Monday, October 20, 2003
‘There for us’
I feel compelled to again thank the members of the county search and rescue team who recovered my sister, Mary Lou Griffith, and myself from our hiking trip on the Rainy Lake trail near Mt. Defiance on Sept. 26.
We had fallen along the trail, and Mary Lou had broken her wrist while helping me. The courteous and efficient manner in which each member of your team treated us, soon made us feel comfortable, releasing our stress to a minimum.
Mary Lou and I were both born in Hood River. I was a graduate of Parkdale High School before it was closed, and she, of Wy’East. Our roots are deep in the valley as our ancestors were among the early settlers of the Mt. Hood area.
Again, thanks to each of you who were “there for us” in our hour of need.
With heartfelt thanks,
Mary Lou Griffith
I read yet another discussion on “realistic” waterfront development, simultaneous with letters regarding user fees, public input, and the term “open space.” There are valid points made in each of the three letters as well as Dave Harlan’s discussion on financial impact. While David Dorocke accurately describes the port’s “50 percent open space” description as misleading — the percentage of “park space” described in Port meetings is considerably less — I’d like to address the issue of fees and maintenance costs.
At the beginning of summer the Port voted to raise the “annual over-length parking pass” fee at the Event Site to $100 from $50. I’ve gone to the Event Site for years as a year-round resident and notice a decline in fundamental service there. The folks who make the annual pilgrimage to windsurf and recreate here — and there are many — have a positive economic impact on our community. While they don’t all vote or pay the hefty property taxes other downtown residents and myself pay, they buy their groceries and goods and services here and traverse the bridge frequently. In return, the Port has doubled their parking fee, repainted some white lines in the parking lot, and busied themselves with visions of Bend-like commercial growth, hoping to compete with Bingen and vacant downtown office space to attract more local startup companies.
After paying my annual Event Site fee in late May (in addition to several other passes I need to recreate in the Gorge) I had to wait until the 4th of July to get running water to rinse off. The other day I washed my hands after using the toilet and there was no soap — not even a dispenser — in the restroom. This is not only a health hazard but possibly a state health violation. Also, the Event Site lacks a drinking fountain of either child or adult height. Several RVer’s mentioned that they’ve spoken with the Port about this repeatedly, and I know for a fact the Port has a maintenance crew because I frequently see their vehicles driving around the downtown areas.
So with all the “open space” on the waterfront, could there be a portion set aside as an RV park? The Bridge Park in Bingen runs as a profitable business; would the popularity here be greater? Would it help pay for the $74,000-plus per acre Mr. Harlan claims is necessary for watering the lawn, emptying the trash, and collecting the rising parking fees? It seems it would provide the additional jobs that Dave seeks to bring to the area while negating the high buildings and condos that the citizens oppose.
Although it was not her intention, in her essay on Mt. Hood, Jan Wallace (Oct. 11) actually made the argument in favor of ending commercial expansion into the backcountry. It is true, as she described, all of the commercial developers have made negative impacts on the environment, but Mt. Hood Meadows is not the only one that has been taken to court.
However, her statement that the before and after picture at Meadows is “pretty much the same” does not help her credibility. Nor does the repeated insinuation that for the past 30-plus years there has been a conspiracy against this multi-million dollar corporation.
In fact, her repeated allegiance to Mt. Hood Meadows might cause a back fence gossip without a valid case to question if there is an ulterior motive. But since the case against backcountry expansion is very ample, nothing of that sort could ever be insinuated.
Reading “Viewpoint” in the Aug. 30 Hood River News I find that I have been singled out by name and given a special reply to my letters and guest editorials. I am flattered that such an eminent citizen as Felix Tomlinson reads what I write. Felix Tomlinson’s comparison of Milford, Conn., with Hood River as one between “apples and snakes” is indeed apt. I think Mr. Tomlinson may have visited Milford recently. I am sure he cannot believe that Milford, with its factories, gaming, giant retail outlets and low end high-density housing was once a charming waterfront community like Hood River. I assure you sir, that it was just that up until the early 1960s and that Hood River, given enough emphasis on short-term commercial gain by developers, could morph into a “snake” in the twinkling of an eye.
On the same page Mr. Harlan, our Port Director, argues that a public waterfront somehow threatens the economic security of less fortunate citizens in the county. He spills considerable ink adding up numbers but fails to make any real, negative connection between a public waterfront and poverty in the county. That is because it simply does not, and cannot exist. To the contrary, a public waterfront will enhance value of the 30 plus acres of adjacent lands, all lands with a view of the waterfront and, arguably, the entire county. Most important of all our waterfront will be useable by everyone, not just tourists who can afford a $300 a night hotel room or million dollar condominium.
