In Oregon, Words Matter, Results Don’t

Does planning have to work to be successful?

We Oregonians believe many myths about ourselves that just don’t happen to be true. As a visioning group created by the Governor put it not too long ago: We Love Dreamers!

For instance, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton recently came to town and congratulated Portland on reducing its carbon emissions to 1990 levels. Portland has asked for and received world-wide recognition for this accomplishment. Other than the fact that it didn’t happen, it’s a wonderful achievement and Portland should be proud.

Oregon also loves to believe it is a world leader in land-use planning. The state’s comprehensive land-use legislation passed 35 years ago, and we should have a pretty good idea by now whether or not it’s working.

Which is why, Andy Parker’s recent column in The Oregonian is so revealing. According to a local civil engineer he interviews, Oregon’s glowing reputation in urban planning is increasingly an illusion.

The whole column illustrates how Oregon’s elite pretend we are different, when in fact we aren’t very different at all.

Our civil engineer tells us that after 35 years of Urban Growth Boundaries and billions spent on fixed-rail mass transit, the Portland area still looks and functions “almost exactly like most places across the country” and “there is a growing gap between the theory and reality of growth in Oregon.”

In the end, the vast majority of Portland Metropolitan residents still drive their cars alone, traffic congestion has only gotten worse, housing prices are out-of-reach for median income Oregonians, and forcing neighborhoods to accept snout houses and other forms of dense housing only seems to make people angry.

Parker misses the irony that the civil engineer decries car-oriented development even while he chooses that type of development for himself all the way out in Newberg.

So the planning will go on, billions more will flow into light rail construction and transit-oriented development will continue to receive taxes that would otherwise have gone into paying for schools, public safety and roads.

In Oregon, our dreams and myths trump what actually works and how we actually live.


Matt Wingard is Director of the School Choice Project at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market think tank.

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  • Jerry

    Oregon – We Love Dreamers!
    Oregon – We love schemers!

    Tight tiny housing – that’s the plan
    Pack ’em in as close as you can.

    Then pop down some shiny light rail tracks
    With light rail cars with bicycle racks.

    That’ll keep ’em happy and surely glad
    Don’t know why anyone’s mad.

    Here we are – the city of our dreams
    Punched full of holes by politician schemes.

    Affordable housing? Don’t be crazy!
    Light rail crime? We’re too lazy.

    Congestion and traffic? We got none
    Unless you count the cars one by one.

    Bridges are decaying mighty fast
    A couple more years is all they’ll last.

    But we can make new ones, yes sirree
    And just charge tolls – payments are easy!

    And carpool more – sure we can
    Open your trunk for that fifth man!

    Double license fees on hybrid cars?
    Why not? Those people are from Mars.

    And keep on checking for emmissions folk
    That’s a hidden tax and that ain’t no joke.

    H’ain’t been a car made in the last ten years
    That would pollute any more that the DMV fears.

    But we keep on checking and check we must
    ‘Cause that money is something in which we trust.

    So let’s all continue to dream and dream,
    While those politicians scheme and scheme.

    To make things sound better than they are.
    Better than all the rest – better by far!

    Portland, Portland – the city that works!
    Portland, Portland – she’s run by jerks.

    • Crawdude

      Lol, couldn’t sleep?

  • John Fairplay

    Anyone can see that Oregon’s land-use planning regime and creation of regional government are a huge success based on how they have been adopted by so many jurisdictions around the country.

  • Bob Clark

    Jerry-

    Like your poetry.

    • Jerry

      Thanks Bob! I worked on her pretty hard this AM.

  • Anonymous

    Warning!!!!

    Here comes dean to peddle the tax funded land-use planning regime propaganda.

    • John in Oregon

      Good prediction!

  • dean

    Matt….and you seem to have missed the irony that the engineer’s critique of Oregon planning is not that we are doing too much planning, or that compact, mixed use style development is wrong headed. He seems to draw the opposite conclusion. That in spite of Oregon’s system the inertia of low density, separated use suburbia is very strong and has resisted attempts to reign it in.

    But what about “the market?” It turns out that nationally there is about a 30% market preference for “smart growth” style housing, and this goes up to over 50% if we include people who opt for shorter commutes over larger yards, given that choice. Prices in mixed use neighborhoods are 40-100% higher compared with standard subdivisions.

    Given the aging and downsizing of the baby boomers, these market numbers are going to increase, not decrease.

    Households without kids are already about 90% of new housing demand. The narket demand for homes on small lots or attached housing exceeds supply by 71%, while the demand for large lot housing is below the level of supply (this is from data just before the mortgage meltdown).

    Compact, mixed use development reduces auto use (miles per person driven) by 20-40%, so this is one way to lighten the load on our deteriorating road system.

    What does all this mean? Maybe that Oregon’s planning system is only just now catching up with a market trend that has nothing to do with Oregon’s planning system, which is why we are seeing the same sorts of projects happening across the nation, including places like Salt Lake City, Atlanta, and Houston. Rather than cry over this change, we ought to be looking at ways to help the market facilitate it, as we helped facilitate the initial suburban sprawl with heavily subsidized infrastructure funding back in the day.

    As for Damascus, recent meetings indicate that most people here seem to agree that if we are going to build a city, it needs to be mixed use, have employment as well as housing, should be designed to be easy to get around without a car, and should conserve streams and forests to the extent this is practicable. Whether we can actually accomplish all of this is an open question.

    • NotYourDaddy

      Dean, if it’s really what the market wants, as you suggest, then there’s no need to legislate it. Let the market drive it!

      Except you don’t trust actual people to want the right thing, so you think it makes more sense to have the government decide what’s best and then impose it on them. If you give people a choice, they so often choose wrong that it only makes sense to have the government choose for them…

  • Anonymous

    Wow dean sounds like Damascus is about ready for utopia.

