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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

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Again this month, there are several letters to the editor taking sides in Eastmoreland's Historic District controversy

Safe routes to school

Editor, I want to alert BEE readers about the "Safe Routes to School" Open Houses PBOT is planning for the next few months. The full schedule is posted on their website at:

www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/625882

We've heard that input from parents and schools is more important [to PBOT] than neighborhood associations input is, on where the limited funds should be spent, so we want to encourage parents (and students) to go and provide their input!

Scott Kelly, Chair

SMILE Transportation Committee

Opposes Eastmoreland "Historic District"

Editor,

I am a third-generation Eastmoreland resident, living in this neighborhood for most of my life. My story – and my home's story – is unique. My grandparents built this house in 1931. It has only been an Altstadt house. My parents inherited it after grandpa died and then I bought it from them. Every room, every corner, is filled with memories – happy ones, funny ones and sad ones. It's where my mom, my siblings and I nursed Dad through his final weeks of life; and then five years later, it's where mom too took her last breath. This is more than a house, it is my home and my family. And because of that I oppose the Eastmoreland Historic District designation and urge my neighbors to sign the notarized objections required to stop it.

I love the home my grandparents designed. The vaulted ceiling in the living room, the archway into the dining room, the leaded-glass windows at the front of the house – I don't want to change those. But the kitchen was designed for a time when you had a cold cabinet with an opening to the outside instead of a refrigerator that dispenses water and ice. The bedrooms date back to a time when master suites weren't in our vocabulary. And the bathrooms, well, let's just say they are a little tight.

Whether just doing the maintenance any house needs over time or making changes to add my style to my home, an historic designation will add cost I likely cannot afford and time that I definitely don't have. The historic district designation also would put an end to my dream to one day add a porch along the front of the house, with a French door that leads out from the dining room. I think it would be amazing, and I'd have it done in the character of the house, but an historic district designation means I no longer have the right to decide what happens to my house. And not just for today, but forever because an historic district designation is permanent.

I don't have children, but I've always wondered if the next one to call this house home will be my niece, one of my nephews, or one of the kids who call or will call me their great aunt someday. If the historic district becomes reality, they too will miss out on the opportunity to make this house the home they would want it to be. Rather than being a forever Altstadt home, it would be forever stuck in time. I don't like seeing beautiful homes destroyed, but an historic district designation is a premature response and severely restricts owners considering roughly 1 percent of houses in Eastmoreland have been demolished in past 13 years. I urge my Eastmoreland neighbors to think about the future of their homes, think about the generation who will live there after them and the generation after that, then please go to www.keepeastmorelandfree.org and join those of us who have signed notarized objections to stop time from standing still in Eastmoreland.

Roberta Altstadt

Eastmoreland Editor,

On Friday, Feb. 17, the neighborhood group Keep Eastmoreland Free appealed to the State Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation (SACHP) to reject the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association Board's application to designate Eastmoreland as a National Historic District. Keep Eastmoreland Free believes the historic district application is fatally flawed as it erroneously listed scores of houses as historic or "contributing" even though they have undergone major renovations and should have been categorized as non-historic or "non-contributing" to an historic district. Also, to be eligible to become a National Historic District, a neighborhood should embody distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction; represent the work of a master; or possess high artistic value. Opponents of the Eastmoreland Historic District believe that the eclectic neighborhood of homes built over the span of more than 100 years does not meet these standards.

Tom Brown Eastmoreland

via e-mail Editor,

I live in Eastmoreland, home to an important decision regarding the historic district (HD) proposed by the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association (ENA).

While the ENA has submitted the HD application to the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), and the wheels are turning toward sending it to Washington DC for National Park Service approval, the process is far from over. You still have the opportunity to show your support or opposition to the HD, and you still can submit corrections as to how your home was designated.

