Candidate Spotlight: Terry Parker

Candidate Spotlight: Terry Parker

Photo courtesy of Terry Parker

Running for Portland City Commissioner, Position No. 2

Thank you to Terry Parker for attending our March 5th Candidate Conversation for Candidates for Portland City Commissioner.  Don’t miss candidates for Portland City Mayor on March 31st, 2020!

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Answers to Neighborhood Questions:

1. Homelessness is a crisis in all of Portland, but has disproportionately negative effects in SE and East Portland. Explain how you will address this situation in a compassionate and expedient manner, balancing the needs of both the housed and houseless.

My philosophy is to provide a hand up towards self-sufficiency instead of everlasting handouts, and utilize existing infrastructure such as Wapato for helping hand programs that can demonstrate results. Additionally compassionate and maybe tough love enforcement is needed. The status quo of allowing Portland’s notoriety to become a city of tents and trash will only stymie development and investments citywide. The shortcomings will have  negative impacts on jobs and throughout the local tourist industry.

2. With the implementation of the Residential Infill Project, there will be a lot of new development in areas with larger lots like SE and East Portland. How will you create opportunities for and encourage the development of affordable and accessible housing, while also guarding against displacement and gentrification?

Per House Bill 2001 and the Portland Comprehensive Plan, higher densities are allowed in town centers and along corridors. Also allowed are duplexes in single family home zoned neighborhoods. ADUs are allowed on all single family home properties. Before higher densities such as triplexes and quadplexes proposed in the Residential Infill Project (RIP) are allowed city-wide, pilot projects should take place to identify affordability and impacts. With larger lot sizes, increasing density in areas of Southeast and East Portland where wanted could likely be accomplished without some of the negative impacts.  

RIP however was never designed to make housing more affordable, Increasing density in single family home neighborhoods will target the demolition of the most affordable homes, eliminate green yards and remove mature trees that act as a carbon offsets. The more units that can be built on a piece of property increases the value of the land, and the more single family homes that are demolished increases the price tag of those remaining. Both the cause and effect needs to be considered. In speculation, if lucrative pilot project opportunity zones for new housing could be created in the wanted areas as opposed to an opportunity zone in downtown Portland, parts of Southeast and East Portland could be the host for far more development than now exists. Opportunity zone requirements could possibly include stronger affordability requirements for both RIP and Better Housing by Design, and include implementation of a sufficiently funded and adequately staffed anti-displacement program. It should also be understood that most voter approved bond measures increase residential property taxes and therefore rents which in turn create displacement and gentrification. This is especially true for seniors who want to age in place in their life long homes.

It also should be noted that RIP fails to provide implementation tools and consider the impacts on the existing and future availability and adequate capacity of urban public facilities such as water mains and sewer lines. Without getting to all the details which are complicated, RIP is out of compliance with policy in Portland’s Comprehensive Plan for a variety of reasons. Increasing public facility adequacy comes with a price tag that makes any new development less affordable.
Personally, I believe increasing density in residential neighborhoods should restricted to corridors and around the fringes of town centers and transit centers; and that adequate off-street parking with charging connectivity for electric cars needs to be required with all new residential developments so more streets don’t become full-time car storage lots.

3. SE and East Portland have by far the greatest number of unimproved roads in all of Portland. Brentwood-Darlington alone has over 4 miles. How will you rectify this infrastructure imbalance without cost-burdening an already historically underserved area?

Again in speculation, as part of an opportunity zone overlay, system development charges and impact fees could be required to be retained within immediate area to help pay for improving streets and adding sidewalks. It should also be noted that when the infrastructure adjacent to the property being developed is sub-standard, developers are usually required to either pay a fee that goes into a fund for infrastructure improvements, or make street improvements including sidewalks. This can be a significant cost that affects affordability of any new development. 

4. Portland Bureau of Transportation has been installing many traffic calming measures and lowering speed limits all over SE and East Portland. How will you provide the means to enforce these new measures, despite staffing level challenges?

The city needs more officers on the street. The City Council has recently changed hiring the requirements as way to attract more applicants. My support for more polices comes with the requirement that enforcement and penalties must be applied equally and be inclusive of all modes of transport including bicyclists who routinely flaunt the law, and pedestrians who ignore walk/don’t walk signals and/or jaywalk on busy streets.

5. Garbage and graffiti are ongoing issues in SE and East Portland. What will you do to take the burden of neighborhood clean-up off the shoulders of volunteers?

For the graffiti problem, I would support bringing back the city funded graffiti removal team which could possibly include hand up opportunities for people in the homeless population willing to work towards self-sufficiency. With a larger staffed police force, I would also support resurrecting the graffiti investigation/enforcement positions. As for the garbage, more garbage receptacles may be needed in parks and in business nodes. Unfortunately, the latter is usually funded by business associations.  As for the garbage accumulating in, around and/or from homeless camps, tough love is needed.

6. In several areas of SE, illegal activity occurs on a daily basis, often for years at a time. Neighbors continuously report this activity, only to be told that the individual is, in short, not worth arresting. Many of these individuals have had multiple contacts with the police. How will you address the revolving door in Portland’s criminal justice system that allows these chronic conditions to continue?

This is simply unacceptable. However prosecution is the responsibility of Multnomah County. It is time and money not spent well for police to make an arrest when the county won’t prosecute. I would support a neighborhood association or coalition taking this issue up to the county board of commissioners. 

7. Much of the Public transportation in SE and East Portland is infrequent and does not serve large swaths of the area. This creates an imbalance in which our neighbors are forced to drive more and pay a larger portion of the associated costs and taxes. Even neighbors who prefer to take transit, can only do so in certain directions and often not on the weekend. How will you work to rectify the imbalance in transit access in our area?

TriMet is a separate entity from the city. I can support increased transit if there is enough ridership to support the need, and when the infrastructure provided for the expanded service does not negatively impact drivers and create more congestion.

To make transit work better, entire streets need to flow better. This includes requiring bus zones in the parking lane or bus turnouts, and removing curb extensions that allow buses stop in travel lanes and obstruct other traffic when boarding passengers. The latter only compounds congestion along an entire street which in turn negatively impacts transit travel times. Increased congestion on corridor streets also creates more cut through traffic in residential neighborhoods. 

Likewise, instead of spending huge amounts of taxpayer dollars to fund transit mega-projects; providing express buses on a direct route between East Portland and downtown can be just as effective, cost less and have less negative impacts to other road users. As an example of this type of service, between East Portland and downtown there would only be only three stops; somewhere on the inner eastside such as SE Water Avenue if the express buses utilized the Tilikum Crossing, SE Cesar Chavez (39th) and SE 82nd Avenue. This would allow transfer connections so riders from East Portland could access locations on the central and inner eastside where frequent North-South transit service exists. Another example of improving the efficiency of transit without spending mega amounts of taxpayer dollars would be to have express bus service between employment and town centers such as Lents with local and regular bus service feeding into those centers for connections. Eastside/westside service would bypass downtown and not duplicate MAX lines. 

Finally, I also believe in equity where everybody contributes their fair share for what they utilize. This however is not taking place when one bus does as much damage to the streets as 1200 cars and bicyclists ride in dedicated lanes of privilege and pay nothing while motorists subsidize both of those modes through the gas tax.