THE "LETTERS TO THE EDITOR" ARE BELOW THE EDITORIAL

From The Editor

City compromise to address density need vs. neighborhood character
Three story duplex, Harold Street, Westmoreland, Portland
In north Westmoreland, these two new “attached homes” have been built upon a newly-split lot, to allow the two halves of this large duplex to be sold separately. Each half contains a built-in ADU. Since the lot is level, it is unclear whether the height of this imposing new residential structure would have been affected by the proposed new rules. The builder plans another one like it across the street, to replace an abandoned house. (Photo by Eric Norberg)

You’ve seen the yard signs calling for an end to “demolition of historic homes” in Southeast.

Maybe, when seeing what has replaced these homes, you’ve agreed with them.

The problem is property rights: Those who own the land have the right to do what they like with it, provided it meets the rules and regulations set by the city for land use.

Furthermore, the novel “Urban Growth Boundary” which has preserved the rural character of the land surrounding the Portland metropolitan area – which most people see as a plus – forces growth to take place within the boundary, rather than sprawling out into the countryside, California-style.

So, residents would like their neighborhoods to stay as they are, and the city wants increased density in the neighborhoods in order to accommodate the ongoing influx of people moving to Portland to enjoy our quality of life. The only practical response would to modify the city land use rules and regulations. But how?

The Portland solution has been to empanel twenty-six people on a Residential Infill Project Committee to try to find a solution. To make sure all points of view were represented, the panel included developers and affordable housing advocates as well as residents opposed to increased density and the type of developments neighborhoods have seen.

Not surprisingly, the panel was split. That being the case, it worked towards a compromise, which many of its members oppose. That at least suggests that everyone’s point of view has been taken into some account in the compromise!

But it’s not a done deal. Now neighborhood associations and residents get to weigh in on it.

So what is involved in this compromise? We are indebted to David Schoellhamer, Chair of the SMILE Land Use Committee – SMILE is the neighborhood association of Sellwood and Westmoreland – for providing this summary of the city’s proposal.

The essence of it seems to be a reduction in the size of new residential construction – in exchange for allowing more “living units” to exist within smaller structures. For one thing, this will allow more duplexes and triplexes.

First, as to reducing the size of residential structures. The compromise would limit the amount of square feet for a residential structure, based on lot size; a residential structure would be limited to 2,500 square feet upon a 5,000 square-foot lot, for example. Excluded from this square-foot limitation would be basements, “non-habitable attics”, and some detached structures – an 800-square-foot ADU (“accessory dwelling unit”) would be allowed.

Second, to address the height of the residential structure – using the current height limitations in each zone, the height of the structure would be measured from the lowest point, measured five feet from the house, rather than the highest point, as is now done. The height limit would be reduced for flat roofs, from 30 to 25 feet. The height limit in R2.5 zones, which include quite a bit of the Westmoreland-Sellwood neighborhood – 10% of the neighborhood, by volume – would be reduced from 35 to 30 feet.

Third, the minimum front setback for residential structures would be increased from ten feet to fifteen, “with exceptions for matching front setbacks on existing immediately-adjacent homes.” In addition, the compromise would increase the maximum allowed side setback projections to two feet for eaves, and eighteen inches for bay windows.

So much for the compromises to reduce the size of “McMansions” as some have called them. Here are the proposed reciprocal compromises to allow more residential units in these structures…

Homes restricted in size, as described, would be allowed to have two ADU’s, or be a duplex, or be a duplex with a detached ADU, or be a triplex if on a corner – and have a bonus unit if considered “affordable” for renters…or for providing an “accessible” unit…or internally converting an existing or historic house.

The anticipated result, if these proposed new rules go into effect, is expected to be an average of two duplexes or ADUs per block in SMILE, if this middle housing were distributed uniformly over the entire city. Because the Sellwood-Westmoreland neighborhood is popular, there could be a lot more.

