Letters to the Editor October 2015

To the Editor:

Your article on Vanport really brought back memories. At 86, I remember going to Vanport College the fall of ‘47, my B.A. instructor, Mr. Parker (he was so cute), living in my very own first apartment at Stadium Court and listening on the radio to the reports of the catastrophe that was happening at Vanport.

Thank you for that special article.

Betty Sheppard

former student at “the U by the Slough.”

To the Editor:

I recently visited the now-famous sequoias on SE Martins St. in Eastmoreland and was impressed by the neighbors and others working so hard to save the giant trees.

Later that week, I was surprised by the behavior of the co-chair of the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association, Tony Jordan.

Using the change.org platform, Mr. Jordan started a petition to move Right to Dream to the site of the sequoias.

The explanatory material on the change.org site makes it clear that Mr. Jordan is mocking the efforts of the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association to save the trees.

Mr. Jordan’s text was mis-leading about the neighbors and developer’s intentions, especially the fact that the lot could accommodate two houses while saving the trees.

Some neighborhood associations (Richmond) are being used as soapboxes for very partisan, take-no-prisoners approaches to hot button issues like density and parking.

It is unfortunate that a Sunnyside Neighborhood Association co-chair would start such a sarcastic and unhelpful petition mocking other neighborhoods.

Pamela Quinian

To the Editor:

In response to your recent article about Thorburn St. need for improvement petition:

I agree with the need to improve Thorburn accessibility for safety and pedestrians. I live close to Thorburn (where Thorburn and Stark split) and often hear cars speeding and the too often accident as a car spins off into a house.

Additionally, we see the occasional pedestrian trying to navigate Thorburn to access one of the “hidden” walking paths up to Mt Tabor. It is very dangerous as a pedestrian as there are no sidewalks; instead [it’s] overgrown with vines.

Adding to our concern is a new home [being] developed on Stark where Stark and Thorburn meet: (see redfin.com/or/portland/se-stark-st-97215/home/49682226).

Currently, the undeveloped Stark St. provided a much- needed neighborhood walking path allowing the avoidance of walking on Thorburn.

Recently, a developer bought the land with the City’s blessing that they could build a house and have it accessible on Stark St. The developer has been granted a waiver so they do not need to continue the road or provide a sidewalk.

Instead, they are being allowed to develop a “driveway” to access the house – right in the path of the green space and walking trail.

While it seems the developer will be reasonable and preserve the walking trail, our neighborhood community is concerned about losing this community space and the potential “privatization” of the road.

Historically, the safety barrier now in place has stopped many cars that mistakenly thought Stark was a through street and crashed into the retaining barrier instead.

The homes that surround this green space have come together to manage weeds, mow the grass, add aesthetic plantings and place gravel down on the walking trail.

We have turned what was once a difficult-to-navigate space and potentially dangerous (lots of drug use) into a much-loved pathway.

It is frustrating to us that the City, which has done nothing to maintain this property, is allowing this space to be developed in a way that may destroy needed pedestrian access, creating safety concerns by allowing vehicles to come down this street.

We would love to explore this issue with the neighborhood and the City. Perhaps there is a way that we can insure that this green space and walkway is preserved.

Loren Van Wiel

To the Editor:

I’ve noticed that The Southeast Examiner seems to be taking a side on the “demolition” of Portland by these so-often-called Evil Developers.

I decided to put demolition in quotes, because the first few reports of “Stop Demolishing Portland” activities were at building sites that once contained either vacant lots, or largely vacant and under utilized lots (sorry, but a taco truck isn’t a historical landmark, folks).

Now they want to stop the demolition of an old house on Hawthorne. This one I can understand, because someone is actually demolishing a habitable building, albeit to build another, more habitable building.

Most of the argument against the “Stop Demolishing” movement I read is the same one I have: we don’t have enough housing; let’s build more housing.

The fact is that we’ve had a strong influx of new residents and for about a decade, during the recession, nothing was being built because the financing dried up.

Now you’ve got a decade of pent-up demand to go with current demand and there’s a hell of a lot of building going on.

I understand that is scares people, but for the most part, what I see is building happening on commercial corridors, close to services and transit, much of it utilizing sustainable building practices, because city code adopted a lot of that in the last two decades of building code adaptations.

That’s responsible growth that the city used to be behind, that the people used to vocally get behind. Have we forgotten so soon?

Yes, that house on Hawthorne is a lovely, old house, but it is actually out of place on the street. Multi-family housing needs to spring up on the commercial corridors. That’s where it’s supposed to go.

And though I’m sure you’ll think me siding with contractors and evil developers when I say this, a lot of 100-year-old houses are built like crap. I know, I have been remodeling one for eight years and have seen the bones.

Those new houses actually use superior materials (okay, aside from heartwood 2x4s and structural members), and are far more efficient than older homes.

I’m just happy most designs don’t remind me of the boxy, T-111-sided suburban monstrosities I see dotting patches of neighborhood here and there. These are better times in building than the previous eras.

These are times when we need to take advantage of favorable financing and get housing built to try and fend off rising prices and depleted stock.

So get over it, please. Portland has been changing for a lot longer than you’ve been here and will continue to do so in spite of all your braying.

Tim Ervin

Dear Editor,

Having read Don MacGillivrays’ recent article about the Arts Tax, I am unclear if it was intended as a news article or an opinion piece. Regardless, the article is replete with inaccurate and misleading information as follows:

• RACC does not supervise the Arts Tax Fund. They only administer the portion of the funds that they receive through the existing allocation formula.

• Funds collected are not decreasing. They are actually increasing when comparing the collection rate over time for each year. The revenues in the more recent years are less than the earlier years only because there has been less time to pursue and collect the tax.

• Changes were made to the tax to ensure that the tax was in compliance with existing Oregon laws. State law specifically exempts PERS income from local income taxes.

• The compliance rates are climbing and still may reach the original projections as collection activity becomes more aggressive.

• The ordinance stipulates a 5% average cost over five years. The current ongoing costs subject to the cap are approximately 6%, not 10% as stated in the article. The one-time start up costs in the first year were under-budget and were never to be included in the 5% calculation.

• The collection agency will not increase the costs of collection as fees will be added on top of the tax amount. In other words, if $300 in Arts Tax is owed, the collection agency will add their fee and still remit $300 to the City.

The implementation of the tax did have problems and its share of controversy, but the accomplishments of the fund in terms of providing much needed arts education to children, essential funding for our arts institutions and an increase in accessibility for underserved communities cannot be denied.

The arts fund was a unique and massive undertaking that was bound to have some bumps and experience a learning curve.

While some choose to take a cynical view of the arts tax, it has fulfilled the basic promises of providing a specific ratio of arts teachers in K-5, providing operating support to our cherished arts institutions and opening avenues of opportunity for underserved communities.

The positive impacts of this on our children, our communities and our entire City will reverberate for years to come. That’s the story the media should be telling.


Stanley Penkin

Letters to the Editor October 2015

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