given that less than 80% of homes and households are on the eastside, it could be argued that, every once in a while, proportional representation would mean there should be a second Commissioner from the westside…

A Deeper Dive into Eastside vs Westside

The source for all of this data is the UrbanFootprint (UF) base canvas. I was the project manager for the initial development of UrbanFootprint at Calthorpe Associates, and now that I’m with Cascadia Partners, I use the tool on a regular basis. It’s rich with data, and its interface makes certain types of complex geographical analysis very simple to perform quickly. 

This allows me to quickly discover that the Eastside is home to 72% of single family homes on large lots, but 92% of all single family homes on small lots; 56% of all townhomes, but 61% of all apartments. Of those, it’s home to 82% of all Missing Middle apartments in buildings with 2 to 4 units, but only 60% of all apartments in buildings with 5 or more units.

When it comes to employment, the picture looks much like that for larger apartment buildings: 60% of all jobs are on the eastside, including 66% of all retail jobs, 52% of all office jobs, 77% of all industrial jobs, 74% of all retail service jobs, and 63% of all retail jobs. 

However, the westside is home to 58% of all public sector jobs, and 69% of all agricultural-sector jobs within city limits.

The bottom line is that the eastside contains 69% of the land area of the City of Portland. It’s larger; it should have more of the things. It also has a higher average population density, at 9.94 people per acre vs. 5.94 on the westside.

Perhaps surprisingly, however, the westside has a higher employment density, at 7.94 jobs per acre on average, vs. 5.22 jobs per acre on the eastside. This is driven by an average retail density of 1.61 retail jobs per acre on the westside, vs 1.39 on the eastside; 3.92 average office jobs per acre, vs. 1.93 on the eastside; and 1.47 public sector jobs per acre, vs. 0.48 on the eastside.

With most of the public sector jobs on the westside, but most of the population and total jobs on the eastside, the case could be made to de-centralize Portland’s public-sector jobs by placing more of them on the east side of the Willamette. I don’t know exactly what this might look like, but it’s certainly worth keeping in mind!


Sunday, November 06, 2016

Ballot Thoughts, November 8, 2016

Oregon Ballot November 2016

Hi folks,

Apologies for the late date of this one; I understand most of you have probably voted by now in Oregon, unless you like to hand-deliver your ballot to the County the week of the election, like I do.

Regardless, these are my thoughts on the Multnomah County Election, Oregon, November 8 2016:


Federal Offices:
Hillary Clinton & Tim Kaine

US Senator
Eric Navickas (Pacific Green Party)
I don't really have anything against Ron Wyden in particular, it's just that I think I like this guy Navickas more, and isn't that what we're supposed to be doing in a democracy, choosing our favorite? No, it's more complicated than that? Well, Wyden is going to win this, so it's just a token vote anyways. A token of my appreciated to Eric Navickas, for doing the right thing and running for a lesser office than President. I truly would like to see a third major party arise, and I would like it to be ideologically similar to the Democrats, but willing to push in different directions on different issues. Push hard for a revenue-positive carbon tax, with the proceeds dedicated to fund GHG-reduction projects in a schedule of different disciplines (Transportation, Land Use, Energy Production, Transportation Modes, Batteries/Power Storage, etc.). I feel like the Greens would more unabashedly pursue these goals, which needs to happen.  So, you will see me leaning towards that party throughout this ballot, despite knowing full well that the polls say none of these candidates will win. This year. But maybe they'll try again next time, and try harder.

US Representative, District 3
Earl Blumenauer


State Offices

Oregon Governor
Kate Brown

Secretary of State
Brad Avakian (Democrat)
I feel like the main argument against Brad is that he seems to lack experience at the job of Secretary of State, and he has some really progressive ideas about how that office might be able to push harder to help create a better world for our children. OK, I think I'm cool with that, actually.

