I wrote about my opposition to this project back in July. Like most housing and homeless advocates who weighed in on the issue, I opposed the model of a mass shelter as a step backward and an inhumane and inefficient way to serve a diverse population of people experiencing homelessness.Read More
In recent weeks, Portland City Council has achieved the seemingly impossible -- making even more of a mess of our DOJ settlement process than we already had. We need to change the culture within our police department that creates an unnecessarily adversarial relationship with the community. We need to repair the trust between our police and the community, in particular communities of color. We need to have meaningful community oversight. And we most especially need a Mayor and City Council that does not shut the public out of this process or sign off on bad deals with the police union that only serve to further alienate concerned and impacted community members and undermine efforts toward transparency and accountability.
I came of age as an activist during the first Bush administration and the Gulf War. This was the era during which Portland earned the nickname "Little Beirut." I was at the protest on September 20, 1990, where Portland Police turned on peaceful protesters and began indiscriminately beating and arresting them. My friend, Anne Hughes, was among those who were arrested. She ultimately sued the city and won a settlement. I left feeling deeply shaken. It was the first time I had directly witnessed citizen's rights being violated by law enforcement. My only experiences with police to that date had been circumstances in which they were there to help, not harm. It was a pivotal moment for me. Instead of discouraging me from participating in future protests, it helped set me on a path of lifelong activism.
Three years later, I helped organize an event at the X-Ray Cafe. While a seemingly endless stream of punk bands played inside on a sunny Saturday afternoon, I was outside making sure people weren't obstructing the sidewalk or interfering with traffic. Suddenly, a line of police cars pulled up, blocking eastbound traffic, and officers in riot gear began lining up in the street. I walked out to the nearest officer, a woman, politely identified myself as an organizer and asked what was going on and what they wanted us to do. She gruffly ordered me back onto the sidewalk. Later police would claim that organizers refused to identify themselves or cooperate with them, but what we did, with no clear direction from them, was shut down the show, clear the club, lock the doors, and encourage everyone to disperse. We had no idea what had brought them to the event, were certain that we had done nothing to warrant having our show shut down, but didn't want to endanger our friend's club or see people get hurt. While many people left, there were dozens who held their ground in protest and we watched as police presence continued to build, they blocked off westbound traffic and readied to close in on the protesters armed with batons, pepper spray, and guns.
This event, which would later be called the "X-Ray Riot" didn't end well for the protesters, the club, the neighborhood, bystanders, or police themselves. Dozens were arrested, many of whom were young people who were passing through town for a conference in Vancouver, BC. But one notable arrest was made, that of Douglas Squirrel, who Portland police had decided was a radical ringleader and would later claim had organized the "riot", when in reality he had only come to the event after the police showed up with first aid supplies in case of injuries. While bail was set for others at $5000, his was set at $50,000. Squirrel would ultimately sue the city (Squirrel v. Moose) and win, uncovering illegal surveillance of activists by Portland Police in the process.
In 2006 I heard about the death of James Chasse after a brutal police beating just a few blocks away from my bookshop. It would take awhile for me to realize that this was a man who I knew as a fixture of NW and downtown Portland, a quiet and gentle soul who was an occasional visitor to my shop. I would later learn, when I published a zine by Erin Yanke and Alec Dunn about James' life and death as a fundraiser for the film Alien Boy, that he was an early Portland zine publisher and that we had numerous friends in common. James experienced mental illness. He was housed, supported, and loved. He didn't pose a threat to anyone, and he didn't do anything to deserve being assaulted and allowed to die in the back of a police car. Although I championed the film, it took me nearly a year to watch it. I am still haunted by those images and fact that James did not receive true justice, as the responsible officers were not held accountable for their actions.
As a result of the officer involved deaths of James Chasse, Kendra James, James Jahar Perez, Raymond Gwerder, Keaton Otis, Jack Dale Collins, Aaron Campbell, Darryel Ferguson, Thomas Higginbotham, Brad Morgan and others, The Department of Justice investigated and sued the City of Portland, finding that, "Portland police officers engaged in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional use of force against individuals with actual or perceived mental illness." And it is the resulting DOJ settlement that is in the news and causing so much contention today. Our process has broken down, the public and the police force have lost faith in the settlement, the out-of-state experts we hired to facilitate this process have resigned, our Mayor has failed to move us forward toward compliance, and the recent vote of City Council represents no net gain for the community as far as transparency or accountability.
Now, everything I've said thus far may lead you to believe that I have a bias against our police force. That is simply not the case. I am also a person who owes my life to Portland Police officers who rescued me from a life-threatening situation with an armed assailant as a teenager. I appreciate the hard job that our police officers are charged with, the stress of putting their bodies and lives on the line, and the trauma of what they are exposed to on a regular basis. I could not do their job. I know that most of our officers are good men and women, who have high codes of conduct, and do not threaten and endanger citizens for exercising their civil rights, having a mental illness, or being a person of color. I want them to be safe, just like I want all of our citizens to be safe. That's why I look to local community advocates with great expertise on these issues like Jo Ann Hardesty and Kathleen Saadat. I take the determination by our City Auditor seriously, who says that the contract, "fails to address a number of issues related to police accountability that may undermine the public’s trust in the City’s ability to hold officers accountable.” And why I support Campaign Zero. Campaign Zero is a set of national policy solutions and best practices developed by activists associated with Black Lives Matter to limit police interventions, improve community interactions, and increase and ensure accountability. All of these issues are relevant to the challenges that we are facing in Portland and across the country today.
