Friday, February 27, 2009, 1:49pm PST | Modified: Friday, February 27, 2009, 4:41pm
Portland Business Journal – by Andy Giegerich Business Journal staff writer
Portland Mayor Sam Adams challenged business leaders Friday to make the city the world’s “most sustainable” in a speech before the City Club.
Among the proposals Adams announced:
- An effort by the city of Portland and Multnomah County to reduce carbon emissions that cause climate change.
- A new fund established by the Energy Trust of Oregon to help residents invest in residential energy efficiency.
- Local tax credits of up to $1,500 for businesses that install solar energy systems in the next two years.
“We will set the goal for Portland to be the most sustainable city in the world,” he said during the State of the City address. “And in doing so, we will make Portland the hub for the global green economy.”
The mayor, who took office Jan. 1, further pledged to create more green retail districts in areas such as within the proposed downtown retail district, the Gateway and Lents neighborhoods and along Killingsworth.
Adams also apologized for the scandal that rocked the early days of his term. His Jan. 19 admission that he engaged in a relationship with a young legislative aide has distracted him, he conceded.
No City Club members asked Adams about the scandal.
“I’ve made life more difficult in these trying times,” he said. “I’ve made mistakes, as has been well-documented, and I’m very sorry for the distraction it has caused my colleagues, my friends and the city. All I can ask for is that you judge me not based on (the mistake) but on the totality of my public service career and on my love for and dedication to the city.”
Adams drew sustained rounds of applause after his introduction and after apologizing for the relationship, which the state attorney general’s office is investigating. He also drew a standing ovation after finishing the speech.
Adams said he met with Ditlev Engel, CEO of Vestas Wind Systems, last seek. The company could soon build a North American headquarters in the South Waterfront that could employ 850 and inject $250 million into the local economy.
He called for state lawmakers to approve incentives so Vestas could complete the move.
Adams and Amanda Fritz also want to develop more of the city’s brownfields, a move that could bring economic benefits in the $80 million range, he said and not require expanding the urban growth boundary.
“(We should) find the employment lands we need by aggregating smaller parcels within the urban growth boundary and clean up the hundreds of acres of brownfields in Portland to put that land back to productive use,” he said.
Adams said expanding the urban growth boundary would tax the area’s infrastructure systems.
“We do not have the billions necessary to maintain the transportation infrastructure we already have,” Adams said. ‘”We do not have the funds to build the improvements within the urban growth boundary on the drawing boards.”
A longtime backer of improving the Columbia River Crossing, Adams called for a “performance-based active transportation management system.”
Some have proposed congestion-based tolling as a means of both bridge funding and traffic control.
“The Columbia River Crossing will function differently in 2030 than it does on opening day,” he said. “The economy will change, as will community needs. We share the belief that a performance-based goal is the best tool we have to ensure the new bridge meets the needs of current and future citizens.”
Adams said the city will synchronize with 45 different federal agencies to distribute federal stimulus money. The city will use $8 million of the money to train unemployed and dislocated workers in basic skills, computer usage and vocational English as a second language.
The money will also fund online high-school degree completion options for adults.