Dear Editor, 

My husband and I are new to the Tabor/Montavilla area and the following has been on our minds for a while.

The first time I cruised through the trees lining SE Belmont to our new home on the east brow of Mt Tabor, I thought there must be some kind of mistake. When I stopped at SE 69th where SE Belmont turns into a gravel alley and made a right turn, I almost ploughed into the westbound #15 TriMet. Nowhere to dodge or turn, blocked by cars parked on both sides of SE 69th, the bus and I both stopped. I tried to back up and give the bus some room but I couldn’t. There was a car behind me, that couldn’t backup because of the eastbound #15 behind it.

I had ample time to notice that one side of SE 69th used to be No Parking—there are faded signs, but people still park on both sides and if a parked car or two happens to be an SUV the bus must have to hold its breath to get through. Can the No Parking on SE 69th be resurrected? I feel for the bus drivers as well as those of us who have to play chicken with other cars to get through.

The SE 69th from SE Belmont to SE Yamhill traffic debacle is a slalom – there is a dearth of eastbound stop signs to slow any vehicle until SE 76th. Bicycles, joggers, walkers, folks pushing strollers and Mt Tabor Park frolickers beware!

Then there’s the restaurant at the corner of SE Belmont and SE 69th. Outside seating has leaked onto SE 69th (all very legal, I looked it up), and is a definite hazard in that it takes up an entire lane.

I am wondering how this neighborhood snarl came to be. There must be reasons.

Margy Olmstead

To the Editor,

At the community summit last month, I asked Charlie Hales how we planned to implement the equity lens when communications between city government and most Portland residents was so… well,… absent. Charlie gave a pretty good answer, although I believe that the political will to communicate with the vast majority of Portland residents is weak and diminishing.

Twitter, email, and the web are so seductive that City Hall has forgotten that most city residents think twitter is a twit with aspirations, email is a tool for con men and escort services, and the web is purely entertainment. Portland’s innovative and nationally-renowned neighborhood association structure is based on grassroots political involvement. To make it work, we need to address the basic inequality of abandoning paper communications in favor of the internet.

The sad reality is that the internet works very well for the most affluent and educated and the least well for folks who are not so fortunate. I received a call from a member of the Buckman community who had just learned — long after their involvement would have made a difference — that his street of modest single family homes was to be transformed into a bleak high density urban landscape. When he asked why no one told him, I foolishly mentioned the all important “Map App”. This didn’t assuage his feeling of disenfranchisement. A computer program he never heard of, on a machine he might not own, or know how to find wasn’t public involvement.

The best remaining communication media isn’t twitter.  It is paper.  It is our network of community papers and newsletters from community organizations. To keep alive Portland’s famous experiment in urban democracy we need to fund a return to a media that people actually read.

To disenfranchise those who are the most computer-challenged, i.e., the elderly, the poor, and the minorities, is not implementing the “equity lens” or, if it does, city hall is looking through the wrong end of the equity telescope.

Robert McCullough

President

Southeast Uplift

Dear Editor:

The West Tabor area is engaged in several battles with developers looking to destroy SE 50th between Hawthorne and Division. Developers including David Sackhoff (SK Hoff) and Robert Platt are exploiting gaps in the Portland plan to build apartments and rowhouses that would be appropriate in the suburbs on SE 50th. These are all intended to be income-generating rental properties.

SK Hoff is proposing an 84-unit, 5-story apartment building on an isolated commercial parcel at 1912 SE 50th, 11’ from adjoining single family homes built in the 1920’s. Platt is demolishing a church at SE 50th and Lincoln and proposing to replace it with 18 3-story rowhouses facing an inner driveway, with a single driveway serving 17 garages pouring out onto the Lincoln bikeway less than 40’ from the very hazardous SE 50th and Lincoln intersection.

We have been trying to get council’s attention through civil channels for about a year but have never received a response. We are considering initiating recall proceedings against Hales, Fritz and all of council that has sat quietly while our neighborhoods are being destroyed.

Portland was once regarded as the national paragon for urban planning. However, since the planning bureau was gutted by Randy Leonard, the city has been disregarding all tenets of sound urban planning, and have been permitting and encouraging neighborhood-destroying development that would not be allowed in any reasonable city anywhere else in the USA. Infighting in the city exacerbates the problem. Planning blames BDS for approving terrible developments, and BDS blames planning for inconsistent zoning and not getting a new plan developed.

Below I’ve pasted an email I sent to the neighborhood laying out our options to stop this development.

The media helped us save the Portland Paradox Walnut Tree last April in the development at SE 50th and Mill. I am hoping you will help bring the overall destruction of SE 50th in the name of developer and city greed to the attention of the city. We know we are not alone in fighting council and the mayor to protect our neighborhoods.

I reiterate: council and the mayor have never, in any way, responded to us about these developments, and we have been attempting to engage them through all civil channels for the last 6 months. They have been very responsive to the developers, including Beaverton-based David Sackhoff.

Thank you,

Michael Van Kleeck