State Treasurer
Chris Henry (Progressive/Pacific Green)
I looked at what Chris would like to do, and I think it's right on. Try to re-direct the massive firehose of money that is the Treasury of the State of Oregon, and use it to help fund projects to help reduce GHG emissions and try to make a better world for our children, all the while continuing to earn a fair rate of return to help pay public retiree pensions and other state obligations? Count me in, I love that vision. How can we help make it happen?

Attorney General
Ellen Rosenbaum (Democrat)
So, she's married to a guy who helps put out the influential Willamette Week newspaper, and somehow that was wrapped up with the resignation of the previous governor. That's kind of creepy, actually, but I really don't like the politics of the two guys running against her, so I guess she can stay.

Local Offices

Judge of the Court of Appeals, Position 8
Spencer Q. Parsons (Write-in)
I'm so sick of all of these positions on the ballot where only one person is running.


Couldn't find ANYBODY else willing to run for that seat? Why do I have to waste ink filling in the damn circle, then? I'd rather cast a protest vote.

City of Portland Commissioner, Position 4
Steve Novick
If Chloe Eudaly were to come out in support of:

  • the Residential Infill Project in a way that would allow more lower-cost units to be built
  • better bicycle infrastructure so it's safer to not have to pay for the expense of a car to get around the city

...then she probably would have my vote, as we both went to the same high school (Metropolitan Learning Center), we're both from the east side of Portland, and I like her grassroots support.

However, I have not seen her take anything close to those strong positions on those two very important issues.

I know where Steve Novick stands on both of those issues:

  • He co-sponsored the amendment to the Comprehensive Plan in favor of more Missing Middle housing types
  • And he worked hard to pass a new city gas tax in order to help fund basic transportation infrastructure, including some better bicycle infrastructure. It's not enough money to fix that incomplete-bicycle-network problem, but it will get a few more projects built right away, and it doesn't preclude doing more to help finish the network later.

That's all it is for me.

Oregon & Local Ballot Measures

Measure 94
Constitutional Amendment: Eliminates mandatory retirement age of 75 for state judges
I think that, after the age of 75, you've put in your time. I don't want the state to chain these old folks to the gavel just because not attention has been paid to succession planning. Let's train and cultivate the judges of the next generation, so we have good options when our elders get elderly. Then, let's let folks retire at 75 from public service, so they can have their own time to go hiking, ride mountain bikes, go into private practice, run for another office, or just enjoy life while they still can.

Measure 95
Constitutional Amendment: Allows investment in equities by public universities

Measure 96
Constitutional Amendment: Dedicates 1.5 of state lottery net proceeds to funding support services for Oregon veterans.
The Portland City Club says:

"Using the lottery to fund veterans' services means fewer resources could go to other projects already receiving unrestricted lottery funds, such as education."

Measure 97
Increases corporate minimum tax when sales exceed $25 million

Measure 98
Requires state funding for career and college readiness, dropout-prevention programs in Oregon high schools
This stuff is important, and this is a well-written measure that is not triggered until sufficient economic growth has occurred.

Measure 99
Outdoor School for All

Measure 100
Prohibits purchase or sale of parts or products from endangered animals

Measure 26-181
Amends charter, extends term limits to three consecutive terms
What's the problem this measure seeks to solve, exactly? I like seeing churn in this post. If somebody is good, like Earl Blumenauer or Ted Wheeler, we may need their services elsewhere after two terms. Otherwise, let's encourage some churn in the seats.

Measure 26-182
Amends charter, allows commissioners to run for Chair midterm without resigning.
If somebody is good, and wants to be the Chair, we don't want them to have to leave the Commission early to run for that position. We want their expertise constantly employed on the issues before the Commission.

