This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 6, 2003 4:26 PM. The previous post in this blog was "Here's one you can hit, Jackie". The next post in this blog is They missed one. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2003

On the street where you live

Over here in Northeast Portland we have a monthly "shopper" newspaper called The Hollywood Star. Portland has a Hollywood district, and that's what it's named after. The Star part is just a play on the usual connotations one has about things from Hollywood.

One thing the Star does extremely well is cover local land use issues. There's always a bunch of shenanigans going on with land use in the Rose City, and it's good to keep up with them. The periodic updates run several pages each issue.

The only downside of this feature is what it will do to your blood pressure if you're a taxpaying, law-abiding homeowner on the east side who would just like to retain the character of a nice neighborhood.

This time around we have a controversy a couple of blocks from where I used to live regarding the plan to knock down a recently abandoned nursing home and put up a new one that's about three times as tall. The neighbors hate the idea, but the owner is giving them the proverbial digit. If you don't like my supersized nursing home, he says, I'll lease the space to a drug treatment center. See how you like that. You signed up for a nursing home when you bought a house here, and you should have to live with one as big and as tall and as ugly as I want to make it.

Great neighbor, huh?

The locals have appealed to the City Hall planning bureaucrats, but the odds of them getting any help from that quarter are slim indeed. That's the same planning department that told the same neighborhood a few years ago that a commercially run halfway house for convicted gangsters straight out of prison is technically (I am not making this up) a "disabled" "family," and so the city couldn't keep it from locating in a residential neighborhood and a block from an elementary school. And the city didn't. And the neighbors moved.

I finally moved out myself after another commercial outfit sneaked a methadone clinic into the neighborhood over Christmas without so much as a courtesy notice to the neighborhood association. They're still there / He's all gone. In Portland, a methadone clinic, which brings 400 struggling heroin addicts and ex-addicts into a neighborhood every day, is zoned the same as a Baskin-Robbins.

I think we need a methadone clinic in the new North Macadam development. Let's spread the joy.

Then there's the airport, the infernal, constantly droning Portland Airport, that's pushing to expand, expand, expand, even though the economy here stinks and there's nobody new flying here. The Port of Portland (motto: "Megalomania in Government") is hell bent on sticking a new runway down the throats of about a quarter of the city, which doesn't want it. And the city seems poised to give the Almighty Port what it wants.

When homeowners complain about the noise, Portland government pulls out the oldest line in the book. {nasally voice of Mayor Katz} We don't control airport traffic. That's the FAA's responsibility. We don't run the airport. That's the Port of Portland. Here, let me transfer you. {/nasally voice of Mayor Katz} But here's the city's chance to say no the proposed monstrosity on all sorts of grounds that are appropriate, and the council's going to quietly say yes.

Folks, the airport is unfortunately located too close to the middle of the metropolitan area. It would never be built there today. If we need a new runway, put it at the Salem airport.

Why do we read about these issues only in offbeat papers like the Star and on cranky old Jack's weblog?

Because our municipal leaders have mastered the art of burying important livability concerns. They make deals in smoke-filled rooms long before you hear about them.

I'm sure the airport expansion is a done deal. The only item left on the to-do list is figuring out how to build it before anyone notices.

Oh, there'll be a public meeting on the new runway, all right. But the bulldozers will start building it first.

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