Civic leaders and city officials in Tucson recently traveled to Portland to get advice about how to improve their city while dealing with an expected population boom. The trip highlighted the big differences between the two cities.
"Late last year, according to urban planners' estimates, Pima County hit the 1 million mark.
Planners believe Pima County has enough private land to accommodate another million, depending on the availability of water."
"While there are those who would like to lift the drawbridge and keep that second million from coming, Tucson's historical growth patterns indicate that growth is inevitable."
The lesson Tucson-area business and civic leaders learned in Portland: "Civic engagement makes public policy work. Portland works because it had a leader that inspired consensus. Tucson has no equivalent."
"Two factors separate Portland (and the rest of Oregon) from Tucson and Arizona: First, the population understands that everything comes with a price and they've voted to share that cost as a community. Second, there is a general acceptance that its politicians are in sync with the attitudes of their constituents and can be trusted to do the right thing. Maybe that's why their council members get paid $94,000 a year and ours get $24,000."