Measure 26-183
Amends Charter, changes elected sheriff position to appointed department head.
This is how we do it in the City of Portland: the Chief of Police reports directly to the Mayor, and if he screws up, his ass is on the line and he will lose his job if the Mayor thinks that is best -- right now. Given the number of times that this has happened, and given that guys (heck, even the gals) in law enforcement aren't exactly known for being the perfect combination of:

  • intelligent, 
  • well-spoken, 
  • experts in various multidisciplinary policy areas, 
  • good at enforcing laws without intentionally or unintentionally engaging in: 
    • racial profiling, 
    • excessive force, 
    • or any number of other potential ways to get in hot water with the public

...I think it's best if the chief law enforcement officer in turn reports to a civilian who has the authority and the duty to fire him or her right now when necessary.

Limits contributions, expenditures, requires disclosure in Multnomah County candidate elections
There was only one argument in opposition filed in the Voter's Guide. Its title was:

Oregon Elections Are Rigged By Big Money
Let's Keep It That Way

...and it was submitted by the Committee of the Best People with the Best Words.

Say no more...

Bonds to fund affordable housing.
This is something that desperately needs to happen. Our city is short by at least 26,000 Affordable Housing Units. This measure would construct about 1300of them, at a cost of $75 a year to the average Portland household.

That means that, if this is the way we're going to solve the problem, it's going to cost the average Portland household roughly $1,500 a year to provide all the necessary units.

For the average Portland household, I think that number would be a big problem.

Further, there are better ways to fund this problem, they're just not comfortable to the decision-makers who put this on the ballot. We should instead be finding seed money from a less-constrained fund source, and using it to start a truly entrepreneurial Community Land Trust, modeled after the land trust in Burlington, Vermont that Bernie Sanders sent seed money to while he was the Mayor. Following that model, the Community Land Trust could provide for-sale and rental Affordable Housing, as well as even homeless shelters.

But that's not what is on the ballot, and if we encourage our leaders to go down the path widened by Measure 26-179, they won't get sent back to the drawing board to find the sort of innovative solutions that they need to be looking harder for -- like the Community Land Trust.

Measure 26-180
Establish tax on recreational marijuana sales; dedicate purposes for funds
This is what marijuana legalization is all about.

Legalize marijuana.

Tax it heavily.

Use the proceeds to fund important programs that need to happen and aren't otherwise sufficiently funded.

That was the promise, and that is what this measure is supposed to deliver. Let's keep the bargain.

Measure 26-178
Renews local option levy; protects natural areas, water quality, fish.


That's it. I made it easy for you, at least if you live near my district! Now, you can vote without having to do quite so much research yourself (though, I encourage you to do your civic duty and perform the research yourself if you have the time, but I also understand about the time thing -- why do you think I didn't post this like a month ago???) and go drop your ballot off at the library or some other ballot drop site, and feel good about Democracy.

Then, relax and wait for the results to roll in.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Fluoridation of water in Portland, OR? Really?

Portland, Oregon will soon vote to fluoridate its water. This in a city that prides itself on having the cleanest, best-tasting water of any major city in the United States; a city where the cleanliness and purity of the water has led directly to a boom in silicon chip manufacturing, beer brewing and drinking fountain usage. For some reason, a large and powerful political coalition has latched onto this issue and is pushing it forward, despite the controversy this is creating in our community.

Quite some time ago, I blogged about the dangers of fluoride in toothpaste; I'll leave the technical arguments for that post for the most part, though I will add one new point of information that has come to light since then: fluoridated municipal water supplies cause fluoridated wastewater to be released into rivers and other waterways, which can impact the health of fish and other aquatic species.

Basically, I feel like this is sort of a Bush vs. Gore moment for Portland, in many ways. Portland is the largest remaining U.S. city to not fluoridate its water; for many of us, this is a sort of pride. If you want fluoride, go buy just about any brand of toothpaste and brush your teeth. Even if you can't afford dental insurance, this will provide your teeth with all the fluoride they "need" to stay healthy (though, please see the previous post for questions about to what degree this need even exists). If you don't think this is the case, then also go ahead and purchase some fluoridated mouthwash; this will provide more than enough fluoridation to protect your dental well-being.

