What's happening now

Formerly the home of Beaumont-Wilshire Neighbors for Responsible Growth, the Portland Land Matters blog explores citywide land-use concerns, such as home demolitions, with the belief that development should create an improvement.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Captain Hales can act to right the ship

The picture shows seven vehicles backed up during morning rush hour; if Wally Remmers's building leases up as designed, add 36 more.

While we wait for the decision from the state Land Use Board of Appeals, let's revisit an article from the Portland Tribune showing what Mayor Charlie Hales thinks of the recent rash of development across the east side. After an East Portland Chamber of Commerce gathering a couple of months ago, the mayor acknowledged the mistake of no-parking buildings, such as the one going up on Northeast Fremont between 44th and 45th avenues. "Zero parking spaces is not the right number," he said. "All you're doing is exporting parking problems to the surrounding neighborhood streets." 

Prioritizing the profit-driven desires of an out-of-town developer over neighborhood residents, many of whom have worked hard to improve their neighborhood only to see those investments destroyed by their own city, has taken a toll on east-side neighbors' confidence in their city. We who just started paying our annual property taxes wonder how much of that money is going to defend against us in matters before the state Land Use Board of Appeals—and it shakes our confidence in the system. After all, even though the developer pays one-time System Development Charges to build where he has, exploiting neighborhood gains for his own and contributing nothing to the neighborhood but unmitigated traffic and other impacts, about 30 neighboring households are paying just as much into city coffers every year.

At that meeting, Mayor Hales went on: "I also want to look at that infill issue. And I also want to look at design requirements. I don't think our requirements for design review are good enough or tough enough outside of the central city."
Summing up the effects of poor planning and permitting, Hales said, "I want to reconsider the question of what we are allowing for infill in single-family neighborhoods. What is happening now, in some cases, is costing us a lot of public goodwill. It's a bad bargain."
Read the whole story here.
Is this the best planning we can do? Raise the bar, Mayor Hales!
All these comments aptly describe our situation in Beaumont-Wilshire, where not only are we defending against Wally Remmers's non-code compliant building but rampant teardowns of modest-size homes in favor of maximum-size cookie-cutter homes that dilute neighborhood character, reduce adjacent home values, and deplete affordable housing.
Using Mayor Hales's own term, Remmers's much-delayed and -contested 4-story, 50-unit building on Fremont is the ultimate "bad bargain" for the immediate neighborhood as well as any other residents of the east side who use and depend on Northeast Fremont, a city-designated major emergency response route. 
What Mayor Hales seems to forget, however, is that he's in a superior position to help fix it.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

BWNRG's Salem diary: Happy to be here, happy to be heard

The long road to LUBA ends here.

It's just now sinking in, today's big day in court! We filed our appeal of Wally Remmers's 4-story, 50-unit building on Northeast Fremont at the state Land Use Board of Appeals in April. But the developer put so many obstacles and delays in our path—we just fended off another last week—that it took eight months to reach Salem and a higher level of scrutiny. All the while, Remmers continued to build at his own risk. You would think a developer would want to know the problems with his building so he could solve them without the expense, time, and effort of visiting LUBA.

We came, we presented, we look forward to the Dec. 4 decision.
Clearly it will take many neighborhood Davids—and their hard-earned dollars—to go up against the Goliath. As our recent fundraiser at Blackbird Wineshop illustrated, we may be a small neighborhood but, with growing support from within and outside our boundaries, we are strong. When faced with ill-conceived, poorly planned, and non-code-conforming development, Beaumont-Wilshire doesn't back down.

Residents from Beaumont-Wilshire and other east-side neighborhoods learn more about Wally Remmers's troubled development on Northeast Fremont at the Blackbird Wineshop event Nov. 11.
BWNRG's John Golden recounts the appeal process, from the SRO crowd gathered in June 2012 to the Nov. 14 LUBA date.
The LUBA hearing itself consisted of an hour of argument in the sober confines of the Land Board Room at the State Lands headquarters in Salem. In the staid surroundings, the board members listened carefully, consulted the plans, and asked great questions. We feel good about presenting a solid case.

Now we wait for the board's decision, due Dec. 4, and continue to raise money for our legal bills. We raised a good chunk at the fundraiser, but have one more big bill to cover. To donate online, click the links above or at right, or send a check made out to BWNRG c/o our pro bono accountant WP Price, 4300 NE Fremont #250, Portland 97213. Thank you to everyone who helped us make it this far, and thank you to the generous donors to our raffle prize:

A spirited Q&A brings attendees up to speed on the project.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Raise a glass to the future of Beaumont-Wilshire

For those concerned about the future of Portland neighborhoods, Beaumont Village is the place to be as neighbors toast their day in court: this week's hearing at the state Land Use Board of Appeals. Eight months in the making and finally reaching the necessary higher level of scrutiny, BWNRG's appeal on the code issues and impacts of Wally Rammers's 4-story, 50-unit building on Northeast Fremont between 44th and 45th avenues will be heard Thursday in Salem.

To mark this important milestone, neighborhood activists and supporters are holding a pre-LUBA rally that makes for a hearty send-off to Salem. In other words, let's party! Please join us from 7 to 9 pm Monday, Nov. 11, at Blackbird Wineshop, 4323 NE Fremont. It's also a fundraiser for our legal fund, so we're asking $50 per person at the door, by check to BWNRG or online through the links above and at right. Refreshments provided.

Looking forward to seeing you there, and soon!