With nearly $100,000 for their attack, opponents of Portland’s Question 2 – to expand community participation in zoning changes – spread claims of doom, like Portland’s waterfront would “lose 950 jobs.” Falsehoods flowed because supporters of the initiative basically had no cash or organization.
Despite the lopsided barrage, 47 percent of voters supported Question 2 last week, buttressing a growing sentiment that our system is broken. Too often, Planning Board and City Council members give lip service to community concerns, then approve “ZIGATS”: Zoning Initiatives Giving Away The Store.
ZIGATS are the inverse of NIMBYism – made-to-order zoning potentially worth millions to developers, while neighbors risk decline of property values and quality of life.
Question 2 sought to reinforce zoning as a shared trust and responsibility. It’s a great start. Let’s hope the next referendum effort fixes Question 2’s modest flaws and builds a campaign with half the cash and twice the enthusiasm of opponents favoring developers over residents.