One of the most difficult issues for government is funding projects and programs without raising the tax burden for citizens. Far too often, government takes the easy route and just raises taxes. While expedient, it can often place financial stress on those least able to carry that additional financial burden. It also does not provide any additional community benefit. My goal for revenue generation outside of the traditional tax model is to glean as much value as possible from each mechanism for generating revenue. Outlined below are a few examples of efforts I would pursue if elected and some of their potential additional community benefits.
Can and Bottle Drive
During my time as president of my neighborhood association we started conducting can and bottle drives to generate additional income to support community projects such as our annual neighborhood night out. I was very lucky to have awesome and dedicated volunteers who managed this. However, if there was a chance to do it again, I would want to try and structure it differently based on what I learned during my involvement with our neighborhood association and with my food cart.
During my time with the neighborhood association I learned a lot about my neighborhood thru the collection of demographic information and data about it. A nursing student from the neighborhood came to us for suggestions for a healthcare-related research project she needed to do for her nursing program. We recommended identifying all of the adult residential care (ARC) facilities in the neighborhood. I knew there were a lot because there is one on my street and several near where I live. Yet, I was shocked to learn there were just over 50 at that time.
After I resigned as president of the neighborhood association I opened a food cart on my property. Several of the residents from the ARC facility on my street came to the food cart. One of the residents shared with me that the management of the facility encouraged residents to not only get out into the neighborhood, but to also support local businesses when possible.
This reminded me that a major goal for many of those who manage ARC facilities is to help residents successfully transition back into society to the highest degree possible. One of the things I hope to do as Mayor is to collaborate with ARC facilities and other appropriate group home facilities to create a way for ARC residents to participate in community activities as part of that effort.
The can and bottle drive was pretty simple and a City model would be an excellent starting point for many facility residents. Cans, plastic bottles, and glass bottles were separated and lids removed for disposal. Then the bags of sorted containers were taken to the Bottle Drop facility. The separation of bottles and cans is a pretty simple task and can be done by most people, even some who have mobility issues. In efforts like this, the speed in which the separation is done is not as important as the sense of active participation. And just as important is the opportunity for participants who do not reside at an ARC facility, such as youth participating in the Portland Youth Corps program, to get an up close and personal introduction to what life is like for someone struggling with personal, social, and/or physical obstacles.
As detailed in the Optimizing Portland’s Food Industry and Addressing Food Insecurity paper, food security is a serious issue for tens of thousands of Portlanders.
By leveraging the volunteer contribution of participants in the Portland Youth Corps, and collaborating with existing organizations like the Portland Fruit Tree Project, we can collect and distribute fresh fruit to individuals and groups in need and sell any remaining produce to local grocery stores and Farmer’s Markets.
Any proceeds from any sales component could be used to help support other community programs or added to the budget of historically underfunded City Bureaus and Offices.
Horses are not usually something that comes to mind when someone thinks of Portland. However, Portland has one of the largest urban forests in the nation with Forest Park and it has a number of trails approved for horseback riding.
My initial idea is to identify a site adjacent to Forest Park that is suitable for an equestrian center that includes fee-based boarding and rental of horses for riding in Forest Park. I would like to see fees structured so tourists pay more than Oregon and SW Washington residents.
I am very open to any kind of value-added expansion on this concept and hope to get some great ideas from Portlanders thru community conversations as we decide on how the facility should be developed and the programs and volunteer opportunities that will be available.
Stable fees could contribute to the operating costs of the facility. Volunteers from the Portland Youth Corps and our community engagement efforts with adult residential facility residents and others will help to further reduce those costs. Remaining funds can be directed to other City programs in need of financial support.
In addition, I hope to bring back Portland’s Mounted Patrol Unit (MPU) and this facility could be used for retiring MPU horses when their official service is complete. This would also allow MPU horses to remain active post retirement and continue to serve the City during retirement for as long as it contributes to their health and well being.
Family Entertainment Center
As our global economy continues to evolve to more and more use of online purchasing, automation, and AI, the retail sector, among others, is and will continue to see losses. This translates to employment evolution as well as to vacancies and abandonment of physical structures such as malls.
The repurposing of malls will be a key tool to ensuring ongoing economic viability as well as helping struggling areas and neighborhoods to thrive. One idea I would like to present to Portlanders is the development of a large Family Entertainment Center that is owned by the City with profits going to support City programs and historically underfunded Bureaus and Offices.
Government owned for-profit assets are not illegal, but they are typically unwelcome by existing business owners because of the potential for price undercutting if there is direct or indirect competition. However, I believe it is possible to create a venue that expands entertainment options for families without reducing or stagnating sales and revenue of for-profit business. For example, there is no reason why a publicly-owned venue cannot heavily promote other businesses whether they are nearby or not. And in a venue as I’m suggesting, nearby business owners may be able to expand their existing business model by participating in the publicly-owned venue. Further, if we are intentional in our design and development, and also place emphasis on options that are not available locally or have very limited availability, we can effectively eliminate negative impacts on existing businesses.
Potential options to jumpstart discussions at community conversations for the development of a Family Entertainment Center include:
• low cost, second run movie theatre
• indoor and/or outdoor miniature golf
• indoor and/or outdoor water park
• indoor and/or outdoor food carts
• family friendly high energy diner
• arcade; pinball and other vintage arcade games, virtual reality games
This document created by Mark White and made possible by the Mark for Portland 2020 campaign.