If goal is good, get support for it
A recent guest opinion by Portland area resident Bruce Warner published in the Portland Tribune calls for a cap on regional growth and an end to business tax subsidies that spur economic development.
Warner also wants government to close the window on growth by more tightly managing the urban growth boundary. We suspect that this call to action is an opinion shared by many people who believe that growth is hurting the region's quality of life.
We believe that growth in the Portland area is inevitable and, if managed well, is actually quite healthy for the community's future and the region's diverse quality of life.
After all, a healthy economy employs increased numbers of local residents who pay the state income taxes, which fund needed public and social services and investments in important things such as open spaces and other environmental enhancements.
But we also don't choose to defend big business nor big government from the criticisms of citizens. Business and government leaders are perfectly capable of explaining themselves to the public.
Unfortunately, being capable is one thing and being clear and relevant are another matter. And that is what we think is at the heart of Warner's concerns: The actions of business and government are neither understandable to him nor relevant to things he finds most important.
As we have said, Warner is not alone. The average citizen likely has questions, if not outright fears, that boundless economic development and business activities such as residential, retail and commercial development result in more congestion, threats of pollution, and more crowded schools and other public spaces.
Simple and ongoing communication strategies should be employed by the business community to express why creating and preserving family wage jobs is good for people and good for the quality of life. Government officials need to be consistently clear and make relevant connections to the public when explaining decisions that accommodate and shape growth.
We don't think that growth is about greed, as Warner suggests.
Instead, it is about an understandable desire for people and businesses to move here, grow here, and enjoy the livability and prosperity of Portland.