A Letter to my Neighbors:
Today, I’m launching a podcasting experiment to get everyone the facts about the proposed Historic District (HD) in Eastmoreland. My family and I have lived in Eastmoreland for 10 years and I’ll begin by saying that I am not on either side — YET. That’s what this experiment is for. I hope to highlight both sides of the issue, switching off every-other-week between pro and anti-HD sentiments.
In this first episode I interview George Beard who is a retired PSU professor and 20-year resident of Eastmoreland. He happens to be pro-HD for reasons extending far beyond the reaches of our neighborhood. From his point-of-view, the HD is our neighborhood’s last line of defense against a city that will stop at nothing to change the fabric of each of Portland’s unique neighborhoods — if that’s what it takes to keep up with the relentless migration of new people to our state.
I’d like to offer you a little bit about my journey with the HD to give you some perspective. I’ve admittedly been a little crazy with this process. This winter, my husband and I signed the objection against the HD (via a Keep Eastmoreland Free hosted notary). I was definitely rubbed the wrong way by how the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association (ENA) board went about the process of submitting our neighborhood for an HD. But that’s not a good reason to be against the HD. I’m not saying I’m pro-HD right now, but I do want to address this as it’s important. We all love a good fight, but we’re really not “sticking it to the man” (meaning the ENA board), by signing the objection. Yeah, the board was weird and maybe didn’t act in our favor. But let’s get over it. This is not high school. We still have to decide if we are pro-HD or not, regardless of what the board does.
After a while I forgot that I signed the objection. And then these really pretty Heart signs started popping up in our neighborhood — making me think differently about the HD and our neighborhood. The sun started shining, the flowers started blooming, and I began to appreciate my neighborhood again. I could see the reasoning behind the HD. I didn’t need to let my neighborhood suffer by “sticking it to” the ENA and I really don’t think paying some fines starting at around $250 is a big deal when our neighborhood’s integrity is concerned. So a few Heart signs popped up in my yard. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a pretty sign!
I was about to fully commit on paper and rescind my original objection to the HD. But then a few things happened that gave me pause. I still cannot answer the question — how is the HD not exclusive? “You want to enjoy our beautiful town as much as we do? That’s fine, but don’t come to our neighborhood!” How is having an HD not saying this to the new people moving here?
That’s why I eventually took my Heart signs down and haven’t signed the rescission to my HD objection.
I still don’t know the answer to the HD question. Why does it matter? Well, we have just under 6 weeks to do something about it. I believe it’s all just a numbers game. We can either sign an objection or we can rescind our original objection if we change our minds. Who cares what happened with the board? That is so 2016. We need to get over it, find out the facts and make up our minds.
That’s what this podcast will hopefully do. Each week I hope to switch sides. So today I have an HD supporter on, but I already have a very informed anti-HD person lined up for next week. I hope to speak with a developer about their plans for the neighborhood and a remodeler who can speak to the advantages and disadvantages of remodeling under an HD.
Please listen with an open mind to different points-of-view as we go on this journey together.
P.S. I mentioned this letter to Eastmoreland in the podcast from the Irvington Community Association about their experience setting up, and now living with, an HD.