East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current, July 27, 2019, WEEKEND EDITION, Page A4, Image 4

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East Oregonian
Saturday, July 27, 2019
News Editor
Hermiston Editor
Founded October 16, 1875
Tip of the Hat,
kick in the pants
tip of the hat to the Uma-
tilla County Housing Author-
ity and their role in securing
just over $8 million for a new housing
development in Stanfield.
Patriot Heights will break ground
next spring at a predicted cost of
$253,000 per unit. The 12-month
construction project will be built
by Hayden Homes — which builds
homes in Oregon, Washington and
The funding comes from a num-
ber of sources, including low income
housing tax credits, the U.S. Depart-
ment of Housing and Urban Devel-
opment’s HOME program and the
National Housing Trust Fund.
The state has been locked in a hous-
ing crisis for a long time, as illustrated
by a report from the National Low
Income Housing Coalition. In Oregon,
a person needs to make $21.26 an hour
to afford the rent on a two-bedroom
home, according to the coalition’s cal-
culations, or work 79 hours a week at
the minimum wage. Thirty-nine per-
cent of Oregonians are renters, and
their average income works out to
$15.44 an hour. No wonder so many
people are barely making it.
The lack of housing, though, isn’t
just in Oregon. It is a nationwide
Oregon’s “housing wage” — the
hourly pay needed to keep rent from
consuming more than 30 percent of
income — was 17th highest in the
nation. In one-third of the states, the
problem is worse. California ranked
third — behind Hawaii and the Dis-
trict of Columbia — with a housing
wage of $32.68. Washington state was
eighth, at $26.87. That helps explain
why people keep moving to Oregon
even though affordable housing is
hard or impossible to find: They are
likely to be coming from places where
the problem is even worse.
When we cover new homes being
built in western Umatilla County, the
prices of $250,000 to $350,000 are
often out of reach for many residents,
leaving more and more people in the
growing area to fight for the same few
apartments and affordable homes. The
problem is that the cost of land, mate-
rials and labor make it impossible for
developers to get a return on their
investment with $600 a month apart-
ments or a $180,000 home. The only
way that kind of housing shows up in
the area is with state or federal dollars
subsidizing the project, as is the case
with Patriot Heights. Those in the area
who can go after such grants will need
to continue to do so if the area is to
get more affordable housing.
Umatilla, Stanfield and Echo
recently got a state grant for a housing
Staff photo by Ben Lonergan
A vacant parcel of land along Highway 395 in Stanfield will soon be home to a 40-home, fed-
erally funded housing development called Patriot Heights.
study to look at what’s available now,
what the need is and what they can do
to better fill that need. We hope they
find some good solutions and work to
implement them.
A tip of the hat to Portland resi-
dent and outback biker Tomas Qui-
nones who discovered 73-year-old
Gregory Randolph near death in a
remote region of the state recently.
Quinones was biking across the
remote section of the Oregon high
desert when he came upon Randolph
near death after being stranded for
four days. Quinones did not have cell-
phone service but hit the SOS button
on his GPS tracking device and began
to help Randolph. Randolph was later
transported by ambulance to a hospital
and Quinones went on his way. Qui-
nones’ quick action and devotion to
saving another life deserves the high-
est praise.
A kick in the pants to people who
continue to disregard common sense
and leave their animals in cars as
the temperature climbs. At least for
the foreseeable future, temperatures
are going to continue to climb as we
move into the last phase of summer.
An animal left in a vehicle — even for
a short time — can immediately be at
risk of serious injury. Just last month
a Medford man faced a felony charge
for animal abuse after he fell asleep
and left his dog inside a car. The ani-
mal did not survive.
A tip of the hat to the Hermiston
School District and Good Shepherd
Health Care System for their effort
to provide a wellness clinic for youths
during the upcoming school year. The
concept is a good one, but what is best
about the venture is the cooperation
between the two entities to make a
difference for students.
