home

Ballot measure in Damascus would prohibit public mass transit

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on January 12th, 2010 at 11:21 am

"To insure that the City of Damascus is open as much as possible to the free flow of vehicular traffic and citizen travel within the city..."
-- Text from a ballot measure that would prohibit public mass transit in Damascus

A ballot measure to be voted on in March in the city of Damascus, Oregon -- a small town just 20 miles southeast of Portland -- seeks to prohibit public mass transit.

Measure 3-350 (full text below) would amend the Damascus city charter in two important ways: It would direct the City to not "grant monopoly status" to any agency that wants to operate "public mass transit" in the city, and it would directly prohibit public mass transit within the Damascus city limits.

According to the text of the measure, prohibiting transit is necessary, "To insure that the City of Damascus is open as much as possible to the free flow of vehicular traffic and citizen travel within the city..."

I called Damascus City Manager Jim Bennett to learn more. According to Bennett, this and three other measures on the ballot for a March 9th Special Election were brought forward by a group named ASK Damascus.

Story continues below

advertisement


Bennett refers to ASK Damascus as an "anti-government, anti-tax kind of a group" and says this isn't the first time they've put measures onto the ballot. Two years ago, they were successful in passing a measure that requires a vote from the public before the City can increase any fees or new taxes.

Screenshot of banner from ASKDamascus.org

As for Measure 3-350, Bennett says it could gain traction and possibly even pass:

"I definitely think it could get support. In a very small community like Damascus, since we're so spread out, it's really hard to gauge public support or opposition, but I'd say it stands a reasonable chance of getting adopted."

Damascus has just around 10,000 residents, of which there are about 7,000 registered voters. Bennett estimates that, depending on the turnout (which he says would be about 1,500 to 2,000 voters), "it wouldn't take more than 800 to 900 votes to pass something like this."

I asked Bennett what would happen if it passed. "Nothing would happen right away, it's a matter of what impact this could have down the road if TriMet and/or Metro wanted to move forward with any plans." If there was official movement toward a mass transit line in Damascus, Bennett said this measure could result in a legal challenge.

In September of 2008, TriMet spokesperson Peggy LaPoint told The Oregonian that Damascus was "on our radar" but that it wasn't yet dense enough to expand into. Since then, TriMet has opened their new Green Line light rail which goes to Clackamas Town Center, a mere six miles west of Damascus.

Local transit blogger Chris Smith says that Damascus was one of several cities that opted out of TriMet back in the 1990s because they didn't feel they were getting adequate value in exchange for paying TriMet's payroll tax (which is their primary means of operating revenue).

We'll keep you posted on the results of the election.


Full text of Measure 3-350

BALLOT TITLE
AMENDS DAMASCUS CHARTER TO RESTRICT PUBLIC TRANSIT IN THE CITY

QUESTION
Should Charter be amended to prohibit monopoly status for public transit providers and to prohibit mass transit rail within Damascus.

SUMMARY
This measure would amend Chapter IX of the Damascus Charter by adding new language to Chapter IX to read:

Public Travel and Transport

To insure that the City of Damascus is open as much as possible to the free flow of vehicular
traffic and citizen travel within the city,

a) the city of Damascus shall not grant monopoly status to any public or private provider of
transport or transit.

b) No public mass transit rail will be allowed within the city limits.

Email This Post Email This Post

Possibly related posts


Gravatars make better comments... Get yours here.
Please notify the publisher about offensive comments.
Comments
  • Mike January 12, 2010 at 11:32 am

    Interesting.

    For that matter, isn't it the case that TriMet has abandoned service in select parts of the west hills within the Portland city limits where local homeowners associations have replaced TriMet with a private shuttle service?

    I wonder what the cause and effects are of that, if that rumor is true.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • EarthShare Oregon January 12, 2010 at 11:35 am

    Seems like bad move 4 a growing town. RT @BikePortland - Ballot measure in Damascus would prohibit public mass transit http://bit.ly/7e4HZ7

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • gl. January 12, 2010 at 11:39 am
  • RyNO Dan January 12, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Isn't Damascus the failed result of expanding the UGB last time around ?
    They have the horribleist no-soul, cookie-cutter, worst-example-of-sprawl housing tracts out there.
    Even so, I have high hopes that the citizens of Damascus will see through this and do the right thing. Good luck.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Hank Stern January 12, 2010 at 11:46 am

    RT @BikePortland: New blog post: Ballot measure in Damascus would prohibit public mass transit http://bit.ly/7e4HZ7

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Peter Noone January 12, 2010 at 11:49 am

    By my reading of the measure (as this article quotes it), the measure would only prohibit rail, not public transit in general.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Scooter January 12, 2010 at 11:53 am

    I do not get their city planning. Another thing I have noticed is this town has little to no city parks or open spaces.

    http://ci.damascus.or.us/references/misc/Draft%20Comp%20Plan%20Map%20110408.pdf

    If you put this map over anywhere in Portland you would have several parks or places for the public to play and enjoy the outdoors.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • fredlf January 12, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    I have more and more trouble distinguishing these rabid anti-tax, libertarian types from anarchists. Once they've "drowned government in the bathtub", how do they propose to maintain civic life?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jackattak January 12, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    Wow. Well, it's their city! Hope they enjoy being stuck in it.