    What a clown you are. Totally oblivious to the planning outcomes around here for ever clinging to conceptualization and theories.

    “recent meetings indicate that most people here seem to agree”

    What a joke.

    How about a public vote for Damascus? Should Metro plan Damascus like their other flops.

    Your utopian model didn’t even work at the now rat races Cascade Station, Beaverton Round, Orenco Station and other mixed use adventures in urban areas.
    You’re delusional that any vision of it for Damascus will ever work out in the rurual setting of Damascus.
    And we don’t need any of this assinine approach in order to adequately preserve streams and forests.

    No there will not be any accomplishing of that farce. It’s not an open question as you say.

    The haphazard density requirements have already resulted in overcrowded neighborhoods, skyrocketing land prices, low affordable housing, out of control congestion and planning that has crawled to a halt trying to figure out how to adjust the road to utopia.

    Take a read through these other 2 recent articles and discover the total chaos our planning is.

    https://www.oregonlive.com/news/argus/index.ssf?/base/news/12103626945130.xml&coll=6
    ‘Squishy’ suggestions add to urban questions

    &

    https://blog.oregonlive.com/breakingnews/2008/05/bull_mountain_a_planning_fiasc.html
    Bull Mountain: A planning fiasco fulfilled

    “We’re going to set ourselves up for an increasingly unlivable community, a festering sore that brings down the health of the entire community,” Hosticka said.
    “We believe that a more comprehensive planning effort”
    Metro councilor Hosticka said that over the last few years, Metro has learned a lot about planning for Great Communities, and looks forward to more discussions with the county.

    Metro councilor Harrington, more questions than solutions to the urbanization mess.

    Area 63, 64 (next to Bull Mountain) and North Bethany were brought into the UGB in 2002 yet Hosticka says,

    “I thought all of this would be the challenge of the next decade, but it’s coming on us faster than I thought,” Hosticka said. “What we’re left with now are communities that aren’t communities. They are one-dimensional seas of single-family houses.”

    • dean

      No…not utopia. A utopia would require complete agreement on a vision. If we had that, we would lose our individuality and become a dystopia. We will settle for something in between.

      Signed…the clown. or marxist clown if you prefer.

  • heckler

    if you think you’ve got problems in portland, you should see the pitiful excuse we’ve got for planners in eugene. someone from the portland oregonian should write about the way the uo has strong-armed the city of eugene into bypassing the normal checks and balances involved in the construction of a 400 million square foot, 12, 500 seat, quarter billion dollar gym and locker room for phil & penny knight, dave & lynn frohnmayer and pat & stephanie kilkenny.

  • Joanne Rigutto

    I would like to invite anyone who is interested in land use planning, especially the potential effects it has on rural land to visit Clackamas county’s website for the urban and rural reserves work that’s being done right now. I’m on the policy advisory committee for Clackamas county representing the hamlet of Mulino.

    If you live in Clackamas country, especially outside of the urban growth boundary of a city, you really, really, really, need to educate yourself about this issue. In the next 18 months recomendations will be made for areas to be designated as either urban reserves, rural reserves, or they may be left as they are now. Why is this important to land owners and residents? Because if you are in an area that is designated as a rural reserve your options for development will be severely restricted, if you are in an urban reserve and you are farming or even homesteading, you may get more development around you than you would like eventually. What the PACs do or don’t do will have an impact on land use planning for the next 40-50 years according to Metro and the counties.

    Irregardless of whether you like the whole planning thing or not, this will probably impact you in one way or another eventually. The PAC meetings are all open to the public and the roster and schedule for the meetings is up at the county website along with many other documents related to the reserves process. The PAC held it’s first meeting last month, and the next meeting will be this month on the 27th at the Sunnybrook Service Center over by Clackamas Promenade. The address, date, time and room are over at the country’s website. Meetings are tentatively scheduled for the 4th tuesday of each month, but that may change if there are too many scheduling conflicts with the members of the PAC. To be sure about when/where a meeting is scheduled check the county’s website.

    Discussions on blogs like this are extremely helpful, but the real work is happening at the meetings. Please come to the PAC meetings, keep up with what’s going on, and contribute any input you can.

    I’m the webmaster and registrar for the hamlet of Mulino, and I’ve set up a few pages on the hamlet’s website and I’ve set up a blog where I will be writing articles and asking for comment that will be forewarded on to the rest of the PAC and the Clackamas county commissioner who is on the CORE4, which is Martha Schrader right now. I’ll also be accepting articles for the blog from anyone who would be interested in writing about the reserves issues in the tri-county area and Metro.

    So, if you are concerned about land use planning and want to be involved, either to move it foreward, stop it dead in it’s tracks, or just to keep tabs on what’s going on, here’s your chance. My contact info is on the roster along with everyone else’s. Feel free to contact me, especially if you live and/or own property in the hamlet of Mulino. A map of the hamlet and the other CPOs, hamlets and villages is also at the hamlet of Mulino website. I look foreward to either hearing from some of you or seeing you at a meeting. Also, if you do happen to live in Mulino, I’ll be talking about the reserves projects at each meeting and giving a report on the progress of the PAC to the hamlet board and anyone else who cares to attend. The next hamlet meeting is this Thursday. 7:00pm at the Mulino airport. Hamlet residents are encouraged to attend but you don’t have to be a hamlet resident or property owner to attend. Meeitngs usually last until 9:00pm.

    This process will be repeated in Multnomah and Washington counties too, but I’m not sure what their status is. Please check with them directly. I believe that Metro will have a PAC as well, but have to check on that and it’s status.

    Joanne Rigutto

    Hamlet website – https://www.mulino.us
    County website for the reserves process –
    https://www.clackamas.us/transportation/planning/urban.htm

  • John in Oregon

    Like most of the leaders who know what best for us, Portland reducing its carbon emissions to 1990 levels is lots of talk and no there, there.

