Deep pessimism remains about the Portland region, annual business survey finds

Deep pessimism remains about the Portland region, annual business survey finds

Most Portland-area voters remain pessimistic about the area’s quality of life and are concerned about persistent problems such as homelessness, crime and downtown safety.

There is a growing perception among residents in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties that taxes are too high and economic opportunities are too low.

These are among the results of an annual survey of likely voters commissioned by the metro area’s most influential business organization.

Figures released Thursday by the Portland Metro Chamber show that 78% of voters surveyed in December felt their quality of life had worsened, the same percentage as the previous year.

51 percent believe the Portland area is on the wrong track, down just one point from the 52 percent who said so at the end of 2022.

The sentiment is particularly pronounced in Multnomah County, where 69% of voters surveyed say their precinct is headed in the wrong direction, compared to 40% in Clackamas County and 34% in Washington County.

“It’s a very sobering picture of where people are right now,” said Michelle Neiss, a pollster at Portland-based DHM Research.

However, sentiment improved significantly from 2021, when 88% felt their quality of life was deteriorating and 62% felt the Portland area was on the wrong track.

DHM Research conducted the latest survey from December 13 to 19. Survey participants interviewed 500 voters, including 250 voters in the metro of three counties. Portland.

The poll was designed to accurately reflect voters’ age, gender and political party, and the overall margin of error was 4.4 percentage points. DHM said the specific results for the city of Portland were accurate to within plus or minus 6.2 percentage points.

Homelessness and crime remain top concerns among metro area voters at 40% and 19%, respectively, ranking them as the biggest issues facing the region.

Concerns about drug addiction and addiction more than doubled to 16% compared to the previous year. Only 10% of the survey respondents said that their biggest concern is affordable housing.

Fewer people set foot in downtown Portland, with 30% of city residents and 55% of those living in the rest of the tri-county saying they had not been downtown at least once in the previous 30 days. In the previous year, these figures were 28% and 46%, respectively.

Meanwhile, 81% of likely voters in the area said they felt somewhat or very unsafe in downtown Portland at night, compared to 55% during the day.

The troubling stream of statistics comes despite a significant drop in crime in Portland, an increase in pedestrian traffic downtown and increased efforts to get people off the streets and into shelters, housing and drug addiction.

“There are some signs of progress,” said Jon Isaacs, executive vice president of public affairs for the Portland Metro Chamber, formerly the Portland Business Alliance. “But at the end of the day, we have to respect the perspective of the residents of the region and understand that it will be a long time before voters and taxpayers start to feel the difference. We are not there yet.”

Other notable findings in the survey:

*49% of Tri-district voters said they were worse off than 38% last year. Those who said it was better fell from 18% in 2022 to 15%.

* 69% of all voters surveyed believe taxes are too high for the services they receive, while 21% believe current tax levels are good. In 2022, these figures were 60% and 30%, respectively.

*Current support for the district’s homeless services tax is 48%, with 47% opposed. The measure passed in 2020 with about 60% of the vote.

*On Multnomah County’s all-tax preschool, voters narrowly favor the tax, 51% to 45%. About 65% of county voters approved the tax measure in 2020.

*55% of Portland voters continue to support the city’s 1% tax on large retailers to fund clean energy and climate projects, while 41% oppose it. 65 percent of city voters approved the tax in 2018.

See more survey results here.

John Maher, president of the Oregonian Media Group, is a volunteer board member of the Portland Metro Chamber.

— Shane Dixon Kavanaugh; 503-294-7632

Email [email protected]

Follow on Twitter @shanedkavanaugh

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