    What a great example of certain societies "getting it all wrong."

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • shawn. January 12, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    Peter (#3), I read the measure and it is confusing. In the "Question" part it specifically says rail, but then in the "Summary" it says, "a) the city of Damascus shall not grant monopoly status to any (emphasis mine) public or private provider of transport or transit." Now that sounds like it can mean "no bus" too.

    If that's the case, it seems a bit absurd be against bus service “To insure that the City of Damascus is open as much as possible to the free flow of vehicular traffic and citizen travel within the city…” I'm guessing in a "city" the size of Damascus "bus service" would mean a mini-bus every couple hours during the weekday, at best. Don't see much impediment of travel there.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • shawn. January 12, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    Peter (#3), I read the measure and it is confusing. In the "Question" part it specifically says rail, but then in the "Summary" it says, "a) the city of Damascus shall not grant monopoly status to any (emphasis mine) public or private provider of transport or transit." Now that sounds like it can mean "no bus" too.

    If that's the case, it seems a bit absurd be against bus service “To insure that the City of Damascus is open as much as possible to the free flow of vehicular traffic and citizen travel within the city…” I'm guessing in a "city" the size of Damascus "bus service" would mean a mini-bus every couple hours during the weekday, at best. Don't see much impediment of travel there.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jackattak January 12, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    Wow. Well, it's their city! Hope they enjoy being stuck in it.

    What a great example of certain societies "getting it all wrong."

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • O2 January 12, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    Smacks of the Anti-Planner...

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • O2 January 12, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Smacks of the Anti-Planner...

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Aaron January 12, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    It doesn't matter if they prohibit rail. Damascus will never be dense enough to justify rail or even BRT transit. The most likely scenario is that it will cave once housing prices stop boosting the city and it will be full of foreclosures

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • nuovorecord January 12, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    @Mike #1. Not exactly the way you describe it. That area you describe - Cedar Mill - is too hilly, and has too many winding and dead-end roads to provide effective bus service. Instead, TriMet worked with the residents to create a shuttle service (using a taxi cab company) to connect to Sunset Transit Center.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Doug Allen January 12, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    TriMet has not been granted "monopoly status" in providing bus service within its district. Between 1984 and 1990, I operated a bus line that directly competed with TriMet service over a portion of the route. TriMet even let us use a bus stop at what was then Cedar Hills Transit Center.

    When Know Nothings write ballot measures, we should not be surprised if they are Do Nothing ballot measures.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • bikesalot January 12, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    Mike, (#1) In Forest Heights, at least, bus service was never established in the first place. The developer was allowed to build the streets below the specs required for city bus service in exchange for establishing a private bus service.

    This doesn't do much for those just outside FH who have neither city bus nor access to the private service. When we bought our house some 30 years ago, TriMet ran a bus right up Cornell past what is not the FH entrance. Six months later the service was discontinued, never to return.

    Every time I have approached TriMet about this, the reaction is always "give us more money and we will give you more service". You can count us as underwhelmed by our experiences with mass transit around Portland.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • q`Tzal January 12, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    If they want to not pay taxes for civic services then they should take that next step: move out in the woods and fend for them selves.
    They buy food that is protected by the USDA.
    They have not been poisoned by drugs which are tested by the FDA.
    They call for EMS in emergencies to help in cases of emergencies.

    I fully support their right to excise themselves from civil society but if they are of such strong convictions that they don't want to pay for it they need to butt out.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Mike January 12, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    I can't help but feel that this is, at least in part, racism in disguise.

    I hope they realize that insulating themselves in their suburban fantasy will keep positive elements out, as well as the negative elements they are so aftraid of. IMHO

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • John January 12, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    If people want to live in the bottom flat of an outhouse, more power to 'em.

    I'm looking forward to the pure entertainment value they'll provide when gas prices go over $5 a gallon and the value of their property collapses relative to areas that were guided by rational thought.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • rixtir January 12, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    If they don't want rail service to Portland, that's fine. They just need to be sure to park their behemoths at the Portland border, because we don't want them here.

    I guess they'll soon be bleating about our "obligation" to provide roads for them to drive on....

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jessica Roberts January 12, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    Is it legal to prohibit transit service? I would expect federal disability access laws to apply at least in some capacity to transit access...

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • spare_wheel January 12, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Another way to prevent *those sorts of people* from moving into your ex-urb. There is a word for this...segregation.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jackattak January 12, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    I'm all for paying some Downtown Portland transients $5/apiece to go panhandle their neighborhoods.

    You know, just for a laugh.