    Here is another example. Since Kyoto who has already reduced CO2 foot print the most?

    France? NO
    Germany? NO
    The UK? NO
    The EU? NO
    New Zealand? NO

    Ohh that’s right

    Wait for it

    It was that evil Kyoto denier …. The United States Of America.

    That’s right, Portland talks, the USA does

    • Jerry

      Of course none of them lowered CO2. Remember, libs always have good intentions – but they NEVER have good results.

      • dean

        John…not sure where you got your data. According to the US department of Energy data, the US emitted 18.9 metric tons of CO2 per capita in 1990, and 20.4 tons per capita in 2004. The UK went from about 10 tons per capita down to 9.8. Germany went from over 12 to under 10. Belgium from 10.1 to 9.7. France from 6.4 to 6.2 (very impressive when you consider the low level they were starting from compared with the US).

        Other nations with flat or declining CO2 emmissions per capita from 1990-2004:
        Belgium
        Hungary
        Switzerland
        Romania
        Jordan
        Cuba
        Mexico
        Luxembourg
        Australia
        Singapore
        Russia
        Czech Republic
        Denmark
        Netherlands

        Portland’s, as I understand it, is lower per capita than in 1990, but higher in total because of population growth.

        Jerry…wrong again my friend. Sometimes good intentions lead to good results.

        • John in Oregon

          Dean, once again you have used data which misrepresents what was said as well as what is actually happening.

          Since other things I tried haven’t worked, in this case let me try another approach. As they say in college math classes, I am going to leave it to the student discover his error. That is after all a better teacher.

          HINT 1, start by researching the more honest media such as the Wall Street Journal and Investors Business Daily. Articles there will reference sources.

          HINT 2, what other things were happening in those countries? Things that have caused major countries like France and Germany to select conservative governance.

          But I do take your point that command economies respond better to “threats” like global warming than free market economies. In fact, for the moment, I will even concede that point. Zimbabwe has in fact made stunning progress reducing CO2.

          You are in good company with that thinking about replacing free enterprise with command economies. A number US politicians and politically powerful backers have recently been saying the same thing. Of course those politicians are no longer encumbered with the muzzle of needing to actually run for office and are now free to actually say what they really believe.

          > Portland’s, as I understand it, is lower per capita than in 1990, but higher in total because of population growth.

          False: A Portland bureaucrat made a math error. A huge error in fact. An error that, to my knowledge, has never been publicly corrected by Portland. But, it was discovered by, horror of horrors, conservatives.. Move along folks, nothing to see here.

          I do have an interesting question for you to research.

          What entity first proposed carbon credit trading and expended considerable political capital actively promoted its implementation? Although the entity is no longer a player, I guarantee you will recognize the name and I expect you will be utterly astonished.

          HINT. Try researching the New Zealand media.

          BTW, New Zealand was one of the first to adopt Kyoto. So while you are consulting their media you might check what is happening in that nation.

          • dean

            John…I don;t know what you mean by misrepresenting data. You said the United states has “reduced its carbon footprint the most.” I don;t know what measure you are using for that, but it is not per capita CO2 emissions.

            I think you would agree that the US Department of Energy is a better source on this topic than the Wall Street Journal no? At least you did not attempt to refute the data I provided, so I assume you don’t disagree with it.

            I don’t consider any of the countries on the list I provided to be “command economies.” They are mixed economies, like ours. Part socialistic, part capitalistic in different proportions.
            New Zealand, also a mixed economy, went from 6.9 tons of CO2 per capita (1990) up to 9.1 tons (2001) and they are back down to 7.8, so they seem on the corect trajectory now. I don;t think it matters who signed Kyoto first or last. Results matter.

            My understanding of the Portland measurement is the error was not huge, and that they have acknowledged it and made the correction. They remain lower per capita than in 1990, but higher in total emissions. Its a mountain out of a molehill.

          • John in Oregon

            First lets be very clear what I said. I did *NOT* say you misrepresented data, manipulated data, falsified data or any such thing like that. I am offended that you would make the suggestion. I take a man at his word, unless and until proven otherwise.

            I did say the use of data misrepresented reality.

            I take it from your response that you were either unable or unwilling to complete your homework. Even having been given 3 hints, although one obscure.

            First, I clearly stated since Kyoto, which by my reckoning is late 97 – early 98 when the US Senate by resolution rejected the not yet submitted treaty. That vote was, if memory serves, 98 – 0. Both Democrats and Republicans concurring. Using 1990 to date serves to exaggerate European accomplishment and diminish US accomplishment. However lets set that aside.

            Second, I did use the phrase Footprint, all the green rage these days. This term is undefined tho I assume it to be something like treading lightly while producing something that is the result of creative human effort. Measured in something like Treads per unit output? In this case isnt CO2 efficiency what counts?

            That said, its clear that CO2 per capita is no measure of CO2 efficiency. If it were then Zimbabwe (the third hint) with low and falling energy use would be the goal to strive for. Instead Zimbabwe, once the bread basket of Africa is now the food basket case of Africa.

            From the early 90s European economies were generally in decline, falling faster after Kyoto as capitol formation funds were diverted to one or another CO2 project.

            In contrast the US economy has grown more or less continuously since the early 90s. Of course energy consumption grew during that period. Nevertheless US economic output grew faster. And during that time the US also introduced energy efficiency technologies.

            If you disagree with that analysis then answer this. Why is it that one of the most adamant demands at Bali was that the USA dismantle intellectual property rights and provide CO2 efficient technology free to everyone else in the world?

            The invention of patents protecting intellectual property rights is enshrined in the United States Constitution. The model for all others in the world. During the war of 1812 the British spared the US Patent Office while burning Washington DC.

            And Bali demanded that we, the United States of America must dismantle our system of patents and intellectual property rights. Demanded we provide our CO2 efficient technology for free. To go that far they must want our technology very badly indeed.

