Over the course of the last three weeks the people in our group, Neighbors For Neighborhoods, have knocked on almost every door in South Portland. We knocked—we didn’t just hang a card on your doorknob—because we believe in the case we were making on behalf of City Council’s ordinances governing the proliferation of short-term rentals. We wanted the chance to talk with neighbors openly and honestly about them. We did all the prep and planning and legwork ourselves.
That was us on the streets.
When you opened your doors to us we almost always found you friendly and patient and good of heart. Even when you disagreed you remained fair and generous and hospitable. Most of you, though, did not disagree, and that’s why today’s vote feels especially right to us. When we had a chance to explain our position to you, our reasons for backing the ordinances, a big majority of you said you saw things as we did, said that you planned to vote FOR the ordinances. This turned out to be as true in Thornton Heights as it was in Knightville, as true on Elm as it was on Maple or Pine or Briarwood Road.
We’re glad for having met so many of you during those weeks on the streets, and of course we’re glad the ordinances are now grounded in such strong, city-wide support. While we didn’t seek out this referendum, its result puts to rest the contention that even after a year of discussion, compromise and retooling, these ordinances were somehow not what the people of South Portland wanted.
All that walking and knocking and talking seems to have been good for us, and we hope for our neighbors as well.
The point of living in a free society, after all, is not to be free to do whatever we want—the word for that is chaos—but to be free to decide together how we wish to govern ourselves, what restraints and prerogatives we choose in order to make living together possible. To accomplish that we need the kind of closeness and trust that strong, coherent neighborhoods generate.
We are Neighbors For Neighborhoods, and the results of this referendum make it clear that you are, too.
Thank you for listening when we came to your doors, for taking a moment away from the game or the kids or the meal you were preparing to give us a hearing. Thank you for joining us in supporting these City Council ordinances that we believe will help preserve the quality of life in South Portland. We are Neighbors For Neighborhoods, and the results of this referendum make it clear that you are, too.
Jeff Steinbrink, President
Neighbors For Neighborhoods