Bring on the Tolls?

via Planetizen:

An article in Governing magazine suggests that perhaps we skip this whole Gas Tax versus VMT Tax versus [fill in the blank] debate and simply remove the Federal prohibition and let local governments toll their Interstates…

41 responses to “Bring on the Tolls?”

  1. I’m all for it. I’d prefer to see Congress put a toll of $1 per entry on the entire Interstate Highway system to fund maintenance of the whole system, and to allow states and local jurisdictions to raise the toll above the baseline for local congestion management and local improvements to the system.

  2. 20 years ago, when the gas tax was raised to $.18 a gallon, that was a significant percentage of the price of a gallon of gas. Today, with gas close to $4 a gallon, it would seem that we could absorb a doubling of that tax without too much pain.

    What percentage of the money raised by the Federal gas tax is used to support alternate transportation?

  3. The problem with focusing the tolling on Interstates is that it will flood parallel arterials with toll avoiders. Please do remember that freeways are actually more efficient than urban arterials when they flow freely. They wreck neighborhoods so let’s not build new ones, but where they already exist, use them to the best degree possible.

    One way to increase their efficiency is to lower the speed limit to 45 within cities, the speed at which most gasoline powered vehicles get the best mileage.

    Diversion to parallel arterials is not so much of a problem here in Portland because few are available. But can you imagine what Barbur would be like if it cost $2 — or even $1 — to go from Burlingame to downtown on I-5?

    Much better is to ring-fence and toll access to the most popular destinations like London does.

    What would work best to encourage transit and HOV usage here would be to toll the Willamette bridges, Naito and Vaughn Streets as they pass under I-405, and the bridges which cross I-405. Such a toll curtain would increase the percentage of HOV access — already respectable, but not good enough — to downtown Portland. You might also want to toll access to pill hill, but only if it gains better transit service.

    Most importantly, though, toll every arterial which crosses the Multnomah-Washington County line (there are only about nine). This would include 26 West which, though a freeway, is not an Interstate and can be tolled right now.

    To control Clark County SOV usage begin southbound HOV lanes in the AM peak mid-bridge on both I-5 and I-205 and enforce it vigorously with cameras and a high fine. This would push any resulting lane change congestion back into Clark County where the road system is large enough to handle it.

    If you want to be most effective at keeping Clark Countians out — and why not, we siphon off money which if paid to an Oregon resident for the same job would recycle through the Oregon economy — sell yearly EZ-Go passes for the west side tolling curtain to anyone who can prove residence in Multnomah or Washington counties for $100 or so and let Clark County commuters and tourists pay retail.

  4. P.S.

    Since it’s also fairly easy to erect a toll curtain between Clackamas and Washington counties, the same thing should be done there, with perhaps a higher annual pass rate to discourage sprawl in Clackistan. It has the same tendency to worship plat developers and that general attitude of selfish entitlement that Clark County does.

  5. Anandakos, I cheer your serious ideas. I have friends who live across the bridge, commute, and enjoy all the benefits of downtown Portland, without any cost. If we want an equitable system, [and we insist on charging for mass transit], then there should be a toll-curtain around the central city.

  6. “Diversion to parallel arterials is not so much of a problem here in Portland because few are available.”

    Barbur, Interstate Avenue, MLK, Broadway/Halsey, Glisan, Sandy, 82nd Avenue, maybe 102nd Ave. We have plenty of parallel arterials. What we don’t have is an alternative to crossing the Columbia that avoids the interstates.

    I consider diversion of shorter trips to arterials to be a feature, not a bug, of interstate tolling. I would prefer that the interstate freeways remained clear of short-hopper traffic. On the east side, at least, shorter trips would likely disperse throughout the grid, leaving the freeways for those taking longer trips.

  7. I think states should be able to toll the roads that run through them. Once they have that ability we can discuss specific proposals on their merits. I think congestion-tolling the Banfield and perhaps a few of the other busy highway segments would make a ton of sense.

    As to toll-avoiders flooding arterials, it would just be a different crowd than the traffic-avoiders we currently have flooding arterials. How is our current scheme better?

