The Mid-county Memo is your newspaper, and we want to hear from you! Discuss an important issue, respond to a request for comment or address a concern you want to call to the attention of the community. Letters to the editor will always be edited for space, style, grammar and issues of clarity. Please include your full name and identify the neighborhood in which you reside. We prefer e-mailed letters to the editor sent to Darlene Vinson at email@example.com. Please put “Letter to the editor” in the subject line. You may also mail your letter to 3510 N.E. 134th Ave., Portland, OR 97230 or fax it to 503-249-7672. Deadline for the September issue is Monday, Aug. 15.
End to homelessness starts at Wapato
To the Editor:
How many readers would want to live in a dwelling with sewer flies? How about electrical wiring that smolders and emits a noxious odor? Seismically unsound construction? No fire sprinkler system? No kitchen and inadequate toilet facilities? On one of the most dangerous intersections in Portland? A building considered by the [Multnomah] County as “the lowest-rated building in the entire inventory of county facilities”? No? At that building on July 7, [Multnomah] County Chair Deborah Kafoury told a standing room-only assembly that she chose the Hansen Building, with these safety concerns and a cost of $140,000 for minor repairs, as a place good enough to house Portland’s homeless.
Multnomah County has a better option at the Wapato facility, but Kafoury steadfastly looks for ways to eliminate that site, saying that “the location is too far away from downtown or Gresham; [additionally, it will cost] $145,000 to make minor changes.” I do not believe her reasons to reject Wapato are insurmountable. Wapato is a pristine, unused facility built in 2004 to the highest standards of safety. Wapato’s natural surroundings enhance a seismically sound building; it is ADA compliant and free of lead contamination and sewer flies, with modern comfort systems. It can offer dorms to separate men, women, couples and teens.
Built as a self-contained, full-service facility in a campus environment, Wapato provides 525 beds, adequate shower/toilet facilities, a commercial kitchen, laundry and dining hall. Generous open spaces provide options for education and job training. There is also space for drug/alcohol treatment and medical care. It is beautifully landscaped with public art, an exercise space and even a dog kennel for residents’ pets.
Wapato’s structure is in a job-rich location, with over 115 companies within easy walking, biking or bussing distance, which provides the potential to end the cycle of homelessness. Tri-Met’s Rivergate bus #11 serves Wapato and connects to the MAX at the Expo Center. Entry-level to family-wage jobs with benefits are currently advertised on A-board signs throughout the neighborhood, many offering job training. What better location for a population that wants to work and needs a chance to do so?
Critics claim that this use isn’t compliant with Wapato’s financing. According to Multnomah County’s 2014 Request for Interest for the Acquisition and Repurposing of the Facility, penalties exist if Wapato is used for private purposes prior to bond repayment. Housing the homeless is a public purpose, not a private one, and Transition Projects, the proposed operator of the county’s facility, is a nonprofit organization. Alternatively, the county could staff some or all of Wapato with county employees.
Critics allege a stigma attaches to the building even though never utilized as a correctional facility. Just look at the success of McMenamins Edgefield (the former Multnomah County Poor Farm) and the planned redevelopment of the Troutdale Jail as a hotel to see the fallacy of this argument.
Unlike the Hansen Building, Wapato offers the county an opportunity to break the cycle of homelessness with on-site health and employment services in a safe environment. Why warehouse the homeless in an unsafe building when the county can safely get them to self-sufficiency at Wapato?
Disgusted with stupid laws, bureaucrats
To the Editor:
Regarding bulbouts (Letters to the Editor, “Curb ‘bulbouts’—a solution looking for a problem” MCM July 2016), Steve Wilson writes that it is very dangerous at Northeast 132nd Avenue and Brazee Street. This I have to agree with—and why is it ODOT instead of PDOT (Portland Department of Transportation)? Who are the idiots that come up with theses stupid projects and allow the Oregon Clinic to block access to the MAX at Northeast 99th Avenue and Pacific Street?
I was born in Nebraska on a farm south of Bassett on July 7, 1935. I lived in Topeka, Kan., most of my life, and it is also run by stupid people. My wife did not like the Kansas sun, so we moved here in 2001.
The problem is when we vote in a new member of Congress, they have to do something to show they can do something, and that is why we have these stupid laws. What is interesting is how the dumb controllers do things like changing numbered streets to named streets. And would you care to guess how many have no idea what or where is Banfield or how to decipher the many names for Portland’s bridges? I do not go downtown or anywhere I feel there is danger, as I have post-traumatic stress disorder with panic disorder.
Steve Wilson, what do you think of the speed humps that the idiots put on Northeast 132nd Avenue?
A very disgusted man,
Rex R. Bahr
Can of paint offered as solution
To the Editor:
“Bulbout” curbs: they put the pedestrian waiting to cross right next to the traffic flying by, within inches of speeding fenders and rearview mirrors, and expose him to those mirrors on cars turning at the intersection.
Ever notice how far over the bulbout curb an extended truck mirror sweeps when turning? I would far rather walk a few extra feet when the traffic clears than stand those extra feet closer to the traffic whizzing past.
And the effect on traffic flow is terrible, as Steve Wilson has pointed out. It prevents cars from going around other cars waiting to turn left, causing long lines of stalled cars, and forces people turning right into a dangerous and uncomfortably sharp turning radius, which usually requires crossing the middle line of the street they are turning into.
Check out the one on westbound Prescott Street at Northeast 67th Avenue as a perfect example: every bus for the school on the corner must turn left, each one jamming Prescott, as no cars can pass.
This is actually the real reason for these road hazards: lefty car-haters will do anything, however unreasonable, to purposely jam up auto traffic. They giggle at gridlock.
Solution? Just crosshatch-paint the area about the size of a car parked right on the corner and designate it with “No Parking: $500 Fine.” It would provide clear visibility between pedestrians and approaching drivers, permit passing a car waiting to turn left and permit safer right turns. Cost: one guy with a brush and a can of paint for an hour.
How does that compare to the cost of days of contracted jackhammering and concrete pouring? Gee, maybe instead we could actually patch some potholes!
Doesn’t anyone ever actually think about these things, before letting starry-eyed fanatics bullshuck us into spending scarce money on poorly conceived projects?
James A. Eveland
Argay Terrace resident