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Voters could be asked to fund housing, parks, transportation in three possible ballot measures.

The Metro Council now is considering asking voters to approve three money measures in three years.

The council already has referred a $652.8 million affordable housing bond measure to the November 2018 ballot. It could help build up to 3,900 new units in the urbanized portion of the tri-county region.

The council also has directed Metro staff to prepare for a 2019 measure to purchase more natural areas for parks. Metro voters previously approved two bond measures to buy natural areas and two levies to help maintain them, totaling more than $490 million all together.

The council was briefed on the progress of the potential bond measure at a June 26 work session. It must decide whether to refer the measure by next May. Although no price tag has yet been set for the measure, the briefing materials said, "Future nature-focused capital investments by Metro would likely continue in three primary areas: acquiring land for the future; making overdue improvements at beloved places like Blue Lake and Oxbow parks and expanding public access to new sites as described in Metro Council-approved master plans; and supporting community nature projects through grants and local allocations."

Then, at a Tuesday, July 17, work session, the council was briefed on the progress of a potential regional transportation funding measure to be referred to the November 2020 ballot. Metro agreed to consider such a measure after TriMet was unable to complete work on a similar measure in late 2017. At the time, TriMet was considering a $1.7 billion measure to help fund the proposed Southwest Corridor MAX line and other regional transportation projects.

During the briefing, Metro staff said they had been meeting with cities and counties to identify outcomes to be prioritized for funding with the measure. Tentative ones include saving lives, reducing congestion, preparing for disasters, improving freight movement, and enhancing local connections with transit, bike paths and pedestrian trails.

A stakeholder advisory group will be convened in the fall. The council will be asked to approve the desired outcomes in late 2019 to help determine which proposed projects will be included in the measure.

Although the cost has yet to be determined, the potential scope currently is broader than the limited number of transit and road projects that TriMet had been considering.

"Ask anyone who's tried to get around or across greater Portland lately and they'll tell you how much harder it is to get around. As millions of people make their daily trips, we're squeezing more and more people along busy corridors and bridges, spilling traffic into the heart of neighborhoods, and jamming main streets and centers. Buses are more crowded and less reliable, and it's hard to cross busy streets safely," the briefing materials said of the growing transportation problem.

All three measure are being discussed as part of a coordinated Regional Investment Strategy the council asked the staff to pursue in late 2017.


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