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Readers' Letters: Check out facts on both sides of land-use issue

I do not know nor have I ever met either James Crawford or John Platt. I have no connection to an organized group that advocates either for or against any pending land-use issues.

I have, however, lived for more than 50 years in the area now referred to as “Bethany” — although my mailing address has always been Portland. As a long-time resident, I can attest to the fact that most of Mr. Crawford’s assertions are true (1000 Friends’ land-use agenda is flawed, guest column, March 6).

But why take my word for it? There is one confirming action that anyone reading Mr. Crawford’s op-ed piece can take: simply go for a pleasant Sunday afternoon drive out Northwest West Union Road and see for yourself.

Make no mistake about the true nature of this debate — two sets of millionaires are contending here: the developers and the relatively recent “landed gentry” that dominates the area that some call “Helvetia” and others refer to as “Intel’s Playground.” As an old African saying puts it, “when two elephants fight, the grass suffers.”

Drive up Northwest Jackson School Road or any of the roads that bisect the area north of U.S. Highway 26 and count the McMansions that sit grandly in the center of hay fields that generations of true farmers broke their backs clearing of stumps and rocks. That is, if you can see past the massive stone and iron gates, some of which still bear “Save our Rural Lifestyle” placards.

Better yet, bring along a shovel and try to dig a hole in that “prime farmland.” You’ll find that it’s about an inch deep, then you hit the clay. The soil in this area has always been good for growing one primary crop — grass hay and grass seed.

That brings us to the statements of Mr. Platt and his ilk concerning “prime farmland,” a phrase that conjours up visions of a cornucopia of fresh veggies and natural goodness. Since when does one have to irrigate grass to make it grow in Western Oregon?

The “talkspeak” propagated by organized groups such as 1000 Friends of Oregon depends on one simple fact of human nature: the vast majority of people hearing those sweeping and fantastic statements won’t do anything to verify the truth for themselves.

Debra Johnson

Northwest Portland

Citizen involvement key to Oregon future

The big difference between Oregon, and say, New Jersey, is that citizens know that they have a say in their state’s future (Fighting sprawl, guest column, March 18).

Keeping that trust is the only way we can ensure that the incredible legacy of Oregon is preserved. For it is only when citizens truly own their governments that they commit themselves and their energies to building a good place to live. By shutting citizens out, elected officials not only dishonor their obligations to the citizens, they plant the seeds of destruction of their own communities.

Rex Burkholder

Southeast Portland

How paper uses liberal shows bias

How come every issue lately contains the word “liberal” as if it were a foul epithet? We know you tend toward the conservative, but that should not color reporting the news sans bias.

Marychris Mass

Southeast Portland

Think big about uses for Post office land

The post office property is huge; a tremendous, almost once-in-a-generation development opportunity for Portland (Mayor: Old Town needs some TLC, March 18).

Thinking bigger will be key. Another series of apartment buildings will not do. It would make for an excellent job-creating corporate campus. As an example precedent, we could look at Amazon’s campus in downtown Seattle.

Michael Caputo

Downtown Portland

Share stories, opinions on climate change

Thanks for Kendra Hogue’s great article on the value of telling personal stories to motivate people to climate action (The making of a climate change activist, Sustainable Life, March 13). Much has been written lately about the inability of climate facts to convince people that climate change needs immediate attention. It turns out it is more important for people who have experience or knowledge to express opinions.

Here is my story and my opinion: I’ve known about climate change for decades, but I’ve also known that my green decisions, by themselves, can’t slow climate change. So three years ago, I reluctantly began volunteering for Citizens’ Climate Lobby seeking legislation for a revenue-neutral carbon tax (just know that I am a former CPA and this is the best way to reduce emissions and stimulate the economy).

Why was I reluctant to work with CCL? Because I learned as a teenager in the 1960s that in American politics the people who seek to improve the world get shot, and those who want to prevent improvement sit in Congress.

Yet, because climate change requires congressional legislation, and because newspapers were not covering climate change at all three years ago, I felt I had a moral obligation to lobby Congress.

I began writing letters to the editors of papers in the greater Boston area. Then I started writing to papers in the Northeast, and later all over the country.

Last week I had my 200th letter published. Will it help Congress pass revenue-neutral carbon tax legislation (with border adjustments to motivate Asian countries to adopt their own taxes)? I can only hope because now I have a grandchild and he doesn’t deserve to see 750, 800 or 950 parts per million in his lifetime.

Rabbi Judy Weiss

Brookline, Mass.

Portland is a draw even without jobs

Portland is a very desirable place to live, and the qualities that make it so aren’t disappearing anytime soon, jobs or not (Housing projects popping up in Pearl, March 13).

Hugh Bitzer

Northwest Portland

Housing must be more affordable

I only wish some of the money and resources were going into affordable housing (Housing projects popping up in Pearl, March 13). There is a real need for people of all ages here in Portland. I wonder who are all the people with the money to rent or buy in these buildings?

Linda Daily

Northeast Portland

Public input sought on future of bridges

Multnomah County agrees that now is the time to plan for the needs of our six Willamette River bridges (Aging bridges can no longer be ignored, editorial, March 13).

The county is in the midst of developing a 20-year capital improvement plan for its Willamette River bridges.

We are currently seeking input from the public on bridge improvements. Citizens can take our short online survey at surveymonkey.coms/H8L3Z7X and learn about the plan at multco.us/bridgeplan. The draft plan will be available for public comment this fall.

Mike Pullen

Communications Officer, Multnomah County

Southeast Portland