The burden of 'proof' is on each homeowner to object to the HD. Individual homeowners also are tasked with verifying the accuracy of the survey that is the basis of the application. Your objection MUST be notarized and sent to the State. This is the ONLY way it will count, and the sooner you send your letter, the better. Details are here: www.oregon.gov/oprd/HCD/NATREG/Pages/Eastmoreland-Historic-District.aspx (Full disclosure - I am opposed to the Historic District.) Details of how to send letters of support are on this page as well. You have the opportunity (through at least May, according to the ENA website) to submit corrections if you think your home was incorrectly characterized in the house-by-house survey, part of the 'National Register nomination' linked to the same website. Suggestions as to what to submit are shown on both the ENA and Keep Eastmoreland Free websites. Google 'em.

My home was almost mis-characterized as a 'contributing' resource, except I happened to be standing out front when the volunteer surveyors were reviewing the exterior of my home. The small upstairs dormer constructed in the early 2000's on the street-facing side of my home was built too recently, so the house was designated 'non-contributing'.

Through the objection process I have become more engaged in the community, and have met more excellent neighbors in the past six months than I had in the previous 19 years. Through the often-divisive process, I say a heartfelt: "thank you" for this unintended consequence. My sense is after this whole discussion is over, no matter which way it turns out, the neighborhood will be more unified, not less. That is my hope, and with your help, we'll make it so.

Karl Lee

S.E. 36th Avenue

Favors Eastmoreland "Historic District"

Editor, I have lived in Eastmoreland since 1970, when we bought the then president of Reed's house. We raised our 4 children here, all of whom went to Duniway and Cleveland High School. I like the variety of houses and of course, the trees. I've seen a great many changes in the neighborhood, and I understand the need for growth.

I didn't pay much attention to the ENA's work, although I received information from them on my computer. Finally, when I noticed that yet another house was being demolished, I drove over to see what was happening. I was shocked to see a house I had admired for its paint job and landscaping in the process of having a huge bite taken out of the end of it.

It was once lived in by Gordon Gilkey. Gordon was one of a group of American soldiers who was asked by President Roosevelt to find and restore art taken by the Nazis. He amassed a collection of prints, beginning with those given him by grateful French artists. He gave his collection which numbered in the thousands to the Portland Art Museum, and then raised funds for it to be properly housed in the lower level of the museum.

I don't understand why some are so opposed to an Historic District. It can't be the fees which might amount to $40 to $400 dollars, because anyone who lives here can well afford that. Please check with folks in Ladd's Addition, and you will find that being a Historic District works for them. In fact there are several such districts in Oregon. Find out what being an Historic District really means before you oppose it.

Judith Wyss

S.E. Crystal Springs via e-mail Editor,

Our house is 103 years old this year, and we care for it with the expectation that it will be around for another 100 years. We sometimes see people taking pictures of our house.

I support the proposed National Historic District in Eastmoreland. While increasing density is a noble goal, it must be implemented thoughtfully and with consideration to the existing architectural heritage and infrastructure rather than through haphazard speculatively development. The architectural heritage of all Portland neighborhoods is an important and irreplaceable part of what distinguishes our great city from many others, and it is in jeopardy.

Furthermore, the most environmentally sound approach to residential development is to preserve and maintain homes in good condition rather than demolish and replace them for profit.

Our proposed National Historic District would provide demolition protection by July 6, 2017.

Maria Baker

via e-mail

Editor,

I live in the 1928 Eastmoreland house that my parents bought in 1960 and I grew up in. I would like to give you my personal, independent, and individual perspective on the importance of approving the Eastmoreland Historic District, and why preserving the character of the neighborhood means so much to me.

First of all, Eastmoreland is already an "historic" neighborhood. It was carefully planned in the early years of the 20th Century, with the streets artfully laid out, and great attention given to every detail. But what makes Eastmoreland truly great and a terrific place to live is the diversity of houses (in size and style), the front yards, the trees, sidewalks, parks, the school, and above all, the family-friendly community that is created and sustained by all of these things. The houses in Eastmoreland are both densely grouped and nicely spaced; neighbors are not isolated from each other, yet the spacious yards provide plenty of room for family activities and for children to play.

My main reason for supporting the Eastmoreland Historic District is to halt the increasing trend of developers and "redevelopers" coming into the neighborhood, buying old, well-made, carefully crafted homes, demolishing them, and replacing them with more cheaply constructed houses that fill the lots, reduce the size of the yards, and are out of scale with the rest of the neighborhood. These developers are primarily interested in making a quick profit on the reputation of the neighborhood, while not being concerned with the character of the neighborhood itself.