But please, don't force the rest of us to have fluoridated beer, fluoridated lemonade, fluoridated kombucha -- and fluoridated local fish!


Monday, July 16, 2012

MTC/ABAG's Draft SCS is Fatally Flawed

Recently in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to the provisions of California's Senate Bill 375 (SB 375), the regional agencies released a draft version of their plan for land use and transportation patterns through the year 2040. The Bay Area's Greenbelt Alliance called regional government agencies MTC and ABAG's draft Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS) a " turner of a land use scenario.
I agree that it is a comprehensive discussion of the issues faced by planners in the Bay Area. In fact, I would almost call it whiny. Read this paragraph and see if you agree:
The affordable housing production challenge is particularly critical relative to infill development where established
neighborhoods are revitalized with new development in the midst of existing communities, land values are high and planning and entitlement processes are often complex and costly. In addition, construction costs of multi-unit structures continue to escalate, particularly due to the cost of steel and other materials. Financing for infill development remains difficult and the “cost of money” remains relatively high due to the perceived riskiness of multi-family construction and the need for large chunks of capital up front. Urban infill development is also challenging due to the need to assemble sites and the extra costs for site preparation, as well as the extra regulatory hurdles in core areas, such as extensive design reviews. And most recently, there is a new threat of lack of institutional capacity to process housing applications, due to the dissolution of redevelopment agencies and the ongoing fiscal stress in local governments. (page 8)
If it sounds like this may be a prelude to a plan that does not propose solutions to these problems... it is.
For instance, it seems to take a passive, backseat role with regards to planning for the future urban form of employment parks:
Multiple activities and transit at office parks
Office parks have and are expected to continue to accommodate a growing number of employees. However, given the limited land available for new office parks, existing vacant office space, and the preference for walkable, transit-served neighborhoods by a growing number of employers, office parks are expected to grow at a slower pace than in recent decades. Existing office parks are also using less space per worker, providing transit access, and in a few cases adding housing, services and amenities. The emerging private shuttle services run by businesses, particularly in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, are expected to grow and improve transit access while lessening, but not fully mitigating increased freeway traffic congestion related to employment growth. (page 15)
Remember -- this is a plan that is legally mandated to attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, specifically from transportation. And yet it takes a laissez-faire approach to one of the most major issues in regional planning in the Bay Area -- the continued growth of auto-dependent low-density employment parks far from transit -- which is known to lead to increased greenhouse gas emissions.
The major issues with the plan also include the low amounts of housing units planned for construction in comparison to population and employment growth over the next three decades. For instance, rather than confront that fact that this region has consistently under-produced housing over the past few decades (as evidenced by high housing prices and high amounts of in-commuting), the plan seeks to reduce the target for new housing production by using gimmicks:
“…the plan takes into account current housing vacancy rates (approximately 6.4%) and fills vacancies first before planning any new construction.”
First issue: The Bay Area likely has among the lowest vacancy rates of the largest regions in the state, and yet, even though it is the last of the major MPOs in California to produce its SCS, it is the first MPO to suggest that filling vacancies can be a reason to reduce the housing target by a six-figure amount.*
Second issue: Even if this were a valid strategy on its face, it misses two important factors:
1) Location: Many of the vacant units are located in undesirable areas, far from transit and job centers. Vacancy rates in walkable neighborhoods near transit with low crime are at normal, even low levels.
2) Demand by unit type: Much of the vacancies are for single family homes, especially those in poor locations. Much of the demand is for townhomes and multifamily units near transit. Just because there is a surplus of the former doesn’t mean that there is no need to construct the latter.
In reading the draft SCS, I see no mention of demand for units by unit type, especially not in the nuanced manner that has become normative in post-SB375 planning in California: Single Family Large Lot, Single Family Small Lot, Townhome and Multifamily. While Dr. A.C. Nelson’s report “The New California Dream” is referenced, his specific demand projections by unit type and by location are ignored. In case readers don't wish to dig too deeply to find them, here they are for the Bay Area (from page 44 of Dr. Nelson's housing unit demand forecast):
New unit Demand 2010–2035
Multifamily: 668,000 (45.10%)
Townhome: 519,000 (35.04%)
Single Family Small Lot: 294,000 (19.85%)
Single Family Large Lot: −526,000 
Total: 956,000

