IT'S ALWAYS FUNNY (even if it's getting a little old) how Mayor Sam Adams can be so right about some random piece of policy, and then, for whatever reason—hubris, conviction, whatever—he manages to botch how that idea is sold.
This time? He nearly loused up his new plan for keeping Portland Timbers fans from flooding the streets around Goose Hollow.
Under Adams' urging, on game days the bureau of transportation wants to double rates and extend enforcement by three hours for some 400 meters near Jeld-Wen Park. The goal? Entice Timbers fans to park downtown and walk, keeping the spots free for permit-holding residents who would be exempt from the meters' time limits (but not the higher rates).
It's smart, and it's something all big cities with big league sports teams do. And, if anything, the city should jack rates even higher.
So what went wrong? First, Adams waited too long to spring the plan on neighbors and businesses—leaving them with only a few weeks before the Timbers' home opener to ponder the idea. (Not that his logic wasn't solid: He wanted to wait to see how many TriMet and SmartPark passes the Timbers managed to sell with their season tickets.) Predictably, neighbors wigged out, and asked for the whole plan to be shelved until they could stop hyperventilating.
Then, rather than humoring them, and maybe trying again to gently explain why his approach was best, Adams said everyone was "freaking out" and tried to rush the plan through Portland City Council last week. Luckily, for his sake, his fellow commissioners were waiting to teach him a lesson.
Because Adams wanted the plan to take effect immediately—to give workers ample time to hang new signs and reprogram meters—he was demanding a unanimous vote. Instead, a clearly exasperated Adams watched while Amanda Fritz and Dan Saltzman spent several minutes picking apart what Adams had hoped would be a tough-love fait accompli.
Saltzman, before relenting, got Adams to agree that parking officers, during the new plan's first run, would issue only warnings.
That left Fritz—who said flat-out she wouldn't support the plan without more time to assuage neighbors. And for once, being on the short end of a 4-1 vote actually left her the winner. The mayor grew increasingly belligerent, Fritz held firm, and Adams was forced to delay a decision until Wednesday, March 23.
Granted, Adams will still get what he wants; Fritz is expected to say yes. But only after making a point Adams would do well to heed: Next time, she reportedly made him promise, he'll need to work harder at honing his pitch.