Letter carrier says goodbye
Just a message to all my friends, colleagues and the folks on the streets of Sellwood: It’s been my pleasure becoming friends with all of you, and meeting generations of families that I consider part of my own.
Recently, I needed to take a leave from the Post Office a bit early, which was not an easy decision to make. After these 42 years as your postman, I am feeling a bit lost without my friends (even my furry ones) that I made along the way. It’s been quite an adjustment not seeing everyone, and being unable to bid a proper farewell.
I wanted to say to those I have not seen, that it’s been very rewarding and meaningful being a part of the special community that Sellwood is. Thank you for all the Holiday treats and good wishes. If you would like to keep in touch I would love to hear from any of you. My address is: 9924 S.W. 31st Avenue, Portland, OR 97219.
Be well all,
Remembers windstorm of November 13, 1981
We read with great interest Eric Norberg’s May editorial (“The Really BIG Windstrom Everyone Here Has Forgotton”). This storm certainly left memories for us: We live in the Clackamas area, at about 300 feet ASL. We were startled awake by a single, huge "Whoosh!" outside, and upon looking out, we could see shingles flying off our backyard barn. The streetlight allowed us to see a bale of straw explode in the garden, and shards of straw – as well as the roof, tree limbs and other debris – fly past the windows horizontally. We lost several fruit tree limbs, as well as much of the barn roof in this storm. Truly, a “night to remember!”
Jim and Debbie Ellis
BEE article inspires letter to City Council
A letter, sent to our city officials, was provoked by an article in your April issue. My wife and I live here in Westmoreland. We, and a number of our neighbors, are agitated and troubled by the seeming rush toward “building boom opportunities”. This, as Portland attempts to prepare for a major influx of new residents. Inasmuch as your newspaper incited my fervor, here’s a copy of the letter:
“Many of us, and our families, have lived here in Portland for years, if not all our lives, and we love our neighborhoods. . . Recently we have been troubled by the city’s position and actions taken with regards to construction – specifically, concerning multiple family dwelling units: Apartments or condominiums. . .
“For the last few years, the city has moved rapidly with permit issuance that allows construction of large multi-unit dwelling structures that provide little to no off-street parking. This . . . will create all kinds of traffic problems [such as] crowding or blocking homeowners’ access to parking near their home; violation of property owners’ rights for cars parked in non-allowed places; and unnecessary accidents fueled by dense, competitive parking. In general, a mess! . . .
“The City of Portland needs to stop this kind of craziness, and do a better job of assessing the impacts of granting such construction. The powers-that-be here in Portland long ago dropped the ball on highway planning, and today, we are in the throes of a mushrooming traffic nightmare that is only getting worse. The City of Portland AND the developers and/or contractors planning such construction can’t turn their backs on such issues.
“The people of Portland need and deserve a responsible City County and Bureau of Development Services in issuing [such] permits, guided by a sense of what has made Portland so livable up until now, and making [wise] choices [to retain that livability] as we look towards our future.”
Unhappy about cut-through traffic
I am a local resident crossing the Sellwood Bridge every morning. I read with rage your article about bridge traffic in the last edition [May] of THE BEE. Compared to the old bridge, the new bridge adds 10 and 15 minutes of commute time.
Do we really need more experts, more meetings and more data analysis to figure out the issue? Why aren’t the experts questioning the traffic light at the end of Tacoma, the most obvious before/after difference? Get rid of the traffic light, put a roundabout with yield signs and traffic will flow again.
Thanks – from Sellwood Middle School
I would like to express my gratitude to the Sellwood community for responding to my request for help after the Sellwood Middle School marimba trailer was stolen. The GoFundMe drive was successful, and a new trailer has been purchased. Custom shelving will be built in the next few weeks.
Thank you to THE BEE for helping make the community aware of this situation and making this fundraiser possible.
Come hear Sellwood Marimba, and see the new trailer, on Sunday, June 25th, at the Eastmoreland Garage Sale!
