Why I’m Voting for Measure 26-80

No, it’s not (direclty) a transportation measure. But it does have a big impact on our urban form, and therefore on transportation.

Measure 26-80 is the next phase of Metro’s Green Spaces acquisition program. The first phase, based on a 1995 ballot measure, has allowed Metro to purchase in excess of 8,000 acres of natural areas for preservation, parks and trails; and to help local jurisdictions create parks in urban areas.

Measure 26-80 would allow Metro to continue this program, including the acquisition of key natural resource lands outside the UGB. By doing so, even in a Measure 37 world, Metro can help ensure that future urban expansion does not sacrifice these irreplacable resources.

At the same time, 26-80 will provide funds to help build parks in our region’s urban areas. Parks and public spaces are critical components to keep our neighborhoods livable even as they accomodate more people.

I hope you’ll join me in voting YES for our future.

13 responses to “Why I’m Voting for Measure 26-80”

  1. Stewardship of the lands acquired following the 1995 bonding has been less stellar. In fact it has put cities, counties and public safety including fire departments into a position where they have found that Metro has not been in compliance with local code.

    Inter-govermental relationships and accords have not been put into place within counties and cities like Clackamas County and Oregon City and I sure that there are many other places.

    What does this mean? Metro’s Canemah Park Lands in Oregon City and Clackamas County were left with little or NO support for provide police and fire protection because of NO inter-governmental understanding and compensation.

    We just about had a major fire in the Metro Canemah Park Lands last year that could have equaled anything that Oregon has ever seen in a major urban area and it could have all been prevented.

    Metro had not and does not comply with Oregon City Municipal Code with its stated need for reasonable fire suppression methods by creating fire breaks that will help stop wild fires from getting a head start.

    Metro has NO inter-governmental relationship that I know of in Clackamas County and Oregon City. Oregon City Police have no authority in these lands within the City of Oregon City.

    This fire that came within 10 to 20 feet of crowning and taking off up the hillside to where it would have taken out whole neighborhoods between the Metro Park Lands and South End Road was started by what most people believe were vagrants.

    Almost 40-engines came into Canemah and knocked it down in an after the fact effort. But what about fire prevention to began with?

    On the good side Metro opened up an acre of the lands next to our Canemah Children Park for use and minimal development to Oregon City Parks.

    On the bad side they have a one size fits all policies with blanket policies where neighborhood activists and preservationist cannot even walk through these lands with their dogs.

    I think that Metro should spend more time and money on working with stakeholders and neighbors of the lands already acquired to come up with plans where stewardship is brought front and center before more acquisitions take place.

    Metro must become a good neighbor first, before this preservationist, who support protection of the environment will support this bond issue.

  2. I’ll be voting yes on this measure, and am fully prepared to pay the extra taxes necessary to fund it. If Metro needs to do more oversight and interagency cooperation with regards to these lands, then those issues should be addressed over time by the Metro Council. However, the time to act in aquiring new lands is now, before they increase further in value. I’m positive that in the long term, nobody will regret building out a regional park, greenspace and trail system. In fact, I can’t wait to ride my bike on it.


  3. Nope. They should have enough money in the budget as it is. I’m sorry but if the current fiscal budget isn’t enough, somebody is NOT doing their job. I’m not paying for further incompetancy. You go right ahead and vote for it… I’m sure I’ll get ninnied into paying for this just like I do the other mediocre and often distraught services (schools, libraries, and other such items I DON’T use).

  4. Adron, this is an issue of capital acquistion, not operating expenses. How could a public agency ‘have enough money’ in their operating budget to do a large capital acquisition on behalf of the public?

  5. Local governments should NOT be asking for any additional property taxes when home and property owners already are charged to pay off urban renewal bonds, and while new multi-million dollar high density developments continue to receive property tax abatements. Just like bicyclists alone should directly pay for specialized bicycle infrastructure, development should be financially self-sustainable and not subsidized by other taxpayers. That includes paying for new area parks and green spaces. Charge the developers – including the high density and TOD developers!!!

  6. I would strongly dispute Paul Edgar’s reasoning that one should oppose Measure 26-80 just because their are insufficient operation and maintenance funds for existing parkland in our region.

    To make a transportation analogy, opposing Measure 26-80 because of the shortfall in operation and maintanence funds is like saying we should not
    build ANY new transportation infrastructure (roads, rail, or whatnot) because we can’t maintain existing infrastructure as much as we’d like.

    Actually a more analogous argument would be that we demolish existing transportation infrastructure just because we don’t currently have a funding strategy to maintain them as much as we want.

    Many of the environmentally sensitive lands that Measure 26-80 would target for acquisition and protection provide existing ecosystem services
    that are of far greater value than the costs of maintaining them. These are areas that provide critical sources of clean water and/or wildlife
    habitat/corridors. They are currently providing ecosystem services that would otherwise be lost or be enormously expensive (if possible) to replace. Do we really want to let our region’s existing natural capital be destroyed just because we don’t have a tax system that ensures they are managed as well as we’d like? (BTW Intact natural areas have some of the lowest per-acre O&M costs of any park or open space type).

    In an era when municipal budgets are squeezed by both federal cutbacks and property tax limits, there will never be enough funds for operations and maintenance of parks and natural areas. In spite of this Metro staff, volunteers and growing network local friends groups have are doing a
    heroic job of taking up the slack… for the benefit of us all. It is enough no, but voting against Measure 26-80 to discontinue the region’s
    successful efforts in purchasing and protecting the highest value and most threatened natural areas has severe consequence unrelated to the problem of operation and maintenance of existing parkland.

