2018-10-19 / Letters

Writers weigh in on upcoming vote

To the editor,

As we transition into the election season in South Portland, it seems more urgent than ever for us to elect city councilors who will allow each other to govern in a deliberative and honest manner.

We need people who, in these dark political times, can resist peer pressure to simply go along with the crowd. April Caricchio, city council candidate in South Portland’s District 4 is the survivor that we all need at this point in time.

An active member of our community, she is a Berniecrat who has made protecting the environment the centerpiece of her campaign. As a coastal community, South Portland is already being challenged by rising sea levels and the problem of climate change will only get bigger unless we confront it now. Like her name, April with bring a fresh springtime of openness and integrity that we desperately need as we tried a wavering path towards a brighter future for the city we love.

Mary DeRose South Portland

To the editor,

Who are your neighbors? One thing is certain: Neighbors are people you know. This is what makes a collection of houses into a neighborhood. We are not visitors. We choose to live here.

Some people rent out whole, unoccupied houses for short-term stays (like Airbnb). Unfortunately, for the rest of that street, what was once a possibility for a neighbor becomes a steady stream of strangers.

Please imagine a carful of people (bachelorette party? family reunion?) arriving next door to you every few days. Those of us who live here ask, in a residentially zoned area, how is this possible?

I believe most residents of South Portland would agree that our neighborhoods should not turn into transient locales, with swathes of houses rented out as unhosted short-term rentals and operated as mini-hotels.

Short-term rentals take longer-term rentals off the market and reduce the number of single-family homes available. Short-term rentals erode neighborhood character and morale among neighbors, who never know who will be staring at them over the fence or having a party next door.

South Portland is not unique in its plight with STRs, and studies are emerging that show the harm. In New York City, researchers showed that Airbnb presence increased rents, removed housing stock from the real estate market, and led to gentrification and skyrocketing home prices. Across America, communities are facing this again and again. In San Diego, San Francisco, and many other cities, neighbors have realized the damage being done to residential neighborhoods by unhosted STRs.

In Treme, an historic neighborhood in New Orleans, it has been documented that locals are moving out as more and more single-family homes are used as unhosted Airbnbs.

In a desirable area such as South Portland, with proximity to beaches and to the increasingly popular city of Portland, it is not surprising that short-term rentals have taken hold. Who will stand up for our South Portland neighborhoods?

Please support the ban on unhosted short-term stays in residential zones and vote for the ordinance. Check out the Neighbors for Neighborhoods website to learn more: www.neighborsforneighborhoods.org.

Amy Haskins South Portland

To the editor,

It is an honor for me to write this letter on behalf of my husband, James H. Gilboy. James is running for city coun- cil District 4, South Portland. James has had many years of experience supporting our city, and will continue to do so if elected. He served for many years on our school board, from 2003- 2015, always taking the time to listen to everyone’s perspective on any given issue.

He also gave much of his time volunteering for the South Portland American Little League, both on the board and as a coach. James would give his position on the city council 100 percent of his efforts, and our city would be well-served should he be elected.

He will take the time to learn about pressing issue that our city faces, as well as take the time to listen to everyone’s different perspectives.

Please go out and vote on Nov. 6.

Beth M. Gilboy South Portland

To the editor,

I am an enthusiastic supporter of Chris Kessler representing South Portland and part of Cape Elizabeth in the Maine Legislature.

I first met Chris Kessler 10 years ago at meetings of a small group of citizens who called themselves Green South Portland, whose members went on to form Protect South Portland.

At the time, we decided to focus on working with the city to make low-income households in South Portland more energy efficient. Every Sunday, a team of volunteers would put on tool belts and pick away at the low-hanging fruit (caulking, LED bulbs, CO detectors, etc.).

Chris always focused on concrete ways of improving people’s lives while also caring for the environment. I think he will be a great hardworking and very knowledgeable state representative who will do his level best to move our state forward in areas of solar energy, housing, education and corporate profiteering of Maine’s natural resources.

I encourage you to vote for Chris on Nov. 6.

