Letters to the Editor April 2013

Dear Editor:


The pending nomination of the north Buckman neighborhood to be an historic district is bad news for homeowners. There is no evidence that historic status will increase property values, but it will increase the cost of maintaining homes and buildings.

Before getting a building permit, owners will have to submit to design review. Most exterior remodeling reviews cost $900 to $1,900 to apply, higher than any city in America, and take up to 8 weeks for the review. Simple projects like replacing a door or window have lower fees, but costly architectural elevation drawings are needed for any project. The fees are not refunded if your plan is rejected. If approved, your neighbors can appeal and force you to change your plans.

You will not be able to add a skylight, an eco roof, or solar panels. They are not historic. Only expensive wooden windows will be allowed. Enhancing the historic features of your home, such as adding a Craftsman porch to a Craftsman house, could be disallowed if the original house didn’t have the porch. This makes no sense.

The alleged aim of design review is to preserve historic properties, but the rules affect any home, historic or not. Many owners will defer maintenance as costs rise and schedules drag. The net effect will not be preservation. It will be decline.

This nomination process was started by a few people. More than 50% of all property owners affected have to object to stop the nomination. It is undemocratic in the extreme.

If you own property between SE Ankeny and Belmont and between SE 12th and 20th, please file an objection to the change and send it to the Oregon Historic Preservation Office. If your property has two owners, you can send two objections. A copy of the objection form can be found at http://keepbuckmanfree.org/Objection_Form.pdf. Most banks have notaries. If you don’t have online access or need more information call 971-285-4643.

So far 35% of owners have filed an objection. Be a part of the 15% that is still needed. Stop the Historic District.


Richard D. Harrison, Buckman homeowner


To The Editor re: Controversy Over Parking Requirements



I moved to SE Portland six years ago, and I drive down Division St. everyday. So, I’ve seen its evolution, and I’ve followed the controversy surrounding the major new projects that won’t be required to provide any parking.

Before moving here, I spent nine years working for a commercial property developer in the Los Angeles area. My boss was honest and responsible, but many developers aren’t.

Here in Portland, there is no getting around the fact that the current situation ultimately serves the interests of developers who are racing to exploit an ill-conceived city policy before the public recognizes the long-term harm that’s being done, and how difficult it will be to undo that harm once a tipping point is reached.

The reality is that the current situation isn’t just a giveaway for developers who can build on the cheap and turn a quick profit. In the long run, it’s a land grab. That’s because once parking problems become acute many commercial and residential property owners will end up with little choice except to sell, and many business owners will either go out of business or be forced to relocate. That’s when the next wave of developers will swoop in.

It’s a predatory business strategy straight out of Business 101. This is all about money. All the talk about environmental sustainability is just a diversion.


Peter Apanel



Dear Editor,


Richmond Neighbors for Responsible Growth (RNRG) and the Richmond community support Mayor Hales’ recent decision to suspend the fast tracking of the permit of 37th and Division Street development site by the Bureau of Development Services.  Mayor Hales’ decision will allow BDS to undertake appropriate review following the decision of the Land Use Board of Appeals finding that the initial permit had been wrongfully issued.

Mayor Hales demonstrated a combination of leadership, straightforwardness and a commitment to fair play in his handling of this issue. We are deeply appreciative of the thoughtful and committed effort of the other city commissioners who worked so hard to address community concerns in response to the surprise decision which the Mayor has now rescinded.

RNRG is committed to encouraging and supporting economic development along the Division Street Corridor, and we are confident the Mayor’s actions will help foster responsible growth. RNRG stands ready to work toward a solution to the challenges posed by the building at 37th and Division — a solution which limits negative impact on the community while at the same time providing the developer the opportunity for a successful project. We renew our longstanding offer to work together with the developer toward such a solution.


By Richmond Neighbors for Responsible Growth

Cats vs. birds


I used to see Robins in Portland. Now I see cats. I have owned cats for more than half my 67 years.

My last, Bunky, was a snaggle-toothed abandoned kitty, turned indoor cat for the last 8 of his 17 years. There are reasons for this. It was safer and healthier for him. He no longer had abscesses, bouts of salmonella from eating wild. He never again got lost or locked in someone’s garage, returning dehydrated. What he did have was our hearts and our care.

Mainly though, he became an indoor kitty due to the plight of our wild native birds. Eventually, the suffering of songbirds being mauled or chewed to death got to me. I wouldn’t want a coyote or dog to rip my cat apart. So why would I let my cat inflict this on a native bird? It’s not for food or some “match” of equals.

Like many folks, I believed a half truth: “cats have always killed birds”, so no big deal. Unfortunately this common rationale omits the issue of where cats have always killed birds, let alone the ethics of it.

Domestic cats are not native and were only brought to this country by settlers to guard granaries. To my area of Portland, they likely arrived in the past 60 years.

Recently, their numbers have exploded. My side of the street has at least six outdoor cats.  Songbirds are becoming unable to raise enough young to hold their populations steady.

A recent study puts the toll due to cat predation in the U.S. at 2.4 billion birds per year. Spaying and neutering of strays and returning them to the streets may leave too many predators at large.

Many native songbirds such as Wrens, Robins, Varied Thrushes, Towhees, Song Sparrows either nest close to the ground.

Research finds that putting bells on cats may only make them stealthier hunters. They ambush their prey. For flightless baby birds, “belling” a cat accomplishes nothing! Cats are excellent climbers and easily raid nests. I have seen them twenty feet up a red maple chasing birds.

They even get Hummingbirds feeding on flowers. Birds very rarely survive internal injuries after an attack.  Don’t believe your cat doesn’t kill birds because they don’t bring them home. Mine only sometimes did.

Still want to let your cat out? Build an enclosure in your yard. Information is online. At least,  keep them in during breeding season, April through mid July. Letting them out only at night or briefly will not save many birds. Cats are very efficient.

People want their children or pets to be happy. It’s hard for folks to deny them what they want. We curb and leash dogs. Maybe some cat owners  choose a pet they won’t have to clean up after or won’t have to deny.

Multnomah County statutes state that your cat can be on your property or on public property. They have no “right” to be on your neighbor’s property. It allows for humanely trapping and transporting to the County shelter or reporting/photographing and the levying of fines.

Bunky did meow to go outside, maybe thirty seconds a day and it did tug at me and I saw to it that he had a good life.

Life, even for those we love, has compromise.


Robert Bernstein

Letters to the Editor April 2013

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