  8. @Douglas,

    For shorter trips, absolutely no disagreement; use the city streets. But longer trips using freeways limited to 45 mph and flowing relatively freely require less fuel consumption and produce fewer emissions.

    So far as the congestion avoiders (that would have been me the times I had to drive), I guess it is to some degree a trade-off. But Portland isn’t the only city in the United States which would be affected by such a policy change. Most other cities have a much more extensive and developed “surface” grid to which diversion could occur.

    Now presumably only cities with congestion problems in states with progressive legislatures would be allowed to or choose to implement congestion tolling, so they may have the same congestion avoidance on parallel arterials that we do.

    But there certainly will be a greater avoidance when money is at stake, not just a preference to continue moving, even at a sometimes-slower speed.

    There is also an “equity” component to freeway-only tolling. Because there will be diversion to surface streets by those with fewer resources, what you will end up with is a set of highways for the (relatively) wealthy and a set of city streets for others.

    Curtain tolling high demand destinations has a less severe effect on the poor, because their employment is less likely to be in the activity centers, where compensation tends to be higher. That’s not a make-or-break dimension, but it shouldn’t be overlooked.

  9. No. The solution is technological breakthrough that reduces costs of constructing needed infrastructure. Other countries are doing this—-through prefabrication and standardization of roadway components.

    But, apparently, the left political class would rather come up with another fee to tack on. And leave the idiot construction unions determining construction policy, not people who are actually creative and efficient.

  10. I’m with Al on this one. When crafting policy, it’s best to ask “why would we do this” early and often. So why would we put a toll ring around the central city? Is it because there is slight congestion in a few places, for half an hour 5 days a week? Or is it a punitive measure against people who have chosen living/working situations that we personally would not make? It sounds like the latter is the motivation here.

    We’re not London or Singapore, and we never will be. We don’t have their problems, and we shouldn’t adopt their solutions.

  11. Al does bring up a good point: When one goes from funding things from the general fund, and said general fund is funded by a progressive income tax or (to lesser extent) property taxes, to user fees–it often shifts the burden to the poor.

    Were TriMet to be funded entirely by fares, that would be a tremendous shift of burden to those who are poor–as it is, with a farebox recovery ratio of around 25%, the service is still a financial hardship for many.

    Of course, the problem with funding everything from general purpose taxes (which can be made as progressive as you like) is that it can lead to inefficient consumption patterns, including overconsumption. “Traffic jams” are a sign of overconsumption of road space, which is one reason that tolling (or “congestion pricing”) is frequently touted as a solution. And as Al notes, highway tolls place a burden on those with little money.

    The theoretically-ideal solution would be far more general-purpose wealth redistribution (via taxes on the rich, and refunds/cash to the poor), coupled with pay-as-you-go public services. The poor are subject to the same market disciplines as everyone else, but aren’t driven into penury in the process. A slightly less theoretically-ideal (but more political practical) solution would be targeted assistance–the poor either get discounts on transit fare or tolls, or vouchers to be used on these things (similar to how Section 8 or food stamps operate).

    The other alternatives are a) accepting congestion as a fact of life–which is what is done in many places, particularly when elites can avoid it, b) trying to build additional road capacity, which often doesn’t work, is expensive, and can be destructive to existing urban fabric, or c) building alternatives such as transit or bike infrastructure, which aren’t as space-inefficient as private automobiles.

  12. Government and it’s elites can’t keep hitting up average citizens for more and more and more.

    Just look at local government, how much waste and how many executive positions with ridiculous salaries.

    I am against any new taxes and anything disguised as something else but in reality are taxes (e.g. tolls)

    If government can’t figure out how to do this project without inflicting the pain onto Joe Sixpack then don’t do it.

  13. a] free mass transit
    b] separated bike-only streetways
    c] toll curtain on the central city
    d]meters everywhere to keep commuters off neighborhood streets.

    This supports pollution reduction, helps the poor, and makes those Wash folks pay for polluting our city while sitting on the freeway and main streets idling in our neighborhoods. If Clark County is so great then stay there.

