This year is starting quite a bit better than last year. On the political front we have a new city council with — hopefully — a bit more attention to results than press releases. My spies in city hall have told me that our new mayor has quite a challenge in taking care of the day to day work that Adams simply forgot to address. Good luck, Charlie! We are looking forward to a better four years with fewer press releases and more substance!
Land use is the major issue that has been crossing my desk these days. We have an excellent land use committee that has been addressing the erosion of livability issues that occurred during the previous administration. Eastmoreland’s zoning has been pretty much abandoned in recent years — allowing skinny houses and McMansions with reduced set backs and lower construction standards. We recently observed a “remodel” which involved razing the house with the exception of a bit of flooring and one back wall. In order to preserve livability we need to get the City of Portland back on its traditional land use policies. We will be holding a new open house on land use in the near future after which I plan to lead a march on the Planning and Sustainability Commission with torches and pitchforks — straight out of an old Frankenstein movie — to get issues like setbacks and environmental concerns correctly addressed.
On the transportation front, the UPRR should be beginning the upgrades at the Brooklyn Yard that we negotiated for last year. We will be keeping a wary eye on their progress. The light rail project is moving along very quickly. There are still access issues — parking, wheel chair, police — that remain. We are keeping a wary eye on these as well.
On the environmental side, Eastmoreland still has high level of nitrogen oxide and diesel particulates. Oregon’s environmental policies are relatively lax, so we need to keep focused on the health of the elderly and the very young. We have also been worried by developers simply skipping the environmental steps in new construction. We have started turning in developers who do not check for asbestos. Again, under Adams, these protections were allowed to lapse. We will be lobbying the new council to actually protect the environment, not simply write press releases.
Finally, on the policing front, we have seen an increase in petty crime — even the formidable ENA President has had a UPS package stolen from his doorstep. (This was not the most sensible criminal exploit, since the package only contained several bars of my wife’s favorite soap!) We always need a keen eye out for scoundrels and a readiness to call 911 when you see anything worrisome.
And, even more finally, fund raising and web site. We will be starting another yearly cycle for the ENA fund. As you know, we are massively more activist than in previous years — certainly not by our choice! Please do respond to the appeal. I doubt any 501(c)3 has ever had a lower overhead than ours (100% of donated funds go to programs) and few have been more effective in fighting against incredible odds (fighting off the UPRR was truly David v. Goliath). On the web site, we are working energetically on a new one. So, if you haven’t igned up, please do. We promise new materials and easier access in the months to come.
Robert McCullough, President Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association