Affordable Oregon MAILBAG!

In just our first month, Affordable Oregon has topped 750 subscribers!  Between our subscribers and those reading the website, folks send us their thoughts and questions.  Each month, we will feature the best ones in our mailbag along with our response…

Q.  What the hell is this?  Why am I getting these emails?  I didn’t sign up for this.  Leave me alone…

-At Least 10 people receiving our first email

Affordable Oregon is a brand-new organization dedicated to furthering the cause of housing affordability.  If you are receiving email from us unsolicited, it’s because a group of us got together, merged our business email contacts and sent it to you.  When an organization is just starting out, you have to get the word out and you start with who you know.

The good news is from our initial list, over 750 individuals and businesses have signed up to be members in just under one month!  The bad news is for some of you, our emails are annoying and spam like.  If you want to unsubscribe, just go to the bottom of the email and follow the unsubscribe link.  We apologize to anyone we may have annoyed.

Q.  I really love the website and the content, especially on the City of Portland. Thanks for pointing out what many of us deal with each day.

-Mary-Anne, Portland

Thank you for the positive comments and we will keep at it.  The City of Portland tends to be an easy target and generally the most entertaining.  Some people might say it’s unfair to pick on the City of Portland because they are such an easy target, but frankly, they put the target on their back with decades of bad management and lackluster leadership.  Portland has lost its way and it seems the only way for Portland to get back is through exposure and shame.

On a positive note, Mayor Ted Wheeler does seem to be sincerely trying.  Just last night, the Council pushed through a 20% tax break for any developer willingly giving up 20% of their planned units for renters making 80% or lower of the median income for the area.

However, in classic Portland fashion the following also happened at the same time:

  • Because the tax break required a unanimous vote, Councilor Amanda Fritz had to leave the dais and be counted “absent” because she didn’t want to break her “ripkenesque” streak of voting no for anything that might encourage growth or offend a neighborhood NIMBY;
  • The Multnomah County Commission must vote yes on the break as well (a shared agreement on all tax issues) and County Chair Deborah Kafoury has serious misgivings about the plan.

One step forward, two steps back.

Q. -I live in Sherwood and someone forwarded your article on Sherwood West. You don’t live here, it’s none of your business. It’s our town and we don’t want more people.  Mind your own business and F*** OFF!

-Sherwood is already too big.  No more F***ing people here, we don’t have the room.  Go somewhere else.

These were the nicer emails we received right after our first posting on Sherwood West, calling out City Councilor Tim Rosener’s online push poll.  We received five of these in the three days after, which for a site like ours is a landslide of public sentiment.  We appreciate Sherwood’s local growth xenophobes for keeping it classy.

Sherwood is by all accounts, a city poised for positive growth.  It has adjacent land available, nearby employment and great schools.  Yes, 99W is a dumpster fire, but that has been true for thirty years and it’s not getting any better.  It’s a great town and as part of the Portland Metro Area it should shoulder a share of growth for the region.

The problem in Sherwood is not that the City is unprepared for growth.  Rather, it’s a vocal minority of selfish and self-centered NIMBY’s trying to keep a “small town” feel and keep growth out.  What these folks in Sherwood are really saying is that once they moved there, whether they were born there or moved to Sherwood six months ago, the door should have closed so they can enjoy their fantasy of living in a small town next to farms and nature, while still enjoying all the trappings of modernity like going to the movies, eating at Red Robin and shopping at Kohl’s.

These people are the real enemy.  Their voice is given way too much credence by soft local officials who aren’t willing to make tough decisions and by local government employees with an agenda.  Local government has become the province of these types and it’s time to change.

Q.  I get why this site exists and its entertaining, but don’t some of you work with local governments professionally? Aren’t you guys worried they will punish you for going after them like this?

-Andy, West Linn

In a word YES.  Those of us working on Affordable Oregon know that some elected officials and some city/county employees will be spiteful for our position.  However, they do so at their own risk.  Our members represent hundreds of businesses, thousands of employees and even elected officials who agree with our position on housing affordability or at a very minimum support those of us undertaking this task.

Our Executive Director, Joe Keizur is poised to take most of the flak and we appreciate his willingness to be out front despite the negativity he will likely encounter.  We believe in what we are doing and ultimately, in today’s political environment, this is how things get done.  Adapt or die.

Next Mailbag:  Mid-April…  Send us your questions and comments!