Monday, August 21, 2006

Oops...there it ain't

Last week's Trib contained a bit of a diatribe from sports dude Dwight Jaynes. Perhaps he's too wrapped up in his Portland cocoon to know how great the city really is. Or maybe he's just being pissy for pissy's sake:

Certainly nobody should be surprised that Portland’s political leadership has been so strangely absent from the discussion about the Trail Blazers being sold or moved.

What do you expect? We live in a funny time and in a funny town, and nobody’s laughing. The people with the Keep Portland Weird bumper stickers are winning.

To get elected here you need to pay homage to bike paths, streetcars, trams and light rail – which is fine as long as there is an admission that all that stuff is nothing more than a tiny answer to our congestion problems.

My goodness, find me a politician who is willing to admit that and you’ve found a treasure. But I don’t expect it anytime soon. We continue to preach urban density – dropping hundreds of residents onto blocks (such as in South Waterfront) designed for no residents – and then we call those traffic-clogging streetcars part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

Except that as I noted last week, those things are part of the solution. In fact, its putting Portland in the position of being the city with the lowest car use growth in the United States.

Don't get me wrong. I understand that Portland has its share of congestion. And some days its pretty nasty. But compared to places like Boston, New York, Los Angeles and even Seattle, Portland has it pretty easy. Having been a driver in each of those cities (except New York), I can attest to that.

The main burr in Jaynes' saddle appears to be the lack of engagement by city officials when it comes to the Trailblazers and their possible move. Frankly, I don't blame city leaders for steering clear. The Blazers are a mess and their owner doesn't seem particularly interested in unscrambling that mess. Why should the city waste its time trying to appease a franchise that's demonstrated it doesn't care much about the city?

After all, there's traffic congestion to fix. Right, Dwight?