Portland’s Question 2, to expand community participation in zoning changes, failed last week. Opposition leaders can celebrate, but not too exuberantly. With a campaign budget of nearly $100,000, they spread fears of doom, claiming such nonsense as Portland’s waterfront would lose “950 jobs” if Question 2 passed. These falsehoods flowed freely because supporters remained on the sidelines.

Despite the lopsided barrage, 47 percent of voters approved Question 2, driving home a growing sentiment that the current system is broken. Too often, Planning Board and City Council members only give lip service to community concerns before approving ZIGATs: Zoning Initiatives Giving Away The Store.

As an acronym, ZIGATs are the inverse of NIMBYism – made-to-order zoning that can be worth millions of dollars to a savvy developer, while nearby neighborhoods risk decline of property values and quality of life.

The people who put Question 2 on the ballot sought to reinforce zoning as a shared trust and responsibility for both rich and poor. They have started us in the right direction. Let’s hope the next referendum effort fixes the modest flaws of Question 2 and builds a political campaign with half the cash and twice the enthusiasm of opponents who favor developers calling the shots.

Portland residents want a more participatory democracy, with emphasis on fairness and transparency. And we’ll achieve it.

Cornelia Walworth

Portland