I am a Portland resident, and I operate The VIA Agency on Congress Street. Against much of the business community, I am supporting Question 1 for some very simple reasons.

Publicly owned land is vital to a healthy city: All great cities are defined by their publicly owned spaces. Central Park, Golden Gate Park, the Boston Common – these plus the countless little park gems throughout any city make urban living tolerable. Portland has very little park space. If we are going to sell any, it should go through a most rigorous process, because once gone, it’s terribly hard to get back.

If the people of Portland want to sell our public parks, we should get a premium price for the property: The Congress Square Plaza sale was conducted in a no-bid, closed-deal process.

Every businessperson knows the best way to get the highest price for your property is to create competitive demand for it. If we are going to part with precious public space, let’s get the best possible price for the citizens who own it.

Go big or don’t go to Portland: If we are going to convert any parks into private spaces, let’s do something dramatic, beautiful, energizing and timeless. We should have buyers who will build something world-class. Let’s make sure any park conversions transform Portland toward being the Paris of small cities, not just another cookie-cutter, nondescript place.

I believe that Portland could be the greatest small city in the world. We just need to envision a future that is worthy of our great people – and find the creativity, courage, passion and drive to bring it to life.

That’s why I am voting “yes” on Question 1. I hope you do, too.

John Coleman

CEO and founder, The VIA Agency

Portland

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