            I said that so strongly Dean as the worlds desire for our technology is hardly the mark of a ravenous polluting US economy.

            In addition, while commenting on a Center for Environmental Law and Policy report alleging that the United States ranked only 39th among 149 countries in terms of environmental protection and the U.S. lags Russia, Albania and Croatia, and barely edges out Cuba, John Charles stated:

            “Apparently they missed the news that total carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. dropped in 2006 from 2005 levels. Moreover, the carbon intensity of the U.S. economy (CO2 emissions per unit of economic output) has declined by 27% since 1990. By these measures, the U.S. has out-performed most countries that actually ratified the Kyoto treaty.”

            But then CPI is a conservative research organization, move along folks, noting to see here.

            Wait a minute Dean, didn’t you say > *”I don’t consider any of the countries on the list I provided to be “command economies. They are mixed economies, like ours.”*

            Really, *Cuba* …. A mixed economy like ours? You have to be kidding. You are kidding … aren’t you?

            There is one factoid you mentioned very well worth highlighting. > *”France from 6.4 to 6.2 (very impressive when you consider the low level they were starting from compared with the US.”*

            This is because France relies heavily on nuclear power isnt it? Dean would you support US nuclear energy?

            Dean you said > *”My understanding of the Portland measurement is the error was not huge, and that they have acknowledged it and made the correction.”*

            Well why don’t we check that out. Humm, lets see, Oh I know.

            While commenting on a Institute for a Sustainable Environment report, John Charles stated:

            “A prime example of sloppy thinking in the report is the *false claim* that CO2 emissions in Multnomah County dropped to below-1990 levels during 2004. If the unnamed authors had actually checked the source of that factoid—Portland’s Office of Sustainable Development (OSD)—they would have discovered that it was *quietly withdrawn* last August after Cascade Policy Institute began auditing OSD’s report OSD admitted to a computational error, and Cascade demonstrated that the agency’s methodology was flawed anyway.”

            So lets see… From poster child to also ran is not a huge measurement error. And I suppose that quietly withdrawing is a correction.

            But then CPI is a conservative research organization, move along folks, noting to see here.

            By the way, did you complete your extra credit assignment by identifying the entity that originally proposed and promoted carbon credit trading?

          • dean

            John:

            Point 1: The data I used do not misrepresent reality. They represent 2 realities. One is the amount of CO2 per capita in 1990 by country, the other is the amount in 2004. Some of the countries on the list have wealth levels comparable to ours, and individual worker productivity levels that are higher than ours (France, Germany).

            Second point. Unwilling is the answer. Too much life to be yet lived to take on your assigniments.

            Third. Kyoto was agreed to in 1997. It was never brought to our senate for a vote, but a “sense of the Senate resolution” that essentially said don’t bother sending it to us passed 95-0.

            Kyoto did not go into effect for any nation until 2005, when Russia finally signed on. The 1990 date is the benchmark because that is what the treaty was tied to. Each nation was given a target to either reduce CO2, or allow some increase within bounds. The reason some nations were allowed increase (like China) is that their emissions at the time were already quite low per capita because they were poor.

            Fourth: If you prefer to measure total economic output relative to CO2 emissions (i.e. footprint), fine. That could be a valid measure. The issue I have with it is that our economy is nealy 80% services, and less than 20% manufacturing. It is hard to argue that services in one nation need more CO2 generating than in another nation. Changing hotel beds, flipping burgers, designing buildings….these are not energy intensive activities and don’t vary much from nation to nation. But driving a gas guzzling car 50 miles to work is peculiar to the US, Canada, and maybe Australia.

            I don’t agree that from the 90s European econimies have been “in decline.” According to the IMF, the US economy grew about 55% from 1990 to 2005, about the same as Greece, Iceland, Norway, and Poland. France, Germany , and other “mature” western Euro countries grew about 30-35% over that period, not bad when you consider their population levels are even or declining. Ireland grew about 160%, Australia about 70%. (Communist) China is off the charts at well voer 300% growth. In other words, most countries on my list had respectable growth rates. They are not in decline.

            I don’t know from Bali. But I will say that we are not the technological leader in solar energy (Germany,) wind energy (Netherlands and Denmark,) or geothermal energy (Iceland). And automobiles? Fuggeddabboudditt. Our butts were technologically kicked by the Japanese and Europeans long ago. And as you pointed out, France is ahead of us on nukes, particularly breeder reactors.

            Do I support increasing US nuclear energy use? I would describe myself as agnostic on that. Show me where the waste goes (i.e. to a safe place that will accept it), or how and where it is reprocessed and we can talk. Also, show me the insurance company that will underwrite the risk without the US government (we taxpayers) backing it up.

            My sense is that we can more quickly get wind and solar power in place than we can nukes, which take at least 10 years to get licensed and built. North Dakota would be a giant wind farm in that time.

            Yes…I agree. Cuba is mostly a command economy. I hope that means you agree that the rest are not.

            France has heavily invested in a national rail network, has cities and villages that are easy to walk or bike or ride transit in, and they drive way smaller and more fuel efficient cars than we do. It isn’t just their nukes.

            Portland withdrew their earlier claim. Their corrected claim is that per capita emmissions dropped 14% since 1990, and that the total CO2 “footprint” is slightly higher, given population growth. I would not call a 14% per capita reduction “also ran,” assuming their claim is accurate.

            No on the extra credit. I don’t need extra credit teach. I’m way over educated as it is. I’ll guess it was the US, since we did trading on sulpher dioxide earlier with some success.

            Note I am choosing to ignore the anonymous moron below.

          • Anonymous

            Sure dean and ignore the truth on your way to delivering more Portland lies.
            Your willingness to spread fabricated claims makes you far worse than “moronic”.
            Portland has NO CO2 measurements period. You know it and continue to spread their tax funded lies.
            There’s no science, no data and no peer review to suppport Portland’s claim.
            Apparenlty you dispense with such things when convenient.
            And the whole point of Portland’s bogus claims was to justify their failed policies and promote more of them.

