Portland’s Pressing Problems

Israel Bayer, recent “Street Roots” executive director, and Anna Griffin, Oregon Public Broadcasting news director discussed “Portland’s Pressing Problems,” at the Portland League’s annual Media Luncheon on Jan. 16. League member James Ofsink moderated the discussion.

Problems Bayer and Griffin identified included losing our young “brain trust,” the lack of a long-term vision with one-term mayors, the opioid crisis, climate change, an overloaded foster care system, and major needs for adequate affordable housing, sustainable green infrastructure, better training for police, and innovative ideas for raising revenue.

For our affordable housing crisis, the speakers discussed increasing the Housing Trust Fund. They also said city planners must consider the needs of the future— rather than just today’s needs — and the values of young people. They agreed that more density is coming, representing the way younger people want to live and the values of the tech business community, “so let’s do it right.”

They suggested changing our current form of city government — the last of this structure among large American cities (and something LWVPDX is in the process of studying).

Finally, Bayer and Griffin expressed their hopes for addressing Portland’s problems with a new generation of potential leaders, coordinated non-governmental advocacy, and new sources of revenue. Portland, they said, is still a “young city” where we can learn, innovate, and find smart solutions.

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