    Of course, we'd need some way of getting them all there if mass transit is illegal. Drats! Foiled again!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • elaine January 12, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    With some of the non profit work I've been involved with on the outer east side of town (note that I live in Beaverton), some potential population figures have been written that predict the City of Damascus could be as large as Beaverton is now by the year 2030. Right now, somewhere between 80 and 90,000 people live in Beaverton. That many folks in Damascus in 2030? I can't imagine Beaverton without MAX, WES, or bus service. Getting around or through Damascus could be awful! Many people drive ( or ride) through Damascus to get to the Mt Hood and foothills area.

    There is already bus service through Carver and further east along Hwy 224, which is just south of Damascus. And the town of Boring hoping to invest lots of money to improve the Springwater Trail connection at Boring Station. With the rail expansion at Clackamas Town Center, existing bus service in Carver, and bike and pedestrian improvements in Boring, why is Damascus, which is smack dab in the middle of these areas, going backwards?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Peter Noone January 12, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    @shawn/#7

    I believe the actual legislation starts with the line "Public Travel and Transport".

    Section A is pretty much meaningless, since it refers to restricting monopolies and doesn't say anything about restricting public transit in a general sense.

    Section B specifically refers to "mass transit rail." Seems pretty clear to me.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • beth h January 12, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    @ # 18: I totally agree.

    25 years ago, Atlanta's MARTA bus and rail system was completely shut out of Gwinett County, part of the multi-county metro Atlanta area. Residents of Gwinett County who worked in downtown Atlanta had to drive into Doraville (just across the county line and about a ten mile drive from where I was living at the time), park at a park-n-ride lot and catch a bus to a train station. Then they caught a train into Atlanta. The commute, including the drive across the county line, took about 90 minutes each way.

    How did they get away with it? Simply by refusing to levy the additional county taxes required to bring MARTA into the county. And there was no law on the books that stopped Gwinett County from taking this step.

    Why did they do it? While government officials wouldn't discuss it, MANY residents (including most of my neighbors) did so openly. The primary reason given for not passing the tax? My neighbors told me they could handle having less public transit for themselves if it meant that people living in the southern parts of the metro area could not as easily travel to Gwinett County to look for jobs and housing.
    The overwhelming majority of the population in the southern part of the Atlanta metro area was -- and still is -- black.

    Today, 25 years later, there is still no MARTA service to Gwinett County, Georgia.

    I shudder when I think that this same scenario could play out here in Oregon.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • beth h January 12, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Oops. Meant to direct my comment at # 17.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Barney January 12, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    Hey, it's their town and the residents get to decide on the ballot measures. That's the way it's supposed to work. If that doesn't get a thumbs up from some vocal Portlanders then that's too bad. Trying to demean them by labelling them as "rabid libertarians or anarchists" is a weak crutch used for poor arguments. They are also entitled to drive their monster truck down Broadway if they like. It is still a free country! I say, let them do their own thing.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jackattak January 12, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    @ beth h #25 -

    I too am originally from The South (Florida). I am not at all surprised by the actions of Gwinett County, Georgia, as Georgia's state capitol (unless I'm mistaken) still flies a Confederate Battle Flag.

    I can see something like this being done in Atlanta or anywhere else in The Dirty South where racism and segregation still run rampant.

    But here? In Oregon? I moved here 8 years ago to escape that kind of hatred and would hate to think that it exists (however thinly veiled).

    This all saddens me deeply.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • middle of the road guy January 12, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    All it says is "monopoly status". to me that says anyone can start their own transit service there....it does not sound like it prohibits anything. It just not say "Trimet is the ONLY way".

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jonathan Maus (Editor-in-Chief) January 12, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    from the ASKDamascus.org website:

    Prohibits Light rail in Damascus unless voters choose otherwise.

    NO MEANS NO! This charter amendment establishes vote as final say. No more building, if people say no to light rail it means NO

    http://www.askdamascus.org/issues.html

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • hanmade January 12, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    It is segregation because it would prohibit those who can't drive, elderly, poor, etc. from getting around. Hopefully, the good people of Damascus will vote it down.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • rixtir January 12, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    Barney, #27:

    Nice try, but you don't get to have your cake and eat it too. If they want to ban rail from Damascus to Portland, that's within their right. And if we decide we don't want to provide roads for them to drive on when they get here, that's within our right.

    Like you said, it's a free country,m and we're doing our own thing here.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • al m January 12, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    Anybody with enough $$$ can get anything on the ballot it seems.

    There is plenty of ignorance out here and anything can pass.

    The "I HATE TRIMET" concept is pretty popular right now, thanks to our local media.

    Free enterprise,free enterprise, YA!
    Just put Alan Greenspan back in charge.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • al m January 12, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    "Like you said, it's a free country"

    The operative word is country, which means of course Damascus does not get to decide where the rest of us can travel to.

