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Metros one-size-fits-all solution doesnt help

Readers' Letters
by: Christopher Onstott Under a proposed state regulation issued last month, Metro must craft two scenarios that lead to a 21 percent reduction, per person, in carbon emissions from passenger vehicles in the next quarter century. Letter writers weigh in on the controversial topic.

One of the biggest problems is that Metro has a set list of solutions it tries to apply anywhere and everywhere, and that is where the public gets upset (Metro's emissions plan must cut traffic, April 7).

It's not that the public doesn't want solutions - it's that Metro's own list of solutions aren't always the right solutions. We don't need light-rail/streetcar lines everywhere. We don't need denser housing, or more urban developments everywhere. (Look at the few mixed-use developments located off of Highway 99W south of Six Corners in Sherwood to see an example of Metro-favored development in the completely wrong place.)

The fact is that all of the single-family housing stock we have today is not going to be bulldozed Detroit - or New Orleans-style. Absent a massive earthquake or nuclear bomb, we need to acknowledge that our developments are here to stay.

So how do we improve our region with that in mind? Better bus service, making sure that most if not all streets have sidewalks and safe walking paths, and even bike lanes on appropriate streets are small, but cost-effective steps that almost everyone will welcome. Planting trees, reducing paved areas with planted areas will help. Helping to make older homes more energy-efficient will help. Helping to get rid of older, less efficient vehicles and permanently parking them in favor of newer, more efficient cars will help.

And these are things that we certainly don't need Metro for. What we need are small, sensible solutions, not more of Metro's checklist of solutions which are always the same.

Erik Halstead

Tigard

Metro should stop the surveys

Typical survey of the masses: They want the government to do something, but don't want to pay for it or make any sacrifices themselves (Metro's emissions plan must cut traffic, April 7).

In other news, I want a pony. I don't have a place to put it, and I can't afford to board it, and quite frankly most of the year it is way too wet or cold to ride it, but still, I want one. Metro should just do the right thing - not take surveys about it.

The nice thing about Metro is most people don't know what they do or who they are or anything, so most people won't notice if they pass some rules/raise some taxes, etc. In fact, it is likely that Metro will do their thing and the very vocal minority of people who don't even live in Portland city limits will immediately blame it all on Sam Adams and will personally insult him over it.

Matthew Denton

North Portland

Strip Metro of planning capabilities

I support Oregon House Bill 3438, which would strip Metro of planning capabilities (Metro's emissions plan must cut traffic, April 7). Let local communities compete to establish different quality-of-life attributes without the overlording of central planners (Metro) who try to force one-size-fits-all solutions on everyday Oregonians.

Automobiles are becoming much more energy efficient anyways, and so it is possible carbon emissions might be reduced without taking any action at all. Moreover, it is even very possible to cut overall emissions by powering cars with inexpensive coal-fired electricity.

The electric car is so efficient it more than offsets the carbon emissions of the coal-supplied power (a Batalle Labs study finding).

Bob Clark

Southeast Portland

Fewer drivers mean less money

TriMet, like most U.S. public mass transit systems, routinely operates with a huge deficit. The federal subsidies alone for mass transit are pegged at more than $118 per 1,000 passenger miles traveled.

Local subsidies for TriMet come primarily from the ever-increasing payroll tax, the taxes motorist pay for roads and other taxpayer-funded sources such as urban renewal funding for some capital expenditures. Transit fares cover only about 25 percent of the operating costs.

By contrast, between 1990 and 2002 drivers received no net subsidy at the federal level. The fuel taxes motorists pay more than covered the federal spending for roadway infrastructure. Likewise, local funding for roads in Oregon is largely paid for with motorist-paid user taxes and fees. Those same funds are also raided to pay for hundreds of millions of dollars worth of specialized bicycle infrastructure the bicyclists use for free.

One in approximately every 10 jobs is tied to the auto industry. One less driver and one more alternative transport user is also one less taxpayer contributing to transportation infrastructure (Metro's emissions plan must cut traffic, April 7).

Multiplied many times over, private sector and financially self-sustainable family-wage jobs are lost.

To establish transport-taxpayer tax equity, a 'change of direction cultural shift' is needed, whereby transit and bicycling must be required to demonstrate a high degree of financial self-sustainability with user fees directly paying for a substantial cost share of the infrastructure being used and the new public sector jobs being created.

Terry Parker

Northeast Portland

Future elections will phase out Metro

This will be the end of Metro (Metro's emissions plan must cut traffic, April 7).

To date they have irritated a lot of people, but not enough to cause an outright revolt. However, I can see the next few election cycles in the counties taking a decidedly anti-Metro (and PDX) bend.

Any commissioners who want to keep or get their jobs will need to show how dedicated they are to getting Metro off our collective backs.

Jim Ourada

Aloha

Forest 'wars' a healthy conversation

Steve Law accurately described the challenge of managing Northwest Oregon's state-owned forests.

His article notes that a balance is being struck on these lands - a balance that provides wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities, clean water, jobs for Oregonians, support for local public services, and more.

The article was titled 'Forest Wars!' (April 21). I don't see this debate as a 'forest war,' but as an ongoing conversation among Oregonians about how best to manage these particular forests.

This conversation happens in many public forums, including local workshops that provide an opportunity to comment on individual harvest units and practices, and meetings of the Oregon Board of Forestry, which makes decisions on the overall, balanced use of these forests. These conversations have been going on for decades and will continue for decades to come. They are a healthy and necessary part of managing public resources.

Without question, Oregonians have differing views about those resources, and about the tradeoffs involved. The resulting discussion is a natural result of people living together in Oregon. It is to be valued.

Mike Cafferata

Oregon Department of Forestry

Salem