The draft Bay Area SCS (what they call the Jobs-Housing Connection Strategy, or Plan Bay Area, as a part of some nebulous umbrella effort known as OneBayArea) doesn't specifically include targets for housing unit production by unit type. However, Dr. Nelson's estimate of 956,000 new housing units is likely closer to the overall total amount than the 660,000 used in the current draft of the Bay Area's plan. This shortfall will likely be made up by continued exurban sprawl in California's San Joaquin Valley, as well as to much lesser degrees the northern Salinas Valley, the Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay area and Mendocino and Lake counties.
For these reasons alone, this is a fatally flawed plan; but also add to this list the fact that it does not specify where non-TOD growth will occur (beyond while travel analysis zone it will fall in); and that it admits that it fails to provide enough housing to meet potential demand -- to such a degree that job growth will be lowered by ~110k future potential employees as a consequence, as admitted on page 8:
According to Steve Levy, from the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy, the region could capture another 110,000 jobs of the total national growth. However, the total job growth is constrained by our ability to produce housing, which is ambitiously estimated at 660,000 new units by 2040.
On page 9, the plan admits that it will not seek to current the current imbalance between jobs in the Bay Area and housing outside of the region (mainly in the San Joaquin Valley):
This also assumes that the rate of net in- commuting will remain at 2010 levels, and absorption of about 40,000 existing vacant units. (continued in footnote): The Jobs-Housing Connection Scenario includes an adjustment of 0.7 percent higher employed residents than the numbers forecast by Levy. This adjustment is the result of retaining the 2010 in-commute ratio out to 2040.
Not just retain the current total amount of people commuting into the Bay Area, but actually allow it to increase by retaining the current rate. This will result in an absolute increase in in-commuters, which is not good news to anybody who currently drives in through the Altamont Pass during their morning commute; it will also result in more sprawl in the immediately adjacent San Joaquin Valley, which will not be good news to folks who would prefer to see the agricultural character of that place preserved.
It also flies against what many, including the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) consider to be the primary goals of SB 375 -- to provide housing for all of the potential future residents of a region:
Identify areas sufficient to house all the population of the region, including all economic segments, over the course of the planning period of the regional transportation plan, taking into account net migration into the region, population growth, household formation, and employment growth. This provision is not atypical for growth projections, but SB 375 makes two significant changes. First, the SCS must accommodate all the population growth of the region within the region. Shipping residential growth to adjacent regions is no longer allowed. Second, the population growth projections must include the increased housing demand caused by employment growth. These provisions recognize the crucial linkage between a regional-scale jobs-housing balance and reduced VMT. The housing projects in the first horizon year of the plan (presumably eight years out) must be consistent with the regional housing need identified in the regional housing needs allocation (RHNA) program. This provision is part of the effort to align these programs.
The hope for this plan lies in the basic framework of concentrating growth around transit, and the programs that are being proposed to help make this happen. Let’s hope that future iterations of the plan will build upon this, but address the issues mentioned above…
* SCAG's SCS mentions that the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) allowed them to reduce their Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) for the upcoming 8-year cycle by a slight amount to reflect the current elevated vacancy rate, but they don't mention using this vacancy rate to reduce their overall growth control totals to 2035, nor do they use it as an excuse to continue to encourage the growth of current unhealthy in-commuting patterns. SANDAG's SCS does not mention reducing their housing growth targets due to the vacancy rate specifically, though their vacancy rate was only 5.8% in 2010 according to that document. SACOG's SCS mentions accounting for vacancy -- by using a 5% "vacancy factor", which they account for by planning to overbuild housing to account for a future 5% vacancy rate in 2035 and still be able to accommodate all new households. SACOG's approach is the right way to look at the nuances related to vacancy, which is to take responsibility for the fact that there always will be vacant housing units, and to plan to overbuild slightly in order to account for this.

