Tuesday, October 28, 2003
Follow the money
I’m sure many folks are still trying to figure out how to cast their vote(s) for measures 14-15 and 14-16. I humbly submit my test for these situations — the “follow the money” test. Ask yourself: who stands to gain, who stands to lose? The folks that stand to lose if these measures pass are the moneyed and established interests — the elite. Indeed, those fighting both 14-15 and 14-16 fit that description quite well — millionaire ski resort owners and former port commissioners and their friends. They stand to make a lot of money or protect their power or both. For example, why do most of the “concerned citizens” telling us about wonders of the Meadows organization, including the recent Op-Ed contributor, turn out to be Meadow’s employees? Why are many, if not most of the RTRG folks closely aligned with the Port? Don’t get me wrong; these groups have every right to fight for their best interests. But please don’t patronize me about their motives.
On the flip side, those working for these measures will gain nothing but the satisfaction in giving the good fight for a place they care deeply about. They have sacrificed significant amounts of their own time and money. They are doing it simply because they love this place. And yes, they are keenly interested in the economic health of the region. But, they know that treating this place like any other — simply as a place to extract from — will ultimately kill its advantage. So, if you view Hood River and the mountain as places to be exploited for maximum short-term profit by a few, then by all means vote no. But if you believe that future lies in preserving and building on what makes it special, and in keeping our representatives accountable, then please vote YES on 14-15 and 14-16.
Yes on 14 -16
A yes vote on 14 -16 allows you to:
Support development and jobs; support mixed use zoning; support waterfront park space.
Measure 14-16 does not ask for all of the waterfront land. It does not ask to displace businesses that are already located there.
Measure 14-16 will protect the actual waterfront (the land North of Portway) from privatization and development. (Portway is the road between Luhr Jensen and the Expo Center.)
Measure 14-16 is not anti-growth or anti-development. It asks for public space. It asks for a portion of the public space to be a designated waterfront park.
The current development proposal does not guarantee that.
The number one request to the Parks and Recreation Department is a waterfront park. A park can work in conjunction with development.
A park can increase the value of all that is attached to it, whether by property line or by association.
Invest in the future. Vote yes on 14-16.
Keep it public
Concerning the waterfront issue:
We keep hearing about “the public” who is not being listened to by the commissioners. After reading many letters to the editor it seems that this “public” is the recreational community.
But there is not just one “public” voice. There is a whole other public who supports the port’s commissioners and waterfront plan, and who has just as much right to be heard as the recreational community. The port commission listens to both publics and plans accordingly.
Measure not elitist
As we all know, saying something doesn’t make it so. When Bob Montgomery says that supporters of Measure 14-15 are “a group of elitist county residents that wants to thumb its nose at the county and state planning process” he is exercising his right to demonstrate how little concern he has for the real issues, or, for that matter, for the truth. Must we play everything to the tune of political rhetoric? Since when is concern for everybody’s water “elitist?”
Our water — both drinking and irrigation — has its sources almost exclusively in forestland.
Major housing or commercial developments in those areas could, and almost certainly would, seriously degrade the quality of our drinking water and the quantity of irrigation resources. This is a serious matter that is more fundamental to our quality of life than almost any other.
Our elected officials have at times listened far more attentively to those with means and power (the true elite) than to the county citizens as a whole. Until serious — repeat serious — safeguards are in place (we have no strict county water resource protection legislation), it is only prudent for us all to claim our say in what is done to our water in the name of “development.”
So we say let’s vote up or down, after the facts are put forward in the county approval process, on major developments in forestlands. Almost a no-brainer.
And if anyone believes, as Montgomery claims somewhat disingenuously that he does, that this would cost a lot of money, don’t let them fool you: think about how many developments in forestland that actually will be proposed and thus require a vote? Probably not a bunch! Not much expense there, especially as the vote can take place at a regularly scheduled election. And if anyone thinks that that expense would be onerous, try imagining the cost of dealing with polluted drinking water sources or diminished irrigation water supply.
Think about it, and don’t let them scare you.
Who controls water?
A Chinese ruler once said “He who controls the water controls the people.”
Hood River County is the second smallest county in Oregon (533 square miles), with 9.13 percent of our land designated as exclusive farm use (EFU) and 81.60 percent of our land designated as forestland. In comparison, Deschutes County is the 10th largest county (3,054 square miles) with 37 percent of its land designated as EFU and 55 percent of its land designated as forestland. Deschutes County’s Chapter 23.92 outlines measures which protect forestlands’ soil, air, water quality, and fish and wildlife resources. Specifically stating “Much of the beauty and the employment in Deschutes County is directly related to the large expanse of forestland. For these reasons, this resource is of particular importance to the county’s two major industries, timber/wood products and tourism. One major problem is the increasing threat to local timber supplies created by scattered developments occurring in forested areas.”
As fruit growers, producing approximately 25 percent of U.S. fresh pears, along with apples, cherries, blueberries, peaches, and other food crops, we recognize the need to protect watersheds originating within our forestlands. The forestlands supply the water that we use to irrigate our farms. Reliable, clean water supplies allow us to continue to produce high quality food for a huge number of people. Without water we are endangering our ability to produce food.
Hood River County fruit growers provide 90 percent of the $57 million annual farm gate revenues for our County. These same growers generate approximately $80,489,977 in direct and indirect income for the county’s economy. Additionally, these 300 plus growers employ the equivalent of 3,220 full time jobs. These growers and their employees generate direct economic impacts for equipment, fuel, chemical, banking, healthcare, housing, retail, and food industries. This is not an industry that we should allow to be threatened due to privately-owned developments that will use and potentially pollute the water supplies.