            Of course you “assume their claim is accurate”.

          • John in Oregon

            The entity that originally proposed and promoted carbon credit trading

            *—– ENRON —–*

  • Anonymous

    Portland’s, as is fabricated by the city and Metro.

    You may choose to say you “understand it” but you don’t.

    Thre is no measurement in existance for Portland.

    Just like global warming, land use and trasnportation you mislead.

  • Anonymous

    dean,
    Your “understanding” is nothing but the BS Portland peddled after they got caught making up study results.
    The math error was the secondary falsehood with the real fraud being they had no real emissions mearements period.

    And you have known all of this for some time.

    This is yet another example of the deliberate deceit you peddle.

    The even greater fraud is Portland/Metro’s claim that their policies of rail transit and high density land use planning etc. have lowered emissions.
    You, like Bill Bradbury, are only to willing to repeat bald faced lies.

    • dean

      No…they don’t “measure CO2.” They keep statistics on energy consumption, type of energy used, reycling, and other indicators of CO2, same as every other locality, state and nation is doing. By these indicators, CO2 generation in Portland is down over 12% per capita since 1990. Total CO2 is up very slightly, due to more people having moved here.

      Higher density development is a well proven way to reduce energy use per person. New Yorkers use less energy than any place in America. Europeans use far less per capita than Americans largely due to their densities.

      Deal with reality. It is not all that painful….trust me. Or not.

      • John in Oregon

        Ok Dean

        It’s been a year since I looked at the replacement POSD “report” and to be honest my reaction didn’t change. And I couldn’t find the correction so I need your help.

        Lets look at come of the concrete things such as; eliminate off street parking. Green Power, Energy Efficiency, Recycling, and LED traffic lamps. Lets take a closer look at these things.

        Green Power: Allowing the consumer to buy a “premium” power product. Available nationwide this program is not unique to Portland so the assumptions are very likely correct, making Portland no better or worse than any other city.

        Energy Efficiency. Energy efficiency programs have been on going since the 70s. Four years ago the company I work for replaced a piece of equipment that consumed something more than 12 KW. We replaced it because it was 20 years old. The new equipment works better, is more reliable and uses 6 KW. Every other company in the nation has done the same. Again I expect its accurate and Portland is no better or worse than any other city.

        Recycling. Whatever the other gains of recycling, POSD does not indicate that recycling had at least doubled the collection transport mileage. That’s a minor point so not going to change estimates much.

        LED Traffic Signals. POSD the $500,000 annual savings in energy and maintenance cost. This is one of those double wins. The program was paid for by maintenance savings, energy cost and CO2 was a free byproduct of the program. Here is why.

        1 110 Watt traffic signal lamp costs a bit over $2 or $16 for an average signal. The replacement LED lamp costs $15 so using LED replacement lamps costs $120 which seems like a huge investment. The old 110 Watt lamps last an average 7,000 hours. Unlike CFLs, LED lamps last a real 100,000 hours. When it costs $300 to $400 to replace the lamps its obvious LED lamps will save more than $4000 in maintenance costs. Again this is true for every city, and Portland no better or worse than any other city.

        These are all real gains, validated if nothing else by the duplication in cities all across the country.

        According to this “report” the historic Portland gains are in the transportation sector. And this is were the error comes into play.

        Some concrete examples will help the understanding of this mistake.

        I live in Portland and one of my work locations is in Clackamas county. Because Portland has aggressively pushed gas stations out of town I don’t have a reasonable priced station near my home. I fill up on the trip to or from work in Clackamas County. It’s convenient, cheaper and usually faster in Clackamas Co.

        Because Portland has used zoning and other regulation to push warehousing out of the city many of the warehousing, distribution and delivery fleet operations and fueling are now in Clackamas and Clark counties.

        The error POSD made in the original report was to estimate transportation trip miles based on Multnomah Co fuel sales.

        A large number of Portland workers reside in bedroom communities of Washington, Clackamas, and Clark counties. These would not be counted.

        The original POSD estimates also were inconsistent with other hard data. For example ODOT traffic counts (an 11 percent increase), Metro data (increased by 45 percent), and increased Multnomah county motor vehicle registration (a 45 percent increase).

        *Dean, you seem to have data that I don’t so here is where I need your help. Where exactly did POSD correct this error and what was the change in the estomates?*

        Without that correction the “report” will have to remain discredited.

      • John in Oregon

        Dean I see you went back to the nearly meaningless per capita measurement when we agreed that CO2 per unit production is more accurate.

        Of course I understand why you did, as business activity has abandoned or been driven out of Portland..

      • John in Oregon

        I understand you are in love with high density and when others aren’t you favor Government coercion.

        Just the same your example is not the best. I assume you are referring to New York City as much of New York state is rural. Many of us in the west make the mistake to think that Manhattan is New York City. However Los Angeles is as dense or more dense as NYC.

        I suspect this complicates your argument.

        • dean

          John…on the Portland question, My understanding is their measurement method is consistent with what the EPA recommends. I have a call into them and will let you know what they say.

          On CO2 per capita versus per unt of production. No “we” did not agree that the latter measure is “more accurate.” I said given we are a mostly service economy, unit of production related to CO2 is not all that relevant.

          According to EPA estimates, electricity generation is about 38% of all CO2 generation in the US. Transportation is 30%, and industrial production is only 13%. So why would one assume that a nation’s productivity would be the appropriate measure for CO2 efficiency? California is our highest productivity state, yet their CO2 emmissions are way below other sunbelt states.

          As for business activity being “driven out of Portland”…John…really? I would say there has been a shift from an industrial economy and workforce to a service/design/professional/tourist economy and workforce. There is clearly a lot more business activity in Portland than there has ever been. Industry has declined, as it has everywhere in the US.