  14. @Sigma,

    It is the motivation, and it’s a good one. Americans are number 2 in obesity in the world, just behind the lard-rich diet Mexicans. With a bit more than 5% of the world’s population we consume 20% of the resources. We need to drive less and mix more.

    We lucked out living in an agricultural cornucopia and having shallow seeping oil deposits that led to the development of the exploitation technologies the power today’s world.

    Americans are on average no more corrupt or craven that the overall human average. In fact, we have a history of striving to overcome those failings and have set in place processes and norms which combat them. But we haven’t succeeded in rooting them out, and absent such an overcoming, we will continue to abuse our power and historical advantages over others. It’s human nature.

    So, “Yes; the motivation is to make people live more sustainably.” We can do it voluntarily and with planning or have it shoved down our throats by the rest of humanity, who, if you haven’t checked lately outnumber us about 16 to 1 and have the big hammer also.

  15. Let’s try to keep this about running the transportation system, not about “us versus them”. I have a general bias for favoring short trips over long trips, but it doesn’t matter to me whether those longer commute trips originate in Washington or in Salem.

    Also, keep in mind that this thread is about lifting a Federal pre-emption. We still have a challenge in Oregon that we can’t use road funds (including tolls) for non-roadway uses (like transit) due to a constitutional limitation.

  16. A small correction: tolls aren’t subject to the limitation of Article IX, Section 3a of the Oregon Constitution. Tolls aren’t “taxes” and are not for the “ownership, operation or use” of a motor vehicle. They’re a user fee charged for use of the tollway.

    As to whether toll revenue can be used to operate mass transit within the tollway, that comes down to how broadly one reads Oregon Revised Statutes Chapter 383 (Tollways).

  17. — “They’re a user fee charged for use of the tollway.”

    Why haven’t the bridges on the Springwater Trail been tolled? It seems like some type of user fee would be proper, but I’m not sure what. Also why do thieves keep riding into my neighborhood via the trail. Does METRO know this? ;)

  18. Right Anandakos, it’s drive by tactics. Sort of like this blog… Or is the trekkie version of a B-2. I just don’t know.

  19. Anandakos, I really liked your local tolling idea that I read on the website. Simple and direct – instant congestion charge ala London.

  20. was,

    I don’t understand. “” is an artist’s website.

    Thanks anyway for the kind words about the idea.

  21. Protectionism always fails.

    I cannot believe there are people suggesting to somehow insulate Portlanders (because Portland isn’t sprawled from the west slope of the Tualatin Hills to Gresham), but penalize residents of the other metropolitan counties. Portland refuses to increase housing stock for all income levels, especially the middle class, which is the reason for sprawl. All Portland has to do is force the construction of middle-class housing, and the issue would be solved.

    Instead, a wild proposal to allow Portlanders to travel at reduced cost, while demanding other residents – and businesses and freight – pay punitive fees to drive will only backfire on Portland itself. Clackamas County has no reason to toll Washington County residents, and vice-versa. And Clark County sees no need to subject non-local residents to some kind of an “entry fee”.

    However, Vancouver has miles of riverfront property and a booming port. Vancouver has a west-east railroad mainline that bypasses Portland. And if that railroad gets clogged, there are two more west-east railroads further north within the state. Vancouver has plenty of industrial land, and the infrastructure to get people to those jobs. And there’s also Kalama and Longview to compete with Portland; not to mention Tacoma, and every city from Tacoma north to Blaine.

    Lose the industrial base and you’re left with government. And if residents of Washington and Clackamas Counties are continued to be left out of Portland they will simply demand that state agencies provide offices in those counties to serve their residents. Can you imagine a federal courthouse in Hillsboro? Don’t say it can’t happen – Tacoma has a federal courthouse. (So does Medford and Pendleton, by the way.) Can you imagine the Oregon University System putting in a college campus in Washington County? Remember, Oregon Institute of Technology’s Portland center is actually in Wilsonville, in Clackamas County (and about a mile south of the Washington County line.)

    Before you know it, without industry, without trade, without regional attraction and now with a declining government base – what good is Portland? You have just created Detroit, Oregon.