Monday, October 10, 2011

My maps are now helping to define GIS

At least, the California Map Society is using two images of my maps to help them define the term GIS (URL: I created these maps back when I worked for MTC, and submitted them to ESRI for use in their Map Gallery. Somebody found them at the California Map Society page, and emailed me with a question about how I made them... which is a refreshing reminder that cartography does matter, and once upon a time, I did a lot of it.

An interesting side note is that these maps represented for me the first result of my dabblings in "psychaedelic geography", or the use of non-traditional colors and methods to depict GIS data on maps. The purpose of psychaedelic geography was foremost to make maps that looked more interesting and less boring, which was intended to have consequential side effects of getting people to pay more attention to the data represented on the map. Looks like it worked!

In the three years since I came over to Calthorpe Associates, I have been doing a lot more work behind the scenes, that is, work involving databases, project coordination, public relations, client relations, spreadsheets... in short, everything but cartography. Maybe, thanks to this reminder and the changing demands of the project, I will start to do more cartography soon...

Friday, September 09, 2011

Obama's speech tonight hit it out of the park.

He did an excellent job articulating his messages, he showed emotion, and he did effective combat against a lot of the anti-intellectual ideas that the opposition has been throwing up recently.

I predict that his new for-the-people offense will prove successful in passing the jobs for america act. The question is, did he write enough oomph into it to provide an effective-enough boost to the economy to ensure his re-election? I'm curious to hear Paul Krugman's analysis of what the macroeconomic effect of this bill is likely to be...

Still, I suppose that the bottom line with regard to Obama's reelection will involve many more variables than just the degree of success of this bill.

For instance, the surface transportation reauthorization bill will be another upcoming opportunity to inject massive amounts of funding into capital infrastructure improvements, which have large job-creating capabilities... This will be thus another good opportunity for Obama to exert leadership and use the bully pulpit to fight for large expenditures on transit and bike/ped, which are proven to generate large numbers of relative jobs per dollar spent.

So, here's to hoping that Obama's new fighting spirit will hold, prove effective and be put to good use!

Friday, March 11, 2011

YouChooseBayArea website launched

One of the projects that I've been working on over the past year, Envision Bay Area, has now produced a product, the YouChooseBayArea website, which allows users to play with different policy choices to produce a future scenario for growth in the region, and then see the results of these choices. It's all done up in an easy-to-use manner, with well-written text describing the implications of the choices and the collateral benefits (or damage) resulting. Metrics measured include fiscal impact, public health, GHG emissions, travel behavior, building energy and water consumption, and others.

The scenarios were run through the Rapid Fire model that I was instrumental in the process of building here at Calthorpe Associates. This model produced all of the quantitative results that you see on the website. This is the model that has also been used to produce the initial Results Report for the Vision California project.

Go check out the website. Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

California Ballot Endorsements November 2010

State of California
November Election, 2010

Governor: Jerry Brown Discussion: The state is a mess; it needs Jerry Brown to come fix it. Meg Whitman's a rich idiot, and the other alternatives are jokes.
Lt. Governor: James "Jimi" Castillo Discussion: This is pretty much a joke job with a good salary anyways. Let's just be honest about that fact, and use this opportunity to elect a Green Party member to statewide office. The other candidates are former politicians just looking for a good way to continue collecting a salary for doing nothing. Let's elect somebody who might actually shake things up a little.
U.S. Senator: Barbara Boxer: This is not the time to replace Boxer. She's not perfect, but she'll do for now.
Attorney General: Kamala Harris Discussion: Yeah, as AG of SF she's been a little soft on crime, and the streets of SF are still the streets of SF. For this statewide office, she seems like a thinking, open-minded human being who may at least give some serious thought to the important policy issues of the day. You can't say the same for the other candidates.
Treasurer: Bill Lockyer

