More opinions on Eastmoreland “Historical District”
In the latest issue of the Eastmoreland newsletter, Robert McCullough argues that putting the neighborhood into a national historic district would “preserve the character of the area” with little cost to current residents. He might have a point about the costs: Historic designation would be cost-free for some people – like him. You see, in an historic district, it’s very difficult and sometimes impossible to make changes to the outside of your home. Exterior changes are generally prohibited. But McCullough isn’t planning any changes of that sort. It’s “unthinkable,” he says, to alter the look of his “Jameson [sic] Parker”-designed house. And he’s already built an “accessory unit” in back, demolishing the existing structure, so he could build something much larger – a two-story, two-car, combined garage and office. He's now content with how his house looks and functions – at least on the outside. So he needn’t worry about the restrictions that historic designation would impose on remodeling and re-landscaping.
Life in an historic district would not be so pleasant for everyone else in the neighborhood. If you live there and are still planning some home improvements, as your family grows, an ailing parent moves in, or you save enough for your home office, you should be concerned – very concerned – about historic designation. The restrictions on exterior changes would, of course, limit your ability to make interior changes as well. How do you add a bedroom upstairs, if you can’t adjust the roof line? Enlarge the breakfast nook, if you can’t move an outside wall? Turn your garage into a garage-office combo, if you can’t make the structure bigger overall?
Even when exterior changes are possible, you still have to go through a “review” process with the city to make sure your plan complies with the district’s new “design standards”, which are rules about style that, in at least one Portland historic district, go so far as to regulate house colors. Those rules might not suit your taste, even if they please the eyes of people who appreciate a really good Jamieson Parker.The review process could take a long time – maybe months, if the city, a neighbor, or the neighborhood association doesn’t like what you’ve got planned and lodges objections. And it could get be expensive too. For example, if your old garage "contributes" to the historic district – and, being old, it probably does – the fees for review of plans to replace it with a new structure – to do what McCullough did – would be over $8,902, according to the city official in charge. And the plan would probably be turned down. The odds of that are so great that the same official “strongly advises” people not even to try to get permission to replace a “contributing” garage.
Make no mistake about it, historic designation would not be painless for everyone in Eastmoreland. It might be for those who've already fixed up their homes, but not for others. There might be winners, but there would be losers.
I live in Eastmoreland and have enjoyed THE BEE for the 35-plus years I’ve been here. I am glad to hear that the ENA and critics of the proposed Historical Neighborhood plan can talk to each other in a civilized way [Sept. BEE, front page].
But I find the arguments that the critics put forward are mainly based on ignorance of what would really happen. I was particularly interested in the letter [to the editor] by Chris Chen [Sept. BEE] about his house – the former Little Store. His description of all the work he did to make it a house is wonderful, but I doubt that men with clipboards would descend on it, demanding huge sums for review [as he feared]. Houses have changed over the years, and it is that variety that we cherish in Eastmoreland.
I love the light rail station atop the Bybee Bridge. But nobody wants a neon orange house next to them, or an apartment house in the neighborhood, or narrow homes crammed together with no space in between. Those who have followed Robert McCullough’s efforts to get zoning from the City Council will understand his concern. He spent a lot of time and effort trying to get proper zoning, and finally the Historic District seemed to be the only way to ensure that our neighborhood would remain a neighborhood.
Developers have only one basic interest – to make money. And if they can do that by tearing down an old house on a large lot and replacing it with two or three quickly-built houses, that’s what they’ll do. That’s their job.
Our job is to continue to have a neighborhood where people want to live as neighbors, and where we have pride in our houses and property. Let’s find out what being in an Historic District really means.
Crystal Springs Blvd.
A letter to the editor in the September BEE from Stuart Campbell, in support of the proposed Eastmoreland historic district, was not accurate on one key point. Mr. Campbell apparently supports the proposed historic district as a bulwark against the perceived ills of Portland’s draft residential infill project. He believes this City project will cause Eastmoreland to “become an experiment in residential densification” by allowing “multifamily buildings” and “townhouses.” He is wrong about what the draft infill project would allow.