    Not to mention, toll the roads (which in Oregon do not generally receive any income or property tax revenues, so they are largely self-sufficient from their own taxes paid by its users), and you will set up a fight for TriMet, other transit agencies, and the state-subsidized Amtrak trains to pay their own way as well. Goodbye, trains to Eugene. Goodbye, new light rail construction (that will now be shut out of state funding in an us-versus-them debate in the Legislature.) Goodbye, most bus service, as well as the Streetcar.

    Remember that Clark County commuters pay somewhere around $160 million in Oregon income taxes – a tax that they get virtually zero benefit of. Clark County residents cannot attend Oregon schools or pay in-state tuition at Oregon’s colleges and universities. They cannot request social services from Oregon or our counties. That’s essentially “free” money for the state, each year, every year. And the small price we pay for that “free” money is to maintain highway links as part of the National Highway System, which receives nearly a billion dollars each year from the federal government. That billion dollars helps maintain roads that every Oregonian uses (can’t say that about light rail, or especially the Streetcar), creates jobs and helps the economy – using 100% local workers. You can’t outsource road construction to India. And you can’t call up a company in Czechoslovakia for road work, like we did with the Streetcar. So for the small price of having highways, Oregon gets $1,160,000,000 of money that we would otherwise not have. No light rail project or streetcar project comes anywhere remotely near as close to that in terms of return on investment (especially since Oregon is adept at giving tax breaks to developers near light rail projects, which actually causes funding problems for local governments dependent upon the property tax. Wonder why PPS is so much worse than, say, Tigard-Tualatin Schools?)

  22. FWIW, were I to propose a tolling system for the metro area, it wouldn’t merely be a “fence” around Portland, or a Maginot Line directed at residents from a politically-unpopular jurisdiction (such as the local counties that start with C) designed to punish residents therein from not playing ball with Metro’s noble schemes, or anything like that.

    That said:

    * What do you mean, Erik, by “middle class housing”? If you mean single-family detached homes, there’s not too many opportunities for those in the city itself (and given the price for existing housing stock of such type, these are not likely to be affordable within Portland). If you mean housing affordable by the middle class–many developers have been trying to build such, and getting pushback from neighbors. In a place such as Portland proper that is both Dense, Desirable, and Developed, affordable housing often means apartments. Nice, Urban, Cheap, Large–pick any three.

    * A big problem with Vancouver’s waterfront is that it is blocked off by the railroad. (Another big problem is that quite a bit of it is upstream from the Interstate River, and lots of folks want to put a low-clearance bridge in the way). At any rate, I think it would be wonderful if places like Vancouver or Sherwood or Oregon City developed more local industry rather than serving as bedroom communities for the Hillsboro-Beaverton-Portland-Gresham axis. (Could the Blue Line have had something to do with this?) Many of these places have been trying, but industrial customers tend to be rather picky about their infrastructure and transportation needs, and business often prefers to congregate in other established business zones, rather than be the first employer of a given type in a new area.

    * OHSU does have a campus in Washington County (the former OCATE), located near Amberglen in Hillsboro. Actually, Washington County is an excellent example of a suburban area that is functionally independent of the core. MAX trains through the Robertson Tunnel are full in BOTH directions during Rush Hour, as is the #20 bus.

  23. @Erik,

    Yes, you WOULD have the $160 million dollars a year, because someone living in Oregon would do those jobs and pay EXACTLY the same income tax, assuming the same number of exemptions.

    How can you not understand that? Yes, CC residents do not send their kids to school in Oregon schools — I mentioned that in the plan — and we don’t get Oregon welfare. But we DO get Oregon unemployment if we’re legitimately laid off from an Oregon job. As a W-2 computer contractor I got it through both of the I/T bust periods.

    Many of your other arguments make sense, and if Clark County were a “team player” participating in the regional consensus none of the punitive things I’ve advocated would make sense or would be necessary.

    But it doesn’t and is unlikely to change its spots.

    By permitting a “cowboy” mentality to fester in the region, you attract more cowboys and increase the friction and resentments all around.

