Letters: Know the truth about historic district rules
Tom Christ in his Nov. 15 MyView (Infill could promote more diversity) makes some factual misstatements and incorrect conclusions about the Laurelhurst neighborhood.
As secretary of the Laurelhurst Neighborhood Association (LNA) for the past three years, I would like to correct the record.
First, Mr. Christ states, "in a historic district, you can't alter existing structures, making it difficult, if not impossible, to create new dwellings, even where permitted."
In fact, though, if Laurelhurst receives certification this spring as a historic district from the National Park Service, there will be no restriction on "altering existing structures."
The only restriction will be on demolition of a historic resource — such demolition will not be prohibited, but it would require approval of the City Council.
I will repeat, there will be no design review required on existing structures in Laurelhurst, even if they are listed on the National Register.
The state of Oregon has repealed those rules for newly formed historic districts, and it is uncertain when and if any rules will be re-established on design review for new districts in Portland.
Second, he states that the purpose of the historic district "is not, as you might imagine, to preserve historic homes, of which there might be a few in each neighborhood." This claim of a "few" historic homes is, however, untrue.
The official survey of Laurelhurst's historic resources determined that over 75 percent of the structures are indeed "contributing resources" to the historic district. And many of the "non-contributing" structures are more recent garages and other structures, including ADUs.
This document is on record with the city of Portland, the Oregon State Historic Preservation Officer, and the National Park Service.
Third, he claims that Laurelhurst opposed the Residential Infill Project and is not willing to "accommodate ... smaller dwellings for single parents, young couples, grandparents, etc."
In fact, the LNA is on record (letter filed with Bureau of Development Services, Aug. 4, 2016) in support of RIP provisions for greater numbers of ADUs, internal demolition of residences for new duplexes, and for cottage clusters. LNA opposed external demolition of structures for this purpose because of the impact on the historic character of the neighborhood.
I know that many of my neighbors feel that it would be more productive in debating the value of Laurelhurst's historic status if opponents stuck to the facts and the law. These have been the basis of a purely grassroots effort in our neighborhood.
Unfortunately, Mr. Christ and others have not provided that type of debate recently in the Portland Tribune.
Police killed more unarmed blacks than racists did
I like the idea of remembering Mulugeta Seraw (Mulugeta Seraw remembered 30 years after his murder, Nov. 15), particularly in a city where half the present population wasn't even here in 1988.
But I worry about the danger of highlighting one isolated event while other, more chronic events, are still with us.
We may no longer have the visible skinhead presence of 30 years ago, but we still have police. Unless there are statistics of which I am ignorant, the police have killed more unarmed black people than any modern white supremacist group.
And as tragic as the Seraw story is, I've always considered the Lloyd Stevenson story to be more so, since he was killed by racists on the city payroll. And don't forget about the T-shirts.
Yes, Portland had a skinhead problem in the '80s. Portland also had actual black neighborhoods in the '80s. Those neighborhoods no longer exist, since they were colonized by so-called "progressive" white people in the '90s, and the black residents and their culture were pushed out.
Portland also had black people on the City Council in the '80s. Why has it taken over 30 years to get another?
Black lives matter, but so do other black things, like a neighborhood to call home and freedom from fear and an equal position in the political landscape. One black president doesn't make all the bad stuff disappear, even in Portland.
Curtis E. Bryant
Inslee must help stop methanol plant
We need to keep the world's largest fracked gas-to-methanol refinery from being built in southwest Washington. Natural gas or methane is 86 times as warming as carbon dioxide. If built, the methanol refinery alone would pollute as much as 1.2 million cars, increasing Washington's contribution to global warming.
Also, the refinery would require massive pipeline expansions. Gas pipelines leak methane over 30 times more than carbon dioxide and have a history of dangerous explosions.
The power of eminent domain can be used to seize private property for pipeline placement. We are calling on Gov. Jay Inslee to stand with us by taking a public stance against the methanol refinery.
White Salmon, Washington