Math Teacher & Marimba Band Teacher
Sellwood Middle School
Discouraged about diesel
Next time you hear someone call Oregon an environmental leader – Call Nonsense! Next time you hear someone call Oregon progressive and eco-conscious – Call Nonsense! Maybe we used to be? Now we can't even keep pace. California and Washington have already enforced clean diesel to protect air quality and asthma levels in children. California and Washington have already put a price on carbon and created a Cap and Trade marketplace to encourage decreasing fossil fuel usage. Oregon just killed both bills in our legislature, again. With a "Democratic" majority, by the way. Our state doesn't care that we're not keeping pace with decreasing our greenhouse gas emissions. Our state doesn't care that climate change is already wreaking havoc worldwide with lots more on the way. Our state doesn't care that citizens want this change. It ain't gonna happen. Do we have a self-preservation instinct anymore, or empathy? If we can't get these basic things passed here, what hope do we have for the rest of the country? Let's stop calling ourselves environmental leaders.
Background of ENA Historic District proposal
There has been a flood of information and passionate advocacy on both sides of the debate about the Historic District in Eastmoreland. In spite of the strong feelings that exist both pro and con, in my opinion this is not a black-and-white issue. As a Board Member, and someone who has friends in the neighborhood who fall on both sides of this question, I have a few observations I would like to make.
First, the decision by the Board to pursue the idea of a Historic District was a long time in the making. Before I became a member of the ENA board, I attended many ENA meetings where the question of Historic District was brought up at least six years ago by neighbors who were concerned about demolitions as well as zoning in our neighborhood. Neighbors wanted to know what the board was doing about these issues, and [an] historic district was posed by many different individuals. I know, from attending both ENA Board meetings as well as City Council and BPS meetings, that this was not a Board-driven decision to pursue HD; rather it was the Board’s response to a complex set of issues, and a decision that the board has never taken lightly.
To step back a bit, I think we need to recognize that Eastmoreland is only one of many neighborhoods grappling with the issues of density and infill. The City as a whole (in expecting 200,000 more people moving here in the near future) is asking what path we will take in response to this rapid rate of growth. This conversation is one we all should be engaged in; it is our right as Oregonians and as stewards of our environment to be involved in this debate. It is our obligation as neighborhood associations and as Board Members to participate with the City, the County and the State to act in good faith to represent our neighborhood.
Second, as I look around Portland, it seems to me that the character of all of our Inner Southeast neighborhoods is changing in a way in which residents are being left out of the decision making process of growth and infill. This is where the issue of control comes in, and where I see a commonality of message that people on both sides of the debate have. We all want to have control over the kind of environment we live in, both immediate and state-wide; that’s why this debate is so important.
We all know that there are examples of thoughtful development and infill which have occurred in our immediate area. Not every demolition is a bad thing; sometimes houses must be torn down and replaced. I believe most homeowners in Eastmoreland support a reasonable mix of “preservation” and change. But the problem is that we face a monolithic effort by the Residential Infill Project, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, City Council, and the Homebuilders Association to (in the words of the Home Builders Association of Portland in 2015) engage in “aggressive redevelopment”.
|What does “aggressive redevelopment” mean? More big box apartment buildings with no parking? Fewer single family homes with gardens and trees? More row houses with driveways which dwarf their token landscaping? Increasing corporate ownership of property in our neighborhoods? The fact that the Home Builders Association of Portland is teaming up with local bureaucrats and lobbyists to rescind all Historic Districts in the State of Oregon (HB 2007) should be a wakeup call to all of us. This is a perfect storm of Eminent Domain and Corporate Greed.
The developers who oppose our Historic District have a lot to lose if it passes; their motivation is profit. The motivation of the ENA Board is to preserve our neighborhood character – not just the houses but the green spaces, the family livability, and the ability of homeowners to have a say in what does or does not get destroyed.
I believe that many of our humble, traditional homes deserve as much advocacy as the million dollar homes which threaten to demolish them to extinction. And I believe these decisions should be made by local homeowners, not a coalition of developers and City bureaucrats who seek to influence the fate of Historic Districts in our neighborhood and in our state.
ENA Board Member
S.E. 30th Avenue
Eastmoreland “Historic District”: Pause it?
Some people in my neighborhood have put up lawn signs saying “Save Eastmoreland . . . Support the [Proposed] Historic District.” I find that message ironic because, whether a district is created or not, the neighborhood might already be lost.
A neighborhood is not just a collection of houses that might (or might not) be preserved by historic designation. A neighborhood is, first and foremost, the people in the houses and how they interact. A good neighborhood is one where the people are friendly, helpful, considerate, and welcoming – in a word, neighborly. And lately Eastmoreland has been anything but neighborly. The proposed historic district has sharply divided us, and the debate has turned rancorous, with lots of name-calling, innuendo, rumor-mongering, and, in some cases, fabrication (e.g., Keep Eastmoreland Free, an anti-district group, appears to be a front for developers).
