Splendid Cycles Big Sale

Metro committee says no to Adams’ amendment, yes on RTP

Posted by on December 10th, 2009 at 10:28 am

metro hearing on the CRC-2.jpg

Metro’s RTP contains a $20 billion
list of transportation projects.
(Photo © J. Maus)

This morning, Metro’s Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation voted 14-3 in support of the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP). Portland Mayor Sam Adams had an amendment to the plan rejected 11-5 and was one of the three “no” votes.

The RTP contains a list of over 600 transportation infrastructure projects at a total price tag of $20 billion. The plan has come under fire from bicycle and environmental advocacy groups (it even earned a “Rogue of the Week” award from The Willamette Week) because, if the project list was built out, it would increase greenhouse gas emissions by 50% and run afoul of our region’s emissions reduction goals.

Despite this, as we reported in more detail last month, Metro defends their plan and the highway/road-heavy project list, saying they’re necessary to accommodate future population growth and to connect suburban and rural roads. Metro has also acknowledged that the modeling used to project GHG emissions is currently not as precise as it should be.

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“To deal with growth in a way that keeps our city intact we are going to have to push the envelope and invest in projects that don’t just expand roads.”
— Catherine Ciarlo, Mayor Adams’ transportation policy advisor

Portland Mayor Sam Adams has made it clear he wouldn’t support it unless more was done to analyze and address these GHG emissions concerns. At a meeting of Metro’s Policy Advisory Committee (MPAC) on November 18th, Adams (and his City Council colleague Amanda Fritz) proposed an amendment asking Metro to do more analysis of the projects and label them according to expected emissions impact. Here’s a snip from the amendment:

“The direction to Metro staff above provides a process for improving the GHG projections and better understanding how certain transportation investments may adversely affect our ability to meet regional GHG reduction targets.”

The Adams amendment was approved by MPAC, who then passed along the recommendation to JPACT. Today it was JPACT’s turn to vote up or down on the amendment. According to Adams’ Transportation Policy Advisor Catherine Ciarlo (who’s publishing updates from the meeting via Twitter), they voted against the amendment 11-5.

The Oregonian has published an article today that gives some context to Adams’ amendment and explains why it was not likely to survive. From the Oregonian:

“…some elected officials [like those from more suburban/rural areas like Washington County] fear a carbon rating on road projects could amount to a Scarlet Letter – unfairly labeling a project that might have otherwise worthy attributes….

Metro councilors and planners say they’re not sure how to do a project-by-project carbon analysis. Trying to do so could delay approval of the project list and risk losing federal funding.”

But, according to Ciarlo, Adams said at the JPACT meeting today that, “We can find the time, money and resources to do it now.” and, “we have the ability to push ourselves on climate change. And we must.”

However, despite Adams’ pep talk, JPACT voted 14-3 in favor of moving forward with the RTP in its current form. Joining Adams in voting no were Washington County Commissioner Roy Rogers and Tigard Mayor Craig Dirksen (both made it clear they were voting no for different reasons than Adams).

In an interview with Catherine Ciarlo after the meeting, she said the City of Portland will “move forward as fast as it can” to do emissions analysis on its own projects. She also said Adams will push Metro to complete a new GHG emission analysis and modeling tool that is currently under development.

I asked Ciarlo whether Adams’ call for more analysis is more about sincerely wanting more information about GHG emissions or whether it was about simply being opposed to certain highway projects:

“I wouldn’t say it’s one or the other. To deal with growth in a way that keeps our city in tact we are going to have to push the envelope and invest in projects that don’t just expand roads.”

But is it fair, I asked, for Adams — who oversees a City with a relatively dense, grid road network that already has streetcar, light rail, and a bike network — to expect his rural and suburban counterparts to share his perspective on emphasizing emissions reduction in transportation project decisions?

“We would like to see our regional partners head in that direction as well and one key piece in heading in that direction is understanding the impact of our decisions. Sam is the first person who would acknowledge the differences in Portland versus other cities in our region… But as a region, we’re asking for decisions based on information… Climate change will affect all of us similarly. It’s in our interest as a whole region to tackle this together.”

Adams’ maneuvering on the RTP is quite similar to his stance against the Columbia River Crossing (except in that battle, he’s allied with Metro). In both cases Adams is saying we should take more time before investing so much in projects that don’t meet our stated emissions targets. Adams’ fight against the RTP also puts him in a strange juxtaposition with Metro Councilor Rex Burkholder. Burkholder is Metro’s lead on the RTP, and this public disagreement by Adams happens as Burkholder is in a campaign for Metro president — a campaign that lists Mayor Adams as an official supporter. Politics makes strange bedfellows. (UPDATE: More on this tension between Adams and Burkholder over on the Portland Mercury blog.)

From here, the RTP will move to a vote from the Metro Council on December 17th. They are expected to vote in line with JPACT’s recommendations. Stay tuned to the Front Page for a list of all the non-motorized transportation projects included in the RTP.

For more coverage of today’s meeting, check out the story on The Portland Mercury blog.

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Jackattak
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Jackattak

Once again, we’re trumped by the majority of the suburbanites’ need for cars. I don’t blame their leaders, who are only voting for the betterment of the people who elected them.

I blame the car culture.

Peter W
Guest

Since it’s easier than ever to start a petition, I’m surprised I didn’t see any regarding Adam’s amendment. Perhaps another reason to get a MoveOn-like Metro-region landuse/transportation advocacy thing going.

Also interesting in the news today – Hillsboro’s former mayor is looking to enter the run for Metro President. Bike. Walk. Vote. PAC needs to get rolling again in a big way.

Peter W
Guest

re #1: Maybe if Portland had a congestion charge for cars entering the city, more people from the suburbs would start taking transit?

see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_congestion_charge

Jackattak
Guest
Jackattak

Peter #3…

I’m all for congestion charges and tolling every single highway into Portland proper. Bring it on! I’ll vote for it!

Anything that gets people out of cars gets my vote.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Or less people would come to Portland and local business would suffer, reducing the tax base thus reducing the monies available to make any changes to infrastructure.

Jackattak
Guest
Jackattak

Anonymous # 5 –

There is no precedent for that. Many cities have had toll infrastructure for decades and none of them are suffering because of it.

GLV
Guest
GLV

Many cities have had toll infrastructure for decades and none of them are suffering because of it.

East coast-style freeway tolling and London’s congestion charge are two completely different things. London’s tolling system works because it is the cultural, political, and economic capital of the Kingdom, with an extensive rapid transit system. Those are attributes Portland does not possess.

matthew
Guest
matthew

if you want tolls for every highway leading into your city i’d suggest moving to chicago. your wish will be granted. they also have an extensive public transit system so you can still live without your car.

Jackattak
Guest
Jackattak

I have been living without a car in Portland for two years.

Mr. Wheat
Guest
Mr. Wheat

Another example that Adams is powerless and carries no leverage.

burbanite
Guest
burbanite

For those folks here who are picturing suburbanites as the evil car-doers, stop fooling yourself. Watch rush hour traffic on Hwy 26 and you’ll see about the same amount of traffic congestion in either direction. Plenty of Portland residents who drive every day in their SOVs to Nike, Intel and all those other evil workplaces in the burbs.

Like it or not, cars are still a big part of most Americans’ lifestyle, whether they live in the city, the suburbs or out in the boondocks. Bike and public transportation advocates will be more effective if they recognize that reality, instead of trying to paint imaginary tribal lines between the city and the suburbs.

Peter W
Guest

burbanite #11:

Why do you think Portlanders are driving out to the suburbs?

Suburbanites aren’t the problem – they aren’t evil cardoers – the problem is that the suburbs themselves are designed so that it’s hard to get around in anything but a car. In fact, because of this, its even pretty hard getting around in a car out there! (And yes, I know this from experience.)

To get back to the article, the RTP’s focus on road building is just as bad for the ‘burbs as it is for the cities.

matthew
Guest
matthew

burbanite #11, well said. the world isn’t us versus them. WE are all here together and WE can change the world in which WE live.

jackattak, like i said-you can still live without your car. making the commitment to not drive is a noble and honerable thing but to put yourself above others that may not have your perspective draws a line that seperates and divides. we as a society cannot afford this.

jim
Guest
jim

Adams is no longer effevtive as a mayor. he has lost all of his credibillity, there is no respect for him from much of anywhere. I see no value to keeping him on staff. maybe we can muddle around him? it would just be better if he would just step down.

Jackattak
Guest
Jackattak

For those of you slamming the mayor the majority of us Portlanders elected, the same mayor who wasn’t given half a chance to do his job before the homophobes came a-crashing his party, I ask you, “what should he have done differently on this?”