I was a member of the City’s Residential Infill Project Stakeholder Advisory Committee, which helped develop the proposal. I am also a resident of Eastmoreland. While the city staff has presented a proposal to allow smaller and attached housing types (for example, duplexes, triplexes, additional accessory dwelling units, and courtyard apartments) in parts of some single family neighborhoods (those areas closest to transit corridor and stations), it does NOT propose these for Eastmoreland. In fact, the ONLY recommendation the city staff is proposing that would impact all of Eastmoreland – and all other single family neighborhoods – is one that presumably Mr. Stuart and others advocating for an historic district would strongly support: The proposal would significantly limit the height and size of any new houses or remodels, so they will be consistent with a neighborhood’s character and lot sizes. The size and height limitations address head-on the concerns that committee members heard about the scale of new housing and large remodels. The proposal details can be found [online] at: http://www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/article/580581
The infill project is not a reason to support the historic district; in fact, the residential infill project eliminates one reason given for the historic district: The size of new homes. Residents of Eastmoreland are gathering information, talking with their neighbors, and drawing their own conclusions about the merits of having the neighborhood designated as a National historic district. For this to be a meaningful process, it is critical that we all have accurate information.
Mary Kyle McCurdy
My husband and I bought our home in Eastmoreland in 2012 after saving and dreaming for a family home. Unfortunately, in July of 2014, the beautiful English cottage next door to us was bought by Level 3 Homes, and demolished. Developers [had] posed as a family, and the home was placed in a dumpster. Unfortunately, this is not a unique story.
We have watched next door as two years of gross negligence in building has taken place. The framing sat for an entire winter season, bombarded by water. The roof and windows were open for another year. Two to ten workers came intermittently, without proper safety equipment, labeled trucks, or full building crews. A dumpster sat on the street for six months. On a typical day, there were up to ten cars parked on the street. There were multiple times the police were called due to disagreements between workers and Level 3 management. Profanity was common (with the owner of Level 3 yelling at both my husband and myself), as was smoking, mostly in front of our property. The home was broken into two months ago. For the last two years, twice per week, the “Honey Bucket” was emptied, blocking traffic.
The new home is closer than five feet from our property (minimum set back), but the City of Portland signed off on the plans. Worst of all, when we arrived home from a birthday party last year, the framers had cut down 20-year-old arbor vitae trees that straddled our shared property line. In the back of the property, a 20 foot tall laurel was cut, stripping another home of their private back yard.
We are thankful for a beautiful neighborhood with lovely friends and an excellent school. I support the Historic District because our home is our dream, but our dream home has significantly changed due to a demolition [next door]. Indeed, Level 3 Homes is not an average developer (the home is still not complete, as of 26 months from project start), but I write to others to inform of our story, and for support of the Eastmoreland Historic District.
S.E. Reed College Place
There are “trash angels” here
We've been “maintaining” the area under the bridge over Johnson Creek on Umatilla Street for a couple of years now, but it’s gotten soooo much worse. I actually found my first needle ever about two months ago. Before I left for a week’s vacation last month, I spent several hours housekeeping there; hauling a single mattress out of the creek up on the rocks so it could dry, doing the same with an old sleeping bag, piling up the “useable” stuff and metal to be taken separately, hauling out about four bags of trash and making arrangements for Abandoned Shopping Cart Retrieval (1-888/552-2787) to pick up the three abandoned shopping carts also.
I left for the week with a silent wish that everything would disappear while I was gone (I can dream can't I?). Well, I’m here to report, wishes get granted, and “trash angels” do exist. I came home to find EVERYTHING, down to the tiniest gum wrapper, had been cleared out. No one seems to know who is responsible, other than “a group of volunteers”, but I would like to send them a hearty THANK YOU for making a dream come true, and getting rid of stuff I had no idea how to move. Bless all their gracious hearts.
Renee Daphne Kimball
Southeast neighborhoods prepare for disaster
Neighbors throughout Brooklyn and Eastmoreland have been meeting to learn how to get their households ready to make it through a major disaster, and to plan for helping each other effectively afterwards. Neighbors report that discussions have been lively and that they have appreciated not only what they have learned but also the opportunity to better connect with neighbors. Brooklyn resident Maggie McSwiggen says, “It’s so much less overwhelming to get prepared when you can do it together with neighbors.”
