Press Release: Study shows that Question 2 would severely limit growth, jobs, and affordable housing in Portland

For Immediate Release

November 3, 2017

Contact: Ben Bulkeley, Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce

Phone: 207-772-2811 ext. 233;


Study shows that Question 2 would severely limit growth, jobs, and affordable housing in Portland

Avesta Housing and the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce reviewed recent and current development projects and, based on future projections, determined that if voters pass Portland’s Question 2 on November 7, it would have a serious and negative impact on growth in Portland and the region.

The review looked at Portland development projects made possible by zone changes that were completed in the last five years, are currently being permitted for construction, permitted to begin construction, or under construction. The findings indicate the projects represent:

  • Nearly $1.4 billion in value
  • 2,600 units of much needed housing
  • Nearly 33,000 construction jobs

If Question 2 passes, it could put some of these future projects in jeopardy by allowing a minority of abutters to overturn the democratic process by which projects are approved. Portland’s Question 2 would change the City Code and allow 25 percent of registered voters abutting a project (within 500 feet) veto power over proposed zoning text changes or zoning map amendments. If passed, the veto power would be in the hands of a relatively small number of residents, without input from the planning board, Portland City Council, or the remaining residents of Portland.

“Portland has come a long way in the past 30 years and has continued to pick up steam as a hub of culture and economic activity for the Greater Portland area and indeed the entire state,” said Quincy Hentzel, Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO. “We still have our challenges, such as work force capacity, job creation and business investment, and therefore need to continue to advance Portland on its path to progress. If Question 2 passes, it would stop that growth in its tracks.”

The Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce has come out against Question 2, citing the effect it would have on important community resources, such as affordable housing developments, hospital expansions, and the proposed cold storage facility.

The potential for a small number of abutters to potentially derail essential projects would slow the investment momentum Portland is currently enjoying, and serve to make the housing shortage worse.

This conclusion is supported by Dana Totman, President and CEO of Avesta Housing. “Question 2 would stifle and block development in the city of Portland, particularly when it comes to affordable housing – which often requires a zoning change. I am frankly not surprised about the $1.5 billion in projects relying on zone changes, as the majority of affordable housing developments in Portland have needed minor zone changes.”


About Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce

The Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce is the largest business membership and advocacy organization in the Portland Regional. It represents more than 1,250 member businesses and organizations and more than 65,000 employees throughout the Portland Region. For more information, visit


About Avesta Housing

Avesta Housing is a nonprofit affordable housing provider with over 40 years of experience as a leader in affordable housing development and property management in southern Maine and New Hampshire. The organization is headquartered in Portland, Maine and currently has more than 80 properties and 2,400 apartments in its portfolio. Avesta’s mission is to improve lives and strengthen communities by promoting and providing quality affordable homes for people in need. Its five areas of focus are advocacy, development, property management, home ownership, and assisted living.

Affordable housing agencies warn against Portland rent control proposal

Leaders of several affordable housing groups say they’re concerned that a proposal to limit rents and protect renters in Portland will worsen problems that low-income renters face.

Say No to Rent Control, which is opposing Question 1 on the Nov. 7 city ballot, released statements Wednesday from leaders of Avesta Housing, Community Housing of Maine, Shalom House, New England Investment Fund and MaineHousing, saying they are worried about unintended consequences of the citizen initiative, which would establish an ordinance aimed at stabilizing rents in Maine’s largest city.

Cullen Ryan, executive director of Community Housing of Maine, the largest housing provider for homeless people in Maine, said the ordinance could make it more difficult for low-income and homeless people to find a landlord willing to rent to them.

Randy Billings

Portland Press Herald

Avesta and Preble Street: partnering to put housing first

The basic premise of Housing First is simple. If someone is experiencing chronic homelessness – meaning they are continuously homeless for a year or more,or have had four or more episodes of
homelessness in three years – they are provided housing first and then given the support they need to work on other issues they may have.