There was no legitimate reason for Mayor Hales to push these contract changes through with just three months left in his term and with the renewal date months away. I shared the hope with many advocates for police reform that our Mayor-Elect would speak out on this issue, seeing as the contract renewal will happen on his watch. Now it remains to be seen whether he can turn this process around or if we will continue to see a disintegration of public faith and trust in our City Council and our police force.
In a surprising reversal of their primary decision, Willamette Week endorsed me last week, and I'm pleased to announce that today Portland Mercury has reaffirmed their support of my campaign! My opponent received the endorsements of the more staid and conservative Oregonian and Portland Tribune, both of which had kind things to say about me but whose editorial boards felt that I wasn't ready based primarily on a lack of prior elected experience. This is a recurring criticism, so I'd like to point out that with the exception of Commissioner Saltzman who previously served on the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners, the rest of our Council, including our Mayor began their careers in elected office on Portland City Council.
There is no single route or required experience to serve on City Council. Some of our best and most beloved elected leaders entered politics straight from owning a small business (Bud Clark) or as a result of their involvement in community activism and advocacy (Gretchen Kafoury). What our Council needs is greater diversity in background, experience, and expertise. I stand to be the only small business owner, the only renter, the only Eastside resident, and only the 8th woman to ever be elected to our City Council. I will bring a deep understanding and connection to Portland's small business, arts and culture, LGBTQ, and disability communities and a strong commitment to equity for communities of color, and other underserved and marginalized populations.
The next most common concern is the dreaded "learning curve." As I've demonstrated over the course of this campaign, I'm a quick study, and despite the fact that some people see me as a single issue candidate, I do have a well-rounded (and growing) understanding of our most urgent issues. "Let's Make Portland Work for All of Us" is not just a slogan, it's my mission statement. And to do that, we have to start putting our people first, investing and spending our public dollars to the greatest benefit of our whole community, and addressing historical and ongoing inequities in our city. No one enters City Council alone, and I couldn't have made it this far without experienced and talented advisors supporting my campaign. Whether it's my hired staff or my kitchen cabinet I will be surrounded and supported by brilliant people doing some of the most vital work around social, economic, and environmental justice issues in our city and my door will always be open to the community.
Portland has a lot of issues! And as anyone who's been following this campaign knows, housing is a big one. Affordable housing is our most urgent issue because few things are more essential, or increasingly hard to come by for many Portlanders, than a safe, stable, affordable roof over their head. I've been mischaracterized as a single issue candidate because of my focus on housing, but even if it were true that I hadn't even glanced at any other issue, housing itself is NOT A SINGLE ISSUE! Housing intersects with so many other challenges we're facing, whether is the intense demands being placed on our emergency and social services due to our growing homeless population, our staffing shortfalls in certain departments due to cost of living relative to pay, increased traffic congestion and air pollution due to workers being forced out of the central city and away from adequate public transit, diminished educational outcomes for students who experience repeated school transfers due to housing instability, the impact that our homeless/housing crisis is having on our local economy, or the loss of community and natural supports being experienced by entire communities of color and other marginalized groups, our housing crisis is a disaster that is affecting all of us whether we're struggling to pay the rent or not. My other major areas of focus are environmental and climate justice, increasing equity and access for people of color and other marginalized populations, and campaign finance reform, but I look forward to digging into every issue that City Council must address as well as how to improve whatever bureaus I'm assigned, from hiring and spending practices to labor relations to equity, efficiency, and effectiveness.
Finally, some people have questioned my ability to get along with and work with other members of Council because I'm a political outsider without typical ties to powerful interest groups. I honestly find it hard to understand how this could be seen as a shortcoming or a justification for sticking with the status quo. It's important to have elected representatives who better reflect our broader community, who understand the unique challenges, needs, and priorities, and who will advocate for their interests above all else. Big business and special interests have plenty of say on our Council and influence over our policymaking. It's time for the people of Portland to have a louder voice!
"I'm surprised by how many people think that running a small business wouldn't provide ample skills translatable to serving on City Council -- it worked for Bud Clark -- but I haven't "just" been running a business. I've been a community activist for 25-years, volunteering my time to a variety of social, economic, and environmental justice issues. I'm also a trained and experienced disability advocate, who for the past 12 years has been advocating at the community, school district, city, county, and state levels for things like inclusive education, accessible recreation, family and person-centered practices, and better supports for families and individuals with disabilities."Read More
Whether you're a renter or a homeowner, I'm sure you're aware that Portland is in the midst of our worst housing crisis in decades. Cost are high, vacancy is low, wages are stagnant, and new people are moving here at the rate of 100+ a day. And because developer, home builder, realtor, and landlord interests conspired to take away regulatory tools such as rent control, just cause evictions and mandatory inclusionary zoning, we find ourselves in a compromised position as a city to stabilize our rental market.Read More
Making Portland work for all of us is not easy. Sometimes, it means standing in the rain on a Saturday to advocate for tenants' rights. But protesting in the rain is easy compared to the hardest part of running a campaign: compelling people to contribute their hard earned cash to the cause. But it is also the most crucial to the success of a campaign.Read More
With just 12 hours left for public comment on our Superfund clean up proposal, I am pleased to announce the endorsement of Bob Sallinger and Travis Williams, two of Portland's most dedicated and knowledgeable environmental advocates! You are just one click away from letting the EPA and members of Oregon's congressional delegation know that you're not satisfied with the polluter friendly Superfund clean up proposal currently on the table.
Dear Ms. McCarthy,
Please don't let a lack of political leadership and will on this issue result in Portland not getting the Superfund clean up it needs and deserves. This is our one chance to remedy decades of abuse of our precious shared resource by industry polluters. We need a more aggressive clean up than the one that's been proposed. We need measurable outcomes, not monitored natural recovery. We need to honor the treaty rights of Native Americans. And we need a river that's safe for humans, plants, and animals.