    Maybe Damascus should consider seceding from the union, then you can do things your way!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • rixtir January 12, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    Ah, but Barney's argument is that (because it's a free country), we can't force our way of life on them, but they can force their way of life on us.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Phil Hanson January 12, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    I do hope the good citizens of Damascus, should they vote to ban light rail, will let me know how that's workin' out for them about 20 years from now, when the price of motor fuel is beyond most people's ability to afford.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Mike January 12, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    (BTW there are apparently two Mike's posting on this thread. Who knew it was such a popular name? :) Maybe I'll take a new handle to avoid confusion.)

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • random rider January 12, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    I lived in the Atlanta metro area for a few years. At the time, the popular "joke" was to refer to MARTA (Metro Area Rapid Transit Authority) as "Moving Africans Right Through Atlanta".

    People would say with a straight face that allowing light rail into their city would bring in all kinds of crime, including burglars. I once had a conversation with a co-worker who claimed that inner city blacks would take the train to his neighborhood to rob homes if MARTA was allowed in because "they" all knew his people had all of the nice things. I pressed him on whether he really thought that people were going to ride 20 minutes on the train, rob his house, get back on the train and then transport the loot back home.

    But I digress; surely the people of Damascus are more enlightened than those in the south, right? (insert eye roll here to emphasize the sarcasm)

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • joeb January 12, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    Maybe somebody already posted this one...

    http://www.oregonlive.com/news/index.ssf/2009/01/road_to_bigger_better_damascus.html

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Andrea Flatley January 12, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    @TravisMayfield Damascus http://bit.ly/5SQK3U

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Andrea Flatley January 12, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    @msfour That's what @bikeportland is reporting. Here's the story. http://bit.ly/5SQK3U

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Travis January 12, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    Wow, Oregon town set to vote on whether to 'ban mass transit' ??http://bit.ly/5SQK3U (thanks @AEFlatley)

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Ask Damascus January 12, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    A couple of points for clarification.

    First the printed Ballot title, question and summary are all written by city staff of which Mr Bennett is in charge. Any conflicts between these statements are strictly Mr Bennett's doing

    second the measure has no prohibition of mass transit it does say the city may not award monopoly status.

    This blog should try to get facts.

    Mr Bennett who was recently roasted by a city committee for thwarting public input was the driving force behind a city ordinance to restrict the peoples right to the initiative process. Ordinance 2007-19. He was also behind ordinance 2007-21 which declared the Clackamas County voter pamphlet a threat to the health, welfare and safety of citizens. The problem was it included the text of measures the fix was to delete a measures text and replace it with a city written "explanatory statement".

    While Ask Damascus is not anti government Mr Bennett is definitely anti democratic.

    This was done by citizens on an all volunteer effort.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Benjamin Lukoff January 12, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    RT @TravisMayfield: Wow, Oregon town set to vote on whether to 'ban mass transit' ??http://bit.ly/5SQK3U (thanks @AEFlatley)

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Sue Gemmell January 12, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    RT @BikePortland: New blog post: Ballot measure in Damascus would prohibit public mass transit http://bit.ly/7e4HZ7

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • John January 12, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    I'm fully behind a ballot measure to stop having ballot measures.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • cBomb January 12, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    Seriously, Damascus sucks. It always did.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • jrdpdx January 12, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    Damascus, Oregon's Vancouver

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • a January 12, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    I prefer the syrian version better.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • wsbob January 12, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    joeb #39...thanks for posting the link. I'd read that story in past, but it's worth re-reading, and I think helps understand this most recent issue. An excerpt from that article:

    "Dan Phegley, who moved from Portland to Damascus in 1993, said he had difficulty even finding his property on the map. When he did, he was angered to see a proposed green overlay running through his lot.

    Phegley subsequently founded an anti-city group called "Ask Damascus." The group pulled off a stunning coup in November's election by persuading nearly 70 percent of the city's voters to approve measures prohibiting the city charging, without a vote, a single dime for the systems charges that most municipalities rely on to pay the cost of new development." Amy Reifenrath, The Oregonian January 16, 2009

    The above and more information in the article it comes from seems to suggest that the upcoming ballot measure is not so much about prohibiting public mass transit as it is about residents of Damascus having a greater say in how mass transit is brought to that city. Urban growth and how development for it is allowed to occur...who benefits, who pays, and what's sacrificed for it is what this issue is all about.

    Damascus sounds like a beautiful place, at least at present. I've probably been through the area, but I don't have a mental-visual picture of it. Metro apparently would like to see the area packed with a portion of the huge population Oregon is under some pressure to accommodate. It probably shouldn't be a surprise that some residents of Damascus see the big hand of Metro and Trimet poised to shape their fate in ways that may not be in either their favor or that of that of Oregon residents in general.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • wsbob January 12, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    I want to substitute the following sentence for one in the above post:

    "Urban growth and how development for it is allowed to occur...who benefits, who pays, and what's sacrificed for it is what the larger issue is all about."

