The Southwest Portland Post. (Portland, Oregon) 2007-current, August 01, 2008, Image 1

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Burlingame • Capitol Hill
• Garden Home • Glen
Cullen • Hillsdale
• South Portland
• Multnomah Village
• Raleigh Hills • Vermont
Hills • West Portland
Southwest Portland’s Independent Neighborhood Newspaper
Volume No. 16, Issue No. 10
Portland, Oregon
Multnomah Days
Special Section
-- Pages 6-7
August 2008
Portland planning commissioners
receive guided tour of Southwest
By Lee Perlman
The Southwest Portland Post
Slopes in steep, landslide-prone
terrain standing clear-cut and bare.
“Skinny” houses spaced less than
five feet apart. Streets with no place
to walk other than in traffic. Intersec-
tions that are accidents waiting to
happen – or happen again.
For three and a half hours last
month, Southwest neighborhood
leaders took the Portland Planning
Commission on a bus tour of their
community that illustrated the is-
sues they have been dealing with
for years. Southwest Neighborhoods
Inc. (SWNI) land use committee chair
John Gibbon was the main tour guide
and narrator, but he had plenty of
The tour was the latest of several
such excursions the commission has
taken of parts of the city. They have
previously toured east and central
northeast Portland, always accompa-
nied by commentary by either Bureau
of Planning staff or local volunteers.
In this case, volunteers did nearly all
the talking.
Former Southwest Hills Residential
League (SWHRL) chair Jim Thayer
technically did not go on the tour;
instead it was brought to him at the
confluence of Southwest Campus
and Cardinell drives. There a steep
hillside with a history of landslides,
the potential future site of 36 housing
units, lies bare after the City Forester
gave his blessing for all the trees to be
clear-cut, Thayer said.
The development approval in-
cludes a condition that the developer
replant 96 trees and 156 shrubs on
the property, “but we have no way of
knowing if the city will maintain the
agreement,” Thayer said. In addition,
traffic from the project will use Car-
dinell, a very narrow winding street.
“This will put a huge burden on the
neighborhood,” Thayer said, but the
land use review did not provide an
opportunity to bring it up.
Portland Planning Commission members and Southwest coalition leaders climb a stairway
July 22 at Southwest Cardinell and College streets in the SWHRL neighborhood, part of
a half-day tour of the Southwest area. (Post photo by Lee Perlman)
Dave and Dixie Johnston of Collins
View, who joined the tour at a pre-
arranged meeting place, had similar
issues in their neighborhood. The clay
that makes up most of the soil in this
community is “like cement when it’s
dry, but when it’s wet it’s like soup,”
(Continued on Page 11)
Maplewood activists see “McMansions” replacing trees and older cottages
By Polina Olsen
The Southwest Portland Post
When Micki Carrier moved to the
Maplewood neighborhood five years
ago, large, beautiful trees shaded her
street. Then, according to Carrier,
builders snapped up land and things
started changing:
“Either they built from scratch and
foliage was moved out of the way or
they tore down tidy little ranch homes
and made room for the biggest houses
possible. When these incredibly large
barn shaped structures go up next to
little ranches, they look terribly out
of place.”
The problem of teardowns, of
course, isn’t limited to the Maple-
wood neighborhood or to Portland.
Around the country, trees and older
homes are routinely demolished and
replaced with houses that dwarf
nearby structures and take up most of
their own lot. Issues extend beyond
changing the character of old neigh-
“We had bio-mass that mitigated
storm water and put oxygen in the
air,” said Todd Williamson whose Ma-
plewood cottage shares the yard with
his business, the Sacred Onion Yoga
Studio. His neighbor’s basement only
recently started flooding. Williamson
blames the change in foliage.
“Builders put in something that will
grow to 20-30 feet as a replacement for
something that sucked up 100 gallons
of water a day,” said Williamson.
John Gibbon, land use chair for the
Southwest neighborhood coalition,
questioned Portland’s one-size-fits-
all approach to building regulations.
“The city’s had a problem with
combined storm sewer overflow,” he
said. “They are requiring new home
builders to put the storm water that
falls onto the property into ground
on the site.”
While this works in some areas of
the Southeast, the Southwest has dif-
ferent topography. “It leads to water
bubbling up on a downhill neighbor’s
yard or basement.” Before, trees on
the undeveloped site slowed down
storm water and soaked up the rain.
According to Gibbon, teardowns
aren’t a major issue in other South-
west communities but large houses
on small lots are. Residents complain
about blocked sunlight and loss of pri-
vacy as new three-story houses tower
over older one-story homes. “Big back
yards are going away and people are
putting in flag lots,” he said. “And,
houses are fitted on spots that once
seemed impossible to build on.”
Both Williamson and Carrier have
become Maplewood neighborhood
activists. They’ve testified at City Hall
and escorted officials on neighbor-
hood tours. While most city officials
agree in principle, the solution re-
quires a change in building codes, an
action many are reluctant to take.
“The city wants higher density for
the growth boundary thing and they
also want more tax revenue,” Wil-
liamson said. “My fear is by the time
we get around to changing the codes,
it’s too late, and they’ve changed
the whole character of the neighbor-
West Portland Park neighborhood
activist Amanda Fritz agrees. She’s
worked on this issue for about 10
years. “We’ve made attempts to fix it
but there hasn’t been the political will
in the city council to restrict home size
or to put in neighborhood compat-
ibility standards,” she told The Post.
(Continued on Page 11)
Don’t forget to renew your subscription. Form on Page 2.
The Southwest Portland Post
7825 SW 36th Ave Suite #203
Portland, OR 97219
Micki Carrier and her Chihuahua “Sasha” discuss Maplewood neighborhood issues with
Todd Williamson. (Post photo by Polina Olsen)