Thousands of Portlanders have commented, I hope you can hear us.
As a survivor of a violent crime and the parent of a child who has had two life threatening medical emergencies, I was horrified to recently discover that 911 wait times on off-peak hours could run 7-10 minutes and as high as 24 minutes during peak hours. That's a long time to wait when your safety and/or life is at risk. Those precious minutes could be the difference between life and death for someone.
Frustrating as it might be, I can somewhat understand why a City Council made up of people who are comfortably ensconced in homes that they own, and can afford, does not feel the urgency of the housing crisis that is affecting over a quarter of our population. However, accidents, illness, and crime can touch us all, so how have we allowed the situation at our Bureau of Emergency Communications to get this bad?
The forced overtime referred to in the today's NW Labor Press article can mean 12-hour days, 18 days straight in some cases. Due to seniority based scheduling some workers may not get a weekend off for years. This is a high stress work environment that takes an emotional and psychological toll on workers. 911 operators aren't receptionists -- they are first responders. They are the lifeline between a person facing a dangerous situation and the help that they need. If anyone needs and deserves fair scheduling, it's the people our lives depend on. One of the unique features of Portland's form of government is that members have administrative authority over the bureaus assigned to them by the Mayor. Ideally, that means City Commissioners add value to the work of professional staff at city bureaus. It also means that the public has a way to hold bureaus and Commissioners accountable for successes and failures. It is hard to imagine a more dramatic management failure than the labor situation at 911.
As with many of the issues we're facing in Portland, housing is a hidden part of this conversation and is a big part of why BOEC is so short-staffed. With market rate rents only affordable to households earning at least 120% of Median Family Income (MFI), and home ownership options for those earning under $100K rapidly disappearing, Portland is not an easy place to live for the hard-working public employees who make our city run. When we invest the considerable time and money it takes to train a worker to do this vital job, and then they end up moving elsewhere to do the same job, for a similar amount of money, because they can't afford housing we have a serious problem. I shudder to think what it's going to take to get the City to resolve this dispute. I hope it doesn't come at my family's expense or yours.
I was proud to stand with Portland Tenants United, along with dozens of housing activists and renters today to demonstrate against a local rental management company that is displacing eight low-income households in East Portland with a 40%+ rent increase when they have neither adequately maintained their property or offered any additional amenities, and they know full well that their tenants cannot pay the increase. During the rally we got word that the company had vacated their former offices earlier this week and were willing to negotiate with the tenants who have now formed their own association and have presented the company with a list of demands.
This is only the latest story in the growing tide of Portland residents who are being denied the basic need and human right of safe, stable, and affordable housing in our city. This is an emergency, yet our city, county, and state have failed to act in any meaningful way to address it. Local advocates have repeatedly demanded that our leaders declare a state of emergency due to man-made disaster and material loss of rental housing (as laid out in ORS 91.225(5)) in order to institute a temporary rent freeze until the legislature takes action to lift the statewide ban on rent control. Our cities and municipalities need to be given back these regulatory tools in order to stabilize rents and put an end no cause evictions.
If 150,000 cost-burdened renters, 16,000 people doubling up with friends and family, 2000 people in shelters and transitional housing, and nearly 2000 more sleeping on our streets every night isn't an emergency, I don't want to know what is! The man-made disaster is greed and corruption which has led to a material loss of rental housing and the impoverishment and/or displacement of tens of thousands of our residents.
It's not enough to throw up our hands and look to the state for solutions. If Portland City Council wants to make a real difference in the lives of the 50% of our residents who are renters, and rent control and just cause evictions are currently out of reach, I suggest they do the following (this is not a comprehensive list but a nice start):
- Pass a resolution demanding that the Oregon Legislature remove the statewide ban on rent control and make it our top legislative priority for 2017.
- Institute a "Tenants Bill of Rights" including but not limited to the policies proposed by Ted Wheeler. I'm especially fond of the idea of setting up an office for Landlord Tenant Affairs and creating an online database for rental applications and background checks.
- Extend the notice period for no cause evictions and rent increases over 5% to 6 months.
- Require or provide relocation assistance to tenants being displaced by major rent increases and/or no cause evictions equivalent to three months rent.
- Cap security deposits and move in fees at no more than one month's rent and mandate that deposits be held in an escrow account.
- Provide rent vouchers to households who are extremely low income or otherwise vulnerable (seniors, people with disabilities, etc.) and cost-burdened by rent to stem the flow of renters into our homeless population (this will save us money in the long run!).
- Ban rent increases by landlords who are renting substandard properties and failing to keep up with necessary maintenance and repairs.
How many renters have to be cost-burdened, impoverished, displaced, and/or made homeless for our elected leaders to act? How many of us have to go without other basic needs such as food, medicine, or healthcare just to keep a roof over our head before housing is recognized as a fundamental human right? How many of us have to become rent crisis refugees while trying to keep our jobs and our kids in school before we realize as a society that we are not only undermining the success of individual households but of entire communities and our shared future?
As dire as this situation is, I am heartened by the growing momentum behind the housing justice movement and the progress we've made in the past year. Keep loving, keep fighting, Portland! Because when we fight, we win!
One of the frustrations of being a candidate is having to watch from the sidelines while City Council makes decisions on the very issues that inspired me to run, but I’ve done my best to weigh in on the issues of the day in a way that increases community dialogue and input. Together with other disability advocates, I helped persuade the Portland Bureau of Transportation to include adaptive bikes in our $10M Biketown bike share program (pilot program coming next year), I joined advocates for affordable housing in speaking out against requiring blanket parking minimums in Northwest Portland, and I’m doing everything I can to inform and engage the public on the Portland Harbor Superfund Site Cleanup Plan.
