picture by Laura Tasheiko
Everywhere you look on the peninsula, our City Council is selling the city of Portland for cheap. Residents are bombarded with the construction of four new hotels, several events centers, and luxury condos at the expense of affordable housing. Affordable housing means an opportunity for families, artists, and the working class to create Portland’s creative culture. I am writing to encourage residents, families, artists, and lovers of Portland’s culture to fight against gentrification of the peninsula by developers and local government.
Our current City Council approves tens of millions of dollars in tax cuts through “TIF”s every year for out-of-state developers, all while our schools are literally falling apart. As a member of the school board, I am extremely disturbed by the fact that Portland classrooms have caught on fire, as with the case of the Hall School last year, and children in our district are in classrooms without running water. While Portland Schools are in desperate need of safe and affordable classroom space, City Councilors Ed Suslovic and Nick Mavadones proposed the sale of the Nathan Clifford School to a private developer for $1 and the Council voted 9-0 in support of the sale. It’s hard to even buy a cup of coffee in town for that price!
The council has gone so far as to sell public parks and public spaces to developers in order to clear more space for hotels. It appears as though the ultimate goal of the Council and developers is to turn Portland’s peninsula into an amusement park where no one can afford to live, the schools are neglected, and the economy is completely tied to frivolous and seasonal spending. Several members of the Council have strong ties to the real estate industry, and perhaps not since Portland’s last great fire or “Urban Renewal” has there been such a push for development anda squeeze to get working Mainers, families, and artists out of the city.
Thankfully, there is a renewed interest by residents of Portland to save our peninsula. Several residents are suing the city over the sale of Congress Square Park, and a new initiative called “Keep Portland Livable” has been launched to counteract a 14-story condo complex and a parking garage “TIF” in the Bayside Neighborhood. I am encouraging Portlanders to speak out at the next City Council meeting, or better yet vote out members of the Council who have spent a decade or more making sweetheart deals with out-of-state developers.