“Portland Plan” survey: More export growth, Less carbon emissions, Please!

By Dave Porter of Portland, Oregon. Dave is a retired health administrator who advocates for Mandarin language education and study abroad programs in Oregon schools on his blog.

The City of Portland is in Phase II of drafting a new “Portland Plan.”

“The Portland Plan will be the City's road map for the next 25 years, guiding our direction as the city grows and changes. We face some real challenges, and our response to those challenges will create the Portland of 2035 — the city of our children and grandchildren.”

General info on the Portland Plan and its processes can be found here.. The process is now holding community workshops. Three more of these Phase II workshops are to be held on May 10th, 15th, and 18th (see here). Attend one and discuss the issues with your neighbors.

Blue Oregon progressives, especially Portland residents, should complete the Phase II online survey (here) of twenty four issues relating to Portland’s future. For each of the twenty-four draft objectives, respondents are asked to state whether they think the objective is Not aggressive enough, Just right, Too aggressive, This should not be an objective or Don’t know. Each objective also has an online comment space.

I’ll give you two sample objectives. I think these are the two most important objectives, and, in both cases, I think the current objective is “Not aggressive enough.” What issues are more important than growing our economy and moving off carbon emitting energy sources?

First, Objective #15 says:

“In 2008, Portland area export businesses generated $19.5 billion for the regional economy. By 2035: Improve the competitive position of Portland businesses that buy and sell in global markets, and improve global market access for all Portland businesses. Increase the region’s export income by an average annual rate of 5%.”

The 5%, in my opinion, should be increased to 8% or more. Prior to the current global recession, Oregon’s export growth rate exceed 5%. For the years 1999 to 2008 (see here for Oregon export data sources), the annual growth rate was over 7%. For the years 2004 to 2008, it was 11.5%. Emerging markets in the rest of the world are growing much faster than the US economy and much faster than 5% annually. We should be growing our exports to them at rates equal to or greater than their rates of growth. For examples, China is growing at 10% and India at 8%. China is now Oregon’s number one export destination. Should not our export growth rate to China at least keep up with their growth rate and be 10% or more? We have lots of opportunities to grow faster than 5%. We should seize them!

Second, Objective # 19 says:

“Today, 15% of total local energy comes from carbon-free sources, such as hydro, wind and solar. By 2035: Double the percentage of carbon-free energy sources to 30%.”

30% is far too low. Al Gore says we can do 100% in ten years (here). I’m with him. Surely we can be near 100% in twenty five years!

Other survey questions cover issues such as art funding, education, transportation, equity, public facility maintenance and more. Check them out.

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