    Just a small change, but I think it's probably an important difference.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • John S Niles January 12, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    Public transit popularity often drops as distance to center city increases. Example, http://bit.ly/5SQK3U via @TravisMayfield

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • carless in pdx January 12, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    Damascus is probably not going to be developed for a very long time, if ever.

    There just isn't any money to develop it - and Metro has determined that they aren't going to push for more urban growth expansions. In fact, they recently said that they can accommodate all of the new expected population growth in existing cities, such as Portland.

    I'm really hoping we don't try to throw more money at Damascus. It would just be urban sprawl, anyway.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • JR January 12, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    Jonathan, This ballot measure doesn't seek to prohibit public mass transit. Please correct the title..

    Who on earth would try to open a competing bus line in Damascus? TriMet won't even extend service out there now and they would get a subsidy from the few payroll tax-supporting jobs out there. A competitor would lack the payroll tax revenues that TriMet gets to subsidize the line and likely wouldn't be able to compete with the regional connections that TriMet makes with the rest of the existing transit system.

    This ballot measure is a do-nothing, even if it were to pass. Also, try as they may, these anti-government, anti-tax groups can only influence the old, infirm, and gullible. Once the city develops and the next generation moves in, they are going to demand better transit service to their jobs. This ballot measure, even if it were passed this year, is only one additional election from being repealed.

    Lastly, the Metro council resolution that expanded the UGB into Damascus specified that transit service must be provided when density could support it. Metro trumps the city, as it should.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jason Barbour January 13, 2010 at 2:05 am

    To comment #43 - At least Vancouver has C-TRAN, which is no slouch of a system. Believe me, there are systems out there that are much worse than C-TRAN. Damascus has close to zero transit service, save for TriMet 30-Estacada, which runs on OR-224 through Carver. Additionally, much of the city isn't even in the TriMet District, meaning no payroll taxes are collected there for transit service.

    IMO, the problem with public transit is one of perception only. If tomorrow the talking heads for the major political parties and policy hacks said riding public transit is as American as voting and anyone who disagrees doesn't support their country, then people would be lining up in droves to ride.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jim Labbe January 13, 2010 at 2:23 am

    One shouldn't judge the citizens of Damascus wholesale. The measure and others like it were put on the ballot by a vocal, organized, and angry group of citizens who appear mainly interested an in opposing thoughtful planning.

    However, there are a number of citizens in Damascus (organized as the Committee for a Livable Damascus) who are doing extremely difficult work of trying to improve their community and foster a sane discussion about the future. Many Damascus residents aspire to creating an ecologically sustainable city in Damascus.

    They deserve to be supported. The fate of Damascus and rest of the region (including the transportation system) are for more linked than is often appreciated. We write off Damascus at our peril.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Afro Biker January 13, 2010 at 5:36 am

    Jim, that's because many on this site are as narrow as those they so quickly accuse others of being so.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Afro Biker January 13, 2010 at 5:41 am

    Wow obviously my English is not so good today. But I think you know what I meant. It's troublesome how quickly we try to malign anyone who doesn't share our glorious vision of the future. Quite frankly I don't even know much about Damascus and have lived in Portland more than 30 years.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Anonymous January 13, 2010 at 6:59 am

    Now replace all the anti-Damascus statements here with anti-bike statements and you have the anti-bike facebook page that everyone is so uptight about.

    Ballot measures are great when they support your causes but bad when they don't.

    Plenty of mean spirited insulting statements here because a ballot measure doesn't support your views mass transit utopia provided by Tri-met.

    Why should Damascus support light rail? Why should Tri-Met be the only game in town for them?

    If you read the text they are banning a transit monopoly. This allows Tri-Met in but also others, fair competition. Gee it bans light rail within city limits. Why is this so bad. The current planning didn't include light rail, so retrofitting could be problematic, just look at the mess created by the Max in downtown Portland. This doesn't ban light rail coming to the outskirts and integrating with a bus service.

    Sounds like it is a slow news week and this is making a mountain out of a molehill.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • 5chw4r7z January 13, 2010 at 7:32 am

    I feel for you guys, we just had a very nasty fight in Cincinnati to kill Issue #9 which would have killed any rail transport in the city.
    Its sad that the Cavemen are everywhere.

    * Citizens Against Virtually Everything

    The Cave men are “a large, fractious confederation of Cincinnatians who are defined by what they are against.”

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • al m January 13, 2010 at 9:14 am

    """I lived in the Atlanta metro area for a few years. At the time, the popular "joke" was to refer to MARTA (Metro Area Rapid Transit Authority) as "Moving Africans Right Through Atlanta".""

    ~~~>Classic piece of transit history! Love it!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Peter Noone January 13, 2010 at 9:28 am

    @Anonymous/53

    Saying "just look at the mess created by the Max in downtown Portland" makes me wonder if you've been downtown since the new transit mall opened. It may not be perfect, but I wouldn't call it a mess. FYI, I live downtown.