    You are right about the availability of good riverfront industrial land west of the railroad bridge in Clark County. The Port of Vancouver has big plans for it, all the way north to the wildlife refuge.

    But it’s had those plans for a long time and little has been realized. Two years ago the Port and BNSF announced a new bypass track linking the trackage from Pasco to the port lead dipping under the railroad bridge. Nothing has happened, which is symptomatic of why Vancouver has lost out to Portland. There is no willingness to make the investments that would make such facilities viable.

    Anyway, “industry” is a lousy employer these days. The few jobs it creates pay very well, and certainly we need to make more things that people want to buy in order to pay our international bills as a nation, but it’s not a viable economic base for a developed-nation city in the 21st century. There must be a center of excellence that draws support businesses.

    Metro Portland’s centers of excellence are semi-conductor design and production, outdoor and athletic wear and equipment, and health care. We used to have a banking center but it got bought and is gone. There is still some back office work in the US Bank tower, but no decisions are made there. We also used to have a telecom center but it too got bought and eviscerated.

    The combined ports are bit players in the West Coast trade, and will soon be surpassed by Prince Rupert, BC, for heaven’s sake. It there’s an out-of-the-way place in the world, that is it.

    The creative professionals who are the foundation of the three remaining centers of excellence really don’t care about Portland having an “industrial base” to a degree greater than to serve the needs of construction here. And while I certainly recognize that the semi-conductor center might be decimated by decisions made in Silicon Valley, the outdoor and health care centers are locally managed. They are the future of the Portland Metro area, and the needs and wishes of the sorts of people who work in them should guide planning and economic development decisions.

  24. Bring back the CITY-STATE form of rule!

    Don’t worry too much about any of this, Greece has already come to Amerika in Detroit and will be coming to a city/state near us in the very near future.

    (if the ‘toll’ is going to a gubmint entity its a tax no matter what they call it)

  25. Correction: I said “permitting” and that’s clearly wrong. People can think what they want and are free to advocate for it.

    However, when it comes to actual governing, the cowboy mentality should be ignored. It’s completely at odds with a world of limited resources and accelerating temperatures.

    And the truth is, the cowboy mentality runs vast swathes of the United States already. It only makes sense to have some parts of the country which operate on a modified economic and social model.

  26. Oh, and finally, look to Longview, Aberdeen, Tacoma, Everett and Coos Bay for examples of cities based on “industry”. Neither Portland nor Vancouver has anything except the three centers of excellence that those cities don’t have — or in the case of Everett and Tacoma with deep-water access to the ocean — exceed.

  27. Anandakos Says:

    “There must be a center of excellence that draws support businesses. ”

    So, support the CRC? Nearly everyone hates the CRC here, but I guess there has to be one in every bumch…..FYI, a huge bulk of people’s net worth or nest egg is wrapped up in their home, so it makes sense for people to have a greater focus on that as wealth production. However, good luck with the corporate built housing in the new urbanist scenario.

    [BTW, since beginning my back yard and exterior upgrade this summer I have lost 15 lbs. so this is proving to be a great exercise method, too. I can’t ride my bicycle now, because someone stole it over at the ECO Trust building ( thought the busy entrance and pizza joint would provide cover–guess not)].

    (further quote): “Oh, and finally, look to Longview, Aberdeen, Tacoma, Everett and Coos Bay for examples of cities based on “industry”. Neither Portland nor Vancouver has anything except the three centers of excellence that those cities don’t have — or in the case of Everett and Tacoma with deep-water access to the ocean — exceed.”

    So, now you are an economist? Who would have thunk?
    Your “anti-mechanic” view of modern US society, with its attendant planning requisites has been blasted to smithereens on this blog. FYI, hardly ANYONE supports the CRC, here, even though apparently you buy into the whole CRC/TOD/fair weather mobility ruse.

    Didn’t you get the message yet?

    Portland doesn’t do that well with its service oriented economy. Plus, in case you didn’t know Siberia also exports a lot of timber these days, and construction architecture has made some major shifts away from wood frame structures. So your denigrations of NW coastal towns as failures of operative based economies kind of stinks.

