BEE crossword reaches far corners of world
I was in a remote region of Burma (Myanmar) researching environmental issues, and the mountain town where I was staying lacked electricity. Luckily I had brought with me a few of the pretty challenging BEE crosswords, so I spent some evenings solving them by flashlight. Thanks for the low tech way to pass the down time!
The Burma environmental report I produced is “Unsheltered Heights”, and can be seen online – http://www.projectmaje.org.
Opposes Eastmoreland “Historical District”
An HD will undoubtedly have many intended and unintended consequences for the affected district, but also on the community at large. You can't stop progress by pulling up the drawbridge and receding into your fortress.
Lots of people from East County come through this neighborhood daily to park their car on 27th and take MAX to their job downtown. They can't afford the $800K 1926 fixer that the ENA is trying so desperately to save, even though it may sit on the market for 6 months+ because no one wants to take on the $300-400K of repairs to make the place functional and safe to live in. Case in point is the latest ENA poster child house on SE 30th. Rather, a savvy buyer might take that same million $plus and buy one of Sabastian's Leeds platinum certified new houses and save the construction headaches and the ongoing repair bills. . .
Until the ENA and their HD supporters pull out their checkbooks and buy these tired homes, fix them up and keep them as rentals or resell them at whatever price the market will bear, please save me the hypocrisy that every EC house must be saved. Some should. Others not. The fact remains that families do buy the houses that can be remodeled to fit their needs. Not many go to developers.
I remodeled my house long before the HD issue arose. . . So did most of . . . pro HD neighbors. The remodel list is long on both sides of the issue, but with this important fact: None of us needed to ask permission and pay extra fees beyond zoning and permits to do so.
The rub is the pro HD side wants to limit what other neighbors can do with their homes in the future. That is disingenuous. It is unfair. It is wrong. ENA and Heart try to justify their position by the blanket statement "we must stop developers from leveling our neighborhood". That is hyperbole and fear mongering. The numbers do not bear out their position.
Be careful what you wish for. Many people support the historic district ("HD") because they falsely hope that the HD will stop demolitions and higher density housing. Ironically, the HD will more likely stimulate higher density housing than stop it. Higher density housing includes duplexes and triplexes. The residential infill project ("RIP") allows new RIP-scaled, single-family houses and higher density housing; RIP does NOT mandate higher density housing. The HD and RIP are NOT an either/or proposition. If the HD goes into effect, Eastmoreland will get both RIP and the HD, with the HD overlaying RIP (RIP+HD).
A goal of RIP is higher density housing; the goal of the HD is preservation. These goals will conflict when a person wants to demolish a "contributing" single-family house ("SFH") and replace it with higher density housing. This conflict – higher density housing vs. preservation – will be resolved by the city council as part of a Type IV demolition review. If the city council favors higher density housing over preservation, a person will be allowed to demolish a "contributing" SFH and replace it with higher density housing. While this higher density housing replacement violates the HD's goal of preservation, it furthers RIP's goal of higher density housing.
In contrast, these goals -- higher density housing and preservation – will align to stop a person from demolishing a "contributing" SFH and replacing it with a new RIP-scaled SFH (1-for-1 replacement). This 1-for-1 replacement violates the HD's goal of preservation and does NOT further RIP's goal of higher density housing.
The unintended effect of the HD is to DISALLOW a new RIP-scaled SFH replacement for a demolished "contributing" SFH (1-for-1 replacement), but ALLOW new higher density housing as a replacement. This will more likely spark higher density housing than prevent it.
It should be noted that a "non-contributing" house may be demolished and replaced with a RIP-scaled SFH or higher density housing. In any event, a Type IV demolition review is NOT required for a demolition of a "non-contributing" house.
The HD is the wrong solution if a person fears higher density housing. A better solution is to form and fund a legal entity that can purchase vulnerable single-family houses, renovate them as deemed appropriate for historic preservation, and then sell them at cost or slightly more than cost. Preservation is the goal, NOT profit.
David B. Brownhill
Attorney and LL.M. in Taxation
It's official: The Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association no longer represents the Eastmoreland neighborhood. The association lost all credibility March 16 when the ENA board rejected the majority vote in the neighborhood survey that the ENA itself organized, promoted and commissioned. The vote was 702 against and 666 in favor of the historic designation. Board members publicly stated over the past seven months that they would abide by the majority vote in their own survey. Silly us, we actually believed them.