Statewide Measures:
Measure 19: Legalizes Marijuana. Discussion: I probably don't need to say much, but I will. This needs to be done for two very good reasons: One, it will undercut the funding for foreign mafias that currently profit by trafficking marijuana into our country, and thus have definite foreign policy benefits; and Two, it will undercut the funding for domestic drug gangs that currently profit by trafficking marijuana within our cities and within the country, and thus have definite domestic policy benefits. Estimated Financial Impact: The state's going to bring in a ton of cash from this. Recommended Vote: Yes

Measure 20: Redistricting. Discussion: Takes the carving of the pork out of the wolf's hands. Recommended Vote: Yes

Measure 21: VLF for State Parks. Discussion: Seems like a rather poor use of funds collected from vehicle license fees, and if the state parks were to all "close" tomorrow, as long as they didn't begin actually clear-cutting them, at least they would be preserved for future generations. Recommended Vote: No

Measure 22: Prevents State from Stealing Money from Other Jurisdictions. Discussion: I was horrified when I heard that the State of California could do this to begin with. F*ing fix it already. Recommended Vote: Yes

Measure 23: Suspend AB 32 until hell freezes over. Discussion: Funded by oil companies to protect profits and advance the Conservative cause. Go tell them where to stick it. Recommended Vote: No

Measure 24: Remove some business tax exemptions. Discussion: There's probably a good reason for some of these exemptions, if you ask the right lobbyist. But, the state is really, really, really broke. It needs cash, and it shouldn't have to steal it to get it. This is a logical way to raise revenue without raising taxes. Recommended Vote: Yes

Measure 25: Allows the Legislature to pass a budget with a simple majority vote (currently, 2/3 is needed). Discussion: This is a democracy, which is majority rule, not minority rule. Requiring a super-majority vote on an issue is effectively creating minority rule. That strikes me as wrong. This measure will go a long way to fixing politics in this broken state. Recommended Vote: Yes

Measure 26: Requires 2/3 vote to enact or raise fees. Discussion: See above, about minority rule = bad. Recommended Vote: No

Measure 27: Opposite of Measure 20, Redistricting. Unlock the coop, leave a trail of blood to the forest, and put up a god-damn neon sign saying "The chickens are sleeping, come and eat them Mr. Fox". Recommended Vote: No

Alameda County

Measure F: Vehicle License Fee for Bicycles, Transit & Urban Greening. F*ing yeah! Right on. This is a great use of VLF moneys. Appropriate use of funds, given the revenue source. Recommended Vote: Yes

BART Director, District 4: Robert Raburn

Mayor, Oakland:
1) Rebecca Kaplan
2) Joe Tuman
Discussion: Rebecca gets it, and would hopefully be a good mayor. Joe at least supports the Oakland Streetcar proposal, which is better than nothing. Stop voting after two, your first two votes will still be counted under the ranked-choice system (You may rank UP TO three choices).

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Oregon Ballot Endorsements 2010

State of Oregon


United States Senator: Ron Wyden

Representatives in Congress:
1st District: David Wu
2nd District: Joyce Segers
3rd District: Earl Blumenauer

4th District: Peter DeFazio

5th District: 

Kurt Schrader

6th District: Just kidding, Oregon only has 5 districts.

Governor: John Kitzhaber
Treasurer: Ted Wheeler

Oregon Metro Council President: Bob Stacey Discussion: Bob will show decisive leadership on important policy issues, and that's still what metro (and Oregon) need.
Measure 70 through 72 were referred to the people by the Legislature, and thus already represent the result of a well-reasoned consensus that has been reached by our elected body of citizen representatives in Oregon.

