Kudos for Portland
- American Association of Retired People AARP The Magazine put Portland in the top five areas to live for boomers 50 and older. September/October 2007 issue of the magazine.
- America’s Manliest Cities Portland was ‘dead last’ (50th place) in 2010. Even San Francisco beat us. Combos, the maker of the cracker-and-cheese snack popular among teenage boys, did the ratings. Anna Griffin, a writer for The Oregonian, responded to the ranking in her July 10 column, “Until Combos comes out with a vegan variety made with soy crackers and dairy-free cheddar, we should celebrate finishing at the bottom of this particular competition.”
- American Podiatric Medical Association Portland was ranked No. 4 for walking out of 200 USA cities. Eugene, Oregon was ranked No. 8.
- AutoAdvantage Their 2007 survey of 25 U.S. cities said Portland drivers are the least likely to encounter road rage. An AutoAdvantage spokesperson said, “This seems to show that people in Portland are friendly and laid back.”
- Best Balanced City and Suburbs Authors of a study released in December 2006 about race and urban revival dub Portland and its suburbs “the best balanced” in the nation.
- Best City for Bicycling in the USA In a special category, Portland was named as the “Best City for Bicycling in the USA” by Bicycling Magazine in their October 2001 issue.
- Best City in America to Have a Baby Portland ranked number four as ‘Best Cities in America to have a baby’ by the magazine, Fit Pregnancy, in their January 2007 edition.
- Building Better: A Guide to America’s Best New Development Projects The Sierra Club in 2005 named the Pearl District in Portland as one of America’s Best New Development. Twelve developments were honored.
- Cities Ranked & Rated: More Than 400 Metropolitan Areas Evaluated in the U.S. & Canada In the second edition of this 850 page publication released in 2007, Portland caught the number three spot as the “Best Place to Live.”
- Cleanest City in USA In June 2005, Reader’s Digest compared data on the 50 most populous metropolitan areas to come up with a ranking of America’s cleanest cities. Portland came out first.
- Cooking Light In February 2008, the Cooking Light magazine named Portland the second-healthiest city in the U.S. based on 15 criteria. Seattle was first.
- Corporation for Enterprise Development Oregon ranks among the top seven states in three broad economic development indicators according to a study released in December 2004. A group known as the Tax Foundation ranked Oregon 10th in the nation in terms of the low tax burden it imposes on businesses. Oregon earned its high ranking largely because it lacks a sales tax. This study was released in October 2004.
- Creative Cities Professor Richard Florida, Carnegie Mellon University, has developed a “creative city index” and he ranks the Portland metro area 16th out of 49 metro areas.
- Dog Fancy Magazine The magazine ranked Portland at No. 1 as the best all-around city for dogs in America (October 2006 issue).
- Earth Day Network No city of comparable size offer locals a better combination of clean air, water, and an all-around healthy environment than Portland in a report from the Earth Day Network in early 2007. Fargo, North Dakota and Burlington, Vermont scored higher than Portland.
- Fastest Cities in the World Portland was one of 30 cities in the world named by Fast Company magazine in their July/August 2007 issue.
- FitPregancy The magazine rated Portland as the best place in America in which to have a baby in their February 2008 edition.
- Green Energy Portland’s two electric utilities are number two and three in the amount of green energy they sold for the year 2005.
- Green Guide Portland named one of top 10 “green cities” in USA. The designation comes from the city’s air quality, renewable energy leadership, miles of bike trails and environmentally friendly building practices.
- Greenest City in the USA In early 2008, Popular Science named Portland as the Greenest city in the USA. They ranked 50 cities and Eugene, Oregon was fifth.
- Grist In July 2007, Grist name Portland the number two ‘green places to live’ in the world (out of 15 cities).
- Humane Cities The 2007 Humane Society report was the first-ever attempt to compare how communities across the country measure in terms of the treatment of animals, and includes a wide range of topics related to pets, farm animals, wildlife, animals in entertainment and advocacy for animals. Portland ranked third among 25 cities in the USA.
