Boring businesses, residents ready to challenge TriMet
A hearings officer will decide on facts vs. hearsay and make conclusion
Every public issue deserves to be heard publicly, according to Boring resident Steve Bates, chairman of the Boring Citizen Participation Organization (CPO).
The time to be heard for Boring business owners and residents is at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3, at Naas Elementary School, 12240 School Ave.
That's when a hearings officer will listen to the facts, as presented by those in attendance. The officer will then report to the TriMet board of directors what is believed to be factual about the area's desire to withdraw from the TriMet service district.
The officer also will review state laws applying to this situation and come to some conclusions.
The board will then take up the matter as an ordinance if TriMet managers believe Boring should be allowed to withdraw or as a resolution if the action is to deny withdrawal.
Bates believes the board doesn't have a choice.
'We maintain that the people of Boring meet all of the (lawful) requirements,' he said, 'and the TriMet board, by law, must grant withdrawal. Testimony at the hearing will add further proof.'
But a spokesperson for TriMet says the board has the option, depending on their judgment if withdrawal is in the best interests of the community.
Mary Fetsch, a TriMet public information officer, says the board will receive a hearings officer's report and on that report judge the withdrawal's merits.
Bates is upset with the composition of the board that will rule on his community's future. He said Boring residents and business owners will not have a representative on the TriMet board when it votes on the petition to withdraw. Delay from the governor's office is to blame, he said, because no one has been appointed for several months to represent Clackamas County.
'The governor of the state of Oregon has failed to ensure the residents of Clackamas County, and particularly Boring, their rights to representative government afforded by the Oregon State Constitution,' Bates said.
The member representing Clackamas County, Hakeem Olanrewaju, left the board in August to take a job in Seattle. But Fetsch said she is not sure about the timing of a replacement.
A bus-rider survey that TriMet conducted, Bates says, is not valid because he believes people ride TriMet's Line 84 who do not live in Boring. The survey, he said, has flaws.
Particularly, he points to the riders who get on the bus in Gresham before it arrives at the transit center and others who use the bus for handicapped people who live in Sandy, but are transported by some other means to a house in Boring - just to get a ride. Those people are not to be considered, he said, because they do not live within the withdrawal area.
'They surveyed passengers on Line 84,' Bates said, 'but they did not verify they were talking to Boring residents. ORS 267 specifically says the study must be of residents' usage of TriMet who live within the withdrawal area.'
Fetsch says the survey was conducted with people who 'either boarded or deboarded in the area under consideration for withdrawal.'
Bates also objected to the process of a phone survey.
'The telephone survey also has no verification that the people contacted actually live within the withdrawal area. They just said it was random phone calls in the 97009 (Boring) and 97055 (Sandy) Zip codes. But 97009 also is Barton, which is served by Line 30 and is not in the withdrawal area.'
Fetsch looked into the matter, and reported that TriMet did 'certify that only Boring residents participated in the phone survey.'
In TriMet's study, 31 Boring area residents have used the handicapped bus at least once in the past 15 months. But there's no verification, Bates says, that all of those people still live in the withdrawal area and might use the bus if available.
'(TriMet) shows (in its study),' Bates said, 'there were about 10,000 annual one-way trips for people with handicaps, even though they said there were 8,800 per year last spring, but 3,100 of the trips were transfers from outside of the district.'
Fetsch answers that the initial number of 8,800 was based on an estimated geographic area, but 'we now have a specific area to determine ridership.'
Bates is irritated that Boring businesses are paying the price for people to ride a bus to Gresham - people who don't even live in the Boring area.
'I found out there is a foster home owner in Sandy who drives his clients to an address in Boring,' Bates said, 'and transfers them to a TriMet bus every day.
'They denied that when I asked last March, but in the report they admitted there were 3,100 trips for people who live outside of the TriMet district.'
Those $30 one-way trips by people who are apparently from within the Boring district would cost TriMet a little more than $200,000, while the regular bus costs $135,000, which means the cost of all TriMet trips within Boring likely doesn't exceed $350,000.
And yet, TriMet reports Boring business owners are paying about $600,000 to transport relatively few people.
'There's a quarter of a million dollars that TriMet has shown as a profit (revenue minus cost) from Boring,' Bates said.
'Boring is not getting its fair share of service for the taxes paid. That is why we want out.'
No one at TriMet was available for comment by press time on the numbers Bates quoted or on what constitutes a 'fair share.'
For more information, visit this link for a copy of the 15-page TriMet study: http://trimet.org/pdfs/meetings/boring-study.pdf .
The Nov. 3 meeting is open to all Boring residents. To contact Bates, call 503-663-6271. To contact Fetsch, call 503-962-6403.