          For the record…I don’t “love” high density. I favor moderate density within urban areas, but I also recognize that some people prefer rural living (I write this from my small farm) and that this desire needs to be accomodated. I’m just pointing out that there is a clear relationship between density and energy efficiency. Yes…I did mean New York City. Buffalo (a dying city) is a different matter.

          New York City, not just Manhatten, has a density of 26,000 people per square mile, highest in the united States. (Manhatten alone has 67,000 per square mile). LA has a density of 8000 people per square mile. Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco all have higher populations densities than LA. Portland by the way, has only 4000 people per square mile, so there is apparently room for infill.

          • John in Oregon

            A measurement is use of an instrument such as a volt meter, watt meter, scale, or tape measure to determine the physical property of an object. The calibration of the instruments is traceable to the National Institute of Standards and Technology. This is what EPA and ODOT do when they measure smog.

            A calculation is the determination of an unknown value based upon using a know mathematical relationship with accurately know variables.

            An estimate is an approximation based on incomplete data generally thought to be suggestive of actual conditions.

            Either stop calling what Portland OSD did a measurement or show me the CO2 instruments that POSD used to measure the CO2.

            Your comments about > *EPA estimates* … of electricity, 38%, transport 30% are irrelevant as these are not the sectors use in the POSD “report”.

            I am however forced to wonder why you so easily use the term estimates here with reference to the EPA while continually insisting on using the term measurements relative POSD?

            The sectors used by POSD are:
            Residential where POSD says CO2 is up
            Commercial where POSD says CO2 is up
            Industrial where POSD says CO2 is down (consistent with industrial and manufacturing activities being forced outside Portland.)
            Waste where POSD says CO2 is bumpy and small

            The sector where Portland makes it gains is Transportation where POSD says CO2 is down. Now the fact that the surrounding jurisdictions show substantial increases in CO2 should ring alarm bells. Clackamas Co. up, Washington Co. up, Clark Co up, Metro up, ODOT up. The consensus is that transportation sector CO2 is up. POSD numbers don’t even pass the smell test. But ignoring that dead fish and pressing forward.

            You said > *My understanding is their measurement method is consistent with what the EPA recommends…*

            Really?

            The EPA recommended that did they?

            Are you sure? The EPA recommended ignoring ODOT traffic counts?
            It can’t be true can it? The EPA recommended ignoring Metro hard data?
            The EPA recommended that large increases in vehicle registration be ignored?
            Seriously, the EPA recommend that?

            The EPA recommended that Portland use county fuel sales and ignore commutes into the city? Even the CA&CP software manual suggests not to do this. But as you say the EPA recommends that estimates ignore transcity commutes and trips? Ignore delivery fleets such as Fred Meyers which are based outside the city? Ignore I84, I5 and I205?

            To take just one of the above, would POSG like me to believe that motorists traveling from Vancouver to Beaverton cross the river at Longview, use Forrest service roads to Vernonia, then south to 26 and east to Beaverton? Although, come to think about it, that rout could well be faster given the very traffic congestion that POSDs estimate ignores.

            I have heard the EPA called many things. Some complimentary, some not so complimentary. It has been said the EPA is not enforcing the rules and that EPA is a road block picking nits. I have even seen the EPA cowboy. I had never thought that EPA would be this slipshod and incompetent.

            I am forced to wonder, is this another of those wild assertions? Like? Oh I know. Such as Cuba is like us and not a dictatorship?

          • dean

            John…thanks for the statistical tutorial. But Cuba? You lost me there.

            I’ll try to use “estimates” from now on.

            It seems to me you’re analysis mixes up Portlnad Metropolitan issues with city of Portland issues. It is perfectly understandable if people within Portland are burning less fuel for transporting themselves about, while suburban residents may be burning more fuel. Portland’s city limits have not changed much since 1990, yet they have something like 120K more people. To the extent those people are biking, walking and transiting more per capita than the population of 1990, then per capita fuel consumption should be down.

            A reasonable set of stats to use in assessing transportation is ODOTs vehicle miles travelled on state roads. In Multnomah County VMT is up about 10% from 1991 to 2006. But the population is up about 20%. Wouldn’t this support Portland’s claim that CO2 generation from transportation is down per capita?

            I did not dig into what the EPA recommends or what they don’t. What i am saying is that the US signed a treaty that has measurement protocols, this is what the EPA follows, and I am assuming Portland uses these as well. Portlnad is not responsible for what happens in the larger region, so if a Fred Meyer Distribution Center in calckamas ends up not counted in Portland’s stats, so be it.

            Questions for you:
            1) Do you believe, based on whatever evidence you have dug up, that Portland (the city) has higher, lower, or the same CO2 emissions per capita compared with 1990?

            2) Do you believe that there is a relationship between land use and CO2 emissions?

          • John in Oregon

            > *thanks for the statistical tutorial. But Cuba? You lost me there.*

            Of course I lost you on that. You forgot you made the claim that Cuba is an economy just like the US. Nevertheless the question at hand is the inaccuracies of the OPSD “report”.

            > *I did not dig into what the EPA recommends or what they don’t.*

            Thank you for retracting your assertion that the POSD “method is consistent with what the EPA recommends.” If you do not know the EPA recommendations then you obviously can not claim they were followed. That does address the question at hand relative the inaccuracies of the OPSD “report”.

            > *What i am saying is that the US signed a treaty that has measurement protocols, this is what the EPA follows…*

            I am forced to wonder what treaty that was that the United States signed. However the question at hand is the inaccuracies of the OPSD “report” and did they or did they not follow acceptable, accountable methods.

