Our Priorities for 2015

Fri, 01/16/2015 - 12:12pm

The 1000 Friends of Oregon legislative and programmatic agendas for 2015 are proactive. Here’s an overview of what we hope to accomplish this year.

Legislative Priorities:

  1. The first priority is passing a natural hazards bill to address the seventh of the 19 statewide planning goals are the core of Oregon’s land use program. We are working with Representative Ann Lininger. This bill would require the Department of Land Conservation and Development to work with local governments to address natural hazards in their comprehensive plans. Natural disasters are having an increasingly dramatic impact in the northwest. Oregon’s 2013 wildfire season was the most expensive on record and required a last-minute additional appropriation of $40 million from the general fund. The landslides in Oso, Washington killed 43 people and destroyed 49 homes. Better planning would protect people, property, and public money.
  2. Repealing Oregon’s ban on inclusionary zoning by working with a coalition of partners. Housing affordability has become a crisis in desirable metropolitan areas, places like San Francisco, Seattle, and, increasingly, Portland. As populations grow in Oregon’s metropolitan areas, the supply of housing must also grow to meet the needs of all residents. We believe the local jurisdictions should have all the possible tools available to address this crisis. Lifting the ban will also open up conversations about affordable housing and equitable communities around Oregon and paves the way for deeper engagement by 1000 Friends and other allies to ensure adequate provision of housing types to meet the needs of Oregonians across the state.
  3. 1000 Friends is advocating for a transportation funding package that prioritizes safety, maintenance over new roads and highways, and adequately funds transit, pedestrian and bicycle improvements. These investments promote active transportation and decrease emissions, which in turn minimize the detrimental health impacts of single occupancy vehicle use and promote efficient land use patterns. Not budgeting for highway expansions would relieve future additional taxpayer maintenance burdens.
  4. As the only entity that systematically defends the goals of the land use program, our supporters and the public depend on us to watchdog. Narrow private interests work to chip away at the program, and we will defend it. In 2014, the “Grand Bargain” brought a multi-year disagreement over farmland and urbanization in Washington County to a close. Tens of thousands of acres of rural land were protected. As expansionist interests continue to want to cover farmland with sprawl, 1000 Friends will be there to protect the land use program in 2015 and beyond.
  5. Finally, we will push to direct $50 million toward Business Oregon’s brownfield redevelopment fund. The Environmental Protection Agency defines brownfields as “real property, the expansion and redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.” If people are to live near where they work and if infill is to be successful, we must clear up and reuse contaminated sites within our neighborhoods. Redeveloping brownfields inside urban growth boundaries takes the pressure off farmland by increasing the supply of available land within cities.

Program Priorities:

  1. The Rogue Valley Food System Network is a group of individuals, organizations, and businesses who have joined together to strengthen the Rogue Valley’s food system through collaboration. Greg Holmes, our Southern Oregon advocate, chairs the Rogue Valley Food System Council, the decision-making body of the Network. The Network’s objectives are to improve access to local food, promote healthy eating, enhance social equity, and develop economic vitality. Preserving farmland is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a thriving agricultural economy and community. Greg will continue working for an adequate and reliable supply of the right kind of farmland.
  2. Over the last four years, thousands of the Metro region’s residents, elected officials, organizations, scientists, and businesses contributed time, expertise, experiences, and perspectives to craft a plan by which the region can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from light cars and trucks. Our policy director, Mary Kyle McCurdy, has helped craft this plan since the beginning. Metro adopted a Climate Smart Strategy in December 2014, but implementation is a major concern. 1000 Friends will push for Metro to boldly address climate in the region through transportation investments and land use decisions in Metro’s Climate Smart Communities Planning
  3. This year, we launch our fourth Land Use Leadership Initiative. This program connects participants with leaders in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors through monthly discussions and forums, ranging from informational panels to site visits and field trips. Sam Diaz, our community engagement coordinator, leads the LULI cohort. In the September 2014-June 2015 program, fellows focus on how the Portland Metro region is preparing for anticipated population growth and shifting demographics. The cohort explores gentrification, housing needs, urban sprawl, and transportation, including the benefits and burdens to different populations. This cohort is also engaged in Metro’s Climate Smart Communities Planning implementation with the aim of ensuring implementation reflects and incorporates the needs of the region’s low income communities and communities of color, as identified by those communities themselves.
  4. Our Hub and Spoke Program launched in August 2014. Pam Phan, our hub program coordinator, is working with Masters Candidates of Urban and Regional Planning at Portland State University (spokes) and community based organizations (partners) that represent low-income communities and communities of color. Our community-based partner organizations have self-identified housing affordability as a challenge their communities face. Pam pairs those organizations with a graduate student, helps partners develop work plans, leverages the policy expertise of 1000 Friends, and facilitates shared learning among both students and organizations toward increased supply and availability of affordable housing—and affordable communities—in Oregon. This effort dovetails with our legislative priority to remove the ban in inclusionary zoning in the 2015 session.
  5. Our 2012 report, “More Extensive is More Expensive,” found that stressed municipal budgets are even more stressed when infrastructure is extended farther and farther outside an urban core. The benefits to public budgets of more compact communities can be measured in real dollars and cents. Following up on this report, we brought a national expert to Oregon to speak before the Thriving Cities Alliance (smart-growth committed developers) and Metro Regional Government about the benefits of undertaking fiscal analysis of public infrastructure investments. We are developing a campaign to incorporate fiscal impact analysis into public decision making in Oregon, whether at the local, regional, or state level.