There are more details; this is just a quick overview. Mr. Schoellhamer summarizes the following list of City resources for those who wish to examine this compromise proposal further:

1) Visit http://residentialinfill.participate.online – this is an “online open house” and you can fill out an online questionnaire and leave comments. The most important information is in the house size, height/setbacks, and “housing types” tabs. He suggests you start here.

2) Download a 20-page booklet that contains more details than the online open house: http://residentialinfill.participate.online/Media/Default/images/Documents/RIP_Booklet_FINAL_061316.pdf – the online open house has links to this booklet, if you don’t want to type all of that into your browser!

3) Download a two-page summary sheet about the proposal at: http://www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/article/533961.

4) Attend a Residential Infill Project open house. There will be such an open house at SMILE Station (S.E. 13th at Tenino, a block south of Tacoma Street) on Saturday, July 30, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon, which will provide information and the opportunity to fill out a questionnaire and make comments. A complete schedule of open houses may be found at: http://residentialinfill.participate.online.

Our thanks to Mr. Schoellhamer for his help in alerting you to all this, here in THE BEE.


Letters to the Editor

Safer cars, but more road mayhem

Editor,

Today’s automobiles might, as you claim, be the safest ever. Unfortunately, that has not created more safety for road users. In Oregon, we have year-over-year increases in automobile related fatalities without a corresponding increase in miles driven.

Speed is the main cause of automobile related fatalities – not including automobile pollution related deaths which, by the way, more than doubles the figure of total fatalities.

Traffic engineers know that that the likelihood of dying goes up exponentially based on speed of travel. It is also known that a pedestrian's chance of death is only 1 in 20 if hit by a vehicle going 20-mph, it jumps to well over 1 in 3 at 30-mph, and nearly 9 in 10 if hit by a vehicle doing 40-mph.

Every month THE BEE has stories of automobile-related mayhem. I, for one, truly appreciate this reporting because it rarely make the news anywhere else, and is typically invisible to us in our daily lives. Seeing these stories over and over should remind us of the insanity of our transportation system but, sadly, it only seems to bother a few of us.

We shouldn't expect human beings to stop making mistakes any time soon, of course, so we need to engineer and require safer, slower speeds in our neighborhoods. It is well past time we put safety ahead of speed. I believe there can be no justification otherwise.

Dan Kaufman
S.E. Sherrett, Sellwood



Social medium is ostracizing people

Editor,

Over the past year I have corresponded with several people who have been “removed” from Nextdoor (the on-line local “social media” exchange). Some were reinstated, but most have been permanently banned from the site, including having all their past posts taken down. You would assume these people were kicked off for being offensive, rude, hateful, causing problems between others, etc. Unfortunately, that has not been the case.  Many of those neighbors were devastated and completely in the dark as to WHY they had been removed.

First, let’s mention that Nextdoor actually has a rule saying that you can be removed for “criticizing” Nextdoor, with the definition of “criticize” being at the sole discretion of Nextdoor. Additionally, the act of “flagging” a post has been used repeated and successfully as a tool to silence opposition and debate. The flags are anonymously done, with no reason for the flagging ever disclosed.  These two practices appear to be a disturbing distain for “full disclosure” and a complete lack of “desire to improve through critical feedback”. Recently I became the latest (but I’m sure not the last) to be expelled – and again, all my previous posts have disappeared. I could mount a convincing campaign of how egregious my removal was, but that is not the point of this letter.

The next action taken by Nextdoor brought a chilling wave of “North Korean déjà vu”.  While my husband can still log in to Nextdoor, he has no access to see any of the neighbors, he is unable to post any messages or ask for help or respond to posts, and his past posts have also been removed from the site. Without any cause whatsoever, my husband is apparently being punished for my own perceived “infringement”. I don’t know about you but I’m starting to be a little uncomfortable with this kind of unseen power to censure and “disappear” even a potential dissenting opinion.

Renee Daphne
Sellwood

EDITOR’S NOTE: We are informed that Nextdoor is an attempt to found a successful Internet business, and that the next step will be to sell advertising directed to those who are members. Otherwise, it seems to be relatively “under the radar” within the social media community.


clay cherub, stolen, Sellwood
A photo of the missing clay cherub.