- Institute for Southern Studies Oregon is Green – ranks number eight (out of 50 states) on Environmental Green Index for 2000.]
- Manliest Cities Portland ranks near the bottom of a ranking of the country’s 50 “manliest” cities coming in at 47 according to a study by Sperling’s Best Places. In the rankings, cities scored higher based on the number of sports teams they have, the number of hardware stores, the number of tools purchased and the frequency of monster truck rallies.
- Men’s Fitness Magazine Portland number 11 in “fitness” – the January 2002 issue rated 50 USA metro areas on 16 categories.
- Men’s Journal Ranked Portland number 2 as “The 50 Best Places to Live” in their “big cities” category (June 2004).
- Money Magazine “Best Place to Live in the USA for 2001”.
- Multnomah County Library received the highest possible rating in the Library Journal’s 2011 Index of Public Library Service. The five-star rating is given to the top U.S. libraries each year. Multnomah County has earned five stars in three out of the four years Library Journal has published its ratings.
- National Endowment for the Arts More Oregon adults attend opera, jazz and classical music concerts, per capita, than in any other state according to a geographical analysis released in late 2009. The survey also revealed that Oregon ranked number one in the percentage of adults attending art museums and craft festivals.
- Oregon Drivers Best in Nation Oregon drivers rank as the most knowledgeable in the nation when it comes to the rules of the road and automobile safety, according to a study (May 2005) by an insurance company, GMAC Insurance Group.
- Outside Magazine Portland named as one of ten “Best American Dream Towns” in their August 2005 edition.
- Pet Healthiest Cities The Purina Pet Institute did an extensive survey of U.S. cities with the healthiest pets and rated Portland third.
- Peace Corps Volunteers In terms of all-time totals, Oregon ranks 14th with over 5,000 Oregonians having served since 1961 – we rank 28th in population according to the 2000 census. The University of Oregon ranks sixth in the nation in alums currently on Peace Corps service.
- Places Rated Almanac 16th Best Place to Live out of 351 Metro Markets.
- Public Transportation Portland No. 1 best city in the nation for public transportation according to U.S. News and World Reports magazine in 2011.
- Retire in Style: 60 Outstanding Places Across the USA and Canada This popular book by Southern California geography professor Warren Bland, ranked Portland and Boulder, Colorado as the two best cities to retire. Dr. Bland retire in Portland (Eastmoreland neighborhood) in the Spring of 2006.
- Runners World Magazine Tenth best city to run in USA. They rated 25 cities in their July 2005 magazine.
- Travel + Leisure Portland ranks No. 5 in list of “100 Fabulous Places for 2001.”
- Smart Cities Portland ranks number 9 out of 55 metro areas. Civic participation was the cornerstone of Portland’s top 10 showing on this list. Portland residents also buy a lot of books.
- Smart Growth America Portland ranks the eighth least urban sprawl of 83 Metro areas. The report, a product of three years of research by Reid Ewing of Rutgers University and Rolf Pendall of Cornell University, represents the most comprehensive effort yet undertaken to define, measure and evaluate metropolitan sprawl and its impacts. It was released in October 2002.
- Sperling’s Best Places to Live In 2005, Sperling’s select the Portland metro area as the 12th Best Place to Live. They evaluated 331 U.S.A. cities. Two other Oregon metro areas made Sperling’s top 25: Corvallis and Eugene.
- Sustainability Grist named Portland number three out of the 15 most sustainable cities in the USA.
- Urban Land Institute and the Trust for Public Land sponsored a book called Inside City Parks, written by Peter Harnik. It’s a study that compares park systems in the nation’s 25 largest cities. Some of the data about Portland parks: (1) Park and open-space acres per 1,000 residents – 26.2 (third highest). (2) Spending on parks in Portland is third-highest per capita – $136.
- Utne Reader “Most Enlightened Town” – actually number two on their list of enlightened towns.
