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The trains were there first

by: L.E. BASKOW, While a petition circulates among new Pearl District residents to quiet noisy train whistles, readers wonder how they could have missed the presence of the nearby Union Station and the train tracks that cut a wide swath through the neighborhood.

In regards to the horrific whistle-blowing disturbance and suffering to the Pearlites living in proximity to the rail yard, I cannot think of any other contemporary urban injustice that is as soul wrenching as this (Volume turns up on Pearl's quiet conflict, Aug. 15)!

Apparently when these good people flocked unabated to purchase their condominium cocoons, complete with property tax abatements, they failed to notice the train tracks, railway cars or the very large blue neon sign that announces 'Union Station.'

Or perhaps these Pearlites, who are not sufficiently erudite to know the term 'railroad flat,' thought these were just some quaint memorabilia of a century and economic function long past and now, unfairly, are coming face to face with the reality of living near a rail yard. (Location, location, location!)

To have raw workaday economic reality forcing itself on these good denizens is truly more than any privileged person should be expected to experience in exchange for property tax abatements and continual pandering by the city to their preferred neighborhood status.

There is however a very simple and accessible solution to their plight. They can simply 'flip' their condo, surely with a fine profit, and move to Buckman or other such close-in Southeast neighborhoods that the city has relegated to a 'catchall' status, where they can be surrounded by the everyday reality of shelters, halfway houses, subsidized low-income housing and a for-profit methadone clinic, and pay full property taxes!

Alan Wolansky

Southeast Portland

Wealthy newcomers in Pearl are whiners

The petition signers in the Pearl District remind me of the new residents out near Hillsboro, a few years back, who complained about the rooster crowing early in the morning, at the farm their housing development was encroaching on (Volume turns up on Pearl's quiet conflict, Aug. 15).

Guess what? The rooster was there first.

The railroad has been down in Northwest Portland since this city was indeed a stump town. When those people purchased their condos they knew about the noise or they turned a deaf ear to it. I suggest they do the same now. They are up there in their safe 'ivory towers'; why don't they buy some earplugs?

Stephen Sasser

Southeast Portland

The closer you get, the more you hear

Is there no end to the hubris of the Pearlites (Volume turns up on Pearl's quiet conflict, Aug. 15)?

Earth to the Pearl - the train tracks have been there much longer than the condos. Surely you noticed them when you moved into the neighborhood? Back in the day, only poor people lived closest to the tracks, hence the term 'other side of the tracks.' Rather than shut down the whistles and endanger the public, why don't you just quit whining and move elsewhere?

As for Sue Miller's ridiculous statement that 'residents of the Pearl are telling her that the whistle noise has gotten worse as the high-rises have inched closer to the tracks,' well, that's called 'acoustic dynamics' and here's the way it works: The closer that you get to a source of noise, the louder the noise sounds. Really! It's no plot, just train engineers doing their jobs.

Lily Witham

Southeast Portland

Transit advocate should look at voters

If 'Better mass transit makes for a happy city,' letter writer Ray Polani should explain why TriMet voters rejected light-rail proposals five times in a row (July 25).

In 1980, voters amended the Oregon Constitution by a vote of 451,695 to 257,230 to limit use of fuel and vehicle taxes to streets and highways. Oregon Constitution, Article IX, Section 3a(1), states:

'Revenue from the following shall be used exclusively for the construction, reconstruction, improvement, repair, maintenance, operation and use of public highways, roads, streets and roadside rest areas in this state.'

Voters would decisively reject amending the Oregon Constitution to divert vehicle fuel fees and taxes to inefficient and prohibitively expensive 1800s trolley cars and light-rail trains.

Buses are less costly, more convenient, more crime-free and, unlike MAX trains, do not come to a complete, systemwide halt during an ice storm or accident.

Henry Kane

Beaverton

Peace is plentiful on Pearl's outskirts

I fail to see the value of repeatedly publishing trite comments on the need for 'peaceful' parks in the Pearl (Visit, but don't play, July 14).

Why move to the middle of the city if you seek tranquility? But if you must, such tranquility can be found a short distance away at Forest Park, the Eastbank Esplanade and the North/South Park Blocks.

But the most aggravating issue of Tanner Springs is that it is not natural, though it pretends to be. This is the intellectual fraud that the designer of the park and the supporters of this park's status have foisted upon us. Sprinklers all summer, mowed lawns, specially filtered water, manicured landscapes and replaced trees do not make nature natural.

Take the 'Sensitive Habitat' signs away and open the park up to everyone.

Shame on you for promulgating this fraud.

Greg Mizuno

Northwest Portland

Street smarts rare for car, bike, foot traffic

OK, the car vs. bike vs. pedestrian situation has officially driven me bonkers. Over the last couple of weeks, I've almost smashed into bikers and pedestrians not paying attention, and have seen drivers fly through red lights, barely missing bikers and walkers.

I had two last straws that almost made me go postal: I stopped my car at a sign, about three feet behind the white stripe, and waited for a pedestrian to mosey across. For my law-abiding courtesy, the guy stood in front of my car for about a minute cursing at me. OK, maybe he was a maniac, but it seems to happen a lot in this town.

Now, the icing - another recent day, I was driving toward West Burnside Street (from the Alphabet District) on Northwest 21st Avenue, during rush hour, and came up behind a helmetless biker weaving in and out of the lane at about 10 mph.

No way I could pass him, so I just cruised along wondering why he hadn't taken 20th or 22nd instead. Almost at Burnside, the maniac answers his cell phone!

I got a chance to swing around him, and looked in amazement in my rearview mirror as he swung left down Couch, across the lane in front of another car.

A short story told a long way. No more whining; every man and woman for themselves.

John Porter

Northwest Portland