Theft in Sellwood

Editor,

A little after midnight on June 14, we had a theft on our property. There were at two people who took part in this, as they were driving two older-model two-passenger pickup trucks. One truck was white and I believe the other was maroon. As we turned the corner to go home, we noticed our neighbor out on the road, on her cell phone, standing fairly close to one of these trucks. At this time, they were parked in front of St. John the Baptist Church on 16th Avenue, between Nehalem and Spokane Street in Sellwood. At the time, we thought they were having vehicle problems, and that one was pulling the other, as they were parked very close together. One of the drivers was standing outside of the truck, and I believe he had blondish hair and was roughly in his mid 50's. He was slender build and possibly about 5'8" tall.

Anyway, as we were parking and exiting our car, our neighbor came over (after the two trucks were already gone) and told us that they just stolen some of our cedar tree logs from our freshly cut cedar tree, and also stole property from the church. In the morning of the 14th, when my mom went outside, she noticed that a clay cherub which sat upon our fountain was also missing. We live at the corner of 16th and Spokane Street. Our neighbor tried to get their license number to give to the 911 dispatcher, however, the trucks had turned their lights off. A police officer came out, we talked to him, and he then searched the area for both of these trucks, but apparently did not find them. If anything, my mom would really love to have her cherub back. She has had it since we've been here and we look forward to seeing it welcome us each day.

Is this what has become of our little quaint, quiet neighborhood? Please be vigilant, and say something if you see something unsettling or not right.

Jacqueline Henry
via e-mail

Questionable charity…?

Editor,

I was reading THE BEE when I noticed an article about the Gaia Project. I realized that I had recently read about this supposed non-profit and its ties to Tvind in Denmark, an organization under investigation for embezzlement and tax evasion. Readers may want to know that Gaia keeps 96% of the sales of the clothing and spends less than 2% on educational programs. Charity Watch gives them an F. There's a Wikipedia article, and other corroborating articles in the Chicago Tribune and other newspapers as well.

Carol Burnell
via e-mail

EDITOR’S NOTE: Rita Leonard, the correspondent who wrote the article about the local branch of the organization, responds:

I’ve seen these green bins in several places in the neighborhood, and always wondered what they represented. During a walk, I noticed a warehouse at S.E. 24th and Cora Street that appeared to be their headquarters. I got my information for the BEE article online from www.gaia-movement-usa.org, from Wikipedia, and from a telephone conversation with Kevin Escobar, Oregon Operations Manager.

Ms. Burnell’s cited Wikipedia article does indeed indicate that “charity watchdog groups have challenged the organization's charitable claims, citing a lack of spending on environmental or other programs”. However, my intent in writing the article was to give a little background on the local organization – which does indeed recycle donated used clothing and shoes. Since I write for THE BEE and only sought to report on what was happening here in the Brooklyn neighborhood involving this organization, I was not intending an “exposé” piece. However, Ms. Burnell’s letter certainly adds to the conversation.

Rita A. Leonard

 

Eastmoreland Historic District plans advance

Editor,

This is a short update on the progress on the Eastmoreland historic district.

In February, the [Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association] Board approved a proposal from the land use committee to start down the path towards a historic designation for Eastmoreland. We were convinced that this was the best solution to protect the urban tree canopy, prevent unnecessary demolitions, protect the historic character of Eastmoreland, and, last but not least, our investments in existing homes.

In May, we held an initial community meeting at the Duniway School to educate folks on the proposal, and gauge public response. The public response was overwhelmingly positive to a very professional several-hour-long presentation. Since then we have received a great deal of feedback – primarily positive, but also some in opposition. This is to be expected in any community endeavor.

Last week we approved the next phase of the project which is to research the boundary and character of the district. We would hope that the entire residential area of Eastmoreland is included. This will take the work of a number of professionals and many volunteers over the summer.