Few issues have made me wish I was already a member of City Council more than the current discussion around rezoning Terminal 1 in order to create a mass homeless shelter or “campus” currently dubbed "Oregon Trail of Hope". This questionable one-size-fits-all effort will take $100M in public and private dollars to build and up to $15 million a year to operate. The most troubling aspect of the current proposal is that the interests promoting this idea seem to be using their money and status to leapfrog any substantive vetting of the idea. If I were on Council, I’d be listening to the voices of people who are most affected by this issue -- people who are currently experiencing homelessness -- as well as housing and homeless advocates, and environmental experts who have raised multiple red flags over Terminal 1, which is located in the Portland Harbor Superfund Site and is currently zoned for industrial use only.
I’m personally opposed to applying economy of scale practices to human services which often leads to inappropriate and inhumane treatment as well as unnatural and unhealthy concentrations of marginalized and vulnerable people. There are many causes of homelessness including mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, job loss, low wages/underemployment, chronic illness, disability, and displacement due to rising rents. We have individuals, couples and families, teens, elderly, and disabled homeless residents. Where is the dignity is concentrating 1800 people together with disparate circumstances, challenges, and needs in an isolated industrial area? You don’t have to dig deep to find a number of alarming details about the inspiration for the T1 conversion, a homeless campus in San Antonio Texas called Haven for Hope, which frankly doesn't give me much hope for this use of T1.
As a candidate for public office, I’ve got my eye on where my opponent’s campaign contributions come from. For instance, I know that one of the promoters of this idea, Dike Dame, contributed $5,000.00 to Commissioner Novick’s campaign, and other supporters have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to various local politicians. As Thomas Piketty points out in his book Capital in the 21st Century, for every dollar earned in wages in our country, people who own capital earn four. If we continue to let wealthy interests dictate public policy, the gap between average citizens and people who can afford to contribute large sums of money to political campaigns will continue to grow, and the most marginalized and vulnerable members of our community will continue to be inadequately served.
If the wealthy interests backing the mass shelter at Terminal 1 are sincerely interested in helping people in need, they will donate as much or more to the Yes for Affordable Homes campaign as they have to local politicians. The Yes for Affordable Homes campaign will generate resources to provide permanent, safe, affordable housing for nearly 3000 low income residents. And while we may disagree about siting a mass shelter at Terminal 1, there is broad consensus that the number one answer to homelessness is housing.
It sounds like the city is finally getting serious about cracking down on short-term rental platforms like Airbnb, something I've been vocal about since before they opened their Portland headquarters in 2014. Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms are a fine idea in theory -- a formalized and for-profit version of what people around the globe have been doing informally for decades -- providing a more local and personal experience to tourists by opening their homes to them. The problem is the rampant disregard that both Airbnb and many of their hosts have for their own guidelines, as well as city codes and regulations, and how that is impacting our housing market.
Hosts/home owners (short-term rentals are typically not allowed in rental contracts) are required to live in their homes a minimum of nine months out of the year. Rules like this exist to protect residential housing, however, we know that a significant number of hosts are violating these rules by renting out entire homes and apartments year-round. Looking at Inside Airbnb today, I can see that there are 1,313 whole houses or apartments that are highly available year-round in Portland. These hosts are very likely to be in violation of the nine month owner occupied rule. The net result is a material loss of rental housing, leading to a significant decrease in our rental housing vacancy rate, and rising housing costs. Those 1,313 homes represent housing for 3,257 people based on an average occupancy of 2.5 people per household.
There are are three very simple fixes that AirBnB could institute tomorrow if they wanted to ensure compliance: 1. Require that hosts obtain the permit and inspection required by the City of Portland in order to begin or continue using the platform. 2. Limit rentals of whole houses and apartments to 90 days a year, thereby easily enforcing their own nine month rule. 3. Ban multiple address listings from single users who are violating short-term rental laws.
But that's not how AirBnB and other "sharing economy" platforms roll. Their m.o. is to run roughshod over local laws in order to see what they can get away with and how far they can bend policymakers to their will. Currently enforcement is complaint driven and rather meager. We would have to create a short-term rental enforcement division to handle the hundreds of possible violations. Why should the City of Portland have to go to that trouble and expense when AirBnB could easily resolve much of the problem through their own platform? The simple answer seems to be they just don't want to.
Now, because most Americans aren't accustomed to thinking of the basic need of housing as a human right, it might be hard for some to understand why home owners shouldn't be allowed to do whatever they want with their own property. Well, this brings us back to the need, actually the obligation, to protect residential housing and the distinct difference between a residence (owner occupied or rental) and a commercial enterprise. Imagine the disastrous consequences of lifting all zoning codes right now and allowing property owners allowed to build whatever they wanted -- residential (single family, multi-family, high rise apartments), commercial, industrial -- on their property. That sounds preposterous, right? Well, illegal AirBnB hosts are doing something akin to that without the city's permission -- flouting zoning codes, rules, and regulations -- and harming our neighborhoods and our housing supply in the process.
Don't get me wrong, I don't want to run AirBnB out of town a rail, I know there are also hundreds of legitimate users, many of whom need the extra income, and some of my friends number among them. For instance, a friend of mine lives on a small boathouse, travels frequently on the weekends, and rents it out when she's gone. Another friend has a condo with a spacious spare bedroom. Because she has kids and grandkids who frequently visit from out of town it doesn't make sense for her to have a housemate. Short-term rentals allows her to supplement her retirement income and still have space for her family. Yet another friend has chronic health issues. He needs peace and quiet sometimes, but when he's up to company he AirBnBs his spare room, helping offset the loss of workable hours he experiences when ill. None of these people are decreasing our housing stock or in violation of AirBnB rules or city codes and regulations.