- Volunteering Portland’s “Volunteer Rate Ranking” places it 3rd within the 50 large cities in USA. Portland has an average annual volunteer rate of 35.6%, with 567,000 volunteers serving 74.2 million hours per year.
- Walking Magazine Among the “Top Ten American Walking Cities.”
- Walking in Portland The Portland-Vancouver area is among the 10 safest regions in the nation for pedestrians, thanks in large part to the sidewalks and small blocks found in both its oldest and newest neighborhoods.
Oregon and Women
- Center for Women’s Business Research September 2005 – The Portland-Vancouver area has the greatest share of 50 percent or more women-owned businesses in the country. Of the 50 metropolitan areas, 57.7 percent of businesses in the Portland-Vancouver area are owned by women.
- Center for Women in Government Oregon third (out of 50 states) for number of women holding leadership positions in state government. Fall 2001.
- Institute for Women’s Policy Research Ranks Oregon in the middle (17 – 34) in their study entitled “Status of Women in the States 2000.”
- World War II Defense Workers During World Ware II, metropolitan Portland counted 140,000 defense workers. They built more than 1,000 ocean going combat craft and Liberty ships. By 1943, 31 percent of the workers at the Kaiser Shipyards were woman.
- In 1993-94, women served at the same time as Oregon governor, mayor of Portland, chair of the Multnomah County Commission, and Metro executive director.
And the Not so Good
- Gas Prices Oregon has one of the nation’s highest gas prices. Most experts attribute this to the lack of refineries in Oregon along with the high demand for gas in the growing Pacific Northwest. See the latest information on gasoline prices from the AAA Fuel Gauge Report.
- Higher Education Oregon is 46th in the country in per capita support of higher education.
- Oregon State Government C+ The assessments, the fourth such study by the Government Performance Project (GPP), graded states on how well their governments worked for citizens, and focused on four areas: management of budget and fiscal matters, their workforces, their infrastructure, and information. Oregon was one of 10 states given an overall grade of C+ in the study. Thirty-one states earned higher grades and nine other lower grades. Washington state was one of three states that has the most effective state governments in the country. The study was released in March, 2008.
- Oregon leads Nation in Correction Expenditures Oregon leads all states in corrections’ expenditures as a percentage of the general fund at 10.9 percent. Oregon currently spends more on corrections, $684 million, than on higher education, $648 million. This according to the Pew Report that was released in March of 2008.
- Property Taxes Oregon’s complicated property tax system is a “Frankentax” that needs a complete overhaul. That’s the conclusion of a report released in November 2013 by a City Club of Portland research committee. Voters approved three ballot measures in the 1990s that left the state with a quirky way of taxing property. An overall cap was installed on rates and each property was given an “assessed value” intended to be lower than its market value. It’s complex and properties are being treated quite differently and unfair. Combined with the high income tax Portland ranks 16th in the tax burden in 2010 among the 50 states according to the Tax Foundation.
- Public Schools Oregon schools perform in the bottom one-third nationality. They rank No. 39 in spending per student, adjusted for cost of living.
Oregon Laws Make it Unique
Oregon Coast is Public Land The Oregon coast is public land so you can walk anywhere on the beach. The bill, signed into law on July 6th, 1967, made Oregon unique among coastal states by guaranteeing public access to the entire coastline, from the California border to the Columbia River mouth. The law has survived court challenges to become part of the Oregon way of doing things. Visitors are often surprised at what Oregonians take for granted — that they can walk the beaches freely, at least up to the normal high water mark. Supporters say public beach access helps keep people interested in the coast and its environment. Many Oregonians demonstrate that interest each year by taking part in beach clean-ups, monitoring programs and other volunteer activities.
Oregon System of Initiative and Referendum This system gained Oregon national recognition for the degree of citizen involvement in the processes of self-government. Passed by 91% in 1902, Oregon became the third State in the Union to adopt the process. Since then, Oregon voters have deliberated on over 300 measures, more than any of the other 22 states with similar citizen initiative abilities. Oregonians are serious about the Oregon System, and many politicians who have abused the law have suffered the consequence at the ballot box. Visit Oregon Votes, a Web site (Oregon Secretary of State) that tracks Oregon initiative and referendum measures.
