Memories get priced out
I felt compelled to thank you after reading Nick Budnick's article 'Priced out by progress' (Sept. 1).
I was living in Madison Park (at the Rose City Village apartment complex that is being renamed the Ellington) up until the beginning of August. One afternoon, after living in my apartment for two years, I came home to a letter taped to my front door informing me that in 30 days I would no longer be living in my apartment unit.
My choices were to move to a new unit and pay $260 more a month or move out of the complex altogether. To understand the new arrangements, my sister (also my roommate) and I made our way to the management office where we were greeted by two unfamiliar women.
The elder of the two women told me that we must have enjoyed the 'extra-cush' of cheap rent. I explained to her that every member of our household holds a college degree and that we all work for low-paying nonprofits, which makes the rent just affordable for us. 'I'm sorry to rock your world,' she said.
As we walked back to our apartment that day, my sister and I mused on this apparent method for clearing out a neighborhood filled with immigrant families.
Looking around, we saw a Spanish-speaking family holding a garage sale on their front lawn. In another apartment, we could hear a large group singing hymns in Vietnamese and holding a small church service.
The neighborhood had always felt alive and vibrant. During our two years living there, we had gotten to know all of our neighbors very well, specifically the children.
Our next-door neighbors were refugees from Laos and had lived in their apartment for 10 years; they helped teach us to garden, offered us beers and their kids were often hanging out at our apartment.
I felt a great loss the day we all moved out. Your article gave voice to my sadness over the dissipation of such a unique neighborhood.
Bike and beer lovers work up a real thirst
I couldn't help but smile when I saw your write-up on the Tour de Fat (Step right up, Aug. 18) held in Portland's Waterfront Park on Aug. 20.
That day, my friends and I were engaged in a real celebration of Portland's twin passions of bikes and beer: a 120-mile ride starting at BridgePort Ale House on Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard (hours before they opened, alas), and stopping for samples at Mt. Hood Brewing, Elliot Glacier Public House and Full Sail before finishing at Walking Man in Stevenson, Wash.
Why drink watery out-of-state beer in Portland when much better local brews are available just a short bike ride away? We call this quintessential Oregon experience Bikes 'n' Brew.
This year, there were just five riders, but we're hopeful that more of Portland's beer-loving cyclists will see the light and join us next year: www.bikesnbrew.com.
Meters can help commercial vitality
A letter to the editor in your Aug. 15 issue included a photo of Hawthorne Boulevard with a caption that stated, 'Commissioner (Sam) Adams wants to add metered parking spaces to Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard and other neighborhood business districts in Portland' (Meters, shoppers at odds).
In fact, I am urging the city's neighborhoods to consider the addition of metered parking spaces where sufficient demand exists.
One of the nation's leading experts on parking, UCLA professor Donald Shoup, presents compelling evidence from locations around the country that metered parking can improve commercial vitality by increasing parking efficiency.
Under my leadership, neighborhoods also would directly benefit as I would guide all net parking proceeds back to the participating neighborhoods for them to use as they choose.
While I am convinced this change in parking policy would benefit commercial and neighborhood vitality, the decision to implement this policy - to add meters - is in the hands of the neighborhoods and neighborhood business districts.
Under my direction as transportation commissioner, this decision will be made not by me, but by the neighborhoods.
Adapt property taxes for smarter growth
If the influx of 1 million more people in the Portland area is so inevitable in the next 25 years, why does David Bragdon as Metro Council president have to work so hard to make it happen (Readers' letters, Better to plan for growth than ignore it, Aug. 18)?
And even if it happens on its own, why limit our choices to doing nothing or bowing to planners? Why not harness the market to use land efficiently - and do so now, before any hordes show up?
Without expanding the urban growth boundary by nearly 25,000 acres, we could meet Metro's population projections - or just improve our quality of life.
All we need do is convert vacant lots to rational use; that is, erect buildings of four to six stories where now there's only one floor or even just a parking lot.
And owners will use their land more wisely with the right incentives, with a shift of the property tax from buildings to land. To pay it, owners put their land to more intense use, closer to land already used intensely.
Put this tax shift on the ballot. Let the majority of area residents - not career politicians - shape the future of this region. Let's not gloss over the severe deleterious impacts from sprawl - already here or coming our way - with gilded propaganda about 'planning,' when we could curb speculation and spur owners to do the right thing right now.
Jeffery J. Smith
President, Forum on Geonomics
Urban growth will degrade our lives
Metro Council President David Bragdon (Readers' letters, Better to plan for growth than ignore it, Aug. 18) says that growth is inevitable, but if we buy into this mode of thought, then we buy into land sprawl, increased density, loss of woodland and farmland, more traffic congestion, more garbage, more restrictions on our liberties and, ultimately, such crowding that life becomes demeaning.