Chris and Mary Gay Broderick
Supports Eastmoreland “Historical District”
I am concerned that the current intent of the Eastmoreland anti-historic-district group appears to be to put their people on the ENA Board with the single mission of cancelling the historic district. If that happens, ENA as a neighborhood organization is likely to be destroyed. I cannot imagine that one-issue candidates for the Board will continue to attend meetings once they have achieved their goal. In that case, failure to establish a quorum at subsequent ENA Board meetings would mean that nothing could be accomplished on any other issue. The broken-heart signs in the neighborhood that ask "Had enough...?" are representative of an ongoing attempt to depict ENA as some kind of evil cabal, rather than what it is – neighbors who have volunteered to do a variety of tasks in service to the neighborhood.
Unfortunately, the pro-historic advocates are not as committed as the anti. On a recent weekend morning the anti supporters were out knocking on doors and leaving door hangers. The pro contingent was nowhere in sight. Maybe it is easier to organize and commit to something we oppose than to support what we favor.
I was on the ENA Board about 30 years ago and also on the controversial neighborhood traffic calming project of that era. But, in my 40 years in Eastmoreland, I have never seen such hostility among neighbors as is occurring now, often supported by misrepresentations conveyed through social media. I would urge anyone who is interested in preserving ENA to either run for a position on the Board, or at least show up for the May 18, 7 p.m., meeting at Reed College’s Vollum Auditorium.
This has become a mission to rescue ENA.
S.E. Reed College Place
Tom Brown has recently told me that he will make sure that I will not be reelected to the Eastmoreland Board. No one likes to be bullied, so when the nomination committee asked whether I would like to serve for another three years, I said yes. So, with apologies to all, this is my campaign speech (letter).
I came to Eastmoreland as a Reed student and, absent grad school, have been here ever since. My day job is as an energy economist. I am often active in environmental issues, such as protecting the boreal forests in Quebec and British Columbia. My testimony at the U.S. Senate initiated the Enron trading investigations, and I participated in the prosecution, working for the U.S. Department of Justice.
I am active in neighborhood issues on a variety of levels. I have been on the Board since 2008 when I sought to protect the trees and greenspace of Reed College Place. Our mayor of the time, Sam Adams, had abandoned the area – even cutting off the water. We saved the trees, replanted the grass, and raised the money for the neighborhood.
As Eastmoreland’s representative, I am Chair of Southeast Uplift, the nonprofit association of twenty Southeast neighborhoods. This has given us the ability to make some much-needed changes to city regulations. City regulations now require delay and notice before demolitions, to allow attempts to save the home and to allow for legally required checks for lead paint and asbestos that can affect neighbor’s health. Developers had lobbied the city to allow “no knock” demolitions without delay or notification. In part due to my efforts, we have rewritten the rules to eliminate the loopholes. I serve on the city committee that oversees this process. I was also active on a subcommittee of the city freight committee to implement gas taxes for the owners of the 100,000 heavy trucks in the area, so that road repair costs would not all be borne by small business and homeowners.I have served on a number of other city committees. In the past few weeks I have spoken to the City Council on tax collection issues in my role as a member of the office and financial management committee, and sent letters to the City Council in support of additional bikeways, and the long-delayed Southeast Portland Community Center as Chair of Southeast Uplift.
I was the primary witness in our successful litigation with the UPRR five years ago, and was instrumental in having environmental restrictions applied to the nearby Union Pacific railyard – the only railyard in Oregon with rules to protect our health. I also helped the neighbors on S.E. Martins protect a stand of Giant Sequoias, and eventually negotiated the settlement with the developer in the mayor’s office just hours before these trees were to be felled.
I am an opponent of gentrification – replacing affordable homes with McMansions – for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, the McMansions remove the urban canopy, solar access, and greenspace. Second, elimination of affordable housing is making Portland less diverse, and reducing the opportunity for young families to live in Southeast Portland.
Please attend Eastmoreland’s general meeting at Vollum Center at Reed College on May 18th, and do vote. And, as always, feel free to come by and visit, okay?
EDITOR’S NOTE: Although we have this letter in the “pro Historic District” section, because Robert certainly doesn’t personally oppose it, we should point out that at the March ENA meeting where the decision had to be made as to whether continue to pursue the district application, Robert kept his word to follow the result of the neighborhood poll on the subject – which was pretty evenly split, but with about 30 more “no” votes than “yes” votes – and he voted “no”. But he was not in the majority.
