The Letters to the Editor is where BEE readers share their thoughts and news items with their Southeast neighbors

City's contract with Friends of Trees


I saw on the front page of the August BEE that Portland did not renew its contract with Friends of Trees — and that, instead, two City Bureaus claim they will work together to accomplish the same thing "more effectively". Well for sure, it will be more costly. Instead of working to support the nonprofit responsible for planning 40,000 trees in Oregon and 870,000 trees and shrubs all over Oregon and in Vancouver, we will be paying city workers (along with their PERS and benefits) to try to attend the canopy as well as Friends of Trees did with volunteers. . . Well, my neighbor needs to take out a parking strip tree that is dying, but the city can't get out to issue a permit for it until at least late September. So when has the city ever demonstrated it can do something better than a committed and well-established nonprofit? Is anybody watching these people, and their lame and untimely decisions?

Anna Donovan Eastmoreland

Herbicides have their uses


Having worked on protecting, restoring, and managing urban greenspaces for fifty years, I feel compelled to respond to the "zero tolerance" for use of herbicides that has dominated articles and editorials for the past few weeks. Conservation advocates have rightfully decried the abuse and misuse related to herbicides. However, large scale restoration efforts would be impossible without judicious, targeted use of herbicides. The 160-acre Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, where I first entered the urban greenspace arena in the early 1970s, has benefited tremendously by the combined physical (hard labor) and chemical treatment of Himalayan blackberry and English Ivy. Use of volunteers alone isn't a viable alternative on such a large and precarious landscape. I helped lead efforts to rid the Bottoms of invasive species in the early 1980s. We did not dent the tsunami of blackberry that had obliterated the loop trail. It was the city's "revegetation" program at BES and Park's restoration ecologists, using professional crews with chain saws and other equipment, combined with selective use of herbicides, that all but eliminated the walls of blackberry and carpets of English Ivy. Long-term management will require the same treatment to prevent recolonization of invasive species. Mike Houck, Urban Naturalist via email

"Dangerous location is dangerous once again"


THE BEE ran a story about the homeless camp on S.E. 26th and Raymond a while back. It was of particular interest to me, not only since I've been a longtime Southeast resident who only lives a few blocks away, but also because the building it butts up against is [a regularly-used music] practice space . . . After you ran the story, authorities actually swept the camp, and temporarily resolved the issue. Even installed 50 gallon water drums to prevent street parking temporarily. . . I'm still confident the only reason any action was taken by authorities (or hopefully conscientious street teams) was because of the "bad press" you boldly presented.

I am NOT a heartless person and truly sympathize with many people who are "houseless" right now, but this camp is NOT just poor people down on their luck. The open-air car chop shop is back, they have outdoor bonfires right next to private businesses, and the drug dealers cruise through in fancy cars in broad daylight without a care in the world. The orange syringe caps are still everywhere, and the only thing missing this time around is the pink wigged prostitute who was hanging out for a while.

The side of that adjacent building is now stacked waist high with trash, bike and car tires, and other highly-flammable items, and it's gotten completely out of hand again. . . I know there are pockets like this all over Portland, but this one has gotten especially bad again. I moved here over 20 years ago after living in some of the worst pockets in L.A., and I haven't seen anything this bad in what used to be "suburban Portland" until now. One of the reasons I moved here was to get away from that, especially now that I have a young child to take care of. I still love Portland and what's left of my neighborhood, but the City really needs to up their game again.


via email

EDITOR'S NOTE: The writer, whose full name is known to us, asked us to withhold his last name in the interests of his family's safety. City Hall does receive THE BEE, and we hope someone there will return to look into this again, and perhaps bring about a more permanent remediation of a hazardous situation in Inner Southeast.

"Set limits on cost increases"


With the ever-increasing costs of groceries, fuel, construction materials, and all other goods, we need to urge the Governor and City Council to enact annual limits that costs can increase. They have the power to hold down these spiraling increases, exactly as they did several years ago with landlords and increasing rents — they called it "rent control". Or would these electeds not find it politically palatable to require only fair and moderate annual increases from grocers, say 7% and CPI? Or is it possible that Kroger, Safeway, etc. have the power to close their doors if such a demand went forward, but mom and pop landlords do not have such an option? With the spiraling costs of goods, and no efforts from Salem or City Council to hold down costs, it now has become clear that landlords' retirements have been sacrificed for mere political gains — not for the benefit of all in our community.

Steve Schmunk Brooklyn neighborhood

Opposes Charter Reform measure


When it comes to the proposed City Charter (the political framework for City governance) that will be on the ballot in November, the Charter Commission intensions may be good but the resulting proposed Charter is resoundingly misguided.

Proposed City Charter Amendments were developed over the past year based on the conclusion that the Commission form of government has become dysfunctional. Elected Commissioners are largely unqualified and unaccountable as managers of urban services that they are charged to steward. Spiking crime, ad hoc campsites, trash in the streets, a zoning free for all, a defaced central city, non-response to citizen complaints, lack of coordination among bureaus, lost tree canopy, wasted tax dollars, city workers who say they will quit before coming into the office for work, and so on. Something must change . . . but let's consider the devils in the charter details.

Increased Taxpayer Burden: The Charter Commission failed to weigh or analyze the funding impacts. Unaccountable Representation: The Charter Commission voted to create four large geographic districts based on equal population distribution subject to continuous change. Map boundaries for the districts are left for a future boundary committee to determine! Reduced Equity and Diversity: The Charter Commission recommended 3 city councilors per district . . . informed (without evidence) that the formula would insure that representatives from "minority" groups would be elected. Weaker Mayor: Accountability and authority of the Mayor would continue to be weak. A Complex Experiment in Voting: Special interests convinced the Charter Commission that this was the best way to vote even though few cities use this approach, and none combine it with multiple representatives per district. There is urgency for action to fix the Portland Charter. But the 2022 City Charter proposal is fatally flawed as a formula for improved governance. There is an alliance of citizen committees and possibly our City Council who are committed to Charter reform following a defeat of the proposed charter in November: the Partnership for Common Sense and the Ulysses PAC. Patience is needed to get this right.

Rod Merrick


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