The program is sponsored by the Brooklyn Action Corps and Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association. Coordinators Liz Bryant from Brooklyn and Jaci Mull and Jessica Kemmis from Eastmoreland schedule trained presenters to lead two 90-minute discussion sessions at the host’s convenience. Jaci says, “The main point of this program, for me, is making connections with neighbors and having each other's backs. That's invaluable whether the next big earthquake happens tomorrow or long after we are all gone.”
To sign up to host your block or apartment neighbors, or just for more information, e-mail: email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org, with your address, phone number, and which month you think you would like to host. The program runs through December.
The first session will help you think about all the “What ifs”, and plan with your household for any emergency. The second session addresses gathering supplies needed to “Go” or “Stay” where you are, in the event of disaster. You and your neighbors will also learn how to plan to help each other after a disaster, and to keep maintaining and improving your block’s preparedness. In the end you will have a plan and be ready for anything!
EDITOR’S NOTE: Sellwood and Westmoreland have already hosted similar programs, and SMILE and Woodstock also have ongoing preparation trainings of this nature. With a huge earthquake in the future a certainty, such steps are wise and necessary. “NET teams” exist in most Southeast neighborhoods for this purpose. Whichever neighborhood you live in, seek out those planning these steps there. In the event of a major emergency, outside help is often a long time coming.
CHS school tour and reception to celebrate school’s century
Calling all alumni of Commerce/Cleveland High School! As part of the school’s 100-year celebration, here’s an opportunity for another look at your old classrooms, and places where you used to hang out all day! The school tour and reception will be on Saturday, October 15, from 1 to 3 p.m. If you are interested in attending please contact Nancy Carr at 1-916/202-7132, or by e-mail at: email@example.com. That will allow us to have enough tour guides ready to lead tours that afternoon.
CHS Class of 1963
Cultural experiences recommended
As a parent, I find the diminishing arts and cultural education in our city's schools depressing. Conversely, I am pleased to find many wonderful supplemental programs – for kids, parents, and all adults – encouraging. In surveying the landscape of cultural, art and heritage, I wanted to share some information with my neighbors in the Southeast about a jewelbox of a museum and cultural center that is under the radar, and worth a visit.
I wanted to share two quite interesting events coming up at the small but impressive Hellenic-American Cultural Center & Museum (HACCM). Portland has a deep history of Greek immigrants (including the Greek immigrant artist behind our beloved Lovejoy Columns).
The first HACCM item is an up-close exhibit and a fascinating look at how traditional Greek clothing was influenced by the rich cultures of the many people who traveled there – and where clothing was symbolic and where garments and accessories contained expressions of faith, mementos of history and emblems of those who wore them. It is an extraordinary up-close representation of dress spanning time, circumstance, and location, touching the range of human experience. The free exhibit, “A Voyage Through Greece: Traditional Dress of the Hellenes” is running now through year-end – and students, educators, and other groups can book a docent-led tour.
The second must-attend is a rare two-day celebration and background covering Smryna, Asia Minor, and Greece. From Piraeus to Portland will include a performance by the esteemed musical group, Christos Govetas & Drómeno (music will span Asia Minor, Rebetika, and mainland Greece). Historical and rare instruments such as the oud, bouzouki, kanonaki, laouto, defi, and doumbeleki will be featured in their performance, and Mr. Govetas will share a lecture to kick things off. This event is scheduled November 19, and a screening of a film describing the destruction of Smryna is booked at HACCM the day prior, November 18.
We are fortunate to have this treasure of a cultural center and museum in our community, and I encourage our neighbors to enjoy this sneak peek to our shared cultural history. The Hellenic-American Cutural Center & Museum of Oregon and Southwest Washington is on the grounds of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 3131 N.E. Glisan. Tickets and other info can be found by contacting them at: HACCMPDX@gmail.com, or by phone: 503/858-8567.