The “Historic District” designation is simply the only option left to Eastmoreland residents who want to stop property investors from turning sturdy homes built of old-growth timber into rubble, solely in order to exploit the value of the character they are in the process of destroying. But we don’t live in isolation, and the charmless, particle-board houses and apartment buildings transforming all of N.E. and S.E. have an adverse effect on everyone’s spirits. Instead of pitting preservationists against social justice advocates, both should be fighting to have more influence on what development is going to look like. Is there any reason we can’t have stronger renter protections, tiered rents based on income within apartment buildings, and architecture and landscaping that incorporate attractive public spaces? Our closest shopping street, Woodstock Blvd, would be improved by the development of two and three story mixed-use buildings, but if we leave it to profit-seeking developers and city officials dedicated to a radical, sweeping Residential Infill Project, the result will be the kind of anonymous, inhuman buildings already spreading from North Portland to Sellwood. Future generations will look around at their depressing world and ask why we didn’t fight for the kind of incremental, thoughtful growth that enriches lives rather than the bank accounts of investors.
I am disgusted by the tone and accusations that have developed in our local historic district controversy in Eastmoreland. Despite the differences in opinion on this matter, a new theme has emerged which is particularly divisive and may threaten reconciliation between neighbors once the dust has cleared. This new theme has been to cast supporters of the historic district as elitists or racists. We’ve seen these kinds of accusations before from the likes of the Home Builders Association and 1000 Friends of Oregon, but I never thought I’d see the day when my own neighbors in Eastmoreland champion this idea and accuse their own neighbors on the other side of the issue of redlining.
To be clear, these accusations of elitism are not only untrue, but they are not supported by the evidence. Protecting homes from demolition is actually far more likely to prevent development of even less affordable housing than exists today. Eastmoreland is not broadly affordable, but when the most affordable homes in the neighborhood are replaced with even more expensive stock, it leads to further home price escalation and exclusion.
On average, the price of a new home built is over 67% more expensive than the demolished home it replaces. How is the status quo better than protection? You have it very backwards.
So, to my neighbors actively promoting this notion of elitism for the sole purpose of preventing the historic district, please stop. Make your case on the facts, not by creating divisions and name calling. I hope that everyone can agree and will join me in pushing back against this ugly and divisive language that has now entered the debate.
As we all know, the Historic District nomination in Eastmoreland has been a very contentious issue and has created a less-than-friendly environment in the neighborhood. Both sides are passionate about their pro and con opinions and consequently disparaging comments have been made by both sides. This is disconcerting to many of us. When July 8th rolls around, and we have a decision on the Historic District, we have to come together as a community and neighborhood and abide by whatever decision is made. The time to start the healing is now.
For this reason, I find the publishing of the anonymous Letter to the Editor very disturbing. I feel it is totally converse to the healing process. In the letter, the “unnamed author” makes scathing comments regarding members of the ENA Board. I won’t go into the details of the comments; I am sure others will reference those. I will comment on the journalistic ethics of Mr. Norberg to print this letter without the author being identified.
This is no way to heal a divided neighborhood. Mr. Norberg, in an Editor’s Note on the online version of the April BEE, states that his explanation of the McCullough/”unnamed person” leaflet argument “defused this one acrimonious situation, within the larger contentious issue.” It did nothing of the sort. It is a case of talking out of both sides of your mouth, condemning anonymous screeds and then printing anonymous screeds. Please, we need professionalism in journalism. You are well aware of the furor surrounding this issue; let’s start restoring peace to our neighborhood by discussing facts and not promoting defamatory attacks.
I was surprised, bewildered and extremely disappointed that the Bee would publish a frontal attack on four Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association board members by name. The author is gravely mistaken in his/her assertions. I am not a Board member but am a long time Eastmoreland resident who is deeply concerned about protecting the character and historical integrity of our neighborhood. Because of this concern, I began attending ENA land use meetings in the fall of 2014, about three and a half years ago. It is critical for your readers to understand that none of the organizers of the opposition to the historic district (HD) nomination ever got involved in the six-year effort by the ENA and others to find a solution to protect the neighborhood in the face of increasing density pressures. Consequently, their assertions, as outlined in this anonymous letter, lack credibility.
The author’s principal contentions are contrary to my observations over the past three and a half years:
Contrary to the author’s assertions the ENA, as opposed to those who support speculative demolitions, has supported policies that will preserve the scale and lot coverage of existing homes and thus the smaller, more affordable housing in the neighborhood.
To claim that the policy of the ENA board is to keep “lower income people” out of the neighborhood is a blatant lie. Such irresponsible language is part of the opposition’s strategy from the beginning to discredit the ENA, its board and thus the decision to form a historic district. The ENA is not against density per se but against poorly planned density that destroys our sense of history, neighborhood character, greenspace, and livability.
