My View: Will Portland still be Portland without Mt Hood views?
I've often imagined what our now-famous views of Mt. Hood must have been like, when my namesake — the first Josiah Failing — settled in Portland in 1851, and began with other founders, to develop our City into the exciting place it is today.
While I mostly support the vibrant development taking place here, I want to honor my ancestors' legacy and make sure we preserve the views of our iconic Cascade Peaks from as many places in Portland as we can.
Where are these viewing places? They're where tourists and locals clamor to get a great shot of the City from atop the Vista Bridge, with Mount Hood rising proudly above. It's the place on the Waterfront where parents take their kids on hot summer days, to cool off and play in the Salmon Street Fountain, with a majestic full-on view of our awesome Mt. Hood keeping sentinel.
While there are other iconic views, these two particular viewpoints are in danger of losing their views pretty much forever, if certain building-height allowances are granted to developers in a vote at City Council on Thursday. Many, if not most Portlanders, especially of my generation, are unaware that City Council may vote away these iconic views for the near and distant future as they consider final amendments to the Central City 2035 Plan.
In addition, many Portlanders watch with interest the weather beacon atop Standard Plaza in downtown Portland. It too, will be mostly lost from view from the Vista Bridge and elsewhere. What would be the point if we had a weather beacon that no one could see? Another Portland staple, lost.
Why does it make sense to limit the number of viewers of the view to those who eventually live on the east face of tall buildings? It makes much more sense to keep Mt. Hood in view for all of us, whether visiting or here to stay.
What's the fix? It's pretty simple actually. Three actions: Mayor Wheeler has proposed an amendment to save the view of Mt. Hood at Salmon Springs Fountain, though I understand that he is leaning toward not voting for it. He needs to lean in the other direction. The entire Council must join Commissioners Fritz and Eudaly's effort to reduce heights on SW Jefferson so that views to and from the Vista Bridge remain. And finally, we need City Council to put forward a new amendment to save views from the Vista Bridge of the lower slopes of Mt. Hood and views of the weather beacon at the same time.
I'll be there on Thursday to let City Council know how important it is for my generation and those that come after us, that our City's vitality and future depend on more than just growth and development. The views from these two places are a huge part of what makes Portland Portland.