OPAL’s 2017 Oregon Legislative Agenda

Graphic with four circles next to each other (two on top and two underneath). In the top left circle is a picture of a bus on a road. In the top right circle is a picture of a house. The bottom left circle shows a sum going down behind the hills. The bottom right circle shows trees.OPAL is working in the state legislature this session, pushing to advance Environmental Justice on the following key priorities:

  • Affordable and Stable Housing
  • Sustainable Transportation Funding
  • Improving Air Quality
  • Transparent, Accountable, and Equitable Governance

Read below to learn our objectives, and the issues we face in each of these areas. To see a calendar of Lobby Days on these issues, click here.

Affordable and Stable Housing

Objective: Strengthen and defend tenant protections for Oregon residents. Remove barriers for local governments to address the housing affordability crisis. Support state investments that increase access to, and supply of, affordable homes.

Issue: The City of Portland and communities across the state are experiencing an unprecedented housing affordability crisis. We face an inadequate supply of affordable homes alongside rising rents, no-cause evictions, persistent homelessness, and a lack of local tools to address these issues. Renters and working families are continually priced out of their neighborhoods. Vulnerable families and individuals are at increased risk of experiencing homelessness. Currently, landlords may terminate a tenancy without providing a reason, severely disrupting tenants’ lives and putting them at risk of homelessness. These evictions can also serve as a cover for retaliation when a tenant has requested a repair, or for discrimination. For these reasons, OPAL supports legislation to:

  • Establish a Just-Cause Eviction Standard Establishing a just-cause eviction standard would allow landlords to terminate a tenancy for specific reasons, such as nonpayment of rent or other violations of a lease, or in specific circumstances such as a landlord or family member moving in. A just-cause eviction law would also provide for notice and moving expenses for displaced tenants and penalties for violation of the just-cause law.
  • Enact Rent Stabilization Policies We demand repeal of the statewide ban on local policies to stabilize the rate and speed of rent increases for Oregon residents. Current statute preempts cities and counties from enacting ordinances that regulate rents.

Sustainable Transportation Funding

Objective: Support funding to maintain and preserve transportation infrastructure, transit operations, make roads and streets safe for all users, and provide more options through multimodal investments. We support targeted investment in environmental justice communities. Transportation investments must reflect our pursuit of low-carbon options to address climate change.

Issue: Significant, ongoing investments in transit for both new and enhanced capacity are critical to making the system more efficient. Investments in youth transit options are key to the academic and economic attainment of youth statewide. Enhancing active transportation infrastructure also helps to alleviate system pressures and makes travel safer for all modes. The majority of municipalities in Oregon have aging infrastructure and maintenance investments cannot keep pace. Preventative maintenance is a critical part of stretching resources—every $1 spent on preventive maintenance can save up to $10 in future reconstruction costs. Based on detailed data, risk is concentrated on certain corridors. Over half of all serious injuries and fatalities occur on just 8 percent of roads within the City – East Portland residents face disproportionate risk. Committing dedicated funding to Safe Routes to Schools will protect children and other vulnerable road users while improving neighborhood livability and safety.

For these reasons, OPAL supports legislation to invest in:

  • Transit operations. Currently Oregon only provides 8% of transit operations funding, compared to other states which average 24%.
  • Youth Transit Options and Safe Routes to School. Student transportation access is a key factor in graduation. Expanding student options for increased flexibility helps our youth climb the ladder and reach their potential.
  • Active transit infrastructure. Including bike and pedestrian infrastructure, to support a transition from single-occupancy vehicles and fossil fuels to people-centered modes of transport.
  • Prioritize safety investments in communities with highest risk. including lighting, safer sidewalks and crosswalks, bus shelters, and traffic safety infrastructure.

Improving Air Quality

Objective: Support legislation and state funding to reduce toxic air emissions and improve air quality for Oregonians.

Issue: OPAL is participating in the advisory process for the Cleaner Air Oregon rulemaking effort with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Oregon Health Authority (OHA). According to DEQ, each ton of diesel particulate matter emissions released in Portland results in almost $400,000 in environmental and public health costs. North Portland has the highest level of diesel particulate matter in the state, nearly 20 times the health standard. OPAL will support state investments, rule-making, and legislation to:

  • Reduce emissions of air toxics to promote better air quality for all Oregonians, including a health-based standard of air quality regulation which accounts for cumulative impacts, historical burdens, and background toxics exposure;
  • Fund state administration of programs to improve and protect air quality, and;
  • Reduce emissions of particulate matter from diesel combustion, including the strategic deployment of resources from Oregon’s settlement from Volkswagen.

Transparent, Accountable, and Equitable Governance

Objective: Bring transparency, accountability and equitable governance to Oregon’s largest public transit agencies by providing criteria for board appointed officials.

Issue: Large transportation agencies in Oregon operate with little community oversight and are not accountable to the communities they serve. Often the boards are dominated by business and real estate interest, leaving behind the voices of those impacted the most when it comes to decision making. OPAL will support legislation that will bring first hand, lived experience of individuals to the table, thus allowing for better understanding of decisions that affect a larger community.

 


As an organization building a base of membership among low-income communities and communities of color, we will be tracking and supporting legislative efforts that advance our communities’ priorities, and will not stand for any threats to our health and safety. For questions and considerations, please contact OPAL’s Advocacy Coordinator Maria Hernandez at maria@opalpdx.org

This page will be updated throughout the legislative session.

View our calendar of upcoming Lobby Days here.

Posted in Air Quality, Coalition Building, Housing Justice, Just Transitions, Policy Advocacy, Transit Justice.