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Cities need a diverse transportation system

Readers' Letters
by: JONATHAN HOUSE, A MAX light-rail car parks at Clackamas Town Center transit station during a Green Line test run. Letter writers welcome the new Green Line as a good alternative to driving cars.

I wonder why people do not think of the other costs associated with car travel (35 years in training, Sept. 10). First of all, we all know that the federal highway system was primarily paid for by the federal government, namely to the tune of 90 cents to the dollar in the 1950s.

Secondly, if one drives a car, one has to pay for insurance, gas, maintenance and sickness through pollution - not to forget the vast amount of resources spent on roads. Cars are a great tool for having the freedom to go where one chooses, but the issue with cars is that they do not scale well with increases in their number.

Bangkok and Delhi were good examples of this until they built other transport options. Hence, it's important to diversify.

So, if you cannot take a car, you can take a train or a bus or a bicycle. If you have only one method of transportation, then there is greater risk involved - similar to how one diversifies one's stock portfolio. Nobody keeps all their money in one industry. Similarly, a city should not restrict their transportation options to one mode only.

Vipul Saxena

Spokane, Wash.

Citizen action led to Green Line

Your story about the history of the Green Line left out one important fact: After the defeat of the ballot measures to fund the south-north line, Metro staff came back to the citizens advising on the south corridor project and told us that light rail was no longer an option (35 years in training, Sept. 10). Alternatives to address traffic demands in the McLoughlin Boulevard/Highway 224 corridor could consider anything but light rail.

Your story did not mention how citizens of the Sellwood/Westmoreland, Brooklyn, Eastmoreland and Reed neighborhoods banded together to push Metro to keep light rail on the table. We even organized a conversation with Milwaukie residents to find out that they were not unilaterally opposed to light rail, but would consider light rail if their considerations were met.

From our efforts, Metro planners and elected officials understood that there was still strong support for what was to have been the Green Line from Milwaukie to Portland. Instead, because it was cheaper to build with no right of way acquisition costs, the Green Line became the line from Clackamas Town Center to Gateway and downtown.

Don Clark's vision and leadership excepted, the decision to build the current Green Line was made possible by citizen action for which we have to wait until sometime after 2015 for the light rail service the residents of inner Southeast Portland had so successfully argued for.

Kevin Downing

Southeast Portland

Be selective in promoting growth

It is unconscionable when busybodies who don't own or live in an area come along to tell the people who do own the land what they can or cannot do with their own property (Make informed growth decisions, Sept. 3).

On the other hand, development can no longer get a free ride. It must pay for itself, and if that reduces or eliminates the prospect for development, well so be it. The market then has spoken.

There is a chance that growth in Oregon will be very small over the next 20 to 40 years. That's simple demographics. The city may in fact create pockets of industry, but they will be based on limited future development by industries that only look like Intel, without the far-reaching impact or potential of an Intel.

What we really need to do is only promote growth where we have willing sellers and real customers. Putting these two characteristics together will give some promise of something that will last.

Anything else will simply displace solid farms and leave vacant lots, such as has happened in North Bethany.

Jim Ourada

Aloha

Growth drains local economy

Contrary to what you state in your editorial 'Make informed growth decisions,' (Sept. 3), the key question regarding growth is: How do we stop growing?

No amount of increased population or expansion of roads, buildings and infrastructure in lands brought into the urban growth boundary can happen without immense taxpayer-financed subsidies, to the tune of billions of dollars annually.

Yet you predicate all of your arguments for increased public subsidies of this kind upon the assumption that new industries and new jobs are needed for economic stability.

In offering your fallacy, you ignore our own recent history and statistics proving that growth always results in a net drain on our economy, and as such it has not merely acted as a bystander to our current severe economic instability, but - as the world's ultimate Ponzi scheme - has actually caused it.

At some point growth must come to an end. At what point do you advise that it does - when forced by natural calamity, or well before then, when we have at last obtained wisdom?

Numerous respected economists, conservationists, planners and politicians have pointed toward an economy that is truly sustainable, non-stagnant and healthy for all. This economy is founded upon the stabilization of human population and consumption levels within the carrying capacities of local natural resources. And this stabilization requires leveling the playing field for local small industries and employees to thrive, not extorting taxpayers to pay for new businesses and people to move here.

When will we all come to understand that there can be no future whatsoever for Oregonians so long as we continue to use public money to subsidize growth?

M. Scott Jones

Northeast Portland