Rachel Burger South Portland

To the editor,

I’m pleased to offer my support to James Gilboy running for city council District 4. I had the privilege of serving on the South Portland Board of Educa- tion with James.

James is very thoughtful and considers issues carefully with an open mind. He not only asks the right questions, but offers suggestions and thinks out of the box. I have always found James to be honest and deeply caring of the community. He has demonstrated his commitment through the numerous hours he has volunteered in the community and supported our schools. Please vote for James on election day.

Mary House South Portland

To the editor,

I wish to thank South Portland city Councilors Eben Rose and Kate Lewis for supporting the public by proposing an additional round of public comment during the Oct. 9 workshop regarding evaluation of the city’s legal counsel.

For a city that is usually opaque, there was one brief moment of transparency at that workshop: four councilors voted against Councilor Rose’s motion, thus voting against the public.

The reason was crystal clear: It was because the motion was made by councilor Rose. Everyone in the audience noticed it, and it certainly wasn’t the first time it has happened. Councilor Rose could’ve proposed a proclamation that states cancer is bad and the majority of this city council would’ve voted against it simply because of who proposed it.

If the exact same motion had been made by councilor Claude Morgan, it would have passed unanimously. Everyone on the city council knows it, and the public knows it too.

A similar moment of transparency happened three weeks ago when councilor Lewis wanted to give an ill senior citizen 60 days to remediate a property issue. Most of the council agreed with her, but councilor Morgan proposed 30 days. The rest of the councilors, in lemming-like fashion, followed his lead without question.

Think about the hypocrisy of a city council that spends time and tax dollars to study the needs of seniors, and then votes to make life much harder for a beloved older resident who is struggling with health problems. They even managed to publicly humiliate him in the process.

If there remains any confusion about why I resigned from this city council, I offer those votes as two recent examples of the toxicity and perfidiousness that drive out good people, deter good people from getting involved, and actively harm the citizens of South Portland.

Adrian T. Dowling South Portland

To the editor,

Please join me in voting for Christopher Kessler to represent House District 32. Chris and I have been neighbors and acquaintances for over 10 years. Through his campaign, my wife and I have gotten to know him even better. I see him biking around town, our children attend the same school and he’s always happy to lend a hand. He is a very sharp, dynamic, motivated man who genuinely wants to make our community and state a better place for all of us.

I believe in his stance on supporting health care for all. Many people are one diagnosis away from bankruptcy or having to start GoFundMe pages to avoid personal economic catastrophe. No other citizens in the developed world have this looming burden.

To me, being guaranteed access to health care without financial ruin is real freedom. I believe in his views on the environment and clean energy. We live in a beautiful corner of the world and we have a finite amount of natural resources. Let us be good stewards in preserving our great state’s natural beauty and leaders in practicing sustainability. I also agree with his views on access to education for everyone as well as the need for affordable housing.

Please vote for Christopher Kessler on Election Day. He is a hardworking family man who is dedicated to creating positive change in our community and to the great state of Maine.

Dan Bennett South Portland

To the editor,

Political season is in full bloom in South Portland. The signs supporting candidates and campaigns sprouted earlier this year. As one descends the Casco Bay Bridge into SoPo, the carefully chosen colors and fonts litter the medians of our public ways. The efforts of some campaigns amount to visual pollution.

One candidate in particular stands out to me for taking a reasonable contrasting approach. There is exactly one sign centered and poised informing us that Chris Kessler is running for state representative in District 32.

I support Chris Kessler’s candidacy for this office because he represents a much-needed alternative to the existing state of affairs. His campaign positions are ones that embrace a better future for Maine.

Simply stated, Chris has voiced support for investment in efficient and renewable energy, more access to educational opportunities, the establishment of publicly funded healthcare for all Mainers, development of affordable housing, and a vision of protection, conservation, and restoration of our natural environment.

I encourage my neighbors and fellow citizens to thoughtfully consider what Kessler stands for and the positions he supports. Many will find them to be in line with the idea that government should serve the people and not the other way around.

Pedro A. Vazquez South Portland

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