Oregon Free Speech Oregon is where speech is freer than anywhere else in the nation — or for that matter, perhaps the world. Written in 1857, Oregon’s free-speech guarantee in an article of the state constitution. It reads:
“No law shall be passed restraining the free expression of opinion, or restricting the right to speak, write, or print freely on any subject whatever; but every person shall be responsible for the abuse of this right.”
This language is broader — “any subject whatever” — than the First Amendment. During the 1980s, the Oregon court concluded that Article 18 absolutely forbids government from passing laws directed at the content of what residents express.
Oregon Vote by Mail The Oregon Legislature approved mail voting as an option for local elections in 1981. In November 1998, Oregon voters overwhelmingly approved Measure 60, making it the first and only state to go to a complete mail-voting system. Like Oregon Death with Dignity Law, the Vote by Mail statue has been challenged and the law upheld. Read more about Oregon’s Vote by Mail law on the Secretary of State’s website.
Register to Vote when Applying or Updating Driver’s License The “New Motor Voter Bill” was passed by the Oregon lawmakers in March 2015 and it builds on the existing federal “motor voter” law requiring states to offer people an opportunity to register to vote when they get or update a driver’s license. Oregon’s measure, House Bill 2177, goes much further. The secretary of state’s office will regularly collect driver’s license data and “provisionally” register people who aren’t already signed up to vote. These prospective voters will be sent a notice giving them 21 days to let elections officials know if they don’t want to be registered. As a result, Oregon will become the first voter registration system that is “opt out” instead of “opt in.”Newly registered voters will also be given information on how to register with one of the state’s political parties. If they don’t, they will be listed as non-affiliated. Experts say the new system actually provides greater assurance that only citizens are registering. That’s because Oregon’s Driver & Motor Vehicle Services Division collects citizenship data. Since 2009, the state requires that drivers’ license applicants provide proof of legal residency — and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) data distinguishes between those who are citizens and those who are not.
Oregon Bottle Bill Oregon passed the nation’s first bottle bill as an anti-litter law in 1971 and amended in 2007 to include water bottles, the bottle bill wasn’t just about recycling; it was about changing our “throwaway culture.” Following Oregon’s lead, 10 other states followed with similar bills of their own — including heavily populated states such as California and New York. Today, according to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, over one million bottles are recycled yearly in Oregon alone under the bottle bill. Recycling these containers reduced greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 200,000 tons of CO2 — the amount produced by 40,000 cars. In 1982, Republican Governor Vic Atiyeh commented, “Oregonians are proud of the success of the Bottle Bill, the first of its kind in the nation. We have enjoyed a decade of success with what has become one of the most popular and effective pieces of legislation in the history of the state.” The law requires that all beer, carbonated soft drink containers, water bottles be returnable and have a minimum refund value.
Only Service Station Attendants can Pump Gas in Oregon The law was enacted in 1951 and the statute has stood up to several court challenges. The common reason cited for the law are safety. The exception is self-service pumping is allowed between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. in counties with fewer than 40,000 people. That covers a wide swatch of the state including almost all of eastern Oregon. Also diesel fuel pumping is self-service.
Oregon Death with Dignity Law Oregon is one of four states (the others are California, Vermont and Washington) in the nation that has successfully proposed, passed, defended, and implement a law that allows terminally ill patients who meet stringent safeguards to hasten their deaths. Montana has legal physician-assisted suicide via a court ruling. You can read more about the law at the Oregon Department of Human Services website.
No State Sales Tax Only five states in the USA do not have a state sales tax: Alaska (cities may levy a sales tax up to 6%), Delaware, Montana, Oregon, and New Hampshire. Over the years, Oregon voters have rejected a sales tax nine times. But when Oregon’s system for legal marijuana retail sales is fully implemented sometime in late 2015, the state’s sales tax on marijuana will be 17 percent, with local governments allowed to levy an additional three percent. It will be the first and only sales tax in the state.
