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Readers' Letters: Road 'diet' doesn't benefit the majority

Thank you for your thoughtful editorial regarding Foster Road and the city’s road “diet” initiatives (Road “diet” shouldn’t starve neighborhoods, editorial, June 26).

Some years ago, when Charlie Hales was the commissioner in charge of transportation, he emphatically stated that “neighborhood livability trumps regional economic viability.” He said this during a City Council session, and he repeated it more than once. The topic, if I recall correctly (and I was in the chambers that day), was the design of Southeast Tacoma Street.

It was my belief then, and it remains so today, that some of Portland’s elected officials and transportation staff do not realize that many “neighborhood” streets are also essential regional arterials. They also do not seem to understand that a significant percentage of Portland’s work force lives beyond inner-city neighborhoods, and that Portland’s central city relies on these workers for its continued economic viability.

Road “diets” may benefit a few who live nearby, but many others are negatively affected by increased commute times and the accompanying costs and frustrations.

Ann Gardner

Northeast Portland

SE neighborhoods deserve road fix

You mention Foster Road’s original intended use: to allow people to drive from one place to another. That still remains the case. There will be an auto lane in each direction, with the added benefit of allowing bicyclists to share the road (Road “diet” shouldn’t starve neighborhoods, editorial, June 26).

If you want to return to Foster’s original use, we can revert to the dirt trail it used to be, connecting farmers to closer-in market places, or, better yet, get a streetcar running through outer Southeast. In fact, it was when there was a streetcar that Foster was a bustling and economically viable thoroughfare.

That’s no longer the case, and a plan to improve the aesthetic and increase safety has long been in the works (since 2003).

Foster-Powell, Lents and Mt. Scott-Arleta residents shouldn’t have to go without these improvements so that people in other neighborhoods can drive through quickly. An added three minutes to one’s commute is more than a fair tradeoff for a much more appealing and safer thoroughfare that will prove to be a shot in the arm for some struggling communities.

Jeff Lynott

Southeast Portland

Road ‘diet’ solves deadly problem

This opinion piece misses the mark by obfuscating the severe safety issue on “inner” Foster Road (Road “diet” shouldn’t starve neighborhoods, editorial, June 26).

This isn’t some handout to boost business on Foster’s commercial stretch. Foster Road is dangerous and deadly. On average, there is a crash on Foster every four days, and just about every year someone loses their life.

Foster Road is broken, and thankfully, this is a real and permanent fix.

Nick Falbo

Southeast Portland

Students ill-served by OHSU’s insurance

How is the Oregon Health Plan not adequate coverage? I’m a federal employee, and my friends on OHP have more generous coverage than I do as far as co-pays for many services and prescriptions (OHSU students get bitter insurance pill, June 26).

Any plan that satisfies coverage for purposes of Obamacare has to cover essential benefits and can’t be a bare-bones policy. It sounds like Oregon Health & Science University did a very poor job picking insurance coverage and wants the students to pay for it now.

Katherine Houle

North Portland

Proof of pesticide dangers are evident

It is true that there are other factors as well, but if you (guest columnists Jeff Stone and Scott Dahlman) are not aware of the conclusive data pertaining to pesticide deaths, then you and your task force better step up and do a bit more research, because the evidence is out there (Look past pesticides to study pollinator health, guest column, June 26).

We lost 10 of 12 hives last year, a substantial loss. We cannot sustain food safety with that kind of pollinator loss. And that is just honeybees.

Please do not try and steer people away from the obvious threat to pollinators and the potential for a huge breach in our food safety. Our school lunches and family dinner plates depend on pollinators.

Patricia O’Brien

Lake Oswego

Loophole nonexistent for gun purchases

To clarify, there is no loophole in Oregon law that allows for a purchase of a firearm over the Internet without a background check. The firearm must be shipped to a Federal Firearms Licensed dealer who performs the check. Only then can the purchaser take possession (Your vote could help put a stop to rampant gun violence, guest column, June 19).

Oregon has a background check system that works. There’s no need for former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to have his operatives from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America to push his agenda here since he is the funding for that group.

Timothy Jensen

Happy Valley

Guns need to be secured from kids

“Is there an unlocked gun where your child plays?”

This simple question could save your child’s life. If you feel awkward about asking, consider this:

• One-third of homes with children have guns; many are left unlocked and/or loaded.

• Nine children and teens are shot each day in Oregon.

• Eighty percent of unintentional firearm deaths of children under 15 occur in a home.

Hiding guns is not enough. Talking to your kids about gun safety is not enough. Children are curious; if they find a gun, they will play with it. That’s why all guns should be stored unloaded and locked, ideally in a gun safe, with ammunition locked separately.

Before you send your child to an unfamiliar home, just ask. If you have doubts about a home’s safety, invite the kids to your home or a park. You may feel nervous about asking, but that’s a small price to pay for your child’s safety.

ASK (Asking Saves Kids) is a national campaign from the Center to Prevent Youth Violence and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber issued a proclamation on June 20, supporting Asking Saves Kids Day. ASK endorsers include the Oregon Pediatric Society, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, Doernbecher Children’s Hospital and Providence Health System.

To learn more, visit www.askingsaveskids.org and coef.ceasefireoregon.org/ask.

Joanne Skirving

Southeast Portland

City needs to do more with rentals

Although I generally support the licensing procedures for short-term rentals contained in city Regulatory Improvement Code Amendment Package 6 (Short-term rentals likely to be legalized, July 1), these are items I would like the City Council to modify:

• In addition to smoke and carbon dioxide detectors, fire extinguishers and first-aid kits should be required. Doing so is just prudent.

• License numbers should appear in all print and online advertising. Doing so would cause no harm and might do much good.

• Host-absent “entire place” rentals should be limited to a total of 30 nights a year. This would protect concerned neighbors and the stock of rental housing, while still allowing Airbnb hosts to rent when they go on vacation.

However, the real problem with RICAP 6 is not what it covers, but what it excludes, specifically 500-plus short-term rentals in apartments and condos, ongoing Airbnb host-absent “entire place” rentals and unsupervised vacation rentals. If the City Council does nothing, this would occur:

• The problem would grow and get worse.

• An increasing number of housing units would continue to be taken off the market.

• Guests and neighbors would be left unprotected because there is no licensing procedure.

• An uneven playing field would continue for licensed short-term rentals.

• Complaint-driven enforcement would mean that some short-term rentals would be closed down while many others would operate with impunity, which would be unfair to those that are closed down.

• The city would lose more than $500,000 in lodging tax each year.

There already are hundreds of these in operation. I would rather have these appropriately licensed than operating illegally. The City Council needs to approve an extra planner for one year to analyze the vacation rental ordinances in other cities and draft an ordinance. This investment would have a return on investment of more than 300 percent in the first year the ordinance went into effect.

Steve Unger

Lion and the Rose innkeeper

Northeast Portland

Thanks for story on Judge Tanzer

Thanks so much for the great story about retired associate justice of the Oregon Supreme Court Jacob Tanzer and his part in the Mississippi Summer Project. Oregon has been fortunate to have someone of his caliber to serve us and the law (It was a different world, July 1).

What he and his fellows accomplished in Mississippi brought us forward many miles. There is still work to be done to fight discrimination of all types. We must not forget that Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner paid with their lives.

Candace Lynn Sweeney

Southeast Portland