The grassy portion of the Event Site is roughly 150 feet deep from high water to sidewalk. If this strip were continued on lots six and seven it would constitute the addition of roughly a five-acre waterfront park, consistent with the citizens’ initiative, which calls for public policy favoring such park space. The City of Hood River Comprehensive Plan also presently contains policy consistent with our initiative, and I quote: “Water Related or Marine Related: (are) Uses which are not directly dependent upon access to a water body, but which provide goods or services that are directly associated with water-dependent land or waterway use, and which, if not located adjacent to water, would result in a public loss of quality in the goods or services offered except as necessary for water-dependent or water-related uses or facilities, residences, parking lots, spoil or dump sites, roads and highways, restaurants, businesses, factories and trailer parks are not generally considered dependent on or related to water location needs.” Page 42 City of Hood River Comprehensive Plan 4-10-02.
Laurie L Balmuth
There are a number of things that don’t add up in the recent letter “Impeach Bush.” For starters, 250,000 is not a large number in terms of voters. As only Congress can consider articles of impeachment, there would have to be many millions of registrants to motivate our congressmen and senators to proceed with such a course. Even if (and it is a huge if) such articles were adopted, they would not necessarily require the president to step down.
Second, what is a “war of aggression”? This phrase has been adopted as some sort of rallying cry for those opposed to the war in Iraq. All wars on all sides are aggressive — that is the point of war — to force the other side to submit. Third, the war was not waged on the people of Iraq, it was solely directed at the regime then in power. It is true the people of Iraq did not threaten the United States but the regime did. It is still uncertain how imminent the threat was, but the conduct of the former regime was such that it would have been naive and foolhardy to ignore the various indicators. If you pretend to have a gun and reach in your pocket the presumption must be you are in fact, armed.
Fourth, the war was not unilateral. In case you forgot, the United Kingdom and Spain also had troops on the ground. Fifth, as the congress of the United States authorized our military action, I do not see grounds for calling this action “unconstitutional.” Sixth, the war to force a regime change does indeed serve the interests of the citizens of the United States. Left alone, a maniac like Saddam Hussein was an intolerable threat. However, the last thing we want in his place is a radical, fundamentalist, religious state. Both the people of Iraq and the people of the United States will gain hugely when some form of democratic representative government is instituted there.
It is true that it will require billions to accomplish the rebuilding of Iraq but it is a case of “pay me now or pay me later” and later is always much more painful and expensive. Lastly, according to “the polls,” more than half of the citizens approve of our campaign in Iraq despite the difficulties we are encountering since the end of formal military action. If you don’t approve of the war in Iraq, just say so but get the logic and facts correct.
I recently received an unsolicited letter in the mail from a group called Results Through Representative Government asking for my support in their efforts to oppose ballot measure 14-16, a measure that, if passed, would ensure that the waterfront is not subject to unfettered development by a developer from Bend. In the letter, RTRG states: “Our intention is to be a non-partisan outlet for information on contentious issues with an effort toward civility and accuracy.” In RTRG’s mission statement, it again refers to its efforts to bring “non-partisan respect, accuracy, and civility on contentious issues.” However, a closer look at RTRG’s ads in the Hood River News and in its form letter reveals an organization that shows a clear lack of respect, civility, and accuracy — it seems that name-calling, fear-mongering, and a thinly-veiled partisan agenda are the order of the day with RTRG.
In its letter, RTRG calls supporters of the waterfront measure (and measure 14-15) “misguided,” the measures they support “self-centered,” and the campaign to pass these measures a “move toward anarchy.” I would like an RTRG member to explain two things to the many supporters of a waterfront park (the number one request on the 2003 Parks and Recreation survey of county residents): First, how can such name-calling in any way be classified as “civil” or “respectful” discourse? Second, how is allowing the citizens of Hood River to decide the fate of the last undeveloped pieces of the waterfront by a vote of residents a “move toward anarchy?” How is this statement “accurate,” as RTRG claims to be. On the contrary, it seems to me that Oregon’s initiative system epitomizes democracy at its finest, not anarchy.
On the subject of accuracy — RTRG claims that the Port and the City are addressing all constituencies in an open and public process and that measure 14-16 would “circumvent the planning and zoning process.” If this is so, why does the current Port plan for the waterfront include development on Lot 6, rather than a park as was included in all previous Port plans? If previous plans that were formulated by this same open and public process championed by RTRG can be discarded when it suits the Port, it seems that the process is neither open nor public. In fact, it seems that it is the Port that is circumventing the planning and zoning process, not the Hood River citizens who want to protect the waterfront from development. Further evidence of the Port’s pro-development agenda and circumvention of the public process was clear when the Port summarily dismissed Andy Von Flotow’s generous proposal to buy the waterfront property and put a park on lot 6 at his expense.
Another statement made by the RTRG that calls into question its claim of accuracy is that measure 14-16 would “force park space on all of the waterfront property.” This is patently false, as current businesses in the waterfront area would not be affected by the ballot measure. RTRG also states in its letter that “this attempt to zone by ballot measure threatens all our property rights. Who will be next?” How does a measure that specifically targets waterfront development threaten “all our property rights?” And RTRG has the audacity to accuse measure 14-16 supporters of “exaggeration!” The fact that RTRG feels the need to resort to partisan property rights scare tactics to make its point betrays the weakness of its arguments—as does its statements in a recent ad that the passage of measure 14-16 could “raise property taxes up to 50 percent” and “chase away jobs.” Talk about exaggeration.