What I do want is for AirBnB to stop being disingenuous about the degree to which they're aware of abuses by their hosts, acknowledge the negative impact short-term rental platforms are having on our rental housing stock, residents, neighborhoods, and communities, and start enforcing their own rules while simultaneously supporting cities and municipalities in enforcement. I want current and potential hosts to think twice about whether the benefits really outweigh the costs of not providing longterm stable housing to our residents when a full 50% of renters (about 150,000 people) in Portland are spending over 30% of their income on housing due to our housing crisis, and our vacancy rate is hovering around 2%, due in part to short-term rentals.
While we're at it let's shoot for the moon -- how could we enlist AirBnB to not just stop adding to our housing crisis but actually helping us with it? For instance, would they be willing to assist the city by matching individuals and families in need of emergency temporary shelter with willing hosts and forgo their fees? We'd love to hear your thoughts on this issue and ideas for how to harness the power of the sharing economy for the greater good. You can email us or join the conversation on our Facebook page.
It was a little painful to read some of the replies to BikePortland.org's recent article on the lack of adaptive bikes in our new BIKETOWN bike share program. Not because I was taking the disagreements personally, but because I knew that many people with disabilities would be reading the uninformed and misguided comments dismissing the feasibility, demand, and necessity of adaptive bikes in the program. It's hard enough to contend with all the physical obstacles in our built environment when you face mobility challenges, but being confronted with the indifference and even hostility of fellow citizens and cyclists is a whole other level of demoralization. I'm so sorry that anyone was subjected to that. If it's any consolation I do not believe those commenters represent the prevailing attitude among Portland's cycling community.
When I began my path of disability advocacy with my son Henry in 2004, my focus was on early childhood and school age kids. I knew that Henry would not necessarily directly benefit from my efforts as they would take years or even decades to come to fruition. Although at times I am frustrated by the glacial pace of progress when it comes to accessibility and inclusion, I'm determined to forge ahead knowing that we're making the path a little easier for those coming along behind us. But that's easy for me to say as I'm not the one currently trying to navigate this city on wheels or with other physical or cognitive challenges. People experiencing daily barriers and obstacles to full participation in our community feel a greater sense of urgency and disenfranchisement than I do, and with good reason. Their needs are not being understood or met by the general community. That's why it's so essential that people with disabilities have a seat at the table for these conversations.
The arguments against including adaptive bikes in our bike share program included cost -- hard to swallow considering it's a 1000 bike/$10M project, the majority of which is being contributed by Nike, not to mention that access to transportation is a civil rights issue and cannot be brushed aside simply due to increased cost. Others believed there was simply not a demand for adaptive bikes. Those critics may be surprised to learn that people with disabilities make up one of our largest minority groups at about 20% of our population nationwide, and people experiencing significant mobility challenges (who are not the only group who would benefit from adaptive bikes) make up about 7% of our population. This issue was actually brought up to me by a Portland resident with a disability who is currently excluded from using our bike share program due to the lack of adaptive alternatives. Safety and liability were raised, suggests a troubling assumption of incompetence on the part of people with disabilities, not to mention ignorance of the fact that three-wheeled bikes are generally more stable and safe than two-wheelers. The logistics of including, securing, and locating adaptive bikes, which are a little bigger and differently shaped than the standard two-wheelers, were brought up and are totally legitimate concerns but certainly not insurmountable. The most frustrating argument to me is that because we cannot serve all individuals with disabilities that we shouldn't bother serving any of them. It's true that some people require a level of customization that simply cannot be anticipated or accommodated, my son is among them. But there are some standard alternatives -- three-wheel hand or foot pedaled bikes -- that would greatly increase the accessibility of our bike share program.
It wasn't my intention to rain on BIKETOWN's parade. And I wasn't threatening a lawsuit -- merely suggesting that we avoid one by attempting to comply with federal law by making accommodations for potential users who require adaptive bikes. Turns out my assertions, and those of the majority of experts quoted in the article, are far from outlandish or unrealistic. Today I received a supportive email from an advocate in Wisconsin, working on this very issue in her neck of the woods. I learned that this is an issue cities across the country are grappling with, some more effectively than others. Here are a few examples of cities that chose to include adaptive bikes in their bike share program -- University of Maryland and City of College Park, Ohio State University and in Carmel, Indiana. The one thing they have in common is they're all using Zagster -- a bike share program that offers adaptive bikes -- and we're using Motivate, a program that doesn't. I'm disappointed with PBOT and Commissioner Novick for not taking this issue into consideration and making adequate accommodations before sealing the deal and spending millions of dollars on our bike share program. I remain hopeful that the city will figure out an alternative in order to include the potentially thousands of residents and visitors who require adaptive alternatives. I would also like to encourage the cycling community to recognize the natural alliance between these two camps and to include disability advocates upfront in all of their efforts in order to avoid shortcomings like we are now facing with BIKETOWN.
Special thanks to David Griffiths and Adam Amundsen for their expert input on my initial response to BikePortland's inquiry. It gets lonely out here sometimes, and it's so great to know two more awesome advocates!
Easter Seals Project Action
2016 Department of Transportation Civil Rights Symposium
The latest releases from the Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington County elections offices make it clear that I will be in a runoff against incumbent City Commissioner Steve Novick this fall. I’ve now spoken to my fellow candidate, Stuart Emmons, who has graciously congratulated me and voiced his support for my campaign. My experience with the group of opponents running against Commissioner Novick has often felt more like a cohort than a competition, all of them brought value to our forums and conversations, and I look forward to working together with them to make Portland a city that is more inclusive, equitable, and prosperous.
