Local real estate developers and advocates for homeless Mainers; renters and property owners; Republicans and Democrats; business associations and local labor leaders.
This might look like a list of folks you would expect to disagree; in fact, these are all characteristics of people and groups urging a “no” vote on Portland’s Question 2 next month.
Across many different groups, backgrounds and parts of our city, a diverse and growing group of people agree that Question 2 goes too far, will harm our city’s future and we should all vote no.
Earlier this month the board of directors of GrowSmart Maine, whose mission is “to build lasting prosperity without sacrificing the quality of life that defines Maine,” unanimously voted to oppose Question 2 because it makes the kind of thoughtful, responsible growth we want for our state much more difficult.
Thanks to decades of hard work by our city leaders, our residents and groups like GrowSmart Maine, Portland is on the map, nationally, as a great place to live and do business. This is important not just for the people who run our businesses or own our office buildings and rental properties, but for everyone who lives or works in or near Portland.
The president of the Maine State Building and Construction Trades Council, John Napolitano, who grew up on Portland’s Munjoy Hill, explained why the council was weighing in. “Portland is a great city,” he said, “but we have to make sure that it continues to be a place where working families can find jobs and afford to live.”
That’s why the Maine State Building and Construction Trades Council, and its 14 affiliated unions, are urging a “no” vote on Question 2. Labor is joined by the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, an unlikely pairing that’s come together to oppose a bad ordinance, and by the Working Waterfront Coalition, which works to keep the waterfront vibrant, accessible and an economic driver in the city.
One of the keys to affordability and economic opportunity is encouraging thoughtful new projects that will improve our city — the Portland Co.’s project on Fore Street is exactly such a project. In addition to being an attractive, well-designed revitalization of a historically significant area on Portland’s waterfront, the plan also expands public access — for all of us — to Portland’s waterfront and will create good, local jobs while growing our economy.
While there has been lots of talk in the past few months about what will or won’t make Portland a better, more affordable place to live, experts on housing and homelessness have already weighed in, and they’re urging “no” votes on Question 2.
The chair of the board of the Portland Housing Authority is urging voters in Portland to reject Question 2 because it will make it harder to build more housing of any kind in Portland. He wrote, “If passed, Question 2 will effectively shut down the possibility of building new affordable housing on the hillside….”
Lack of sufficient affordable housing is a serious issue in our city, and few, if any, organizations care more about this than Homeless Voices for Justice, a statewide grassroots group led by a board of people who have all experienced homelessness. Homeless Voices for Justice works for social change on behalf of people who struggle with homelessness and poverty.
Homeless Voices for Justice is among the latest groups to ask Portland residents to vote no on Question 2, for fear it will inhibit current and future growth of affordable housing in Portland.
While affordable housing impacts all of us, rising rents can be especially challenging for seniors living on fixed incomes. As Maine’s largest statewide community and advocacy group working on behalf of aging Mainers, the Maine chapter of the AARP is asking people in Portland to vote no on Question 2.
By going too far and allowing just a handful of residents to thwart a proposal for a new project, Question 2 will make it more difficult to build anything in our city. Question 2 does nothing to help fight the rising rents that are driving many people off of Portland’s peninsula or out of our city altogether.
Voters should take a look at this extraordinary and unique collection of voices. We think they will arrive at the same conclusion so many of your neighbors have: Question 2 is wrong for Portland and deserves a “no” vote.
Lisa Whited is the co-chair of the No on 2 campaign in Portland, where she lives and owns a small business.