Democrats influencing the November ballot in Portland

Radiofreemaine/ June 3, 2022/ Politics, Voting

An announcement by Democrats claims that they have submitted enough signatures to put certain measures before Portland voters in November. The city’s ballot is set to be dominated by a number of progressive economic initiatives; including one that would raise the minimum wage to $18 an hour.

The Maine chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America submitted 2,000 signatures for each of its four questions.  That represents a rapid turnaround for a campaign that was just begun earlier this month. It is a comfortable buffer above the 1,500 signatures required to place a question on the ballot. According to the city clerk’s office, the city is now finishing up the signature counts.

The four questions centered on housing, salaries, and tourism get to the heart of the economic issues Portland has been dealing with recently.

Firm proponents of business are already getting ready to vote against the referendums. With rising rents, a limited housing supply, and a successful track record for the Democrats prior push to raise the local minimum wage, they will undoubtedly dominate the local political season in Portland.

The goal for the Democrats is that those who work here should be allowed to stay here in Portland.

One proposal would eliminate the minimum pay of $6.50 for tip employees. It will also raise Portland’s minimum wage to $18 per hour. The state’s current minimum wage in Maine is $12.75 per hour.

Another one would restrict the number of cruise ships that might dock in the city. Democrats are aiming to implement a cap of 1,000 in an effort to lessen traffic and environmental effects.

By asking for additional notice before a no-cause eviction and banning application fees, a second question in the campaign would give renters more protection.

Another issue would limit short-term rentals to just owner-occupied duplexes. It would require the city to tell neighbors when a short-term rental has been allowed within 500 feet of them. This would cut down on the amount of short-term rentals.

Those advocating for landlords and companies are expected to fiercely oppose those plans.

Quincy Hentzel is the CEO of the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce. He claimed that earlier efforts by progressive campaigners to raise hazard pay and limit rent increases to the rate of inflation had led to economic insecurity in the city during hard times.

She has stated that she can’t trust the Democratic Socialists of America to make decisions behind closed doors

Another referendum with a rental-related theme will also be introduced by a “loose group” of short-term rental owners. This is according to Chris Korzen, a Portland-based software development manager and owner of short-term rental property.

According to him, such a policy is not intended to compete with the DSA’s proposal. It requires short-term rental property owners to live within 20 miles of Portland. You would also have to have a local contact to handle complaints; effectively outlawing corporations from holding such properties. For existing operators who do not meet those conditions, it contains a grandfather clause.

The proposal would also increase penalties for those who falsify information on applications to run a short-term rental. It is looking to prevent landlords from evicting long-term occupants in order to turn their properties into short-term rentals. Any property owner who executes a no-cause eviction would have to wait one year before applying for a short-term rental license under the initiative.

1,800 people signed that petition, which the city has confirmed.

Korzen says that he wants to ensure that short-term rentals serve the needs of the city rather than being exploited by visitors at the detriment of locals.

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