    Beside that, I agree that this piece seems a bit sensationalist.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Kt January 13, 2010 at 10:12 am

    It sounds to me like there are two groups in Damascus trying to work within the system to make their city "better" by whatever definition of "better" they have. It also sounds like the City government of Damascus is trying to do the same thing, and each group is clashing with the others.

    I find it disappointing at best that a lot of commenters here choose to malign these groups; as #53 said,"Ballot measures are great when they support your causes but bad when they don't."

    So what if Damascus prohibits a public transit monopoly? So what if they prohibit light rail? They aren't outright prohibiting public transit, which this article's title states outright-- and incorrectly.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • rixtir January 13, 2010 at 10:51 am

    "So what" if an area that is slated for growth as an exurb of Portland bans rail travel to and from Portland?

    How will all those commuters propose to get here then?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Eric on Blue Island January 13, 2010 at 10:56 am

    I wonder if these myopic people recognize the number one obstacle to "the free flow of vehicular traffic and citizen travel within the city," i.e. the unbridled encouragement of wasteful, lazy, congestion-producing, street-wrecking, single-occupancy vehicles operated by perhaps 85% of their neighbors, many of who insist on: driving embarrassingly short distances when they should be walking or biking; driving alone past their coworkers' homes and neighbors' workplaces, whether a few miles or 30, alongside thousands of others in the same corridors, every day; refusing to even consider finding a carpool partner, thereby ensuring the the number of empty seats clogging the roadways in empty personal automobiles continues to dwarf the vacancies on transit?

    What will they do to curb this problem in the name of "free flow" in Damascus? Enforce mandatory carpooling? Ban trips of less than a half-mile for able-bodied people? How about even setting up a ride-share program?

    No? Then why are they worried about the relatively tiny amount of congestion caused by transit?

    Damascus. St. Charles, MO. Gillette Co, GA. They all suffer from the same fear: the imaginary kind.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Eric on Blue Island January 13, 2010 at 10:58 am

    edit: Gwinett County, not Gillette

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • wsbob January 13, 2010 at 11:11 am

    5cfw4r7c #54...as I said earlier, I'm not very familiar with Damascus, but I can say for certain that it's not remotely similar in size or level of development to a city such as Cincinnati. Damascus is the country, 20 miles away from Portland, the big city. It's a farming community...10,000-12,000 residents.

    I'm not sure what it has for a commercial/retail center, but perhaps not much of one; it's only been since 2004 that Damascus has been incorporated officially as a 'city', and that was as a defense in response to plans for the community's land that were rapidly being formed by planners outside the community.

    Definitely, some good things have come about through management of growth by means of the UGB(urban growth boundary) and regional government METRO, but it's a process that still can have some very serious, long lasting and damaging effects as it works to accommodate anticipated increases in population growth.

    Communities with open land get targeted for development, still driven in no small part by the stand-alone single family dwelling principle. There still exists much of a sense that those lands should just be reflexively handed over when the 'call' comes.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • toddistic January 13, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    And this has to do with bikes how?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • wsbob January 13, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    "And this has to do with bikes how?" toddistic

    Accessibility to mass transit theoretically allows commuters to more readily use a bike to make a connection between their destination and mass transit service. There's been a lot of discussion about this by way of various bikeportland stories posted.

    "How will all those commuters propose to get here then?" rixter

    How many commuters, commuting trips are we talking about? Damascus doesn't currently have a big population, and many of them may not be commuters. There may not be a strong argument for Damascus city residents to start paying to bring light rail or even regular bus service to Damascus until that forecast 50,000 population increase starts to take place.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • rixtir January 13, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    The question isn't "how many residents currently live there?" The question is "How many residents will live their when the exurb is developed?"

    And then one must ask how transit will be brought to Damascus if transit is prohibited by ordinance?

    One might also ask which is least disruptive to business and residents-- building transit now, before the exurb is developed, or building transit later, after the exurb is developed? It's an important question, because the "disruption" caused by building transit later will be one of the arguments against building it.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • rixtir January 13, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    There's also the issue of transit-oriented development-- when planning the community (I know, I know, ASK Damascus is anti-planning, but humor me), which is preferable: (1) Integrating transportation into the planning of the community, or (2) adding it as an afterthought, after the community has already been built out?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Filmed by Bike January 13, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Damascus (outside Portland) wants to prohibit mass transit. That's whack. via @BikePortland READ: http://ow.ly/W5ER

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • wsbob January 13, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    I'm not convinced Damascus is particularly 'anti-planning', in fact, overt inclinations of ASK Damascus aside, I don't think the city is anti-planning. As Jim Labbe #50 said, there is another citizens group in town that's interested in planning for the future of Damascus: Committee for a Livable Damascus

    Residents of this area seem to want more of the planning to be of their own making that may take a form different from the urban/suburban type that Metro has in mind.