I realize we live in a transitory age, where people come and go and houses are bought and sold with great frequency, but Eastmorelanders should consider the good fortune they have to live in a neighborhood with such a rich history and such a family friendly character, and take the future of the neighborhood and their neighbors into consideration, even if they plan to move on or see their homes as an "investment". The main result of the establishment of an Eastmoreland Historic District would be the slowing of the loss of historic houses. The intent is not to restrict remodeling, upgrades, and other projects. To me, those activities show a pride in one's home, and encourage me that neighbors plan to stay, or sell the house to someone who would value it as much as they have.

That is why I support the establishment of The Eastmoreland Historic District, and I hope my neighbors will join me in voting "Yes".

Joe Dudman

Lifelong (52-year) Eastmoreland resident Editor, I strongly support Historic District designation for Eastmoreland. I have lived here for 12 years after moving from the Midwest, where I spent many years in a small college city, Athens, Ohio. A sense of community, the closeness of the local culture – although it included people from all over the United States and all over the world – and neighborliness were key characteristics of that city. It seemed impossible to me that I could find the same sense of neighborliness in a place the size of Portland, but Eastmoreland is just such a fabulous community and neighborhood. Some families have lived in Eastmoreland for generations; others are new to the hood. They live in big and little homes, send their children to Duniway School, and contribute to the wonderful fabric of our community. Unfortunately, the unique qualities that we all love about the neighborhood are endangered. All around us affordable houses are being destroyed and replaced by $1 million boxy behemoths. At the rate this is occurring, in 20 years Eastmoreland will be utterly changed, and the smaller homes that welcomed many young families and retirees will be replaced by graceless and soulless houses. To all neighbors who are undecided, we sincerely ask you to learn more about Eastmoreland and support the application for Historic District status. Dinah Adkins S.E. 29th Avenue Editor,

Did you know that the Eastmoreland neighborhood faces the prospect that any lot 10,000 square feet or larger can be built out with a cluster of SIX or more dwelling units? There are 150 lots 10,000 SF or greater in the proposed Eastmoreland Historic District (HD). These average ~13,000 SF for a Permitted 1,200 units. Every corner lot in Eastmoreland can be built out with a triplex: Permitted, 720 units. Every lot smaller than 10,000 and not a corner can be built out with a duplex. Each duplex can have one additional dwelling unit. Permitted, 2,600 units.

Except for narrow lots, the guidelines make no provisions for parking. The guidelines make no provision for increased school students. Demolitions of existing houses to enable the above are subject only to administrative review by the City Bureau of Planning.

These are the Residential Infill Project (RIP) guidelines approved December 7, 2016, by the Portland City Council.

There are 1,277 homes in the proposed HD. Full build out permitted by the above guidelines would result in 4,500 residences in the HD area. While a full build-out of the 4,500 permitted under the above guidelines may never materialize, it is entirely possible that the number of residences could double. That is the intended direction of the RIP, the express purpose of which is to infill single-family residential neighborhoods like Eastmoreland.

If approved, the Historic District would protect from demolition 1,030 homes starting July 2017. That is certain protection, soon. The remaining 247 homes in the HD could still be demolished, but rebuilds would be required to fit in with Eastmoreland's historic character.

If you are an Eastmoreland resident, think about what you value and love about this neighborhood now. Then, think about what future you prefer. A neighborhood like the current one? Or a neighborhood with a much higher density of condos and rentals?

If you have already filed a notarized objection to the Historic District, you may change your mind and support it. All you have to do is file a notarized statement to do that. The statement is online at – bit.ly/212e6D0

I support the Historic District. I sincerely hope you will too. David Dowell

via e-mail

Response to racist accusations

Editor:

On February 17 an unnamed author distributed a leaflet accusing many of his or her neighbors in Eastmoreland of racism for supporting an historic district. This is unfortunate and untrue.

The rambling document misquoted a noted member of the board, referenced turn of the last century ethnic restrictions, and finished with a very dubious economic analysis.

