Young Leaders Weigh in About Climate Smart Communities

Kathy Wilson
Mon, 12/15/2014 (All day)

This Thursday, December 18th, the Metro Council will hold a public hearing on the draft Climate Smart Strategy. We’ve asked young leaders in the community their opinions about and hopes for Metro’s Climate Smart Communities Scenarios Project. The perspectives of these young leaders are their own, not that of the organizations where they work. Here’s what they have to say:

 

Jordan Davis

Homeownership Specialist, Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives

As an advocate for affordable housing in the Portland metropolitan area I support the Climate Smart Communities Scenarios project; I believe that there is great potential for change and development of affordable housing options for all of Portland’s residents regardless of income, race or educational achievements. Metro, the City of Portland and housing developers have the responsibility and the resources to ensure equitable and inclusive development. However, housing affordability is often overlooked in lieu of other program funding and policy needs despite the fact that housing and economic stability are, together, the foundation for viable, sustainable communities.

Metro should take on housing as a priority like it does waste management and sustainability issues; using their power and resources to change the way that affordable housing is perceived and developed. Creating high density housing developments prioritized in under-served communities near schools, jobs and services, such as transit, should be moved from a near-term goal to an immediate one. Metro should also work to create partnerships and community benefit agreements among housing developers and job providers to prevent further economic displacement.

Jordan Davis

Justin Pabalate

​Development Officer, Basic Rights Oregon

We live in an exciting, yet worrisome time. Atmospheric CO2 is reaching perilous levels that will cause irreparable damage worldwide, and here at home through high asthma rates, rising sea levels, droughts, pollution, and more. Moreover, the most vulnerable among us are most affected by the adverse nature of climate change. I am hopeful that we can effect change locally with Metro’s adoption of the Climate Smart Communities plan. Our nation needs leaders to move smart, practical and collaborative policy forward. Oregon has proved to be a leader and protector of our environment and Metro is poised to continue that legacy.

My hope is that through sustainable design and partnerships with Trimet, the Climate Smart Communities plan will prioritize transportation investments for those neighborhoods that are most affected by carbon emissions. Specifically, the Albina, Gresham, and Lents communities should have a reprieve from I-205, I-5, and Lombard traffic pollution. I’m also hopeful that Metro will centralize the houseless issue as part of the Climate Smart Communities plan, particularly for LGBTQ youth, who face disproportionate barriers to affordable housing in our region.

Justin Pabalate

Omar Carrillo

Housing Policy Manager, Neighborhood Partnerships

Metro’s Climate Smart Communities not only sets out to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, but also to integrate transportation planning with other work in our communities. It is a good first step, but we need to continue to make bold strides to address the effects of climate change, which are disproportionately affecting communities of color and people with low incomes in our region.

In implementing Climate Smart Communities, Metro should ensure that the benefits and burdens of creating livable communities are equitably distributed. This means that investments should always ensure benefits to those who have been most affected by a lack of action to address climate change. There should be anti-displacement strategies coupled with investments and policies that ensure housing affordability next to reliable, affordable public transit, quality food grocers, and other needed amenities that create healthy, thriving communities.

Omar Carrillo

 

1000 Friends is supporting the concerns of these young leaders with the testimony our Policy Director, Mary Kyle McCurdy, submitted to Metro.

 

We asked Metro for a comprehensive, holistic, and strong approach to implementing Climate Smart Communities:

It is critical to understand that the resulting proposed preferred strategy does not merely conclude that if the region implements its existing land use and transportation plans, it can achieve its GHG emission reduction target. That would result in missing significant opportunities to achieve more than one regional objective through a synergistic implementation approach, and the region would probably also miss the ultimate target of contributing meaningfully to reducing the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on climate.

An ever-increasing number of studies demonstrates that collaboratively implementing particular actions can have beneficial impacts on several of the region’s desired outcomes at the same time. For example, the Oregon Health Authority’s HIA on Metro’s Climate Smart Strategy concluded that investing in safe and accessible walking, bicycling, and transit options that take residents from where they live to where they need to go not only reduces the amount of miles we all drive, but results in significant health benefits and health savings  - savings both to the individual and to taxpayers - due to increased physical activity and decreased air pollution.

 

We advocated for including and serving historically underserved communities:

We support Metro’s commitment to restoring all affordable housing tools to local governments. Providing local governments the full array of tools to provide for affordable housing is critical to a successful transit system, to the ability of the region’s residents to meet their daily needs, and the region’s employers to have sufficient work force.

Under the Immediate actions for local governments, the action to ‘Consider ridership demographics in [transit] service planning’ is too weak. Ridership demographics should actually be used in service planning, to ensure that the communities of concern are prioritized in providing accessible and affordable transit.

We strongly support Metro’s commitment to seek new sources for transit funding and to obtain reduced fare programs for youth, seniors, people with disabilities, and low-income residents.

Metro should continue and expand the efforts it started during the development of the Climate Smart Strategy of engaging more and more diverse communities in the region as it implements the CSC strategy, decides which "Tools" to use, and monitors the performance. Therefore, we ask Metro to establish a public engagement process that is diverse and inclusive, which will oversee implementation of the Climate Smart Strategy.

 

We encourage you to make your voice heard by calling or emailing your Metro Council before the hearing, or attending the hearing at the Metro Regional Center in the Council Chamber at 2pm on December 18th. Climate Smart Communities has the potential to not only reduce emissions, but also to make our region more livable for all people.