Housing costs play a part
- Portland Tribune - Opinion
RETHINKING PORTLAND: Readers respond
I really appreciated 'Commuter Conundrum' in the Nov. 28 issue of the Portland Tribune.
One thing I want to point out: Bob Durgan said, 'People decide where they want to live based on their values, where their friends live, where they go to church. Then they figure out how to get to work.'
This leaves out one enormously simple and important factor: Many people live where they can afford to live. I work in Lloyd Center and formerly rented an apartment in Southeast Portland for seven years, at Southeast 39th Avenue and Stark Street.
When it came time to buy - as a single woman who works in the nonprofit sector- there was absolutely nothing I could even consider in Southeast Portland. I ended up buying a lovely little condo in Multnomah Village, but here's the impact it made on my commute:
Instead of the 20-minute bike ride or 15-minute bus ride from my apartment to work, I now face a three-and-a-half-hour (round-trip) bike ride or two-hour (round-trip) transit ride. Compare these scenarios with a 20-minute car ride.
You can imagine which one I choose when I'm exhausted (despite how terrible I feel about the destruction we're wreaking on our world). The commute choice is a constant struggle for me - no option feels good.
I know many people in the same boat: They purchased a home where they could afford to buy, regardless of how far away it was from their place of work. If congestion is going to be alleviated significantly, affordable housing in these dense, multiuse urban hubs is critical.
Too often, the priority is the business of fat-cat developers who have cozy relationships that profit them enormously.
Noise problem also deserves attention
Effective noise management lacks leadership in the Portland metropolitan area.
Noise pollution is a direct consequence of density, vehicular traffic and available technologies, issues covered in the latest installment of Rethinking Portland (Nov. 28).
For an assessment of unincorporated Washington County, go to www.wcnctf.org. County commissioners just now are grappling with revising its noise ordinance.
Washington County Noise Control Task Force
Motorists will tire of footing transit bill
Rethinking Portland also requires rethinking the funding of transportation options, whereby alternative modes of transport become more financially self-sustainable.
When the first light-rail line between Portland and Gresham was in the planning phase in the 1970s, TriMet transit fares covered 30 percent to 35 percent of transit operation costs. Today, that figure has dropped to only about 20 percent of operation costs.
Instead of continuing to add more and more taxpayer subsidies to transit, the fares charged transit users must better reflect the costs of providing the service.
Bicyclists also must start directly paying into the system. According to the Nov. 3 Metro Transportation Priorities 2008-11 Project Summary, two proposals now before Metro for funding include a $1.5 million Northeast-Southeast 50s Bikeway, from Northeast Thompson Street to Southeast Woodstock Boulevard, and a $4 million Northeast-Southeast 70s Bikeway from Northeast Killingsworth to Southeast Clatsop streets.
Both projects seem rather excessive for bicycle infrastructure. Such extreme spending for bicycle infrastructure fully demonstrates the need for a tax on the bicycle mode of transport.
Since the money to pay for these proposals comes mainly from various motor vehicle taxes, bicyclists have their hand out for a free ride from the very mode of transport many of them denounce.
Tolls also have been discussed as a transportation revenue source to counteract stagnant funding. If tolls are charged for projects such as a new Interstate 5 Columbia River bridge, they must be charged to all users - not just motorists.
Specialized infrastructure to cross the river will be provided for both transit and bicyclists. That infrastructure needs to be directly paid for by transit and bicycle users respectively, not motorists.
There is an excessive reliance on motor vehicle users to pay for the majority of transportation funding. Any balanced transportation system requires balanced funding methods. Balanced funding methods require the users of alternative modes of transport to pay the majority of their respective infrastructure costs.
More pedestrian, bike fixes needed
Rethinking Portland (Nov. 28) did an excellent job of addressing the many transportation issues facing Metro.
While Metro promotes designing communities with jobs and stores nearby, it overlooks an existing community very close to downtown with no pedestrian or bicycle access to jobs and shopping.
Many people in the Southwest Hills live close to their work in downtown or at Oregon Health and Science University, yet there are no sidewalks on Southwest Broadway Drive or Marquam Hill Road for workers to walk safely to their jobs.
Providing sidewalks or sidewalk alternatives and bike lanes for people living close to downtown should be a part of Metro's New Look effort in supporting the 2040 development plan.
Encouraging people who live close to downtown to walk or bike should be a priority - it's certainly less expensive than creating new town centers.
Southwest residents living farther from downtown need public transportation options. A bus going from the Washington Square area to the Oregon Zoo MAX station would be an excellent alternative to driving.
Southwest Hills Residential League board