The land use team will be at the 4th of July festivities and at another event the first week in September. We also plan to arrange another history walk of Eastmoreland, and to create a website with full and up-to-date information.

When the research is substantially complete – later in the summer – the work will tell us where the historic district boundary should be drawn and provide a narrative of the defining characteristics that will shape our design guidelines. We plan to conduct a poll in October to see whether we have a mandate to move forward.

The historic district will have both costs and benefits. The benefits will include protection from inconsistent uses – like hulking structures that block solar access and eliminate trees and lawns. Demolition of homes identified as having historic character will be avoided. There will also be a review process for major external alterations. We don’t expect that the district will include standards for everyday things like paint, however.

We are working hard to make sure that everyone gets a say. There will be more emails, social media, lawn signs, and meetings as the research proceeds, and we find out if this is a good plan for Eastmoreland and its residents. In the end we want to make sure that we are protecting the environmental and land use values that we all hold dear.

For details on meetings and materials, watch our website and Facebook pages, attend the meetings, and call or write either me or the chairs of the land use committee.

Robert McCullough, Chair
Eastmoreland Neighborhood Assn.


Stolen dog, pit bull, Athena
A photo of the stolen dog, Athena.

Stolen dog in Southeast

Editor,

Hi, my name is Keysa Lawrence and I am sending this e-mail to you on behalf of my sister. Friday night, June 3, her beloved 3-year-old grey and white Pitbull named Athena was stolen. My sister and her boyfriend believe that the man who took her was homeless, and just wanted a companion pet. Many pets have gone missing in the last few months, and I want to spread the word that this type of thing is happening more frequently in Inner Southeast Portland.

In this case, our dog got out of the yard, and neighbors saw her taken by a guy on a bike dressed in all black; he was around 5’7”, with black close-shaved hair, white but very tanned, with brown eyes, and very thin. She was last spotted around S.E. 87th and Foster, and the man taking her was apparently headed for the Foster MAX stop.

There was a lead on the guy who had her, but he claims she's been dead for some time. So now we're working to either find her body, or bring her home alive if she is still out there. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Keysa Lawrence
503/758-1836




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All letters to the editor are subject to editing for clarity and available space, and all letters become property of THE BEE.


Obituary
Freddie Lee Floyd
Freddie Lee Floyd, as seen in his Marine uniform around 1972.

Freddie Lee Floyd

April 26, 1953 – June 2, 2016

Freddie Lee Floyd was born on April 26, 1953 to Fred and Margaret Floyd in Ennis, Texas. He moved with his family to the Mount Scott Park area of Southeast Portland at age 10 in 1963. He attended Marysville Grade School and Marshall High School, joining the U.S. Marines on august 26, 1971. He was married to Kathy Stiles of Northeast Portland, a graduate of Grant High School, in 1972 while he was in the service. He received an honorary medical discharge on December 31, 1973, and left the Marines with a National Defense Service Medal and a Good Conduct Medal.

Upon his return to Portland, Freddie joined the U.S. Postal Service, and subsequently was hired by Precision Castparts on S.E. Johnson Creek Boulevard. Later in his life, he made jewelry. He was a natural athlete, and was well known in Southeast Portland for playing table tennis and pool; he won several Portland tournaments. He loved baseball, and played in local leagues. Coaching his children’s Little League teams later in life made him proud. He played football on the U.S. Marines team; and, in fact, it was an injury suffered while playing that led to his discharge. 

Freddie died on June 2, 2016, in Portland, of liver failure. Although he was divorced from his wife Kathy in 1996, she remained part of the family, and was with him at his bedside when he died, along with his daughter Julie Floyd. Freddie is also survived by two brothers, Thomas A. Floyd and David W. Floyd; by his son Jeremy Floyd; and by four grandchildren. Freddie was cremated, and his ashes are to be scattered at a later date. An informal Celebration of Life is scheduled at 2 p.m. on July 30, 2016, at Red's Bar and Grill, 7025 S.E. Foster Road in Southeast Portland.


 


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