    “You can’t outsource road construction to India”

    No…but those East Indian business people that I have met seem to have no compunction against hiring illegal aliens. I guess whatever it takes for them to get the almighty dollar. Can you imagine the hew and cry from opportunistic immigrant entrepreneurs, if we actually enforced our federal laws on immigration? So not only do we have millions of self invited foreign citizens coming here (ignoring, of course the INTERNATIONAL TREATIES they have agreed to) we also have a class of new business people flagrantly willing to profit from them, while many US citizens are not able to. Plus there little coterie of handmaidens in the progcomm and at the MultcoKremlin building, too..

  28. Again, lets keep things focused on policy, and not on whether red state or blue state economics are more productive and/or praiseworthy.

  29. Wow! How MANY times do I have to say “I don’t support the CRC as proposed!”? I agree that the LRT section — whether paid for by the Federal government, paid for locally, or paid for by the Tooth Fairy — is a foolish use of funds because of the limitations of the Steel Bridge and the enormous cost to bridge the river.

    I also think that the five-lanes-in-each-direction bridge was a mistake.

    What I object to — and very much fear will be the case — is that the reactionaries in Clark County will get their way, and a large rubber-tired-only freeway will be built across the river. That would result in a significant increase in the current congestion avoidance impacts to North Portland neighborhoods and huge pressure for sprawl in north and northeast Clark County.

    The reason that it would result in congestion avoidance impacts is that there is no room to expand I-5 between Marine Drive and the start of the grade up to the Terwilleger Curves. At least not without taking significant land alongside the freeway for the entire distance. Where are the cars that the five lane bridge, whether accompanied by LRT or not, going to go once they get to Marine Drive?

    The clear answer is “down MLK, Vancouver/Williams, Albina/Mississippi, Interstate, Denver, Greely or Portland Road smack into St. Johns”.

    So to advantage a bunch of white immigrant Confederates in Clark County the mixed neighborhoods along I-5 in North Portland will have to suffer either more congestion and danger to their residential streets or a repeat of the catastrophe levied on them in the late ’60’s.

    That’s why I don’t support the CRC, and if you keep alleging I do, you are guilty of the Big Lie.

  30. OK, I get it. But any light rail to Clark Co. would probably be a bad investment. I was for light rail, but when it goes to $200 million per mile, there has to be better alternatives. Furthermore, just because I frequently mention Snohomish Co, and their double tall buses, that does not mean that their particular model should be adopted here. And, yes, there are still a lot of people in Clark Co. who think the West side Bypass freeway, is attainable, both politically and financially. These people need a reality check.

    And when I went to last Monday’s hearing, I chided the new commissioner with a saying I heard from LA: “Here, your next stop is always another hundred miles.” I’m opposed to the 192nd bridge idea. I asked them to change their resolutions, but I am not their constituent, so my opinion has little weight to them. And I heard a Camas resident opining that any eastside bridge could have negative consequences of making it easy for criminals to get to her neighborhood.

    IMO, the prog.comms are useful, but it’s better when they are a minority.

    “So to advantage a bunch of white immigrant Confederates in Clark County the mixed neighborhoods along I-5 in North Portland will have to suffer either more congestion and danger to their residential streets or a repeat of the catastrophe levied on them in the late ’60’s.”

    Sounds good in theory. Do you know how massive an undertaking it would be to dispossess the relationship between Clark Co. and Oregon? However, I doubt that those “confederates” will maintain their current influence there, as demographics change. So we are probably headed for a M——- standoff. So sit back and relax.

  31. Ron,

    Thank you; I’m NOT a spendthrift classical liberal. I’ve been an accountant and I/T person for thirty five years and have taken plenty of economics courses. I understand that self-interest is the most effective spur to activity. Socialism done mindlessly (like the Fabians in Britain) does lead to dependency and class conflict.

    I just don’t think that maximizing wealth and prosperity now is worth gambling with the carrying capacity of Planet Earth.

