Friday, December 23, 2016

Organizing People/Activating Leaders (OPAL) Makes History: Portland Passes Inclusionary Zoning

We often say that victories are easy to come by these days because no one expects us to fight and win, including ourselves. We also say that the great thing about victories is that they create more victories. We make real progress when we push, we get isolated and sectarian when we don't. It's that simple.

Portland had a great victory this week:

Today, after years of advocacy at the state and local level, OPAL (Organizing People/Activating Leaders) Environmental Justice Oregon secured a great victory. Inclusionary Zoning is now official policy in the City of Portland, the first jurisdiction in the state of Oregon to do so. Beginning in February, new developments of 20 or more units of housing must include affordable units.

This hard-fought victory came because OPAL organized a broad, statewide coalition of racial and social justice advocates to demand policy solutions to address the rapid gentrification and resegregation of our city. Over the past 20 years, Portland’s people of color have been under a constant attack due to rising rents and stagnant wages. Historic class inequality among races means that when displacement happens, it happens to people of color first and worst. Adding insult to injury, new housing developments were all unattainable for low-to-moderate income individuals. This dynamic worsened the rift between white, middle-to-upper income earners and everyone else.

Inclusionary zoning was banned in the state legislature in 1999, and without the tool, cities like Portland were unable to enact this commonsense regulation. The three previous sessions in the state legislature saw OPAL continue to fight to repeal the ban, with a victory in February of 2016. The state did inhibit the policy from being as strong as we might have hoped, but inclusionary zoning was finally unlocked.

So OPAL proves our point: organize from below, find good issues, serve the people, open the door to unity and build with people of color---and win! Really, this is how it's done and my standard for judging political work and ideology rests on whether we're in line with this or not.

Congratultions and solidarity with OPAL! And can we take this statewide?

Read the entire article here---and support OPAL!  

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