            > *A reasonable set of stats to use in assessing transportation is ODOTs vehicle miles travelled (sic) on state roads. In Multnomah County VMT is up about 10% from 1991 to 2006.*

            The POSD “report” makes the claim that the total CO2 in metric tons within Multnomah Co. (substantially the City of Portland) 1990 to 2004 is DOWN. I agree that, although your 91 – 06 time frame is slightly different, your statistics do show a significant basis to seriously question the accuracy of the POSD “report”.

            > *Portlnad (sic) is not responsible for what happens in the larger region, so if a Fred Meyer Distribution Center in calckamas (sic) ends up not counted in Portland’s stats, so be it.*

            The question at hand is the inaccuracies of the OPSD “report” I understand you may not care about this error.. Nevertheless, the exclusion by POSD of significantly large amounts of transport fuel purchased outside Multnomah Co. and consumed by delivery fleets within the county is still CO2 generated within the county. As is that of suburban residents commuting into the city. This is very much relevant to the inaccuracy of the POSD “report”.

            > *To the extent those people are biking, walking and transiting more per capita than the population of 1990, then per capita fuel consumption should be down.*

            Any suppositions on my part are your part about what should or could be is irrelevant. The question at hand is the inaccuracies of the OPSD “report”.

            > *Portland’s city limits have not changed much since 1990, yet they have something like 120K more people.*

            Any suppositions about Portland population will have to wait for the 2010 census. Although intuitively something like a 25% population increase feels suspicious, nevertheless the question at hand is the inaccuracies of the OPSD “report”.

            > *2) Do you believe that there is a relationship between land use and CO2 emissions?*

            What I may or may not believe is irrelevant. The question at hand is the inaccuracies of the OPSD “report”.

            > *1) Do you believe, based on whatever evidence you have dug up, that Portland (the city) has higher, lower, or the same CO2 emissions per capita compared with 1990?*

            What I believe about fuel usage, congestion, traffic or population is not data and is irrelevant. The question at hand is the inaccuracies of the OPSD “report”. What I have demonstrated is more than sufficient basis to discredit the OPSD “report”.

          • dean

            John…you have degenerated into nit-picking territory here.

            I never claimed Cuba has an economy “just like the US.” I included it in a list of nations that have flat or declining CO2 use. I made no claim as to their economy.

            For EPA info, including the relevant signed treaty, I recommend: https://epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/usinventoryreport.html

            The City of Portland claims in their 2005 report is that total greenhouse gas emissions are slightly UP in total, not DOWN. They claim they are DOWN on a per capita basis by 12.5% from 1993-2004. They cite stats on building energy use, tree planting, weatherization, and other data.

            I don’t see where the ODOT data calls into question the Portland findings. You can have 10% more vehicle miles travelled, a 25% increase in population, and still get to near flat CO2 growth if vehicle fuel efficiency improves only a little.

            Yes, some cars and trucks buy gas outside Mult County and burn it inside, and some cars and trucks buy gas in Mult Co and burn it in Clackamas. Can we know what the actual balance is? Should we account for the proportion of hybrids in Portland versus SUVs in Clackamas County?

            You are a broken record on “innacuracies” in the OPSD report, yet you really don’t point to what these innacuracies are, beyond what John Charles uncovered and what they already corrected in their findings (from slightly below to slightly above 1990 levels).

            I am not “supposing” anything about Portland’s population growth. The US Census Bureau (which knows about these things) says Portland grew from 437K to 529K from 1990 to 2000. They then estimated 545K in 2003, the year before the OPSD report. That is 118,000 new people, which is “something like 120K.”. I stand uncorrected.

            John….you are just wrong on this one. Portland has done a lot of work to reduce CO2 emissions, they have apparently succeeded on a per capita basis, and have proven that this can be done without great expense or sacrifice. It contradicts several of your world views. That government can’t accomplish anything. That global warming can’t be dealt with. And that lots of people are moving to Portland in spite of your low opinion of the place. Deal with reality and move on.

  • John in Oregon

    First lets be clear. POSD noticed an error in one of the inputs to the Clean Air and Climate Protection Software, which was corrected before CPI evaluated the report. I have said that from the start, you agree, as does, from his writing, John Charles. I assume the presently posted “report” includes that correction. Now lets get to the issue.

    You made a very important comment relevant to the discussion > *Yes, some cars and trucks buy gas outside Mult County and burn it inside, and some cars and trucks buy gas in Mult Co and burn it in Clackamas. Can we know what the actual balance is?*

    From this comment I can see that you understand the POSD mistake. I use the word mistake so that we don’t confuse this with the error mentioned above. The mistake, specifically using fuel sales in Multnomah Co. as a proxy for transportation generated CO2 is the problem. The software manual stresses the defects with using fuel sales.

    You asked > *Can we know what the actual balance is?*

    The answer is YES. The estimation software POSD used has a transportation wizard attachment tool to accomplish exactly this task.

    > *The City of Portland claims in their (sic) 2005 report is that total greenhouse gas emissions are slightly UP in total, not DOWN.*

    Since my comment here was specifically in response to transportation and ODOT Vehicle Miles Traveled, I thought it should be clear. However, point taken, I amend my statement as follows to make it abundantly clear.

    The POSD report makes the claim that the total *transportation* CO2 in metric tons within Multnomah Co. (substantially the City of Portland) 1990 to 2004 is DOWN. I agree that, although your 91 – 06 time frame is slightly different, your statistics do show a significant basis to seriously question the accuracy of the POSD “report”.

