After months of controversy, the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association is about to learn the degree of interest by residents of the neighborhood in joining a few other parts of the city in designating an "Historic District" in the major part of Eastmoreland, as a means of preserving the distinctive character of this part of Inner Southeast in the face of general city encouragement for redevelopment to create new homes and increase population density.
It seemed like a slam-dunk at first; and then opposition arose, and as readers of THE BEE have observed for months, it led to harsh words that are a bit reminiscent of the recent discordant national presidential campaign. Now, says the ENA, it is time to find out how the actual property owners in the neighborhood feel on the issue.
Robert McCulloch, an Eastmoreland resident and recent President of the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association, tells THE BEE: "We decided to follow the voting procedures set out in the law covering historic district nominations at the U.S. National Parks Service. These are different than a one man/one vote rule. The governing law allows one vote for each property owner within the historic district. "This means that Karen and I, who own two properties in the area, will only get one vote, since we own the properties as a joint trust.
"Derek Blum has taken the ownership data from 'PortlandMaps' and prepared a fourteen page report on these properties." THE BEE has obtained it, and you can read and/or download the report by going online to: www.ReadTheBee.com/poll.html
"While Eastmoreland has 1,600 homes – with only 1,200 homes in the proposed historic district – over 2,200 owners will be able to vote.
"Opponents of the historic district have raised concerns about ballot box stuffing, so we have asked Southeast Uplift to count the responses and report to the Board. Every ballot will have a unique code at the bottom to allow a later audit, if required. It will not be possible to determine which way a homeowner voted – simply whether each ballot is legitimate. Each ballot will be accompanied by an envelope addressed to Southeast Uplift.
"Under the historic district legislation, opponents can still file notarized letters opposing the nomination. There is no immediate deadline on this. To do so, they will need to file letters for more than half the property owners in the proposed historic district.
"We are trying – and trying hard – to get everyone to express their opinion on this important issue."McCulloch adds, "Under Oregon law, the poll is advisory, since the Board must make the actual decision. The Board members have indicated a desire to follow the guidance of the poll although, like members of the Electoral College, the actual Board vote is their own to make.
"The poll was mailed [in the week of January 16], and neighbors will have a month to make up their minds."
THE BEE expects to report on the results as they become available.