Before Housing First became an accepted and proven model, people would often receive housing only after they met certain thresholds, such as sobriety, employment, or treatment for mental illness.

Northern New England Housing Investment Fund

Our View: No on Portland’s Question 1. Rent limits won’t work.

Portland needs to address its affordable-housing crisis with policies that would encourage new construction and help renters who are priced out of the market.

If such a policy were on the ballot this year, we would support it, but unfortunately, that is not the case.

We urge Portland voters to say “no” to Question 1 on the city ballot.

Portland Press Herald

Portland Question 2: Planning protection or prevention?

PORTLAND — Question 2 on the city’s Nov. 7 ballot is seen as either providing a voice for people left out of the planning process, or a way to ensure no progress will ever be made in moving the city forward.

“A yes vote costs you nothing, a no vote could cost you your neighborhood,” Question 2 supporter Angela Wheaton said Oct. 18.

State Rep. Heather Sanborn, D-Portland, is a founder of OnePortland, the political action committee opposing the citizen’s initiative referendum.

“What we have on the ballot is something that is not a remedy,” she said Oct. 13. “That is the only question we get to address right now.”

David Harry

The Forecaster

Portland Landlords, Tenants Face Off Over Ballot Measure To Stem Rent Hikes

After almost a decade of red-hot growth, rents in Portland may have reached a plateau. But it’s a high plateau, and one group is trying to put a lid on it with a proposed ballot item to limit rent hikes and create a tenant-dominated oversight board.

The measure faces opposition from a well-financed campaign by landlords and, perhaps less intuitively, some advocates of affordable housing.

Winston Lumpkins was 21 when he arrived in Portland almost five years ago, with a dream of making it in the city’s charismatic culinary scene. He got an $11-an-hour baking job, and he’s making more now. But he has hopped through a series of rooms rented in city apartments, chased from one to the next, he says, by rent hikes every six months or so of 10 percent and sometimes more.

Fred Bever

Maine Public

South Portland zoning changes set stage for West End development

The South Portland City Council approved new zoning rules that city officials say will reshape two of the city’s neighborhoods.

The council approved combining eight zoning districts in the West End into four, a move that will allow a multi-use building with 130 to 140 apartments and ground-floor retail in the area known as “the triangle,” on Westbrook Street between Brick Hill and Red Bank, The Forecaster reported.

The council also agreed to create the Meeting House Hill Transitional District on Cottage Road between Viking and Pillsbury streets, that allows that business uses at seven properties.


South Portland council sets stage for changes in West End, Meetinghouse Hill

SOUTH PORTLAND — The City Council approved zoning changes Monday that pave the way for new housing and businesses in the West End, and a new coffee shop on Cottage Road in Meetinghouse Hill.

Councilors also approved the first reading of two marijuana ordinances that would spell out city zoning and licensing rules.

With little discussion, the council approved amendments in the West End that combine eight zones into four, three of which will be new. The new zoning will attempt to create a neighborhood core, and allow a proposed multi-use building with 130-140 apartments.

Councilor Brad Fox, who lives in the West End, has been instrumental in the planning process. Prior to the unanimous vote, he said “You’ve read about it,  you’ve heard about it. We’re all excited about it.  Let’s do it.”

Melanie Sochan

The Forecaster

So. Portland measures set to boost business, housing

SOUTH PORTLAND — The city moved forward with first readings on two zoning changes on Monday that could affect the city’s housing stock and bring new businesses to the city.  The measures both require second readings for final approval.

West End

The council unanimously approved a text and zone map change for the West End to pave the way to make changes in line with the West End Master Plan, which council adopted on Aug. 21. Zoning changes are needed to implement the plan.

The plan encompasses Brick Hill and Redbank neighborhoods and parts of Westbrook Street and Western Avenue and includes an earlier public-private proposal to build affordable housing.

Avesta Housing and Quang Nguyen, owner of Le Variety, want to create a mixed-use building that could include apartments for 130-140 residents.

Melanie Sochan

The Forecaster