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The following is presented as part of The Columbian’s Opinion content, which offers a point of view in order to provoke thought and debate of civic issues. Opinions represent the viewpoint of the author. Unsigned editorials represent the consensus opinion of The Columbian’s editorial board, which operates independently of the news department.
News / Opinion / Editorials

In Our View: Cheers & Jeers: Talk it out; math doesn’t add up

The Columbian
Published: December 18, 2023, 6:03am

Cheers: To public discussion. The Vancouver City Council is hosting a public hearing tonight regarding short-term rental properties. Reasonable arguments can be made regarding how rentals listed on websites such as Airbnb or VRBO should be regulated, but the important thing is that councilors and the public finally are discussing it.

Currently, units rented for fewer than 30 days are banned in Vancouver’s residential zones unless they are bed-and-breakfasts — but that law is not enforced. A law that is ignored by the public and by city officials is problematic and should be adjusted. Proposed regulations would create a short-term-rental permit with a one-time $250 fee, require owners to notify neighbors of their permit application, and cap the number of short-term rentals at 870. Whether or not a final decision is worthy of cheers remains to be seen, but it’s good that the issue is being addressed. The hearing is at 6:30 tonight at Vancouver City Hall.

Jeers: To poor math skills. Washington’s carbon pricing program has brought in $1.8 billion this year, with polluting companies purchasing emission allowances at auction. When the program was passed by the Legislature in 2021, the state Department of Ecology estimated it would generate $200 million in 2023 and $500 million in subsequent years.

Whether or not the program is a good idea — we think it is — the disparity between expectations and reality is stunning; something doesn’t add up when carbon pricing raises nine times what was predicted. Lawmakers should work next year to ensure the program is working as intended.

Cheers: To rain. Thanks to a deluge over the past couple weeks, Clark County no longer is suffering from drought conditions. That is according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which tracks conditions across the country.

Given our region’s reputation for rainfall, it’s hard to believe that much of the Northwest has technically been in a drought in recent years. But dry conditions have had an impact on forests and agriculture and water supplies. An improvement in that regard has been a silver lining amid all the recent clouds.

Jeers: To distractions. Clark County councilors and legislators from Southwest Washington spent much time at a council meeting this week discussing a third bridge across the Columbia River. “We are so far behind,” Councilor Gary Medvigy said. “If we don’t plan on a third corridor, we are never going to be able to afford the rights-of-way necessary.”

That is true. And, yes, there is a need for a third bridge. But such discussions only distract from the ongoing work to replace the Interstate 5 Bridge. Plans for a replacement bridge are close to fruition and should remain the priority for the region.

Cheers: To a glittery donation. An anonymous donor recently dropped a pair of gold-colored Air Jordan sneakers into a donation box at Portland Rescue Mission. Now the Nike shoes, which were custom designed for film director Spike Lee, are expected to fetch $15,000 to $20,000 at auction to benefit the shelter.

Lee was wearing a pair of the sneakers when he won an Oscar in 2019, but the Portland shoes were among those made for him to give to friends and family. “I’m thrilled the shoes ended up here,” said Tinker Hatfield, who designed the shoes and confirmed their authenticity. “It’s a happy ending to a really great project.” And it’s a happy ending for Portland Rescue Mission, which assists those facing hunger, homelessness and addiction.