Street Fund January 15, 2015
Dear PBOT staff and City Commissioners,
We are writing as members of BikeLoudPDX, a grassroots bike activist group started in August of this year. As you may not have heard of BikeLoud, our mission is to create a bike-friendly city through grassroots actions and we have more than 150 members on our email list. Most of them are quite engaged; people on our list receive 50+ emails a week, so they would unsubscribe if not deeply interested.
Here's a media story largely about us: http://bikeportland.org/2014/08/28/activists-demand-change-se-clinton-remains-spotlight-110498
Our official position is that we would strongly support the progressive income tax Street Fund proposal, extending to publicly campaigning for it, if it is modified in the following ways:
1) Remove the cap on the monthly per-household income tax for the highest earners.
Justification: This cap is simply an affront to equity and causes the tax burden to be greater on the middle class. Can you imagine the outrage if the federal income tax had a "cap" of say $20,000 paid a year, even for multi-millionaires? That is the outrage we feel about the proposed $75/month cap on the Street Fund income tax.
2) Increase the funding currently earmarked for "safety" to more than 50% of the fund total. Expand the meaning of it to include convenience, speed, and comfort. Additionally, make this funding pot be explicitly reserved for walking, biking, and transit only.
Justification: Portland has over-invested in private motor vehicle transport for decades. This over-investment has in the process generally made travel by other modes dangerous, inconvenient, and uncomfortable - and this imbalance calls out for redress. Additionally, investment in bike infrastructure in particular has an extremely high ROI in terms of health spending and longevity - much higher than the ROI on maintenance spending. http://bikeportland.org/2014/11/19/study-dollar-dollar-bike-infrastructure-pays-better-road-maintenance-113616
3) Re-affirm the City's goal from the Bike Master Plan of 25% of trips to be taken by bike in 2030, and provide a plan for funding the infrastructure necessary to achieve this goal. Similar affirmations for walking and transit would be good as well.
Justification: Biking is extremely good for Portland, from its very large health benefits, to freeing up citizens' money - otherwise spent on cars - to be spent locally, to the intangible benefits of allowing teenagers to independently get around the city with more flexibility than transit. The Bike Master Plan has languished for too long, and because of the lack of progress, no more people bike in Portland than biked in 2008. It's time for the City to make explicit promises for how it will improve biking infrastructure sufficiently to achieve this very important plan.
Without changes amounting to those listed above, most BikeLoudPDX members would not be in support of the proposed Street Fund income tax.