    Specifically:

    A PROGRESS REPORT ON THE CITY OF PORTLAND AND MULTNOMAH COUNTY LOCAL ACTION PLAN ON GLOBAL WARMING
    Page 7, Appendix 1, Table 1
    Row 4, Transportation; Column 1 – 1990, States total transportation produced CO2 = 3,793,717 Metric tons
    Row 4, Transportation; Column 7 – 2004, States total transportation produced CO2 = 3,731,390 Metric tons

    You asked > *I don’t see where the ODOT data calls into question the Portland findings. You can have 10% more vehicle miles travelled, (sic) a 25% increase in population, and still get to near flat CO2 growth if vehicle fuel efficiency improves only a little.*

    The data in table 1 is hard CO2 produced in Metric tons. It is not per capita! Your observation that ODOT estimates that total travel on state-owned highways is up 10% (11% 1990-2004) is inconsistent with the claimed decrease in hard CO2. Further, the Metro Estimated total Vehicle Miles Traveled daily between 1990 and 2003 in the *Portland-only region* increased 38 percent is a glaring discrepancy.

    > *You are a broken record on “innacuracies” (sic) in the OPSD report, yet you really don’t point to what these innacuracies (sic) are, beyond what John Charles uncovered and what they already corrected in their findings (from slightly below to slightly above 1990 levels).*

    Yes, POSD, yourself, John Charles and myself all agree, and have from the beginning, that the *input error was corrected before CPI looked at the “report”.*

    Of course John Charles and myself would say similar things. We are both pointing to the same mistake, using fuel sales in Multnomah Co. as a proxy for transportation generated CO2. In support of that 6 hard data points were offered.

    1) Total VMT between 1990 and 2003 in Portland-only (excluding the burbs) increased 38 percent.
    2) River crossings between Vancouver and Multnomah Co. increased by 50 percent since 1990.
    3) The number of commuters in and out of Multnomah Co. increased 21 percent between 1990 and 2000.
    4) Commuter trips between Washington Co. and Multnomah Co. were up 7%.
    5) The total number of motor vehicles registered in Multnomah Co. 1990 to 2004, rose 45 percent.
    6) The VMT traveled on state roads increased 11%

    To which I added;

    7) The fleet relocation from Portland to Washington, Clacakamas, and Clark Counties of goods distribution to Portland outlets such as Safeway, Albertsons, Fred Meyer, 7-Eleven, Plaid Pantry, Home Depot, and others.

    To which I now add;

    8] The very real possibility that POSD did not consider the CO2 equivalent of the electric power used by the trolley and light rail. I stress I have *no mechanism to resolve this* as POSD provides no way to confirm or deny this aspect in the most recent “report”. I can only ask and hope the answer is YES they did.

    There are three ways to resolve this question about the “mistake” in report:

    1) Accept that the report is flawed, OR
    2) Show that *after* the input error was corrected and *after* CPI raised the issue that then the transportation wizard tool was used to further amend the report, OR
    3) Provide other independent evidence that supports the reports conclusions regarding transport CO2 production.

    You are right I am a broken record on this. This report can not be invalidated simply because one dislikes its claim, nor, can it be validated simply because one likes its claim. Validation can only be done on a factual rational basis.

    • dean

      John…I certainly agree on your final point.

      But…if VMT is up 10%, and fuel efficiency of cars in Portland increased 10% from 1990-2004, wouldn’t that confirm a zero growth in transportation generated CO2 emissions, leaving mass transit aside for the moment?

      Having said that, a 10% increase in fuel efficiency for cars and light trucks would contradict the national trend, which has been a flat line since 1987, so unless Portland has some data on the types of vehicles that are on their roads, they shuld not use this assumption.

      https://www.epa.gov/oms/cert/mpg/fetrends/420s07001.htm

  • John in Oregon

    Good point.

    That’s a mixed bag, but good news in a way. Mileage of new vehicles tells part of the story, but only part. Another part is the “install base” or the so called legacy vehicles.

    Broad brush time line trends here. Late 60z Dodge Dart. Higher mileage average car of the times, not a good as a bug but better than average. By the late 70s new car mileage is crap as pollution controls are required. By the early 80s fuel costs are pushing mileage back up starting to recover pollution control mileage losses. So we see much better mileage by the mid 90s.

    Early 90s is about when Saudi Arabia steps in and manipulates the oil market. They hold the target price at $35 for nearly a decade. They did this for two reasons. They learned from the embargo that scarcity brings new production on line. Reagan taught them that lesson. The second reason is they understood high prices drive efficiency improvements. This is a prime example of market manipulation by a cartel. The Saudi Princes aren’t stupid and they know full well there are other alternatives to middle east oil.

    During the 90s fleet mileage is improving primarily due to engine computers and fuel injection. Primarily for pollution reasons with some mileage improvements as a byproduct. A 2000 Explorer is better than that old Dart.

    So during the 90 to 00 decade two things are happening to the on road vehicle fleet. The 70s hogs are going off line, and new cars are improving somewhat. Plus an aging vehicle of any vintage will deteriorate. Say 5 to 8% better overall for combined retirement and new improvements. This is why faster retirement of old cars helps both pollution and mileage while rising new vehicle prices retard the improvement.

    So lets say we get a 10% fleet improvement 90 to 00 (the cars actually on the road which are a mix of ages). Also lets split difference between the state highway (11%) and Metro Portland only numbers (38%) and discard the 50% more cross river trips as an outlier. That’s still VMT growing faster than fleet economy. The question is, how much or how little.

    > *Having said that, a 10% increase in fuel efficiency for cars and light trucks would contradict the national trend, which has been a flat line since 1987, so unless Portland has some data on the types of vehicles that are on their roads, they shuld (sic) not use this assumption.*

    Don’t forget the heavy truck and bus fleets. Just the same you are absolutely correct. This isnt a simple task and assumptions can produce all sorts of strange results. That’s why the transportation wizard tool is in the software package to make the transportation estimate in a sound manner.

    • dean

      Its partly OPEC and its partly CAFE standards. US auto fuel economy peaked in 1987 at 26.2 MPG (for new vehicles sold). It declined to 24.6 by 2004 due to the increase in SUVs and light trucks, and the lack of any increases in the CAFE standard.

      Otherwise, you have beaten me into partial submission on this topic. Don’t let it go to your head though.