Discussion in online forums, like Next Door, has become toxic, and it must be worse in private email and behind-the-back conversations. (Fair disclosure: I regret the tone of some e-mails I’ve sent.)
And consider this: Recently, two of our neighbors, both of Korean descent, were working in their yard by their anti-district sign, when a passerby, someone they didn't know, regarded the sign and then called out: “You don't belong here.” Let’s assume he didn’t realize how that remark could be received, it still wasn’t nice.
Whichever side wins this battle might find, in the end, that it lost the war. The victors might have what they want – an historic district (or no historic district). But the hard feelings will endure. The losers will be disappointed, and everyone will be embittered.
So I suggest that we call it quits before it’s too late. “Press pause” on the historic-district nomination and see if we can find consensus on some other way forward. Not historic designation, but also not doing nothing.
I expect that we all have the same goals: preserve the tree canopy; reduce the size and scale of new houses; maintain the character of the neighborhood, which includes both old and new architecture; and, to the greatest extent possible, leave people free to fix up their house to serve the needs of their families.
I don't worry that we won’t find common ground. I worry about the consequences of not even looking for it.
S.E. 31st Avenue
Like me, you may be unsure about this Historic District (HD) which has divided the neighborhood. Neighbors are angry and upset over this decision which can define Eastmoreland forever.
I can see the benefits of a Historic District but an increasing number of us are concerned that if this becomes final in a few weeks, the rift between neighbors will only become greater.
But we don’t have to make a Yes or No decision right now. We can put the HD application on hold, to give us time to draw the neighborhood together. According to experts, the process can be started again in a few months without losing any of the work that has gone into its preparation.
This pause will give us time to get more information, which include some new initiatives being proposed at the city and state level which may make a Historic District unnecessary. Wouldn't that be wonderful?
And most of all, it will give us time to pull everyone together. A large number of neighbors are understandably upset that the results of a recent poll showed the majority of respondents were against the HD. Their concerns need to be recognized.
So here's what I’m asking – Just Hit Pause.
Each homeowner needs to file an objection to the Historic District, which will stop the application. Then together we can restart the process in a few months, if that's what we decide.
Each homeowner would need to file an objection to the Historic District, which would stop the application. Then together we can restart the process in a few months, if that’s what we decide.
To file your objection, go online – http://www.pausethehd.com – for more information.
Last month, I submitted a letter regarding my disgust over the tactic of Eastmoreland historic district opponents calling its supporters racists and elitists. As we draw closer to a decision by the National Park Service over Eastmoreland’s historic district designation, I hear more and more neighbors expressing their frustration over the divisiveness and ugliness of the HD debate. Many people are ready to move on, but the fact is that there are a lot of people that want the HD and also a lot of people that don’t. There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground, which means that there are going to be a whole lot of disappointed people when this is over.
I think we can all tolerate disappointment. But what we shouldn’t tolerate is name calling, baseless accusations, and innuendo targeted at half (at least) of Eastmoreland neighbors. I continue to read about HD opponents casting supporters as NIMBYs and wanting an HD as a means of excluding others from Eastmoreland. There is nothing inherently exclusionary about the historic district and there is zero evidence to back up those claims.
To the contrary, the evidence we do have suggests that current development practices are responsible for driving home prices up by replacing the smaller, more vulnerable homes with larger, more expensive ones. I, for one, do not appreciate the suggestion that I am racist and seek to keep anyone out of the neighborhood. Yet, this theme continues. Another Eastmoreland resident who opposes the HD recently described a scenario in another Portland periodical that two Korean-American Eastmoreland residents were told “You don’t belong here”. Under any circumstances this is inappropriate and we shouldn’t condone this behavior no matter who is responsible. But the implication here was that the person who uttered those words was an HD-supporter. Residents who favor the HD or historic preservation generally are no more prone to racism than those opposed, but that’s not the way this situation was presented.
The intent here, I believe, is to perpetuate the narrative of racism, elitism, NIMBYism, or whatever you want to call it solely to influence people to oppose the historic district. The irony is that the opinion piece that described the event above extols the virtues of being neighborly and finding common ground. But implying your neighbors who have a different ideology about the historic district are racist is anything but neighborly.