Please consider the relationship between water quality and availability and the food you feed your family. Do YOU want to keep YOUR right to choose who controls YOUR water and thus YOUR food supply? We do and hope you do as well. Please vote YES on Measure 14-15!
Dick Fox, Hood River
Erick VonLubken, Hood River
Rick Blaine, Parkdale
Eugene Euwer, Parkdale
Randal Gray, Hood River
Heather McCurdy, Hood River
No on initiatives
I think voters need to be wary of the initiatives as they’re being presented on the ballot for the following reasons:
1. They bypass or override the work of boards and commissions elected to study and make informed decisions on behalf of and in the best interests of the community as they see them.
2. Initiatives are sold to voters with catch-phrases and meaningless, simplistic slogans; “It’s Your Water.”
3. Initiatives immediately polarize the community into “fer” and “agin” or “us vs. them.”
4. They very often lead to lawsuits and judicial review which is costly to both parties.
5. The special interest groups get “their side” to turn out in a large bloc, while the less passionate may not vote at all.
6. Requiring a vote of “the people” on decisions made by elected officials can negate all the other required steps and actions of those officials we elected.
Be careful of what you vote for; you might get it.
Yes on 14-16
I am concerned about the direction our elected Port officials have chosen to develop Hood River’s waterfront. I’m concerned that the future of the very economy the Port aims to “provide for” will be severely damaged if the proposed “mixed use” rezone is approved. As written, the rezone application threatens the watersports recreation and tourism industries that have kept Hood River afloat in recent years. These concerns have motivated me to attend Port meetings, apply for Port appointed committees and give testimony to the Planning Commission. However, these activities have not led to any sort of reassurances that our form of “representative government” is working. That is why I am supporting Ballot Initiative 14-16 to keep Hood River’s waterfront accessible to the public.
If the re-zone application is approved, a 54-foot tall building could be constructed directly upwind of the Event Site, threatening the quality of windsurfing and kiteboarding in Hood River. Similar developments have made undisputed negative impacts on watersports businesses in Tarifa and Aruba. If the re-zone application is approved, kayak and jetski access to the gravel launch at Nichols Boat Basin could be replaced by bedrooms and national chain stores.
Opponents of 14-16 claim that, by supporting 14-16, I am “circumventing” representative government, that the ballot initiative process is no way to make land use decisions. That would be true if our Port representatives listened to public testimony, valued opinions advanced by its own committees, or considered overwhelming public opinion in favor of keeping the Hood River waterfront accessible to the public. A series of extended stakeholder interviews resulted in a Leland plan that represented fairly the desires of the diverse constituents of Hood River. It included a large park on Lot 6. A Blue Ribbon Committee proposed a beautiful and affordable concept for such a park. Overwhelming testimony at Port and City hearings has supported large open spaces along the remaining undeveloped Hood River waterfront parcels. A private business owner even offered to donate a huge park on lots 6 and 7 in exchange for the remaining Port-owned land along the freeway. The official Port response is that the “physics of money” dictate that Hood River cannot afford such a waterfront park. Hmmm.
Perhaps the real reason the Port is ignoring the public’s requests for more parks and open space is that jobs created by people who move here for the natural beauty and outdoor recreation cannot be “counted” as economic development efforts at the state and local levels. The only jobs that can be “counted” are those that are housed in Port-owned buildings. These so-called “jobs created” are counted, even if jobs are stolen from private businesses and land owners in downtown Hood River. Hmmm. Sounds like our definition of “economic development” needs reform.
Meanwhile, I struggle with this accusation that zoning by initiative circumvents the official process. Rather than feeling circumvented and threatened, perhaps our elected officials will choose to finally embrace public opinion. They might even welcome the change, relieved of the burden of weighing legal technicalities such as “takings” and “land inventories.” When 14-16 passes, the Port doesn’t have to force litigation against the City. It could save the public many thousands of dollars by admitting that Port land really is public land, that a clear mandate from the public is the best driver for public policy, that it is finally time to reserve the remaining undeveloped land along the waterfront for parks/open space.
Please join me and vote “Yes” on 14-16.
Regarding the compatability question of Wal-Mart, I submit the following, according to the Websters Dictionary:
Compatible: 1. Capable of living together harmoniously or getting along well together; in agreement; congruous. 2. That can be mixed without reacting chemically or interfering with one another’s action; said of insecticides, pollutants, etc.
Creek, waterfall, vineyard, deer, charming country road. Wal-Mart?
If it doesn’t fit, you must omit!
Thank you and sincerely!
No to Wal-Mart
As a new property owner since August 2003 in West Hood River, I was shocked and appalled to learn that Wal-Mart is planning a new “super store” only a half mile from our new home. I apologize if these arguments have already been made, but as a newcomer to the area I felt physically ill upon learning this news. These plans make absolutely no sense given that there is presently a working Wal-Mart in Hood River, and forest on the land where Wal-Mart is planned is beautiful and pristine. The additional traffic, stoplights, pollution and noise will definitely impact the quality of life in this serene area. How can any resident of this area want this behemoth structure in their neighborhood? How much more plastic do people really need in their lives? Will another place to shop really enhance quality of living here?
Denise A. Wells, M.D.
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