Sen. Bonham: “Don’t Portland my Oregon!”

Oregon State Senator Daniel Bonham,

A week ago, a small group of storefront business owners in The Dalles wanted to meet and discuss a Project Turnkey purchase happening in our town. Statewide, there are government-nonprofit efforts to buy up hotel properties and convert them into temporary housing facilities for our homeless population.

Word got out over the next day that the meeting was taking place.

When I arrived… instead of one large table and a small group, there were 80-100 residents and a microphone waiting for me.

My words in the Senate afterward best-encapsulate how I feel. Watch here.

People there from all political stripes shared their compassion for helping homeless people who want to get back on their feet. The majority of those who spoke expressed frustration about the state overstepping its authority by imposing restrictive measures regarding the siting of Project Turnkey and navigation center projects, while simultaneously restricting law enforcement’s ability to keep drugs, violent crime, and property theft off our streets.

Umbrella policies for the entire state often neglect the uniqueness and individuality of every district, city, and town in Oregon.

The housing laws which compel projects like these don’t say “You may,” they say, “You shall.” This forces local governments and districts to often act against their own interest. In this case, state of Oregon mandates have forced The Dalles to place a controversial project at the gateway to the Downtown District.

When policies are made in Salem that impact housing, lawmakers need to ensure that restrictive mandates are not imposed that force outcomes. Using words like “may” instead of “shall” give local governments the authority and flexibility to best-address their local community’s needs.