My success in the primary is as much a reflection of the resourceful, creative, and hard work of the dedicated volunteers that made my campaign go, as it is the urgent issues that we’re facing as a city, namely our affordable housing crisis and stagnant wages. As a small business owner, moderate income earner, and cost-burdened renter, I know that we can't wait for the legislature to take action. We need to create and implement real strategies to address these issues at the city level now. I intend to present clear policy recommendations on these and other issues and I look forward to many lively conversations with Commissioner Novick and the rest of the community about what the city can and should do.
Personally, I am incredibly grateful and honored for the support I have received thus far. I promise that I will continue to work to earn the support of the voters who backed other candidates in this race, as well all those who didn't vote in the primary.
Finally, I hope that Commissioner Novick and I can come to an agreement on limiting contributions to our campaigns. While I will strive to earn the support of working people who make contributions through their unions, I believe it injures the interests of the people of Portland for politicians to accept contributions from monied corporate interests that stand to profit from doing business with the city.
Thank you Portland!!!
I opened my bookshop in 1994 on SE 37th off Hawthorne. We're now on our third location and everywhere we've been I've gotten involved with neighboring businesses and/or the local business association, because I recognize that the health of each individual business affects the whole, we can be more effective as a group than on our own, and I enjoy the sense of community that comes with working together with others. After 17-years of cheerleading, organizing, and promoting what was affectionately referred to as the Indie Rock Block (SW 9th & Oak) or the Acorn Block, I immediately joined the Historic Mississippi Business Association when we relocated to North Portland, and became the Vice President shortly thereafter. During my tenure I worked on membership, marketing, and bringing a strong locally made/locally owned presence back to the Mississippi Street Fair. I'm proud to count so many of my neighbors as supporters, including:
- Bryan Steelman (Porque No? Taqueria)
- Jim Brunberg (Mississippi Studios)
- Sara Kolp (Flutter)
- Sarah Shaoul (Black Wagon)
- Hilary Holmes (Emerald Petals)
- Amanda Furbee (The Herb Shoppe)
- Alex McFarland (North Portland Bicycle Works)
- Nancy Fedelem (Salty's Pet Supply)
- Debbie Petricek (Gumbo Gifts)
- Eloise Augustyn (Sweedeedee)
- Andrew Neerman (Beacon Sound)
- Eric Isaacson (Mississippi Records)
Andrew and I became friends while my shop was closed for nine months during our relocation from the West End to N Mississippi Ave. when I started shop sitting at Beacon Sound because I missed being behind a counter! Then I encouraged him to join me on Mississippi Ave. where we've co-hosted music/lit events with the likes of Bruce Pavitt, Calvin Johnson, and Jessica Hopper. He and Eric Isaacson, along with Ezra Ereckson, co-signed this lovely endorsement. Thanks, neighbors!
VOTE CHLOE EUDALY FOR CITY COUNCIL
Dear fellow Portlanders,
We want to strongly encourage you to vote for Chloe Eudaly for City Council. Ballots have been delivered by mail and are due by May 17. Though we generally don’t see electoral politics as an effective path towards social justice, on the local level your participation can be crucial for enacting progressive policies that will directly impact your life for the better.
Many of you will know Chloe from her bookstore Reading Frenzy, which has been supporting small and independent presses since 1994. But, as a longtime renter, she has also become an important voice for tenant rights during the current housing crisis that Portland is experiencing. There is a ton of work to do right now, as Portland absorbs more and more people, to ensure that we remain a city that lives up to our aspirations: to be a place that actively supports economic and cultural diversity, a place where people are able to live close to where they work and play, a place where people from all walks of life can safely get around. Our current City Council has not done nearly enough to stay ahead of the curve. This is not a time for timidity or indecision.
As Chloe herself writes, "Portland is facing a crisis of disconnection, and we need representatives who are directly in touch with the challenges that the majority of our residents are facing, not just career politicians and political insiders.” We trust Chloe to represent the people of this city with the utmost integrity and to stand up against regressive political forces, like the Portland Business Alliance, the Homebuilders Association, and the Oregonian editorial board, that often stand between the political will of our elected leaders and the need to make tough choices and bold moves. We trust Chloe to work with her City Council colleagues to enact policies that will prevent displacement and homelessness by protecting renters, support small businesses and cultural organizations, and expand public transit choices and bicycle infrastructure.
Andrew Neerman (Beacon Sound)
Eric Isaacson (Mississippi Records)
Ezra Ereckson (Zamzam Sounds)
When I announced my candidacy for Portland City Council Position No. 4, I made a pledge not to take contributions from entities that stand to profit by doing business with the city. Considering Steve Novick is an enthusiastic Bernie Sanders supporter, I thought he would take a similar stand, but in fact he's accepted contributions from potential responsible parties in our Superfund Clean Up site such as Greenbrier, the Oregon Home Builders Association's disingenuously named PAC "Oregonians for Affordable Housing", and Portland's least favorite developer Vic Remmers of Everett Custom Homes who's steadfastly tearing down beautiful old homes in order to make room for a big dose of the suburbs in the city. In fact, I am the only candidate out of the presumed top four, not taking contributions from developers and other monied corporate interests.
I support publicly funded elections -- one of the best ways to keep big business out of politics -- but in the meantime I'm calling on Steve Novick and all progressive political candidates to return any questionable contributions and focus on the people of Portland, not the profit big business wants to make at their expense.
