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Green New Deal on Portland ballot would require sustainable building, affordable housing

The City of Portland (WGME){ }
The City of Portland (WGME)
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PORTLAND (WGME) -- With absentee voting set to get underway in the City of Portland next week, CBS 13 is taking a closer look at six referendum questions on the ballot, including Question C, which would enact a Green New Deal.

Portland ballot question would restrict short term rentals, raise fees

Supporters say it will directly impact climate change, while also adding more affordable housing in the city, but a newly-launched opposition group argues it's a bad deal for Portland.

"This is very much a working class Green New Deal," Kate Sykes of People's First Portland said. "We are gonna continue to build. Building’s not something that’s gonna stop. I mean, that’s what humans do, we build things."

If passed:

  • It would increase green building standards for all building projects that receive at least $50,000 in public funds.
  • Require 25 percent of units in new building developments of 10 units or more to be affordable.
  • Require the city to track its use of fossil fuels.

"Almost 40 percent of our emissions come from the building industry," Sykes said. "And so when we build, we should make sure we're looking at how that's impacting global climate change."

Building a Better Portland launched on Friday in opposition to Question C and two other referendum issues.

"We refer to a policy like this Green New Deal as, 'greenwashing,'" Building a Better Portland President and local developer Ethan Boxer-Macomber said.

The group says it may sound good, but won’t actually accomplish green goals. They said the policy would be cost prohibitive and hurt non-profits like Community Housing of Maine.

"I've read through this carefully," Cullen Ryan of Community Housing said. "Non-profits will not be able to qualify for the funding help that they need to build affordable housing in Portland."

Boxer-Macomber says 100 high-quality, sustainable units are already being built in the city each year.

"I'm very concerned that the Green New Deal in particular is gonna put the brakes on all that great progress we’re making, including upwards of 600 new units in the pipeline right now," Boxer-Macomber said.

If Question C passes, opponents say it would be in place for five years before the city council could make any changes.

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Click here to read Question C and the other ballot issues in full.

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