Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Doorbelling, Respecting Your Thoughts on Tolls, and Keeping You Involved!

Doorbelling begins on the westside of Vancouver!

I visited the Hough Neighborhood late yesterday afternoon, and found a number of residents very interested in talking about the potential for light rail and a new bridge. For the most part, these folks were not interested in seeing mass transit coming into Vancouver. One family from Atlanta, Georgia described how they witnessed a new light rail extension bring gangs and drug activity into their neighborhood.

Indeed, the convenience that public and/or mass transit may bring honest commuters, also provides the same opportunity for a criminal element. If light rail does come to Vancouver, the public agencies must be well-prepared (and funded) to handle security and law enforcement. Working together, collaborating and sharing resources -- among CTRAN, The City of Vancouver Police Department and the Clark County Sheriff -- will be necessary to insure that our community and the honest users of public transit are protected.

Columbia River Crossing Tolling Listening Session

After doorbelling in Hough, I attended the CRC Tolling Listening Session, held at WSDOT Offices in Orchards. After a presentation of the early tolling analysis by CRC Staff, the microphone was made available for the public to ask questions and comment. I estimate there were some 40 citizens in the audience, with about 12-15 comments/questions.

There was quite a bit of commentary, much of it fresh and constructive. Although the purpose of the meeting was to discuss tolls, there were several comments aimed against light rail, several comments in opposition to the entire project, and a couple of remarks about the need for a third bridge crossing.

Regarding tolls, as you might imagine, nearly all of the remarks were in opposition. Citing inequitable impact on the poor, significant impacts to small business commerce, the existence of a gas tax, and the indebtedness the project would create, not to mention the fact that the Interstate 5 bridge is a federal asset in an interstate freeway system, stiff opposition to tolling was expressed.

One individual spoke of preparing for the future, building the project now since construction costs would only be more in the future, and the potential advantage of tolling in that it might persuade commuters toward public transit.

After the testimony, the members of the CRC Project Sponsors Council were offered the opportunity to respond. Following are the remarks I made:

Thank you for the good testimony this evening.

An improvement at the Interstate Bridge is necessary.

However, we must have a project that is affordable for the citizens & businesses of SW Washington.

Unfortunately, we in Clark County have yet to develop the job base necessary so that the 60-65,000 residents of our community who commute to Oregon actually have a choice to work in the community they live.

Saddling future generations with further debt is not of interest to me, and I'm hopeful the federal government will step up to better fund this federal project.

There will be ongoing conversations about the funding of this project, and I look forward to those.

Stay tuned and rest-assured….I will continue to fight for equity for our community and those of you that MUST travel to Oregon for your job.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

TONIGHT-- Share Your Views On Tolls!

As a member of the Columbia River Crossing's Project Sponsors Group (through my active involvement on the C-Tran board), I have spent many months standing up for our citizens and fighting against unreasonable tolls.

I've said it before and I'll say it again -- we can't force our citizens to bear the brunt of this financial burden, for the "privilege" of having to commute across the river to jobs they can't find in Clark County.

Even though certain officials treat high tolls like an eventuality, and our current Mayor tells us to "get over it," tolls of up to $2,000 a year ARE NOT a foregone conclusion. We have other options.

There are two meetings coming up that are solely for public input. Please attend, make your voice heard, and show the project sponsors that you will not stand for this additional, unfairly applied, tax!

I will be attending the meeting on June 30. I look forward to seeing you there.

Columbia River Crossing project to talk tolling in public meetings

The Columbia River Crossing project, charged with planning a replacement bridge for the I-5 structures between Vancouver and Portland, is holding public hearings on the subject of bridge or highway tolls in meetings at the end of June and the first of July.

"We would like to hear how tolling scenarios could work for commuters, nearby communities, and people who use the I-5 and I-205 bridges, says Maurice Hines, spokesperson for the Columbia River Crossing.

Meetings are set for 6 p.m., Tuesday, June 30, in room 102 of the Washington State Department of Transportation, Southwest Region, 11018 NE 51st Circle and 6 p.m., Wednesday, July 1, community room in the Jantzen Beach Center, 1405 N Jantzen Beach Center.
Additional information is available by going to

Monday, June 29, 2009

East Side Neighbors, Here I Come!

I had the great pleasure of visiting with folks in the Cascade Park area this past Sunday. BUT, before that, we powered up with a hearty lunch at the Rockin Wings restaurant at 16209 SE McGillivray Blvd.

If you haven't been, you've got to make time this week. Had a fantastic lunch of chicken wings, with a couple of different sauces. I know what you'll probably have to say about this, but the Jerk sauce was fantastic!

I'm already planning my next visit.

During doorbelling, I had several revealing conversations with neighbors.

One nice resident spoke with me about her concerns for our city's priorities. We were in agreement that our police department must be fully-staffed so that property crime investigations and patrol can be responsive and effective. As you all know, my top priority is to ensure we are safe in our homes, neighborhoods and businesses.

Another neighbor expressed frustration with the lack of flexibility in the garbage and recycling service and costs. Noting that she only needs recycling intermittently, she is forced to pay for regular services. I'll be contacting the City's Solid Waste Services department to determine possible solutions for this issue.