Portland Commissioner Amanda Fritz asked Argay Terrace Neighborhood Association board members to vote for tax increases this November at their meeting last month.

She asked the nine board members and neighborhood volunteers to support Measure 26-179, a $258.4 million bond measure that will fund up to 1,300 units of affordable housing. If approved by the voters, the measure would increase homeowners’ property taxes 42 cents for every $1,000 of assessed value. For a basic $250,000 Portland home, that’s $105. For a home assessed at $500,000, the annual increase would be $210. If passed by voters, it puts the city back into the public housing business it took pains to get out of in the ’70s and ’80s.

Fritz also asked for support for Measure 26-180, a 3 percent tax on recreational marijuana sales occurring within city limits. If approved, the tax is expected to raise a minimum of $3 million dollars a year that will go to one of three places:

•Drug and alcohol treatment programs

•Public safety efforts toward reducing negative impacts of drugs and alcohol, which could include anything from police enforcement and training to paramedics and firefighters, or even street improvement projects to make roads safer

•Support for small businesses, with a special focus on minority- and women-owned businesses.

Fritz told neighbors that since marijuana is “flying off the shelves” and the new industry is “thriving” and “selling a lot more than they expected to,” new taxes are justified for the city’s expenses policing the stores and also because, by law, they can.

After her pitch for new taxes Fritz listened to neighbors’ continued frustrations with the repellent rectitude they’ve encountered in the last two years from Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) employees over access to a new apartment development. She also heard concerns about the continued degradation and deterioration of everything east of 82nd Avenue, where they live. Fritz told the group, “I will tell you we passed the East Portland Action Plan in 2009; it was one of the first things I did (“East Portland Action Plan adopted amid lovefest” MCM March 2009). It got deep acceptance on the council at that point, and I think commissioners felt that finally there was a plan, so people on the council are focusing on east Portland now.” As EPAP enters its eighth year, and with close to a million dollars spent in salary and benefits for the city’s lone EPAP employee, the Memo asked Fritz if she thinks taxpayers have gotten their money’s worth. “I think we’ve actually done quite a lot,” she said. “The East Portland in Motion Plan has prioritized tens of millions of dollars of transportation improvements community-wide.”

What’s EPAP and EPIM?

The East Portland Action Plan (EPAP) website says, “The EPAP acknowledges community strengths and supports existing efforts, while looking strategically at opportunities to improve livability and at policies to address some of the challenges facing East Portland. The EPAP was convened by the City of Portland, Multnomah County, and now U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley for the specific task of providing leadership and guidance to public agencies and other entities on how to strategically address community-identified issues and allocate resources to improve livability and prevent displacement in East Portland. East Portland is defined by the East Portland Neighborhood Office (EPNO) coalition area.”

The EPAP has identified 268 “action items” for improvement.

See more at eastportlandactionplan.org.

In reply to a request for salary information, Amy Archer, operations manager for the Office of Neighborhood Involvement—the bureau EPAP is in—provided some basic budget information: “The budget for the FY 2016-17 East Portland Action Plan is $321,709, which includes $129,006 for personnel and $192,703 for materials and services (primarily for grants and municipal partnership agreements).”

East Portland in Motion Plan (EPIM) is Portland Bureau of Transportation’s five-year implementation strategy for transportation projects east of 82nd Avenue.