Perhaps this is why our recent ENA Board elections had the outcome they did. A group of neighbors calling for a “Fresh Start” claimed to want to bring the neighborhood together and help heal the rift. But the first real act of many of these candidates and some other residents was to submit a demand letter to the ENA Board and call for their overthrow. Instead of following the democratic process to elect a subset of new board members, they called for the hostile takeover of the whole thing. I don’t think this is very neighborly and it appears the neighborhood agreed as they elected candidates whose words and actions were consistent with bringing neighbors together.
In the remaining month, it sure would be nice to see an end to these dirty tactics and instead try to engage in an honest, fact-based discussion with our neighbors. Have the courtesy of giving your neighbors the truth and let them decide about the historic district for themselves without resorting to the sort of name-calling and divisiveness you claim to want to stop.
Recently Eastmoreland used city funds to help run a poll . . . The discussion about historic districts and this action in THE BEE have encouraged me to think a lot about the topic. I have come to the very obvious conclusion that the district is not about preservation so much as it is simply an anti-development tool. If we are honest there is nothing special about Eastmoreland. Even within this city there exists several neighborhoods with similar architectural character. Expanded to the rest of the country they are everywhere, in almost any town and city that had at one point a wealthy upperclass.
When I think of a reason a historic district exists I think of things that are truly special and unique. Oak Park, Illinois, and Savannah, Georgia, come to mind. In each of these cases the historic district is a reason people visit the area. It is because, in the example of Oak Park, that this is the only place in the country to find such a density of Frank Lloyd Wright designed homes. When visiting there you will find pamphlets on places to go. Tours abound and often times random people will help themselves to back yard views of private residences (I know because I have a friend who lived in one of those houses which had this exact thing happen). These historic districts are a part of the local economy as they are the main driver of tourism. That tourism is in some small way a cost born by those living in the district.
Our historic districts share none of those traits. No one travels to Portland for a tour of Irvington or Eastmoreland. Those neighborhoods do not add to the tourism economy. Thus those living in historic districts get the benefits they want, mostly anti-development protection, without any costs. Some may say there is in that there exists fees to remodel their homes. And that is true to a degree. Often times, and I know from firsthand experience, homeowners do not in fact seek out permits for smaller jobs and instead ask carpenters to be discreet and deceptive about their purpose at their house.
I think it is time that the city council makes an effort to capture the costs of protection from development. It is a burden, however small, that the rest of us have to pay. So I suggest one of two things or both. First every home with historic designation must be open to the public a number of days a year. Second there should exist a fee to these houses. I would suggest a yearly $5,000 fee for every home in an historic district. Those funds can then be directed towards housing vouchers or affordable housing grants.
If the city council does not wish to do this as I suspect, given the disproportionate political influence of the residents living in these neighborhoods, then a ballot initiative of some sort should move forward.
EDITOR’S NOTE: It appears to us that Mr. DuBois equates historic districts with boosting tourism. That is an interesting definition. It should be pointed out that Eastmoreland has already met the state definition for an historic district, since the relevant state commission has already approved it. Perhaps, then, any ballot initiative or legislation suggested should be done at the state level, to reset the bar for historic districts.
100th anniversary for Eastmoreland Golf Course
Eastmoreland Golf Course is turning 100 years old in 2018, and a newly-formed “Eastmoreland 100 Project” will host a kick-off picnic on Wednesday, June 28th, from 4 to 9 p.m. at the Eastmoreland Golf Course Clubhouse, 2425 S.E. Bybee Boulevard. Eastmoreland Golf Course has a very special place in history with many firsts. Here are some examples:
- The first public municipal golf course in Oregon.
- The first golf course built as the centerpiece of a new housing development.
- The first public 18 hole track designed by Chandler Egan, famed U.S. Amateur winner, who went on to design the Pebble Beach, Waverley, Oswego Lake, Riverside, and Eugene country clubs.
- Home course to the first Oregonian, Frank Dolp, to win the Western Amateur in 1924 (the world's third oldest amateur championship behind the British and U.S. Amateurs).
- The first Portland Parks project assigned to the newly hired Superintendent Paul Keyser in 1917. Keyser later pioneered much of what we know and love of Portland today – including the Rose Test Gardens, the Zoo, Forest Park and our neighborhood swimming pools.
