Regarding Justin Wood’s opinion piece, titled “Demolitions meet city’s growing needs (Sept. 2),” it should be noted that opponents of the demolition of old and historic homes are not opposed to infill development. We all understand that Portland must increase its density. But we do not need to demolish houses to create buildable lots.

Look around. Portland has surface parking lots galore. I live in Northwest Portland surrounded by church parking lots that remain empty most days. Downtown has a plethora of surface lots. Build on all of the city parking lots before demolishing old homes to create land for housing.

Dennis Harper

Northwest Portland

City Hall, developers in cahoots

Peggy Moretti and Brandon Spencer-Hartle did an excellent job of describing the “demolition epidemic” destroying the character of Portland’s neighborhoods with oversize suburban-style boxes that tower over the smaller craftsman-built homes that define Portlandia (City’s demolition epidemic must be curbed, Aug 28).

Follow the money. City Hall is in bed with developers and turned a blind eye to these “de-modeling” practices because they pay off big time in terms of additional property tax revenues and system development charges. These decisions demand more citizen oversight.

Dennis Phillips

Northeast Portland

Preserve buildings’ wood, brick bones

I’ve worked many demolition jobs in buildings downtown and in many homes in the Portland area over the past few years (City’s demolition epidemic must be curbed, Aug. 28).

I’m from Spokane, where every house on a given block in many neighborhoods is the exact same design with only minor differences. Not in Portland. You’re likely to find all sorts of crazy walkways, compartments, massive brick fireplaces (with more hidden compartments below) and sublevels out of nowhere. And the buildings downtown are really something to be preserved.

Clarification is necessary though: What makes the buildings unique and what is worth preserving is usually made out of wood or brick. There is nothing worth preserving about rotten drywall and insect-infested insulation or cracked plaster. They are cheap and wasteful construction products to begin with. My advice is not to define demolition as 50 percent removal of a building, but rather define it by what is being removed.

Many will be glad to know that a good number of demolitions in Portland only go down to the framing. Unfortunately, they never seem to care to save the brick, which to me is usually the heart and soul of the place.

For example, at Southeast 12th Avenue and Stark Street, you now can see the building stripped down to the massive and beautiful Amish-style wood framing that will stay, while the rest will go, possibly including the brick pillars and the flooring on the second story.

A year from now there will be a sushi shop and possibly a hotel. I can’t help but think this building has so much potential and hopefully all of the above are preserved and displayed.

The problem is somebody with money and a business plan has the final say, and they never come during demolition to truly get to know the building; they just trust what an equally impersonal architect designed for them.

Eric Gazzola


Hold Reed trustees feet to the fire

Bravo to Fossil Free Reed for holding Reed College’s administration accountable for its sorely lacking response (Reed trustees must divest from fossil fuels, guest column, Aug. 7).

It is especially telling that the Reed Board of Trustees provided no evidence for its assertion that divesting from fossil fuels would harm it financially — especially in the light of multiple, unrebutted studies from financial experts to the contrary.

Reed is hardly a “somewhat unknown liberal arts school” — I know that it enjoys an excellent reputation on the East Coast — and being a fossil fuel divestment leader would further burnish its standing.

Indeed, Pitzer College’s decision to divest has helped spur the divestment conversation and has brought much favorable attention to that “somewhat unknown liberal arts school.”

Ignore the sneering condescension of those who are naysayers. I have been in the “real world” since my graduation from college in 1975, and I’m here to tell you it’s a fine mess we have left your generation with. It is heartening to see that you’re not taking the challenge lying down.

Peter Murtha

Silver Spring, Md.

Contract Publishing

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