    You are much more optimistic than I about the ability of new technologies in transportation and construction to rescue us. I think you make some good points about the possibilities, but I also fear that the benefits of those new technologies will simply be appropriated by the same exploitative owner class, rather than being used to create a more sustainable structure for all humans.

    Therefore, I would advocate erring on the side of too little physical growth in the near term, until those new technologies prove themselves. If they do, then Avanti! [ed. note: not the car]

  32. “Metro Portland’s centers of excellence are semi-conductor design and production, outdoor and athletic wear and equipment, and health care.”

    Why do we call the Silicon Forest “Metro Portland” when it is really Beaverton and Hillsboro? How much of the outdoor apparel is in Portland proper. Last I heard, Nike was in Washington County. Addidas, is here, but let’s face it, the dreaded suburban areas with their good schools and parking lots are the engines of growth in this area.

    Face it, NW Portland is a “bedroom suburb” of Beaverton. In terms of economic activity, Portland should be called “part of the greater Beaverton-Hillsboro area.”

    Narcissism is an epidemic in some Portland pro-density circles.

  33. FWIW, Adidas used to be in Beaverton, but moved to Portland; and there are plenty of high-tech firms these days with a downtown Portland office.

    It certainly would be wrong to suggest that Washington County is but a bedroom community, but nobody said such a thing. It’s equally incorrect to suggest that Washington County is now the economic “heart” of the Metro area. Not everybody who lives in the Pearl is hopping on MAX and commuting west to work (though I know quite a few who do).

    What Metro has been trying to encourage is a multipolar model where there is a constellation of economic centers, many of them largely self-sufficient, as opposed to a bunch of suburban planets in orbit around the (downtown) Portland sun. Results have been mixed–Beaverton and Hillsboro have been success stories (including both city’s traditional downtowns, as well as the Elmonica/Tanasbourne/Amberglen axis), along with Gresham. OTOH, Gateway has been a disappointment, and many of the southern suburbs have had trouble attracting non-service employment, and do function as bedroom communities.

    At any rate, being a bedroom community isn’t necessarily bad. If a community can be a bedroom community that attracts well-paid professionals, the financial input of these professionals’ salaries is more than enough to sustain a thriving community. If the rent at many Peal District lofts is being paid by paychecks earned at Nike, so what? Pearl grocers and landlords and restauranteurs and whatnot are still getting a slice. The main problem is that bedroom communities are dependent on good transportation links, and encourage lots of VMT, and that “being a nice place to live” is a value proposition that is easily replicated, particularly in places that allow rampant development of greenfields.

  34. “I just don’t think that maximizing wealth and prosperity now is worth gambling with the carrying capacity of Planet Earth. ”

    It’s not particularly the “christian” thing to do, either. However, explaining that to people, like my former fellow UBC members or the typical Portlander on a bar stool, has been a near deadly task. That has made it impossible for me to practice “equity” or “justice” through things like, ummmm…..the Conservative Baptist Foreign Mission Society, or similar. In fact my volunteer efforts with the UN Center for Human Settlements and Gambian, UN figure, Wally N’Dow was also shortchanged by ineptness and bungling of certain local government branches. So for me the last ten years have been only looking out for no. 1. And actively trying to stop some of the lib. agenda, which seems to presume that no one else has “gotten it.”

    Just about all of the “equity” policies that local politicians are pursuing so heatedly have already been covered by religious organizations, so I see no need to reinvent the wheel.

    “If the rent at many Peal District lofts is being paid by paychecks earned at Nike, so what?”

    Because their stuff is way overpriced, isn’t it?

  35. “If the rent at many Peal District lofts is being paid by paychecks earned at Nike, so what?”

    > Because their stuff is way overpriced, isn’t it?

    Which, Pearl District lofts or Nike shoes? :)

  36. VMT tax seems most ideal. Vehicle weight/type & miles driven are a simple measurement of driving impacts and costs of roadway infrastructure upon which to base the tax rates. Mileage can be tallied electronically or manually at gas stations and the VMT tax collected there or through the mails.
    Tolls that only pay for specific roadway projects like the CRC fiasco create draconian means to
    avoid paying the tax.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *