opal environmental justice oregon

Audubon Society and OPAL file FOIA request on I-5 Rose Quarter project

by on March 23rd, 2018 at 4:12 pm

I-5 through the Rose Quarter as seen from the Crowne Plaza Hotel.
(Photo: Emily Guise)

The Audubon Society of Portland and OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon want to make sure the Oregon Department of Transportation doesn’t short-change the environment as they plan to add and expand lanes on Interstate 5 through the Rose Quarter.

A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request was formally made today by the Crag Law Center on behalf of both organizations.

According to the letter, Audubon Society and OPAL want to see, “all documents relating to the question of whether FHWA [Federal Highway Administration] and ODOT intend to prepare initially an environmental assessment (“EA”) as opposed to a more thorough environmental impact statement (“EIS”) for the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project. Documents subject to this request include, without limitation, electronic mail, text messages, web-based content, all writings, letters, memoranda, notes wherever they are found, summaries, working papers, schedules, draft documents, correspondence, documentation of meetings, minutes from meetings, data, graphs, charts, photos, and/or maps.”
[Read more…]

Bus riders’ union launches new campaign: Discount fares for low-income people

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on March 11th, 2016 at 9:45 am

TriMet bus with rack

Great transit access is closely linked with
less driving and more cycling.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

One year after it persuaded TriMet to add 30 minutes to the life of every transit fare, a local transit advocacy group has a new goal.

Bus Riders Unite, a rider-led project of OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, will launch a new campaign chosen by its members: for the Portland region’s transit system to follow Seattle’s and San Francisco’s by offering lower transit fares to lower-income people.

“We think the most reasonable and simplest approach would be to let low-income people have the same fare honored citizens currently receive,” said OPAL spokesman Shawn Fleek.

Due in part to federal law, TriMet offers half-price tickets to people ages 65 and up, people on Medicare and people with disabilities, a grouping the agency refers to as “honored citizens.”

But over the years, U.S. poverty trends have shifted. As of 2014, 15 percent of Oregonians age 19 to 64 live in poverty. So do 20 percent of Oregonians under age 19. For Oregonians aged 65 and up, the figure is 7 percent.

[Read more…]

As state law passes, the fight for affordable proximity moves to City Hall

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on March 4th, 2016 at 12:36 pm

A rally last fall to better protect Portland tenants from displacement.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

After years of fighting, a “grand bargain” on affordable housing passed Oregon’s legislature this week. But it won’t begin shaping Portland’s bikeable neighborhoods until after the city council takes action of its own.

Representatives for Mayor Charlie Hales and his council colleague, Housing Commissioner Dan Saltzman, say that plans to do so are already underway.

Any city plan seems certain to include some level of “inclusionary zoning,” a measure that could require that up to 20 percent of units in some new buildings be sold and/or rented at discount prices to people who make less than 80 percent of the median income. (As of 2015, that 80 percent figure means that a family of three that makes less than $52,950 would qualify for the reduced-rate units.)

[Read more…]

Democrats in state Senate join Republicans to kill neighborhood income diversity bill

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on July 2nd, 2015 at 8:24 am

Though the bill would have affected only condos and other owner-occupied homes, some rallied around it as a seemingly achievable way to preserve income diversity in bike-friendly areas like Southeast Division Street.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

A bill that would have let Oregon cities require some condominiums in some new housing projects to be sold for below-market prices reportedly died in the state Senate on Wednesday.

One leading advocate for inclusionary zoning, as such policies are known, said late Wednesday that Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) and Senate Majority Leader Diane Rosenbaum (D-Southeast Portland) had “opted against a final caucus on the bill, claiming that the votes aren’t there.”

“We believe otherwise,” added the advocate, Jonathan Ostar of Portland-based OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, in an email to supporters of House Bill 2564. “It’s beyond frustrating that the caucus won’t get to discuss this last amendment.”

The bill’s backers include the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, 1000 Friends of Oregon, Upstream Public Health and other groups looking for ways to keep Portland’s decade-long housing shortage from making it impossible for most people to afford homes in Portland’s bikeable, walkable neighborhoods.

[Read more…]

Oregon House likely to pass bill to preserve income-diverse neighborhoods

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on April 14th, 2015 at 9:26 am

SE Division street scene - photo by Michael Andersen

SE Division Street: rapid infill but rapid price hikes.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Oregon seems to be nearing a series of party-line votes that would remove its statewide ban on inclusionary zoning.

IZ, as it’s sometimes known, is a type of zoning used in many U.S. cities that requires developers in certain areas to offer some housing units at below-market prices, usually to people with middle or low incomes.

House Bill 2564 is scheduled to hit the state House floor today, personally carried by House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-North Portland). After a party-line committee vote last week, a leading backer predicted Monday that the bill will pass the state House on another party-line vote, with every Democrat in favor and every Republican opposed.

[Read more…]