The author states “the LUC Land Use Committee, ignored (or blocked out) all overtures by the City about a potential R7 for Lower Eastmoreland (SE 27th-36th).” This is another blatant lie. I witnessed extensive negotiations with city planning over several years to pursue “truth in zoning”. Unfortunately, zoning regulations are opaque as an R7 zone, which historically required a 7,000 sq. ft. lot for a new build single family house now can be as small as 4200 sq. ft. The negotiations with the city attempted to rectify this and to apply the same zone to the entire neighborhood, from 27th to 39th.
Another blatant falsehood is the author’s contention that “self interest partly explains why SE Cooper was retained in the HD”. The boundary of the HD was determined by AECOM, the consulting firm that specializes in HD nominations. They were hired to determine a defensible boundary, which is what they did.
For the author to claim that Rod and Meg Merrick and Clark Nelson tried to influence the boundary out of self-interest is slanderous. I first met them when I began attending LUC meetings. I can categorically state that there are few Eastmoreland residents who have sacrificed more time and have been more dedicated to the protection of the neighborhood than these three.
S.E. Reed College Place
I was shocked and disappointed to find that the editor chose to publish an anonymous letter in the April edition of The Bee that was clearly intended to slander me, my husband, and two other Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association board members. The letter was comprised of blatant falsehoods and was a cowardly thing to do.
The basis for all of the ENA Land Use Committee’s actions since 2011 has been to protect the character of our neighborhood in the face of speculative demolitions and lot splitting, driven by quick profits for developers. It has never been about keeping people out; to the contrary, unlike those who promote speculative demolitions, we have always sought to keep the most affordable housing that we have.
Anonymous latched on to the density argument because it is in Keep Eastmoreland Free's best interest to spin it as some sort of plot, by us, to discriminate – a particularly painful and effective way to demonize us. We are not against density per se, just against poorly planned density that destroys our sense of history, neighborhood character, greenspace, and livability.
Anonymous’ narrative that BPS would have granted Eastmoreland the R7 west of 36th, was never a reality. Yes, we were told it was a possibility but it never went beyond that, and we did discuss other options. It is clear that anonymous’ insistence on spreading his own construction of events, is a way to discredit our many-year effort to save the historic character and livability of our neighborhood.
His other assertion that the reason why the historic district encompasses our house is because we wanted it that way, is blatantly false. The consultant determined the boundary; not us. We hired them to use their professional expertise to determine a defensible boundary. That is what they did.
S.E. Cooper Street, Eastmoreland
EDITOR’S NOTE: To clarify this matter, which seems to have confused several readers – in common with most newspapers, we will not print anonymous letters, but will occasionally [and have in the past] print letters submitted with a request that the name be withheld (as long as the correct name of the writer is known to us). Usually this request arises from fear of personal retaliation for the stated views, although we are unsure of the reason in the current case. As for the letter Ms. Merrick refers to, we understand she may already know the author of the letter, and we are told that the writer has identified himself to the ENA Board as well. After publication, the writer of the letter, an attorney, told us he had changed his mind and had decided to allow having his name on the letter when published – but then had forgotten to tell us so.
Article told of Sellwood resident planning Benson High’s centennial
Thank you for the BEE article highlighting Benson Polytechnic High School’s upcoming centennial celebration, and for bringing attention to the school’s unique history, vital mission, recent transitions, and promising future. The Benson Polytechnic High School Alumni Association (BPHSAA) has been enthusiastically planning this all-class “Grand Reunion” in recognition of the school’s first century. The festivities will kick off on Friday evening, June 9th, with a meet-and-greet at The Kennedy School. Details and tickets to the weekend’s assorted events can be found online: http://www.bensontechalumni.org.
Benson Tech has a proud history of providing Portland Public School students with both a rigorous academic foundation and the career & technical education (CTE) skills necessary to meet the region’s workforce growth needs. Benson’s CTE programs offer learners the opportunity for authentic, hands-on application while simultaneously developing sought-after workplace competencies. Not only does the school produce graduates who possess marketable CTE, academic, and “soft” skills, but it does so across demographics: 88% of Benson students graduate on time (compared to 75% district-wide), including 92% of African-American students (24 percentage points above the district average) and 93% of Latinx students (28 percentage points higher than PPS as a whole). Furthermore, of the nearly 60% of Benson students who qualify as economically-disadvantaged, 87% graduate on time (versus 67% in Portland Public).
Rachael Lizio Katzen Kurynny