Measure 70:
Amends Constitution: Expands availability of home ownership loans for Oregon veterans through Oregon War Veterans' Fund. Estimated Financial Impact: None. Discussion: This seems to be mostly a clean-up bill to rationalize what seems to be a slightly irrational set of rules governing this program. Recommended Vote: Yes.

Measure 71: Amends Constitution: Requires legislature to meet annually; limits length of legislative sessions; provides exceptions. Estimated Financial Impact: Not estimated to exceed $100,000. Discussion: You know, this sounds like an interesting experiment, and I'm all for interesting experiments taking place in Oregon, if there's not pre-known to be a predictable adverse impact. Know what I'm sayin'? Recommended Vote: Yes.

Measure 72: Amends Constitution: Authorizes exception to $50,000 state borrowing limit for state's real and personal property projects. Estimated Financial Impact: This should provide for lower financing costs to the state to acquire debt. Discussion: The state says it needs more tools in its financial toolchest. It's going through hard times. This seems like a really good idea. Recommended Vote: Yes.


Measures 73 through 76 were referred to the ballot through citizen initiative petition.

Measure 73: Requires increased minimum sentences for certain repeated sex crimes, incarceration for repeated driving under influence. Estimated Financial Impact: $18.1 million to $29.1 million per year after it fully takes effect after its fourth year of impact, lesser until then. Discussion: While this seems like a good law-and-order measure, in these hard financial times, I'd like to see it come with some financing attached to help pay for itself. I don't see that. Without more evidence that this is the best solution available for the problem at hand, I don't see the compelling cost-benefit analysis that says this is the best use of the state's limited funding. Recommended Vote: No.

Measure 74: Establishes medical marijuana supply system and assistance and research programs; allows limited selling of marijuana. Estimated Financial Impact: Up to $20 million in revenue to the state in the first year alone. Discussion: Some time has passed since Oregon legalized medical marijuana, and in that time, experience has shown that additional regulation could improve the situation. This measure is therefore an evolutionary step forward from the present situation in Oregon. Recommended Vote: Yes.

Measure 75: Authorizes Multnomah County casino; casino to contribute monthly revenue percentage to state for specified purposes. Estimated Financial Impact: Yeah, allows for opening a casino. I think it might bring in some cash. Maybe a few dozen million per year or so in taxes, something along those lines, once a casino begins operations... Discussion: I think there are much better-thought-out options to raise cash for the state, including some of the other measures on this ballot. We don't need to stoop this low yet. Recommended Vote: No.

Measure 76: Amends Constitution: continues lottery funding for parks, beaches, wildlife habitat, watershed protection beyond 2014; modifies funding process. Estimated Financial Impact: None,  unless you happen to be another state program competing annual for lottery funding since this is a renewal measure, these funds are already currently obligated to this purposes. Discussion: This is micro-managing the Legislature. As good-intentioned as this sounds, I believe the Legislature actually might already have a process to work this out, which is what we did elect them to do. Since this is a renewal measure, this is just a matter of reinforcing our already-good judgement to use some lottery funds to help support the parks. Recommended Vote: Yes.

People's Republic of Multnomah County:
Measures 26-109, 26-110, 26-111, 26-112, 26-113, 26-114, 26-118: Yes

City of Portland:
Measure 26-108: Yes
Measure 26-117: No

Measure 26-119: Yes Discussion: begrudgingly, since this is effectively the renewal of the bond funding that was used to construct Westside Light Rail, and I don't see this current expenditure as rising to that level of vision-achievement.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I was on the radio this morning for Vision California

The link to the radio program is here:

I think my section starts at about 16:40.... Dan Leavitt (Deputy Director of the California High Speed Rail Authority) and I were interviewed by host Jeffrey Callison about the recent Vision California data release, which has generated some press coverage already. We discuss some fun facts from the data release, as well as why the project is happening, why High Speed Rail is funding it and how confident we are in the results.