WITH A FOUR-YEAR, 10-cent-per-gallon gas tax likely to pop up on this year's primary ballot, Portland transportation advocates are gearing up for what could be an uphill slog toward May 17.
A group calling itself Fix Our Streets Portland says it will urge voters to support the new tax, which could snatch up $16 million a year. Most of that money (56 percent) would go toward paving, but the tax would also pay for sidewalk construction, protected bike lanes, and more. Fix Our Streets' efforts will serve as a counterpoint to an opposition campaign planned by the local fuels industry.
The pro-tax campaign isn't offering many details about its plans or backers, but it's likely Fix Our Streets will resemble a coalition of organizations that teamed up in 2014 to (unsuccessfully) urge city officials to pass a progressive "street fee" to pay for road repairs.
That coalition included Oregon Walks, OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, and 1,000 Friends of Oregon. Aaron Brown, president of the Oregon Walks board, is managing the Fix Our Streets campaign. DIRK VANDERHART
TWO HISTORIC downtown Portland buildings have a temporary reprieve from the wrecking ball.
As reported by the Mercury ["Say Goodbye to Two Pieces of Portland History," News, Dec 2, 2015], the Hotel Albion (home to the Lotus Café) and the Ancient Order of United Workmen Temple—both 100-plus years old—were removed from the city's Historic Resource Inventory at the property owner's request in November, leaving them vulnerable to possible demolition.
Restore Oregon, a nonprofit focused on preserving historic buildings, petitioned the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA), claiming the city should have required a state-mandated 120-day delay before removing the buildings from the historic inventory—a move that would allow interested groups to propose something other than tearing the buildings down.
In late January, the developer, Arthur Mutal, agreed to postpone the demolition until at least April 30 to allow time to settle the LUBA claim, according to information from Restore Oregon.
Sara Hottman, a spokesperson for Mayor Charlie Hales, says the city is currently looking into ways to close the loophole that almost allowed these old buildings to be removed without delay. SHELBY R. KING