Letters: Do not tell students not to fight for gun laws
I found Sen. Betsy Johnson's writing on "We can't give what we don't have" (Jan. 31 MyView column) very interesting.
Sen. Johnson does have some good points on some topics, but I found her reference in the paragraph on "guns" condescending to some, where she refers to "expect the focus to be on those (gun control) bills pushed by a group of urban high school students inspired by the protests following a school shooting in Parkland, Florida."
Many — no, far too many — of our students in recent years have either been killed, injured or lived through a school shooting. These students have looked horror and death in the face and turned time and again to our leaders to "do something" to make these events end.
And little or nothing has been done.
To require a permit before obtaining a gun, to secure firearms (which will protect innocent children from accessing a loaded firearm) or require background checks on all, even gun show purchases, is just common sense.
To those who tout their Second Amendment rights, no one is trying to take away firearms from anyone or deny gun ownership to anyone passing a background check. What is needed are responsible gun ownership laws.
These youngsters are a force for making these changes, they are the voting bloc of the future and should receive our respect and support. They, and millions of others who vote, will continue to support their efforts.
Revenue Department workers needed
In 1996, there were approximately 2.3 million people living in Oregon. There were approximately 1,000 employees at the Oregon Department of Revenue. That was 435 employees per 1 million residents.
In 2019, there are approximately 4 million people living in Oregon and 933 employees at the Oregon Department of Revenue. That is about 233 employees per 1 million residents.
I think the ratio of employees to residents should be returned to 435. Considering each law enforcement officer produces 10 times the revenue that officer costs, the additional revenue would help mitigate the financial problems of the government.
Zoning for new homes not only problem
Paul Majkut's response to Mary Vogel's Jan. 15 commentary ("Home-zoning tide a welcome turn") was spot on.
I have been involved with land-use planning in Oregon since the 1970s. Senate Bill 100 is not comparable to Speaker Tina Kotek's House Bill 2001. SB 100 established goals for developing comprehensive plans with citizen involvement. HB 2001 is a legislative mandate dictating what cities shall do.
That some cities have manipulated zoning standards for exclusionary purposes is true. But zoning isn't the real problem here. The problems are multiple, including:
1. Gentrification causing displacement of low-income or disadvantaged people and lack of affordable housing for these people;
2. Cities failing to comply with Goal 10 (housing) in terms of addressing housing needs for all income levels and housing types (including middle densities);
3. Inadequate oversight by the state and Metro regarding Goal 10 compliance; and
4. Unusual economic influences that include artificial inflation of housing costs, stagnant income levels, homelessness increases and lack of timely responses by government.
According to a 2018 PSU Capstone team report, this area needs 29,000 more affordable units. That same report states that at least 45,000 spare bedrooms are within the area. Other sources indicate at least 4,500 illegal short-term rental units (Airbnb type).
In addition, Portland has issued 1,248 alternate dwelling unit permits in the past two years. Run the numbers and you can see the potential is almost there to solve housing needs without HB 2001.
The commentary suggested HB 2001 will encourage green development and affordability. There are no such guarantees in the bill that either will happen; it's all speculative.
Adding density means more building coverage and less landscaping. Adding units where rents already are inflated does not mean rents will go down.
Finally, the Minneapolis example mentioned does not include fourplexes and has only just been adopted. It was not intended to be applied statewide like HB 2001 is proposing.
Closing Cornelius Pass Road isn't
In regards to Erik Linden's comments about the closure of the major arterial, Cornelius Pass Road (Jan. 22, "Cornelius Pass detour plan full of holes"), what's little known (although verified by a county employee) is that the major closure of the road between Skyline Road and Highway 30 for months is to facilitate the replacement of a culvert under the road with a larger culvert for the sole purpose of trying to encourage the rehabilitation of fish runs in the tiny creek paralleling the road.
The safety improvements (guardrails etc.) do not require total shutdown of this major arterial.