Although Portland’s Question 2 is not perfect, the current planning process is far more flawed.

Case in point: Last October, city staff proposed looser zoning language solely to give one company, Americold, a 60 percent height bonus on West Commercial Street. Ultimately, the City Council approved the bonus, without clear proof of need, but at least some specifics were more thoughtful in the final language.

That’s because local residents researched issues that city staff should have examined before working pro bono for a billionaire investor. But what if the targeted neighborhood had been unable to invest hundreds of volunteer hours to deconstruct City Hall’s junk rezoning? It would have been approved with little fuss.

Question 2 will not affect projects that follow current zoning, nor projects granted variances. But when a developer wants to rewrite zoning, “yes” on Question 2 will help ensure fair, smart growth – rather than sweetheart deals.

Mark McCain


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