A local media outlet dismissed me as a credible candidate this week because I couldn't give a step-by-step explanation of how I would negotiate a new contract with the Police Union several weeks ago in a joint candidate interview. I'm not embarrassed to admit that I've never negotiated a union contract -- and neither had most of the people who have ever served in the entire history of Portland City Council before they were elected. The good news is that Commissioners have staff, advisors, and colleagues to help them get their bearings and learn the ropes when they arrive. Anyone who claims that serving is anything but a learning process from your first day to your last, either has impossibly unreasonable standards for candidates or are the kind of know-it-alls we don't want as our elected representatives.
Running for office is like a non-stop pop quiz/job interview by people who are often hoping you will make a single misstep for them to seize on. This "gotcha" mentality reminds me of the trolls who come to my page with their not-so-hidden agendas, and announce that they're voting for someone else when I don't give the answer they want to hear on a given topic. They were never going to vote for me in the first place. These people and papers represent the kind of short-sightedness, small-mindedness, and bias that is keeping us from making real change in Portland. The only credibility in question is that of a paper that used to provide a true alternative voice in our city and now shills for the status quo.
With an all volunteer campaign committee, and a shoestring budget, I've garnered thousands of supporters, and an endorsement from the Portland Mercury. At every forum, except for the one where I was t-boned by another driver two hours prior, I have absolutely held my own, offering more policy solutions and insight than my opponents on housing issues, and typically receiving a lot more support and enthusiasm from the audience than anyone else. Applause doesn't necessarily equal votes, but it's clear that Portlander's crave someone who is honest, knowledgeable, and passionate about our most urgent issues.
This has been a life-changing experience for me. I will never be able to look at our city or our elected officials the same way now that I have an inside view of what's wrong and why. It's hard not to feel bitter and cynical sometimes, but that's not a place I ever dwell for long. Win or lose I'm going to keep fighting for the people Portland is not working for.
Big thanks go out to the Portland Mercury for their endorsement this week!
"Out of everyone the Mercury interviewed for our 2016 endorsements, no one was as devoted to the issue as Chloe Eudaly, who stands apart from incumbent Steve Novick and challengers Stuart Emmons, Fred Stewart, and Suzanne Stahl.
Not only does Eudaly know Portland—as the owner of Reading Frenzy and a co-founder of the Independent Publishing Resource Center, she's helped create the arts scene that makes the city so appealing to residents and newcomers—she's also entrenched in Portland's grassroots advocacy, having co-founded the Special Education PTA of Portland and rallied thousands via her Portland housing Facebook group "That's a Goddamned Shed." And as a renter, Eudaly's familiar with the day-to-day challenges of getting by in Portland in a way few local politicians are.
"We cannot build ourselves out of this housing crisis," Eudaly told the Mercury, correctly noting she had yet to hear of a "holistic approach" to the problem from the other candidates. "I'm actively pushing for rent control and an end to no-cause evictions," she said. "We will not be able to deal with the homeless population with people continuously fed into that system."
Unlike Emmons and Stewart—both of whom have enthusiasm to spare, but whose ideas can be vague and regressive—Eudaly is a pragmatist when it comes to Mayor Hales' camping policy, calling it a "rational move" made to meet "a deplorable situation."...
But in Portland in 2106, things are anything but equal--in large part thanks to housing. Eudaly would bring a fresh perspective and a deep-rooted passion to city government, with a hard-earned awareness of the ways trying to make rent and stay one step ahead of gentrification affect Portlanders' lives."
The League of Women's Voters of Oregon sent me their questionnaire less than eight days before it was due, half of which overlapped with Portland Public Schools spring break (not very parent friendly timing) and all of which coincided with my having a bad case of bronchitis in the middle of an already hectic campaign. I asked for and was given an extension until the following day but it ended up not being included after all, which was disappointing to say the least. No one informed my campaign and they never updated their website to include my response. In case anyone is interested here are my answers:
Occupation: Bookseller, Publisher, Owner, Reading Frenzy Bookshop & Gallery
Town Where I Live: Portland
- 25 years of activism and community service
- 21 years of running a small mission driven business
- 12 years of disability advocacy
- Co-founder of the Independent Publishing Resource Center and the Special Education PTA of Portland
- Former board member of Multnomah County Cultural Coalition, Independent Publishing Resource Center, Special Education PTA of Portland, and Historic Mississippi Business District
- Affordable housing and tenants' rights advocate
How well do you think the 2016 Portland Comprehensive Plan will maintain/improve Portland’s livability? What are your plans for implementing it?
To date, the Comprehensive Plan has focused attention on important links between transportation, development, and livability. Unfortunately, it hasn’t adequately addressed the implications of development for low to middle income residents, including the most vulnerable members of our community. Now, Portland is no longer affordable for the average worker, half of all renters are cost-burdened by rent (that's about 150K residents) and homelessness is growing among women, families, seniors, and people of color. The Comprehensive Plan obviously cannot solve these problems by itself, but the plan should include meaningful measures to mitigate future harmful impacts of development on low and moderate income households and communities of color. Portland needs to incorporate its citizens’ concern for and commitment to social justice into its Comprehensive Plan, to that end I support the adoption of the 11 anti-displacement measures proposed by Anti-Displacement PDX.
How should the city address the housing needs of people earning below 30% of median family income?
Safe, stable, and affordable housing is a human right and a basic need. Affordable housing for low income households must be seen as part of our essential infrastructure. I support significant and sustained investment in affordable housing and utilizing tools such as general obligation bonds, developer impact fees, and revenue from short term rentals to fund that investment. We should utilize regulatory tools such as inclusionary zoning to develop and preserve affordable housing for moderate income earners that the market is failing to serve, but the city should focus its limited financial resources on the people who are most at risk, such as seniors and people with disabilities on fixed incomes and low wage earners who make up the majority of people earning 0-30% of MFI. It is important to recognize that focusing resources on people who are struggling the most will not only benefit those individuals, but will make our whole community safer, healthier, and more prosperous.
