Should Milwaukie really use Sellwood as development model?
Editor's note: The author of this piece, who died on March 23, left his last submission for the Clackamas Review as handwritten notes on his desk. His daughters have done their best to decipher his handwriting, and the editor of this newspaper has made a few additional changes for sake of clarity and based on conversations in the past few weeks with the late author.
We have a new transit-oriented development (TOD) in Milwaukie now, located at 21st and Washington, the former site of an old auto-repair shop. One drawback is that it empties its on-site parking onto Washington Street, which is affected by a light-rail crossing and three four-way stops. With all of the traffic delays, you'd have time to pack a lunch.
Although this was pointed out to the developer and city reps before construction, it was ignored. The city's reply to us? "The whole thing will just work itself out." Yeah, like a Category 5 hurricane. There's also the problem of tenants who won't have on-site parking. The answer? They can park on the already-jammed adjacent streets. TODs is a misnomer anyway. To make them more palatable, they should have been PODs — or people oriented. In reality, they could be SODs — sheep oriented, because that's the way we're herded. It's a type of manipulative paternalism: Be good, live here, take light rail, park there, shop here, sell that car (what's in your garage?), ride your bike. It's the basis of tyranny. All supposedly for our greater good.
I had to wait and think awhile before replying to Milwaukie Councilor Angel Falconer's recent op-ed in the Review. As warming and interesting as her reminiscences were about middle housing, our council doesn't seem to grasp some of the harsher problems.
I'm sure most of us have experienced the same type of housing she refers to in our youth, and it is valuable, but she is referring to "forced" housing into existing neighborhoods. I invite her to ride her bike north and south on 28th and 29th avenues in Milwaukie between Harrison and Washington streets — cars all along on both sides, almost bumper to bumper. Will this newly inserted housing have roof parking? This is just representative of many neighborhoods.
The solution would just lead to the "Sellwood look," modeling Milwaukie off a once-great neighborhood that looks like someone dressed it in a clown suit. Forget the four-plexes; as zoning changes occur, gradually four-story buildings will pop up on every block.
Before we start this new experience, let's experiment a little. I suggest we start in some slightly tonier neighborhoods such as Garthwick, Eastmoreland, Dunthorpe, Lake Oswego, Laurelhurst and anywhere in the West Hills. Also the beautiful Reed College campus — those kids have their noses so stuck in their books, they'd never even notice. This, in a democracy, yes, and I think even in progressivism, this should be an equal opportunity.
Let's not forget golf courses; we would also have a huge impact on a tremendous water waste. I would start with Waverly, one of the most famous courses in the world. Imagine the skyrises that could crop up on this beautiful expanse of green.
Yes, this may be one way to "transit" our world for the better.
Milwaukie resident Ed Zumwalt has had a dozen letters published in the Clackamas Review since 2012 (he had many published in the previous decade as well, when data is not as easily accessible). This will be his last.
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