Full Year of Contraceptives for Women Oregon enacted a first-of-its-kind insurance law in 2015 that allows women to obtain a year’s worth of birth control at a time, expanding coverage that previously needed to be renewed every 30 or 90 days.
Medical Medical Marijuana Cards for Non-Residents Oregon is the only state in the country to issue medical marijuana cards to non-residents. Since June 2010, when the state started issuing cards to non-residents, nearly 600 out-of-staters have traveled here to obtain one, according to the Oregon Health Authority, the agency that oversees the state’s medical marijuana program. It’s good for the tourist industry as they have to travel to Oregon once a year to renew their cards. And it’s a small number compared with those issued to Oregonians — 72,000 in-state residents hold medical marijuana cards.
Marijuana is Legal Oregon voters approved Measure 91, which legalized recreational marijuana in the state, in November 2014. Fifty-six percent of Oregonians voted in favor of legalization. Under Measure 91, Oregon residents are allowed to grow limited amounts of marijuana on their property and possess limited amounts of pot for personal use. Eventually, when Oregon’s system for legal retail sales is fully implemented, the state’s sales tax on marijuana will be 17 percent, with local governments allowed to levy an additional three percent.
The Oregon and Portland Difference
High Adoption Rate Oregon is among the states with the highest percentage of adopted children. 3.0% of children under 18 in Oregon are adopted or one of every 33 children. Four states; Alaska, Montana, Oklahoma and Vermont have higher percentage. Read the USA 2010 Census Report on Adoption.
Portland’s Tolerance According to the 2000 U.S. Census, one out of every seven unmarried couples in Multnomah County is a same-sex couple. The census shows that for couples as a percentage of households in 212 large urban counties nationwide, Multnomah County ranked third in the number of lesbian couples, 11th in the number of gay couples and third in unmarried heterosexual couples. It is also worth noting that in an overwhelmingly white, European American Protestant city, voters elected five Jewish mayors, beginning with Bernard Goldsmith in 1871 through Vera Katz. And despite its relatively small African American population, many blacks have played prominent civic roles in the last few years, including Matthew Prophet as school superintendent, William Hilliard as editor of The Oregonian, James DePreist as Oregon Symphony director, and Dick Bogle and Charles Jordan as city commissioners. Two of the last three police chiefs have been African American including Derrick Foxworth, the current chief (2004). Visit the US Census Web site.
Willamette River After spending 1.4 billion dollars, the Willamette River is recovering. Prior to the cleanup which finished in late 2011, raw sewage overflows and runoff renders much of the river unsafe for swimming, wading and boating during rainstorms. A 20-year program to expand the city’s sewer system is in progress and upon completion, bureau officials expect sewer overflows to occur an average of four times each winter, and once every three years during the summer, instead of the previous average of 50 times a year.
Best Reason to Love Portland
Every year the Willamette Week publishes their “Best of Portland Readers Poll” and we taken some of the results from the poll to share with you. The WW says that “a strong plurality of you folks said the friendly, caring, weird and otherwise great people who live here are the best reason to love this city. We agree.”
Runners-up: The Portland Timbers, craft beer, the food, the bike culture, the weather. Some other notable suggestions:
- “All the beautiful gardens people have in their front yards and parking strips.”
- “Big-city resources, small-city community.”
- “Bull Run water—fresh and natural.”
- “Cafes, bikes, vintage stores, people and Forest Park (and days that take advantage of it all).”
- “Casual attitude in a beautiful landscape.”
- “Girls in miniskirts on bicycles!”
- “Great gardening! Neighbors have chickens!”
- “Hot, curvy tattooed chicks as far as you can see.”
- “Is this even a question? Liberals, gays, green, and good music!”
- “The best Argentine tango community in the U.S.”
- “It’s like Amsterdam but cleaner and with better Bud.”