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, September 18, 2015

We plant them. They cut them down.

With a tentative agreement reached with the developer to buy the site where three giant sequoias stand in Eastmoreland, it's time to look at some lessons learned. (Even so, vigilance is required because the Remmerses have been known to say one thing and do the opposite, as yesterday's skirmish showed: In the midst of negotiations the trucks showed up with chain saws, and protesters rallied to turn them away.)

This is what failed land-use policy looks like: 22 police officers called in to protect
one developer's "interest" in chopping down 150-year-old trees. Portland neighbors likely will
get the bill; they already endure all the costs of this destructive style of
development citywide.
On the way home to my neighborhood, I saw Renaissance Homes/Columbia Redevelopment harvesting signature trees at Northeast Edgehill Place and Fremont Street with nary a protester in sight:

Chain saws take it away in the Alameda neighborhood.
Meanwhile, the city of Portland sends out the following flier with its water bills, encouraging people to plant trees. Every schoolkid knows trees pump out oxygen for us to breathe and provide habitat, but there are other compelling reasons to keep them standing. Where are our water and environmental services bureaus while wholesale deforestation takes place?

As one who has participated in many Friends of Trees plantings, I wonder why neighbors would or should spend so many Saturdays putting do-good trees in the ground when they're razed just as quickly for new development that brings no benefit to the neighborhood.

Eastmoreland, as organized as neighbors are there, worked tirelessly to beat back the would-be developer of the site at 3646 SE Martins St. They had help this week from neighbors citywide. As many have pointed out, less affluent, less engaged, and less proactive neighborhoods would have a hard time doing the same.

We do, but the city won't protect them.
Check out your neighborhood association, which the city likes to say is our most effective conduit for protecting neighborhood interests. When Bob McCullough of the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association was asked why he was at the SE Martins site risking arrest earlier this week. He simply said, "This is my neighborhood. This is what I have to do." Many neighborhoods don't have such accountable and strong leadership. Does yours? If not, what can you do to help? If every neighborhood had a land-use rapid response team, we'd be ahead in this game.

Eastmoreland's fight may be over, but there will be more citywide.

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