by: L.E. Baskow, While some local leaders say discrimination and a lack of publicity may play a role in the low numbers of minorities in the Pearl District’s affordable housing units, one reader says the Pearl Court’s 79 residents (who include Tommie Stallworth, right) represent more diversity than the county as a whole.

Peter Korn's March 13 story 'The Pearl District is as white as its name' seemed to suggest that affordable housing in the Pearl District was somehow excluding the minority community. Yet, the numbers in the story seem to suggest the opposite.

The story indicated that Pearl Court has among its 79 residents: seven blacks, three Hispanics and 14 Asians. All of Multnomah County, according to 2005 U.S. Census data, has 5.8 percent blacks. Yet Pearl Court has 8.9 percent blacks.

All of Multnomah County has 6.1 percent Asians; Pearl Court has 18 percent Asians. The nonwhite population in Multnomah County combined is 16.5 percent; in Pearl Court, it's over 30 percent nonwhite.

I would conclude from these statistics that Pearl Court is in fact more diverse than Multnomah County or the city as a whole.

Darrel Lamb

Southwest Portland

Minicasinos cash in on cigarettes, too

I agree with the March 13 editorial 'Let's shut down shadow casinos'. I totally agree that they are nothing more than minicasinos whose primary purpose is generating gambling revenue.

One concern that I have is that they will become stores for the sale of cigarettes.If sales of cigarettes can be included in the nongambling revenues I can surmise what a review of the revenues would show.

If we could extend a smoking ban to all such establishments you would see some of the revenue go 'up in smoke.'

Lee Stapleton

Northwest Portland

Couplet fan is no Johnny-come-lately

An item in the March 27 "Sources Say" column suggested that the Burnside Couplet Plan is backed by 'streetcar boosters like Chris Smith.'

While I enthusiastically support the expansion of Portland's streetcar system and believe that Burnside could be an important future link in a citywide streetcar plan, the streetcar is a very recent addition and my support for the Burnside plan predates that by several years.

The major benefit of the Burnside plan is in reducing or removing conflicts between cars and pedestrians. In the process, it turns Burnside from a 'pedestrian no-go zone' into an inviting streetscape that takes a barrier between neighborhoods and makes a place that will open up opportunities for redevelopment and celebrate the linkage between the northern and southern halves of our city.

The key insight of the plan is that by reorganizing Burnside's east-west traffic into a one-way couplet, we both accommodate the existing traffic - indeed, we make shops and businesses along Burnside accessible by car for the first time in decades by adding parking and left-turn opportunities - while taming that same traffic by reducing its speed from 30-plus miles per hour to a more sane 15 to 18 mph through a system of progressive signals at each intersection.

Pedestrians generally will cross only two lanes of traffic at once - at signalized crossings - rather than the current harrowing crossing of four to six lanes of speeding traffic.

As a neighborhood transportation chairman and representative from the Northwest District Association to the Burnside Stakeholder Committee, I have watched this plan develop for more than four years into a truly sensible approach to solving a transportation puzzle that has plagued our downtown for half a century.

Adding the streetcar is just icing on the cake.

Chris Smith

Northwest Portland

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