    The Oregonian published another story awhile back that presents one idea of what that might be:

    Blurring the urban-rural line in Damascus/ Andre Meunier, The Oregonian

    It seems to me that the metro area has a big enough problem with sprawl and congestion already. If Damascus residents want to make their own plans that will support the city population's wish to be a relatively small, rural town with an agrarian character, I think that's great. That's the kind of place I think a lot of people would like to be able to visit, but not necessarily take up residence in.

    Before much new is built in downtown Damascus or any close-in neighborhoods it might have, if they want to do so, Damascus residents can hire qualified people to draw up a framework for a small town that would take into consideration and provide for future light rail alignment. That doesn't mean they have to build it now or necessarily start paying for it now when it's construction could be many years down the road.

    Of course, if by way of it's independence as an incorporated city, Damascus decided on its own to create a pot of gold by paving over a lot of its farmland for the construction of an ugly crackerjack mini-mansion resort town that only rich people can afford to go to or live in, that wouldn't be so good.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • rixtir January 13, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    Bob,

    You're misreading what i wrote. i didn't say "Damascus is anti-planning"- I said "ASK Damascus is anti-planning."

    And your subsequent comments are bazsed on the premise that Damascus doesn't have a city planner. In fact, if you re-read Jonathan's post, Damascus does have a city planner-- and ASK Damascus is opposed to the planning efforts of his office. That alone doesn't mean that they're anti-planning, but when you consider that they want development to occur without any integration of transportation beyond roads and the private automobile, it's pretty clear that what they're advocating is automobile-dependent development. Sprawl. Congestion. The antithesis of smart growth.

    It's an exurb of commuters all driving their single occupancy automobiles to their jobs in Portland (thus my comment post #35).

    It's Clark County and the CRC all over again, a quarter-century or so down the road.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Ethan January 13, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    Peak oil will make outlying communities beg for public transit.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Matt January 13, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    Should be "...ensure..."

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • wsbob January 14, 2010 at 1:37 am

    rixter...whoops...! I didn't quite catch that distinction. Beyond that, if it seemed I did, I wasn't commenting on the basis that the city doesn't have a planner (maus's article doesn't mention anything about a city planner...he mentions Jim Bennett, City Manager...different type of work, different job.).

    I haven't read what residents have been doing in that respect, but I'd bet there's been some serious thinking going on in terms of planning/urban design for their city.

    The Oregonian story joeb #39 posted the link for; that story has some info about ASK Damascus founder Dan Phegley. I hear you, that you regard "ASK Damascus' to be 'anti-planning'. I looked at the groups website. Myself?...I wouldn't say that the group or Phegley is anti-planning, but it's pretty clear they take exception to planning originating from the big regional government agency, Metro, and the the big metro area public transit agency Trimet.

    The full text of Measure 3-350 (in the Maus article above), doesn't seem very well written. Would Damascus residents really choose to exclude all 'public' mass transit rail within city limits, even if somehow, some day, it turned out that light rail could be brought in by a different transit agency than Trimet?

    "...b) No public mass transit rail will be allowed within the city limits. ..."

    The biggest issue that ASK Damascus's Measure 3-350 seems to be written to attempt to deal with is monopoly.

    The two provisions in the measure 'a' and 'b' seem to contradict each other somewhat. To me, the whole thing seems kind of a mess, but I'm still inclined at this point to think that with it, 'ASK Damascus' isn't particularly trying to keep mass transit and light rail out of the city, except for that which they're afraid Metro and Trimet may at some point try push onto them. It doesn't even seem that ASK Damascus is trying to favor private automobiles over other modes of transportation. In its writing, the measure uses both words, 'pedestrian' and 'vehicular'; that would include people on foot and people riding bikes.

    I don't see need for a big panic over all this. Let this city's residents take some time to figure out what they want to do. Many people will be watching them with great interest to see what they decide.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • wsbob January 14, 2010 at 1:41 am

    "In its writing, the measure uses both words, 'pedestrian' and 'vehicular'; that would include people on foot and people riding bikes."

    'citizen', rather than 'pedestrian'.

    Small difference.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • rixtir January 14, 2010 at 3:46 am

    "maus's article doesn't mention anything about a city planner...he mentions Jim Bennett, City Manager...different type of work, different job."

    Gaahh! Now I'm misreading!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • anonymous January 14, 2010 at 10:56 am

    @ # 68:

    Peak Oil is a loooong time coming yet. Cheap oil and auto travel are too healvily subsidized, our present infrastructure depends too heavily on them, and too few among our population have bought into smaller, smarter, denser cities. I'll keep riding my bike and praying for ten-dollar gas but it's still a ways off. And that's why cities can continue to decide that transit is not the answer.

    ..::sigh::..

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Osama January 15, 2010 at 9:59 am

    Great! Some American town gets it--that people like me can't run our terrorist training camps, our madrassas to keep youngsters brainwashed to jihad, our hideouts in the hills of Pakistan, without the magnificent transportation of the US. Drive on, America, Hummers and Excursions make me a happy terrorist.
    Thank you citizens of Damascus, and please, please keep on burning that oil.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • AskMe August 28, 2010 at 8:54 am

    The willful ignorance expressed here is appalling, but not surprising. Most of you condemn the residents of Damascus as ignorant, backward, and benighted on the basis of them not buying into your fantasies and common "wisdom".

