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Street Fee update: Romain will seek repeal by initiative

Posted by on February 5th, 2008 at 12:19 pm

According to a source inside City Hall, Oregon Petroleum Association lobbyist and architect of the Street Fee opposition Paul Romain will not attempt a referral of Commissioner Adams’ street maintenance funding plan. Instead, he is expected to attempt to repeal the plan using Portland’s initiative process.

According to Portland City Code Section 2.04.090, Romain would have to get his initiative signed by equal or greater than 9 percent of Portland’s registered voters. Based on the May 2006 primary vote, that number was 27,255 signatures (after the upcoming May 2008 election, the Auditor would re-calculate the required number).

Since the City Auditor Gary Blackmer recently said a vote on the ordinance wouldn’t happen until November 2008, as per City Code, the petition signatures wouldn’t be due until July 7th.

According to people familiar with the process, the main difference with the initiative process as opposed to the referral process (besides the signatures) is that with the initiative, the ordinance in question would go into effect as passed and would have to essentially be “overturned with a legislative act”, whereas with a successful referral, an ordinance would not go into effect until the vote.

The “Safe, Sound, and Green Streets” plan, which seeks to raise $464 million for road maintenance and includes $24 million in bike safety improvements, has been mired in political maneuvers since it was passed by City Council in early January.

A message left for Romain at the Oregon Petroleum Association office has not been returned.

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  • tonyt February 5, 2008 at 12:33 pm
  • Bicycledave February 5, 2008 at 1:24 pm


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  • a.O February 5, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    You know, bike advocates can use the initiative process, too. Hmmm….

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  • Bicycledave February 5, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    Guys like that and organizations like his have no business in our political process.

    I am a firm believer in free speach for citizens. Money is not speach and corporations and their lobbying groups are not citizens.

    What do they have against making Portland a better place to live? I\’ll work to oppose their selfish interests.

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  • tonyt February 5, 2008 at 1:39 pm


    I agree with your second paragraph but unfortunately the Supreme Court does not.

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  • Bicycledave February 5, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    You\’re right tonyt, but the Supreme Court makes mistakes and giving corporations more power than people is one of if not their biggest mistake(s).

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  • Matthew February 5, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    Regardless of if this goes to the ballot or not, we need to frame the debate differently. We need to talk about benefits, not about costs. Portland may be a liberal city, but people everywhere are much more into getting benefits than in paying taxes.

    1) It isn\’t the Street Maintenance Fee, it is Safe, Sound and Green.
    2) It doesn\’t cost businesses a lot of money, it allows their customers to get to their business alive, with enough money left over to spend in their store.
    a) Someone in my neighborhood lost their legs last year after being hit by a speeding car on a street that the neighborhood association has been trying to get speed bumps put in for years.
    b) Most children are driven to school because it isn\’t safe to walk or bicycle, and at $3/gallon (possibly $4 this summer,) that is costing the parents a lot of time and money.
    c) Many streets, like 82nd, are simply unsafe to cross on foot. To safety cross 82nd, many people end up driving. Since that is a very short trip, and involves a fair number of turns, it tends to make it even more dangerous for the people that try to do it on foot, and there are plenty of fender benders from the people that do it in a car.
    3) The trucking industry supports it, it keeps their costs down by reducing congestion and fixing the streets that are in bad shape.
    a) Many of the traffic signals in town are older than my parents. They can\’t be synchronized with each other, so you are as likely to get a red light as you are pulling up as you are to get a green one. b) Some of the roads that are in the worst shape are the truck routes. Bad roads slow trucks down, (and time is money,) but also wears out the trucks faster, (costing them money,) and breaks their contents, (costing them money.)

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  • KT February 6, 2008 at 9:36 am

    Yay, Matthew!

    Your points make sense, especially as a way to go on the offensive in this issue.

    The BTA can add that the portion being spent on bikes and bike infrastructure is 5.17% of the overall total; most of the money will be spent on automotive fixes.

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