Letters: Neighborhood groups give citizens a say
I appreciate the Tribune highlighting the possible downgrading of neighborhood associations through the rewrite of city code by the Office of Community and Civic Life.
I would hate to see our neighborhood form of involvement disappear, as it's a good way to know more about what's going on. As an example, at Arbor Lodge's last meeting, we heard from Portland Clean Air about local diesel and manufacturing pollution. We regularly meet with city employees, especially from the transportation and planning bureaus. We hear from and support nearby schools. And much more.
Of course, we discuss housing issues often. I imagine some in the city don't like associations hassling them about decisions and policies. But isn't it better if interested citizens have a vehicle to meet, learn more and give input — especially during this very disorienting build-build-build period?
I'm not saying such associations are perfect: no doubt, for example, that we could improve our outreach, especially to renters. But I hope the city government will not write us off as inconsequential NIMBY-ites.
We may not agree on what makes a city "livable," but surely it must be that those structures which increase citizen awareness and input are essential.
We have failed to fix homelessness
As a community, we have failed the multitudes of homeless living on our streets, or under our bridges.
Perhaps some of us feel if we ignore them, they might go away. We have failed in that we have not provided dedicated camping spaces for them; have not declared they can't camp or sleep in front of our government buildings and businesses, which are the life-blood of a city.
We have failed in not providing adequate trash receptacles and portable toilets near large camps. We have failed to use Wapato as a dedicated shelter, saying it is "not to code" (neither is sleeping under a bridge or on a sidewalk), and it is "not near services" (which could be accessed by running daily shuttle buses to downtown).
We fail the homeless when we give them money, instead of a bag of food and/or toiletries.
All the planning for affordable housing and increased density will do little or nothing for the homeless community.
The homeless have failed the community by not taking advantage of the many services offered to them by local churches and charitable organizations; by not respecting businesses enough to not sleep on their doorsteps; by not discouraging those in their group from harassing people; by (those who are able) not picking up their own trash and leaving terrible messes behind.
The situation is not improving — the city is trying but clearly has not gotten great results. This situation needs to be resolved now.
Grimm's outlines plans to be better neighbor
Grimm's Fuel Co. is a third-generation, family-owned composting business. When we started in 1929, we had few neighbors. But as the region has grown, we find ourselves with many more neighbors and a need to work harder to live in harmony with you.
Composting yard debris into mulch does create some odors and to address the issue we put a plan in place to upgrade our facility. In the fall of 2018, we began installing a new technology that will significantly reduce odors from our composting facility. It is called the "aerated static pile" process and has been engineered by Green Mountain Technologies. We are installing this aeration system as quickly as we can, and by the second quarter of 2020, 100% of our piles will be aerated. This aeration method has been proven to significantly reduce odor from compositing facilities throughout the nation.
We began testing this technology with our yard debris in February 2019 with great results. Since then we have completed 21 batches and the average oxygen readings in the composting material has been 18.6%.
Our progress continues with the construction of our northern composting modules. Aeration pipes have been installed and the concrete for the pad was poured June 29.
Our commitment to be a good neighbor does not end there. We are also committed to being better communicators. We will update close neighbors on our progress via mailed and emailed newsletters, notices in neighborhood newspapers and a dedicated blog page: grimmsfuelco.wordpress.com.
We will also host several open houses, and will send invitations via mail, email, our website and the newspaper. And if you live right near us, in the Pony Ridge or Angel Haven neighborhoods, you have access to unlimited free yard debris dumping, free garden mulch compost and free blended soil.
Our region is doing more and more composting, which is a benefit to the community and the earth. Grimm's receives about 60% of Portland's yard waste and turns it into compost, creating organic compost for home gardeners and farmers. This keeps millions of cubic feet of organic material out of our region's landfills and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
Since we opened our doors in 1929, Grimm's Fuel has been committed to be a good neighbor. Ninety years later, we remain committed to that goal. We invite you to come by or email us to let us know how we're doing.
Jeff Grimm is the general manager of Grimm's Fuel Co.
Don't allow building in 'death zone'
Kathryn Schulz's recent New Yorker article about Oregon's shockingly shortsighted decision to allow development of long-lived public assets in Oregon's tsunami inundation zone, which might be more appropriately labeled "the death zone," should give us pause. As Schulz points out, the risk of death in the inundation zone is virtually 100%.
Four years ago, I worked on a blueprint for reducing development and financing evacuation infrastructure in tsunami risk areas. But few, if any, coastal cities have adopted the recommendations largely because the lure of attracting new high value development to one of the most beautiful natural wonders on earth — the Oregon Coast — trumps common sense. It's like the "Jaws" syndrome on a massive scale.
Is there a more compelling argument for gradually returning a narrow band of coastline to a more natural state than to avoid certain and massive loss of life? The answer, apparently, is no. The debate we should be having is what steps can we take to shift people out of the "death zone"? Clearly we should not make matters worse by building critical infrastructure there.
Why aren't we having this discussion? Well, it's complicated. Imagine the complaints if cities suggested expanding their urban growth boundaries to accommodate urban development displaced from inundation zones. Regardless, the arguments the Legislature used to pass House Bill 3309 and put schools, hospitals, fire stations, prisons and other essential public assets in "the death zone" are shameful.
Gov. Brown, please veto this bill.