Contrary to these claims, Eastmoreland joined many other civic organizations in supporting Portland United Against Hate. In the forty plus years I have lived in the neighborhood, I have never seen nor heard ANY voice seeking discrimination on any basis.

Many neighbors in Eastmoreland have supported a proposal to adopt an historic district to protect trees, lawns, and historic properties. Nothing in the proposal can be construed as discriminatory. The proposal has been open, has followed state and federal laws, and we are now waiting on the results of the Poll to determine if the majority of the neighbors support the proposal.

And the dubious economic analysis that seems to indicate that replacing less-expensive older homes with newer, far-more-expensive McMansions is not discriminatory is simply wrong. Recent demolitions in Eastmoreland have replaced older homes with new homes which have sold for 160% of the price of the homes that were demolished.

Managing change through an open and participatory process is not discrimination. Protecting older and less expensive homes from demolition does not discourage diversity – to the contrary, it leaves open the door for new neighbors to enjoy our wonderful neighborhood.

Robert McCullough, Treasurer

Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association

EDITOR'S NOTE: We personally know leaders on both sides of this contentious issue, and we think those in favor of such a district are no more seeking to discriminate racially than are those on the other side secretly hiding plans to rip out the whole neighborhood and benefit by replacement development.

More Emergency Preparedness opportunities

Editor,

Last year the Eastmoreland Emergency Preparedness Committee and Brooklyn Action Corps neighborhood association launched an educational program aimed at teaching our neighbors how to prepare for a widespread emergency. Both neighborhoods are resuming the program again this year and are requesting volunteers from each block in Eastmoreland and Brooklyn to host two evening "block parties". These parties will be taught by a trained neighborhood emergency responder and will cover information on the types of disasters most likely to occur in Portland and how to prepare for these disasters for yourself, your family and as a block.

The goal of these preparedness parties is for our neighborhood to achieve the most positive outcome possible when disaster strikes. It is a startling fact that if a widespread disaster were to occur, Portland's emergency response system (police, fire and medical teams) would be overwhelmed. Most likely, during a disaster, you will need to depend on yourself and your neighbors for a considerable period of time. By hosting the two block parties you will learn how to be prepared for disaster, your neighbors' skill sets and resources and establish or strengthen neighborhood ties.

 

We are ready to schedule these block parties once you contact us. Again, we will bring all the educational materials and instruct the programs, you just need to invite your neighbors and open your home. Help us build a more resilient community! Please consider volunteering to be a host. For more information or to sign up as a host send us an email at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. – or: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Trish Kirchhoff

via e-mail

Woodstock Schedules Annual Plant Sale

Editor,

The Woodstock Neighborhood Association would love BEE readers' help with this year's Woodstock Neighborhood Plant Sale, scheduled for Saturday, May 13th, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., at the Woodstock Community Center, 5905 S.E. 43rd Avenue.

Proceeds from this annual event go into the Woodstock Community Center Maintenance Fund and support volunteer efforts to provide routine maintenance for the Center, including custodial service and supplies, and some landscaping needs, key parts of an agreement with Portland Parks that keeps the Center open and available for community use.

It's not till May, but the plant sale depends primarily on donations from generous gardeners in the community, starting right now. If you are a gardener, we encourage you to contribute to this sale by potting (in late March or early April) divided perennials or seedlings that have volunteered from previous years' plantings. You can also contribute healthy plants that you want to replace. In addition to many varieties of perennials, we are looking for vegetable starts, herbs, ground covers, native plants, ornamental grasses, houseplants, and small trees and shrubs.

Contributions for the plant sale can be dropped at the Woodstock Community Center on May 12th, between noon and 7 p.m. For empty pots or an alternate drop-off time, call Terry Griffiths at 503/771-0011 or Sandy Profeta at 503/771-7724.

Thanks to all who have contributed in the past, and to those who can help out again this year.

Terry Griffiths and Sandy Profeta,

Co-coordinators of the 2017 WNA Plant Sale

via e-mail

All letters to the editor are subject to editing for clarity and available space, and all letters become property of THE BEE.