    Your headline and premise are wrong. The measure would not have banned mass transit, only agreements that would grant a mass transit monopoly. This would preclude TriMet from agreeing to serve the city to gain exclusivity and then providing minimal and unacceptable service in return for the taxes it collects.

    The measure would have prohibited only rail transit within the city limits. Light rail has been a blight on Gresham and it has destroyed many of its neighborhoods. Look at Burnside and 102nd sometime.

    Damascans aren't planning to have to use mass transit to commute to jobs in the Portland Holy Land every day. Our planning includes employment centers, green corridors, and bike paths to make the city entirely accessible to residents without necessitating vehicular traffic either inside or outside of Damascus.

    What we can do without are sightseeing, tourist cyclists on our narrow, 45 mph roads where there are no shoulders or bike lanes. Such cyclists pose a danger to themselves and to us. Their unthinkingly selfish behavior is easily explained when one reads the posts and sees the attitudes expressed here. We'll make you a deal. We'll stay home if you will. I'd be thrilled if I never had to drive, cycle, or ride mass transit to the hell hole that is Portland ever again.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • wsbob August 28, 2010 at 11:10 am

    "...Our planning includes employment centers, green corridors, and bike paths to make the city entirely accessible to residents without necessitating vehicular traffic either inside or outside of Damascus. ..." AskMe #85

    Planning your city so people will be able to walk or bike from their home to work, shopping, school, church, and so on, is a great idea! Wouldn't it also beneficial for your town to be accessible to people in addition to residents, without those people having to rely on vehicular traffic to get there?

    If the 45mph roads you spoke of later in your comment currently are lacking shoulders and bike paths, it would seem that the planning you suggest your city is working on, would logically include the provision of shoulders and bike paths on those roads, to help relieve the towns residents and visitors of vehicular traffic (in writing 'vehicular traffic', I'm assuming you're referring to vehicular traffic in the form of motor vehicles.).

    As I said earlier, towns supporting opportunities for people to walk and ride, and not have to drive everywhere, is a great idea! Many cyclists are very decent people and responsible road users that do their best to accommodate road users operating faster vehicles in situations where roads are narrow and lacking shoulders or bike lanes.

    Providing for the needs of cycle tourists could be the genesis of good business for the town. People like to see the beautiful countryside, but they also like to take time out to relax and dine. There might be other things Damascus could offer them that could be good income for the town.

    Seems to me that it's unfair of you to sum up the comments to this article by writer Jonathan Maus, by focusing only on those you apparently consider to be associated with people whose behavior is selfish and unthinking. Looking over them, I thought there were at least a few people that were interested and open minded in learning about reasons some Damascus residents were opposed to Trimet's proposal to levy transit related taxes on the town's residents.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • matt picio August 29, 2010 at 1:00 am

    AskMe (#85) - You do realize you're posting to a 7-month old story, right?

    "Light rail has been a blight on Gresham" - Rockwood was sketchy in 1987, only a year after MAX opened. I'm not sure one can argue that MAX is causing the issues. MAX goes where the cost of construction is low - i.e. the areas of town that already have crime issues. For example, Clackamas County's highest crime area is directly north of Clackamas Town Center, where the new Green Line terminates.

    Also, Burnside & 102nd is Portland, not Gresham. Gresham starts at 162nd - 3 miles east of Gateway.

    "What we can do without are sightseeing, tourist cyclists" - How do you expect to serve resident cyclists while excluding "tourist cylists"? You just spoke of making the city accessible to residents without necessitating vehicular traffic. You can't do that without letting cyclists ride the roads. The solution is to widen those roads to include shoulders. not just for cyclists - right now a car that breaks down has nowhere to pull off.

    Damascus is between Portland and Mt. Hood. It's going to see through traffic from non-residents. It seems like you have just as much of an attitude as the posters above who you are condemning. Those non-residents are spending money in the commercial area at Hwy 212 and Foster. Safeway and Bi-Mart aren't supported just by the city residents, they have shoppers from neighboring communities. And if the Rock Creek Trail is ever completed, you'll have more "tourist cyclists" coming through.

    I wish you luck reforming your city government's practices, though, and in staving off development. As a cyclist who tours (as opposed to "tourist"), I enjoy the rural character of communities like Damascus, and typically they are much friendlier and pleasant places than the communities immediately adjacent to the city.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

- Daily bike news since 2005 -
BikePortland.org is a production of
PedalTown Media Inc.
321 SW 4th Ave, Ste. 401
Portland, OR 97204

Powered by WordPress. Theme by Clemens Orth.
Subscribe to RSS feed


Original images and content owned by Pedaltown Media, Inc. - Not to be used without permission.