    The alternative to Measure 26-80 not passing, in most cases, is that most of the natural areas and parkland the measure would secure for future
    generations will be lost forever to development or be prohibitively expensive to purchase in the future.

    Loss of open space and habitat is rapidly outpacing our protection efforts. The best available estimates indicate that the region lost 16,000 acres of natural habitat in the 1990s. That is an area roughly the size of the City of Gresham. Meanwhile the 1995 bond measure allowed us to acquire and protect half that: 8000 acres over the last decade.

    Finally, talk about being a good neighbor? Who would rather have a subdivisions or a business park next door instead of a natural area? To take a real life example, ask yourself wether you’d like prefer living next to Mt. Talbert (1995 Bond Measure acquisition)…


    … or Mt. Scott just to the north:


    The pictures tell only half the story. In 1997 the developers who constructed the Altamont subdivision on the once forested slopes of Mt.
    Scott racked up $28,000 in fines, the largest fine ever charged by DEQ, after they exposed the west side of Mount Scott to winter rains that
    washed massive amounts of dirt into nearby creeks.

    Fortunately, that is never going to happen on the slopes of Mt. Talbert.

    The scarcity of operation and maintenance funds for existing parkland is a real problem but please consider the real consequences of not passing
    Measure 26-80 for the health of our region’s watersheds and the clean water and wildlife they support.


    Jim Labbe
    Urban Conservationist
    Audubon Society of Portland

  7. Terry Park wrote: “development should be financially self-sustainable and not subsidized by other taxpayers. That includes paying for new area parks and green spaces.”

    Question for you: Were past generations “subsidizing growth” when they demonstrated the foresight to purchase Forest Park, Washington Park, or Mt. Tabor? Or were they gifting the future (us) with parkland that would cost us millions to provide for ourselves today?

    I don’t see how anyone one could argue that any developent is not been “subsidized” in some way. The line between subsidy and making smart, forward thinking investments to improve the quality of life for present and future is not always clear cut. The perfect free market is a fantasy because markets are themselves products of law and public policy. First we need have a vision for what type of community we want to live and leave for our children (we are doing this constantly in this region). Then we need to figure out how to shape laws, policies, and markets to achieve that vision.

    The truth is, past generations have demonstrated tremendous foresight in purchasing and protecting many of the outstanding public parks and natural areas we enjoy and benefit from today. Places like Forest Park, Powell Butte Nature Park, or Smith & Bybee Lakes provide us clean air and water, healthy wildlife populations, access to nature in the city, and a rich sense of place. Measure 26-80 is about doing the same for future generations… and for ourselves.

    The benefits protecing parks and natural areas can’t be priced and parcelled out to the end consumers because many are not born yet. We are all benefit from clean water, clean air, and sustaining our rich cultural and natural heritage and sense of place that- in this region- is tied inextricably to the region’s natural beauty. Who benefits from all children being able to connect with nature in their community? We all do. It is a beautiful thing.

    Now, I would agree with you that developers should pay for their fair share for parks to accomodate of new growth. That is a political battle we (Audubon Society of Portland) are constantly fighting in trying to increase park system development charges (SDCs). I invite you to join us. Three years ago we fought the Homebuilders to increase Portland’s park SDCs. Earlier this year the same battle played-out in Gresham. Portland is just starting the process again to update their park SDCs… this time around their is serious look at adding a commercial park SDC so that business pay their share of the parkland their employees use.

    Again, I invite you Terry to join us in what will be certainly be political struggle against developers to increase park SDCs anywhere in this region. But holding Measure 26-80 hostage to realizing your principle of “not subsidizing growth” is- in the worst way- letting an idealized perfect be the enemy of the good.

    Jim Labbe
    Urban Conservationist
    Audubon Society of Portland

  8. If Portland fails to keep up with acquiring new parks and open spaces to meet the needs of a growing population, there will be a substantial reduction in its quality of life that is not redeemable.

    I don’t see any alternative to buying park land before you can afford the operating and maintenance costs to manage it as a working park. Once the land has been developed it is no longer available. And if you wait until there are enough people to pay the operating costs, the land for parks will already be developed.

    As Jim says, this is an investment in the future. Which is probably why some people here will vote no. The neither appreciate the legacy they were left nor care about the legacy they will leave.

  9. Measure 26-80 is wrong right now. Metro should be coming before the voters with funding for stewardship plans on what they already own before we go out buy more.

    This is getting more horse carts before we have even our first horse analogy that we have to think about.

    I will be ready to vote YES of an issue like this, one or two years now, after I see Metro get its act together with appropriate stewardship and stakeholder plans for properties they have already acquired. We must hold their feet to the fire and let them prove that they are ready to add more land to their land portfolio.

  10. e must hold their feet to the fire and let them prove that they are ready to add more land to their land portfolio.

    Paul, with all due respect, that’s your nose that’s being cut off and its your community’s face that will suffer. If you want to hold metro’s feet to the fire, elect different people.

  11. Ross, yes I would elect many different people if I could to Metro but I have only one vote.

    I care more about the environment then most, but common sense tells me that if you do not have money, plans and a proven sence of stewardship, I am not about to make the problems even worse.

    Just buying more land and locking it up is not the answer to this person who is very passionate about protecting the air that we breath, the water that we drink and the trees that sustain the circle of life.

    We need to see Metro implement fiscal and common sense policies for these lands and that is not to much to ask. They have failed to do that so at the ballot box I voted NO on Measure 26-80.

  12. Let me reword that. I don’t think people who care about something punish it because they are frustrated.

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