What should City Council do to ensure the Auditor’s work is independent, adequately funded, and that its advice is heeded by all bureaus?
The role of the Auditor in Portland’s form of government is crucial. Our independently elected Auditor provides a necessary counterweight to the powerful organizations that provide government services and provides a reality check for government agencies. While it cannot and should not dictate policy, it is vital that the public and public officials have the accountability mechanism offered by the Auditor. The Auditor’s independence is and should always be guaranteed by voters. The Auditor’s office should be provided with adequate resources to operate effectively and Council may need to consider increasing staff back to former levels in the coming year.
Happy International Women's Day! Did you know that it will take 500 years for women to be fairly represented in US government at our current rate of progress? Do you also know that there is a strong correlation between the number of women in legislative positions and progressive policymaking regardless of their party affiliation? I may be a political outsider, but I'm no stranger to politics. Over the past 25+ years I've devoted my time and energy to fighting racism, sexism, and homophobia, and agitating for women's reproductive rights, disability rights, environmental protections, living wages, police accountability, better schools, freedom of speech and of the press, affordable housing, renters' rights, and peace.
I don't just spend my spare time on these issues, I created a mission driven business in 1994 when I was 24-years-old so that I could devote my life to progressive causes, while providing a vital outlet for independent media and underrepresented voices, as well as a hub of information, resources, activity, and connection for many marginalized communities in Portland. When I realized that Portlanders didn't just want to read indie media but wanted to make it, I co-founded the Independent Publishing Resource Center. When I learned that families raising children with disabilities were not guaranteed a home base in Portland Public Schools I helped make one when I spearheaded and co-founded the Special Education PTA of Portland. And when I had the misfortune of becoming cost burdened renter and had my stability under-mined by a no cause eviction and unchecked rent increases, I created and cultivated an online community of over 2000 Portlanders that serves as a clearinghouse for information and resources, a watchdog for illegal and unsafe rentals, and a springboard for activism and advocacy.
I'm generally pretty modest about my accomplishments -- this is just what I have to do to reconcile myself to how unjust the world can be to those who are vulnerable, whether due to gender, income, race, age, ability, or some other divergence from "the norm" -- but I've assessed my assets and skills and know that I have what it takes to be a great City Commissioner. Regardless of the outcome of this race, you can rest assured that I will spend the rest of my life fighting to make our city and our world more inclusive and equitable for everyone. Electing more women to office is a great place to start. I hope you'll join me!
Last night I attended a Portland Tenants United organizing meeting. In case you haven't heard, we're in the midst of a nationwide housing emergency, and it's hitting low and moderate income renters the hardest. Tenant Unions are springing up across the country in response, and we're lucky to have a dedicated and skilled group of activists fighting for tenant rights in Portland.
Roughly 49% of Portland residents live in rental housing according to the Director of the Portland Housing Bureau, Kurt Creager. A full 50% of those households are cost burdened by rent (spending over 30% of their income on housing), and half of them are severely cost-burdened (spending over 50% of their income on housing). Market rate rents are now only affordable to households earning 120% of MFI and above, and a $15 an hour job might afford you a room in a shared house. This situation is not just hurting renters, but putting a strain on our social services, impacting our schools, and harming our local economy. A significant portion of our workforce can no longer afford to live in the central city and are commuting long distances, which is bad for our environment. This is simply unsustainable.
Oregon renters are particularly vulnerable as our state law allows no cause evictions and we have a ban on rent control. Due to the combined factors of Portland's growing population, the city failing to live up to its own "No Net Loss" policy on affordable units, Wall Street snapping up rental properties by the dozens, and an untold number of former residences being converted into illegal short-terms rentals, vacancy is at an all time low and rents are still rising despite stagnant wages. In fact, rents have been increasing as much as 2x the rate of property values and wages. How can renters be expected to keep up with this?
Last October, at the behest of dozens of advocacy organizations and hundreds of local residents, Mayor Hales and City Hall declared a housing "state of emergency" which has resulted in an increase of emergency shelter beds, a commitment of $20M for housing and homelessness, and a 30-60 day increase in notice periods for no cause evictions and rent increases of 5% or more, among other things. The recent statewide expansion of tenant protections (HB 4143: Relating to housing; and declaring an emergency) will prevent rent increases within the first year of tenancy and require 90 days notice for all rent increases. Unfortunately, neither of these actions will bring meaningful relief to the tens of thousands of cost-burdened renters in Portland. And neither of them go so far as to declare a true state of emergency which would allow cities, counties, and state agencies to impose temporary rent control (ORS 91.225(5)).
Every city needs a tenants union, because no one will look out for the rights of renters like other renters. It's vital that renters understand their rights and responsibilities, know where to go for information and resources, have support when seeking redress from landlords, and organize to advocate for stronger tenant protections. It's also absolutely necessary to have elected officials who truly understand the reality of our housing crisis and the urgent needs of cost-burdened renters. I've been a renter in Portland since 1987. Affordable rents allowed me to start a business, volunteer in my community, launch a non-profits, go to school, and raise a family. Like a lot of artists, writers, musicians, designers, makers, cultural workers, and creative entrepreneurs that have helped build Portland's vibrant cultural landscape, I was able to have a good quality of life on a modest income. But for the past four years, despite my income going up, I've been a cost-burdened renter and the negative impacts on my family are mounting. I know first hand how devastating no cause evictions and unchecked rent increases can be and I'll fight to make them a thing of the past for all Portlanders!