How can RTRG expect citizens to trust them as a source of information on these issues when the group can’t even follow their own mission statement?
I am writing regarding the Hood River News article on the upcoming Hood River Planning Commission waterfront hearing (“RTRG activists charge bias”, Oct. 11.)
The article presented the perceived viewpoint of one group, RTRG, which claimed “hostile” statements made by the commission to Port Director Dave Harlan and “(commission) assault on the director” during the previous hearing. Your article could have stated that the Planning Commissioners ran the entire hearing in a very professional and respectful manner, as I observed. It also could have reported that all citizens who presented information, spoke in favor of a waterfront park and voiced concerns over the Port’s current development plans.
I attended the meeting and can clarify some facts for your interested readers. There were no “hostile” statements made by the Planning Commission. It is the Planning Commissioners’ responsibility to ask difficult questions and to gather the facts. It appears perfectly reasonable to ask whether it might not be “stacking the deck” when one organization hires a scientist to perform its own study. Does anyone remember years of studies showing no adverse affects from smoking, all sponsored by the tobacco industry? Or consider for example, the recent Wal-Mart flood issue with expert engineering testimony from Mr. Sutherland (representing CRG), which was quite different from the equally expert engineering testimony of Mr. Gorman (representing Wal-Mart). Is this any surprise? Most scientific studies performed on behalf of an organization typically come up with good scientific results that support that organization’s perspective.
Questioning Mr. Harlan about the legitimacy of a Port-sponsored or developer-sponsored study, should be expected from a Planning Commissioner who is serving the public. Thank you, John Everitt, for asking the question.
No on 14-15
With Measure 14-15 a group of elitist county residents wants to thumb its nose at the county and state planning process.
They want the power to overrule the county planning staff, the Planning Commission and Board of Commissioners — but only when those dedicated professionals approve a collection of 25 or more homes in the county’s forest zone.
“Let the people decide,” they cry. But the people already DO decide — when they elect representatives, who hire talented professionals and appoint dedicated volunteers, to study the facts and the law and make fair, reasoned decisions after hours and hours of public comment.
The ... people ... already ... decide.
And if the people don’t like what their representatives decide, they can appeal it to state regulators.
What’s next? Special interest voting on roadside fruit stands and agricultural practices? Manufacturing facilities with four sides and a roof?
State and county law already provide an extensive review process for any forest residential proposals.
Let the law, and our elected officials, do their job. Don’t flush their time and our tax dollars down the drain by approving unnecessary local elections.
Vote No on Measure 14-15.
As we understand the law, in a proposal such as Wal-Mart’s, the applicant has an obligation to prove their project will not adversely impact neighboring properties. As Wal-Mart continues its efforts to build on the flood plain above the historic Columbia Gorge Hotel, it has offered nothing to mitigate the greatly increased downstream flow resulting from that project.
If Wal-Mart is allowed to go ahead with its proposals to increase the capacity of upstream culverts to handle the increased flow caused by destruction of the flood plain, and to straighten the channel of Phelps Creek, thereby increasing the speed at which that increased volume flows, the inevitable result is more severe and more frequent flooding of the Columbia Gorge Hotel and its grounds.
constitutes an adverse impact on a neighboring property. The usability and beauty of the hotel and its grounds are paramount to its continued survival as a landmark of this community. ANY increase in the severity and frequency of flooding due to the construction of this project would be an adverse impact and Wal-Mart has an obligation to prove there will be no increase. Hood River County has an obligation to hold them to the letter of that law.
Boyd and Halla Graves,
Columbia Gorge Hotel
Yes on 14-15
This November, Hood River County voters have an opportunity to vote to choose how county forestlands are developed.
I am voting in favor of Hood River County Measure 14-15 (the Forestland Water Resource Initiative). This does not mean I am voting against future development. It does mean I want my voice to be heard when decisions are being made to either approve or deny major developments on designated forestlands. I hope all registered county voters vote thoughtfully this measure.
Sees it clearly
Give Jan Wallace a Pulitzer Prize for her article Oct. 11 on mountainside development. She certainly hit the proverbial nail on the head. Jan, your insight is so appreciated by so many.
While the same ol’ voices bombard the newspaper with editorial biased comments disguised as caring for the forest, Jan sees it clearly.
Measure 14-15 is no more than a vehicle targeted solely to stop Mt. Hood Meadows (and only Meadows) from any expansion at Cooper Spur. It all sounds so honorable, “Forestland Water Measure.” It should read, please vote yes on stopping any development that Mt. Hood Meadows initiates, no matter how good it is for the land, county and people.
Oh and just for the record, as cute as Cooper Spur is, before Meadows purchased it, it was rundown, broken down and in great need of repair and restoration. Now it is landscaped beautifully and a very inviting place to go winter and summer (oh, that’s right, someone put a stop to any summer operation). Same group?