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.

Friday, December 6, 2013

It's not a loss. It's not a win. It's a remand.

That means Wally Remmers, developer of the controversial 4-story, 50-unit building on Northeast Fremont, has to fix things. Such as where to put his drywall where it won't run afoul of building and property line setbacks. These are a few of the things that the state Land Use Board of Appeals agrees with us were wrong in the permitting of the development.

The drywell is important because it acts as flood control—especially important given the flow that will come off the maximum-size roof—and new projects such as this can no longer hook up to city lines, to help avoid polluting overflows into the Willamette River. The drywell also is important because it rains here. 

By the way, if there's this much trouble with features readily seen on the plans or above ground, how about everything you can't see? Better cross fingers for the tenants.

The good news is that the city has a chance to look at the project again and revise the permit. It took hundreds of hours of work, thousands of dollars in legal bills, and a trip to Salem to have neighbors' concerns addressed. The outcome of all this, however, is an improved development for everyone, one that even handles its own runoff safely.

Our successful legal challenge representing another chapter in the citywide movement Neighbors for Responsible Growth, the Beaumont-Wilshire activists are proud of our part in the struggle, and glad to have an impartial state board agree with us on some errors in the project. May another positive outcome of the case be that the city and neighbors start working together to add density in a way that benefits neighborhoods, making better investments for all. 

After all, this LUBA stuff is expensive. (Speaking of, have you donated yet?) 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Decision time nears

"Does this wall make my building look big?"
Three weeks ago Beaumont-Wilshire Neighbors for Responsible Growth traveled to Salem to make our case against Wally Rammers's 4-story, 50-unit building on Northeast Fremont. The countdown clock ticks as we anticipate hearing any hour now how the members of the state Land Use Board of Appeals ruled on our four assignments of error with the permit (briefly, they had to do with whether the city's requirement of parking for buildings of this size applies, the non-code conforming placement of the drywell, the shortcutting of process in defining the site, and the project's various structures set within required setbacks or too close to adjacent lot lines).

The gist of all the particulars is that Remmers built a building too big for the site, and got a lot of city staffers to rubber-stamp it. Regardless of how LUBA rules, hopefully this shameful chapter of Portland's development history receives no sequel. After all, the city can't afford any more bad will. The developer shouldn't get any more special treatment, especially given what this project has cost us all in terms of effort, expense, and good faith. And the members of Beaumont-Wilshire Neighbors for Responsible Growth can hardly afford the legal appeal we made just trying to right this mess at the state level.

Speaking of support, have you—dear readers—donated to the cause? If we had a buck for every one of the 6,500 visits to this blog, we could pay the rest of our legal bills. You can contribute online, drop a check to BWNRG at the Fremont branch of Umpqua Bank, or send it to our awesome pro bono accountant WP Price, 4300 NE Fremont, #250, Portland, OR 97213.

Thank you for the support.