- Host of the first U.S. Public Links Championship held west of the Mississippi in 1932.
Discover how the golf course and Eastmoreland neighborhood got its name. Did you know the opening of this municipal course sparked a golf boom in the 1920s, which led to a marketing campaign describing Portland as Golf City, U.S.A.?
Come enjoy a summer picnic 4-9 p.m. on June 28th – with complimentary food and drinks for the whole family! I hope to see everyone who can make it to kick-off the centennial celebration on June 28th!
Annoyed, at the Post Office counter
I appreciate our Sellwood-Moreland Post Office postal employees for all they do, and I encourage a “standing ovation” for them at the Christmas holidays. Their time is valuable and I respect that.
My time is also valuable, and employees providing a service should also respect that. If you are unhappy with your job or how your employer runs their business, don't make customers wait while you complain to other customers about how understaffed you are. This behavior doesn't say much about your character and it inspires NO confidence in your employer or their products.
When I politely suggested to a male clerk he only “proselytize” when there weren't customers waiting, he rudely dismissed me saying the post office wasn't a government business so I wasn’t paying his wages. That, however, is really not the issue. If he were a customer standing in the New Seasons or QFC checkout line, would he expect the same kind of attitude and treatment from the clerks at these establishments? I think not.
Whether the post office is a “government run business” or not, customers respond to service, not dismissal of their work ethic. So, if you're interested in your job continuing Mr USPS, remember you, too, are not exempt from replacement. Every manager knows (in government or business) that an employee who is disrespectful to customers is really bad for business.
Treatment for the mentally ill
Your April editorial comment that the City and State “should place mentally ill persons somewhere” may be from frustration. It is against everything that mental health professionals and non-profit organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) have worked for decades to overcome. Those with mental illness should be encouraged to seek help with medications, counseling or both. The goal is recovery or, if full recovery is not possible, resilience. It may be true that those with mental illness who are homeless are not in a good position to receive services, and that is very sad. Individuals with mental illness are no more violent than the general population. They are more likely to be a victim of violence. Warehousing those who are ill is an unworkable solution that Oregon discarded decades ago.
EDITOR’S NOTE: In rereading our editorial on this point, we may not have made it clear that we were advocating hospitalization for treatment, not incarceration. If a mentally ill person kills somebody, the courts require such treatment; it is our feeling that it should not require homicide for the state to provide treatment to those needing it – and ignoring the matter, and simply letting the mentally ill camp wherever they want to and behave as they will, is not an acceptable social solution. As Martin suggests, treatment is the only humane option, and one that should not be ignored by the city or state.
“Little Library” a major construction project
Thinking of the architectural beauty of the old Andrew Carnegie Libraries across the country, I wanted to make a beautifully crafted “Little Library” for the Reed Neighborhood, here on the southeast corner of S.E. Liebe Street and 38th, entirely of recycled wood – primarily California redwood – and recycled stained glass. . . I set the glass on a shelf in the garage [for a couple of years], all the while thinking, in the back of my mind, how to repurpose the six panes of colored and opaque glass.
Finally, about eight months ago, I began by taking the two center panes and turning them into the back window of the Little Library, with recycled vertical grain Douglas fir, routed to accept the wide leading on the glass, which I had had to clean . . . then I framed it in, and made a sill with redwood. Next I took the four outer panes, removed part of the upper ones, and fused the two panes together to make the two front doors – turning them upside down from their original placement [in the door I salvaged them from]. . . I made the floor out of a piece of recycled birch plywood, and all the wall studs out of recycled one-inch cedar fence boards, ripped to one inch square.
Over the late summer months and into the fall, I framed in the door and the two windows, figured out the height and angle of the gable, matching the angle of the rear window. Once the framing was done, I covered the roof with recycled half-inch plywood, and finished the interior. . .
The California Redwood Little Library was open for business on May 4. Please feel free to come by Liebe and 38th, here in the Reed Neighborhood, and take a look. Bring a book or two to leave and peruse the books that are available to borrow. This was the beginning of a new relationship with my neighborhood, allowing us to share with each othere – no money involved.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Reader Denham has prepared a two-page detailed account of this project, with diagrams and photos, to further enlighten those interested in his project. He can be contacted by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.