He gave his vote and recommended an amendment. What was he supposed to do? Start toppling over tables and making demands? Use harsh language? Punch all the car-centric suburbanite leaders in the guts until they recanted their votes?

jim
Guest
jim

he has had more than 1/2 a chance, if we were so homophobic we never would have elected him in the first place, that is not an issue- don’t try and blame his problems on something thats not there. now we just regret that choice. Maybe he should listen to some of the people at metro that have some expertise in these areas and try and work with them instead of going on his own personal crusade

Jackattak
Guest
Jackattak

How do you know he didn’t speak to anyone at metro? You think he just pulled his own idea out of a hat?

jim
Guest
jim

there is a need to provide updates to our infrastructure. we cannot keep on growing in population without these updates. we cannot keep the population from increasing. a mayor cannot stand in the way of providing updates to our infrastructure. so far his plan for portland has failed. he tried to make this a good place to live with the belief that that alone would bring jobs. that was a failed plan. he should have instead provided the infrastructure for the job system to thrive and then the rest of his plans could have come into place. plainly failed economics that is now hurting all of portland

jim
Guest
jim

perhaps he did speak with metro (probably did) he wasn’t successful was he? not very good for an elected official

Jackattak
Guest
Jackattak

I’m not quite sure where his lack of “providing the infrastructure for the job system to thrive” falls into play in a discussion about roadways but at least you’ve made your complaint about Adams clear: you blame him for our lack of jobs.

Awesome.

Not sure how long you’ve lived in Portland but unemployment has always been a problem here. Recessions are nothing new to us.

Sigma
Guest
Sigma

It took Jackattak 54 minutes to label jim a homophobe for the crime of criticizing the mayor’s inability to form a political coalition on this issue.

Awesome.

jim
Guest
jim

I was refering to an article in the oregonian that was talking about his plan for making portland a livable city and how that was what was going to bring in jobs and how it was a failed strategy…. portlands unemployement is ranked pretty high in the nation. more than what it should be. we have a lot of opportunities here. govt is not helping us with their crazy ideas that are just killing us.

Jackattak
Guest
Jackattak

I didn’t label Jim anything. I was referring to the “Breedlove Scandalists” who were running around Portland getting suburbanites who don’t even live here to sign a petition to get (Portland) Mayor Adams removed from office.

Jackattak
Guest
Jackattak

We’re getting way off track here Jim but I’ll spell out a bit more of our unemployment woes to you (from firsthand experience, natch):

Portland’s workforce is primarily creative types, such as artists, interior designers, architects, etc.

There are no jobs for those who create really anywhere in the US right now (there are some places in the southwest but they’re in the southwest lol) because banks are not lending to corporate and commercial building. If there’s no money to build with, nobody builds.

Of the unemployed in Portland, 55% (probably closer to 60% by now I’m working off last summer’s figures) are creative types.

You’ve got creative kids coming from all over the US, moving here because they hear it’s better in Portland, and over saturating the job market. They don’t care that unemployment is so high. They’re moving here anyway.

Put down the Oregonian and get a real paper and you’d get the real story on Portland. The Oregonian has its own agenda.

AaronF
Guest
AaronF

Jackattack:

Portland’s workforce is primarily artists, interior designers and architects?

lol

I needed that!

…and what’s the real paper we should be reading to get the truth?

Jackattak
Guest
Jackattak

Glad you think it’s funny, but the best part is that you don’t have to take it from my word…

http://mkn.research.pdx.edu/2009/05/economic-downturn/

You needn’t read any paper to get the truth. There’s more information on the web than any publication could dream of putting out there even with hundreds of thousands of journalists (promoting whatever agenda they like, I might add).

Jackattak
Guest
Jackattak

Emphasis on figures 3 and 6. Keep in mind, that data is from May and if you’ve been keeping up with our current situation, you’ll know it’s not any better, now.

AaronF
Guest
AaronF

So I read that… and it doesn’t mention a “creative class” anywhere… or I missed it. I see attention paid to constructon and manufacturing jobs…

I missed the line that says “Portland’s workforce is primarily creative types, such as artists, interior designers, architects, etc.”

…and you’re the one who referenced “a real paper.” Nice dodge though.

Jackattak
Guest
Jackattak

Just what industry do you think creators (i.e. people who build, construct, etc.) fall into?

Jackattak
Guest
Jackattak

And for dog’s sake, can we please get back to the scheduled programming? This thread has gotten way off track (which has as much as to do with me as it does with anyone else, yes I realize that).

If any of you would like to continue this conversation with me I’d be happy to do so over a cup o’ joe or a pint. But for Jonathan and Elly’s sakes, let’s please get back to the original topic.

AaronF
Guest
AaronF

Sorry, “creative types” does not mean “Those who create” even thought both descriptions involve a common word.

I’m sure you already know that though… this is really weak backpedaling dude.

Next time you start making stuff up I’ll know better than to try to get an honest response out of you.

Jackattak
Guest
Jackattak

WOW! I just presented to you evidence and you attempt to refute THAT, even?!?

You’re worse than the global warming deniers!

Anyway…moving forward.

jim
Guest
jim

do you remember in 1975 the scientists said we are moving into another ice age, but wait- that was a mistake- it’s going to be global warming…………