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Readers' Letters: Housing trend has negative social impact

I praise Annette Carter and Frank Granshaw for their thoughtful and important piece on the issue of recent housing development trends (Developers changing the fabric of neighborhoods, Sept. 19).

I, too, live in the Beaumont/Wilshire/Rose City Park neighborhood and have had many conversations about these very issues while standing on the sidewalk with neighbors as we watch yet another bungalow being torn down.

The environmental/sustainability issues are certainly real and important, but my concern is more with the social impacts. It does change the fabric. On a beautiful summer evening it can take a good half-hour or more to walk two blocks in any direction from our house because we stop and talk to all our neighbors who are out with their kids. All the kids run around and play — they know each other from the neighborhood and the neighborhood public school.

We all hate to see these huge houses go up because we never see the people who buy them. We don’t see them, we don’t see their children. We thrive from the connection, the conversation, the care we get from one another. The houses that are going up, whether they have charm or not, do not have souls, souls that develop from human interaction and building relations.

These old homes have soul, and that soul is sustained when they are left as is but simply cleaned up, repaired and beautified. This makes them attractive to singles, couples or small families who are interested in connecting and building community — becoming another weave in the fabric of the community.

Dana Peterson

Northeast Portland

Who is it making the poor choices?

With the residents of Right 2 Dream Too about to move into their more upscale digs beneath the Lovejoy Street onramp of the Broadway Bridge, and while Pearl District condo owners lawyer up to protect the elderly, perhaps it’s time to reconsider why we all can’t just get along.

Aren’t Nice White People (NWP) — in olden times known as the bourgeoisie — only a couple of paychecks away from having to use a Portland loo? Yet there is an essential difference between these two groups of Portlanders.

Everything about the lives of the NWP is a matter of obvious and dire necessity. Alternatives to anything they do are unthinkable to any sane person. How could anybody get through the day without a smartphone? It’s crazy to be just throwing your money away on rent. The bus? Don’t you know it’s impossible to live in Portland without a car?

On the other hand, everything about the lives of the poor involves choices. Who can say why, but the cosmic forces that apparently rule the lives of the NWP have passed poor people by completely. The poor are always making choices — usually those “bad choices” we keep hearing about.

Obviously, the homeless of Right 2 Dream Too are choosing to live underneath that onramp. They may not be too happy with the sound of cars roaring by all day and night, but don’t they realize their decisions have consequences?

Truly, poor people are the last free men and women on Earth, exercising their free will on a daily basis. To be one of the NWP, however, means that you’re compelled by necessity to have your very own washer and dryer. To think otherwise is to stare into an abyss of irrationality and madness.

Gerhard Magnus

Northwest Portland

Many ‘experts’ have conflict of interest

Gov. John Kitzhaber says inclusion of Senate Bill 633 in the state Legislature’s special session is a bargaining chip. I think it’s more like a cow chip, a nasty state-level version of the “Monsanto Protection Act” that U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley helped squash in Congress.

We’re told that agriculture policy is “best left to the experts at the state level.” Sound familiar? Industry “experts” in another field assured us that the odds of a Fukushima-scale catastrophe were minuscule.

The chosen “experts” in high places are almost always the fast-track, market-driven technology “experts” and not the slow-track, peer-reviewed experts engaged in decades-long trials that can withstand the test of time and broad public scrutiny ... or the experts who work family farms generation after generation.

Authentic democracy from the bottom up is our best check on “experts” with potential conflicts of interest, particularly when it comes to ensuring the health of the ecosystems where we live and grow our food.

Kenny Jones

Northeast Portland