Mayor Kate Snyder along with seven members of the City Council --Councilors Nick Mavodones, Jill Duson, Belinda Ray, Spencer Thibodeau, Tae Chong, Justin Costa, and Kim Cook -- announce their opposition to five citizen initiative referendum questions on the November 3, 2020 ballot. The questions, known as A-E, propose extensive City ordinance changes to the minimum wage, affordable housing requirements, construction building practices, rent control, and short-term rentals. The Mayor and Councilors are not necessarily opposed to the policy goals of the ballot questions, but rather the process and context in which they were developed, anticipated unintended consequences, and the fact that they cannot be changed for five years by the City Council if passed by Portland voters.
Of great concern to the Mayor and Councilors is that these ballot questions were developed in isolation by one organization, and without consideration for the will of the voters as expressed in 2017 on Rent Control, and in 2015 on a local minimum wage. These initiatives also disregard the recent public process and work by the Council and city staff regarding Short Term Rentals, banning the use of Facial Recognition technology, and crafting a joint climate action plan with the City of South Portland. If passed, these new ordinances would significantly alter the landscape of living and working in Portland, and none of the language could be altered for five years except through another ballot measure.
“Minimum wage is an important issue to continually address. However, a Portland-only mandated jump to $15/per hour and the requirement to pay time and a half (up to $22.50) during any declared emergency would likely have devastating impacts on both small businesses and employees in Portland,” said Mayor Kate Snyder.
“The five ordinances proposed by the Democratic Socialists subvert the open public process that we follow in considering major policies in our City. This is an abuse of our citizen initiative process to pass the Democratic Socialists’ agenda without consideration by local elected officials or members of the general public. I urge the voters to reject this effort and vote no on Questions A-E,” said Councilor Kim Cook.
“These referendums, developed with no public process or input, threaten many unintended consequences that cannot be undone for 5 years. They will severely threaten many small businesses and restaurants, hamstring affordable housing development, and put our elementary school renovations at risk. I encourage all voters to reject these referendums,” said Councilor Justin Costa.
“While the intentions behind these ordinances are good, the policies are so poorly crafted that they will mire Portland with outdated energy efficiency standards for five years, create new barriers to affordable housing, and hurt local businesses and workers. Please support substance over sound bytes and vote no on A-E,” said Councilor Belinda Ray.
“I strongly encourage Portlanders to vote NO on Questions A-E. Sensible public policy must be developed using a process that considers the opinions and needs of a variety of stakeholders, not just those opinions of one group that decides it is going to push forward with its own proposals. These ordinances clearly fail to take into consideration the complexity, as well as long term unintended consequences, associated with each topic.” said Councilor NIck Mavodones.