Farmland loss is a national crisis,
and felt mightily in West
Recall effort taking focus away from
more important issues
The editorial board rightly pointed out that the
recall effort is taking time away from addressing more
important issues. For every dollar and hour spent trying
to recall Gov. Kate Brown, organizers could be register-
ing voters, identifying legislative priorities for the next
session, and strengthening community organizations
that will represent their regional interests in Salem.
The board also rightly expressed a frustration among
Eastern Oregonians that officials in Salem, especially
Democrats, tend to have a tri-county skew. Oregon’s
vibrancy hinges on more Portlanders thinking about the
opportunities and challenges facing Pendleton residents
and vice versa. Our elected officials need to understand
what life is like in every part of the state if they are
going to craft laws that impact every corner of it.
But these two rights are paired with a wrong: The
board claims this recall effort is serious but beyond
spotting a few canvassers, they don’t provide any evi-
dence to suggest that this recall effort won’t end up like
the last — achieving nothing but misdirecting energy.
Oregonians don’t need a contentious recall vote to once
again evidence the electoral strength of Democrats.
What Oregonians need is greater participation in the
political system by folks unbeholden to toeing the party
line and untied to advocating for only their slice of the
Kevin Frazier
Unsigned editorials are the opinion of
the East Oregonian editorial board. Other
columns, letters and cartoons on this page
express the opinions of the authors and not
necessarily that of the East Oregonian.
equal threat to farmland, but is insidious, often not recog-
nyone who has taken a recent drive in America’s
nized before it is too late. This is development that pops
western states can see first-hand what we at Ameri-
can Farmland Trust have been saying for years: Our up in rural areas creating pockets of houses surrounded by
farmland is disappearing at an alarming rate.
Between 1992 and 2012, 31 million acres of farmland
Not only does this kind of development chew up prime
land, it makes it more difficult for farmers to farm and often
and ranchland disappeared, according to research from our
leads to the disappearance of key farming services and
recently released “Farms Under Threat” analysis — the
infrastructure like equipment and seed dealers.
most comprehensive study ever on agricultural land loss in
Investing in tools like agricultural conservation ease-
the U.S.
ments is also critical. Agricultural conservation easements
While 31 million acres may not sound like a lot, at AFT,
are a way to keep working farmland and ranchland working,
it set off alarm bells. It represents as much agricultural
forever — by extinguishing the development rights
land as is in the state of Iowa. And, perhaps more
on a property and compensating the landowner for
importantly, 11 million of those acres were our
the value of those development rights. The land
best and most productive agricultural land — land
stays in production and in private ownership and
most suitable for intensive food production with
can be sold or handed down to heirs — but with the
the fewest environmental impacts.
promise that it will not be taken out of agriculture.
In a region so important to the nation’s food
These issues get more and more critical with a
supply, AFT’s mantra and famous bumper sticker,
massive generational transfer of land on the hori-
“No Farms No Food,” is more poignant than ever.
zon. In Oregon alone, two-thirds of the agricultural
This region grows over 300 commodity crops,
H annaH
land will change hands in the next decade or so —
from apples and cherries, to potatoes, to sweet
C lark
and the majority of those landowners don’t have an
corn seed, to hops. It also has one of the fastest
identified heir or succession plan. Across the West,
growing populations in the nation, and with that
including in Idaho, AFT is advancing program-
comes the demand for housing, shopping malls,
schools, and highways — all resources that eat up farmland. ming to help a new generation of new and beginning farm-
If we want to continue to enjoy the benefits of local farm- ers access land.
land and ranchland — not just for delicious food and as a
We need to double down on protecting agricultural land
pillar of our economy, but also for the many important envi- in the West.
ronmental benefits it provides — we must come together as
In Washington state, we’re calling on the legislature to
Westerners to take action now.
continue investing in the Washington Wildlife and Recre-
ation Program, the only state source of funding for farmland
This was made abundantly clear in the recent article
“Western farmland continues to disappear,” by Brad Carl-
son, in the Capital Press.
In Oregon, the legislature has an opportunity to fund the
Oregon Agricultural Heritage Program, which would be the
Let me reiterate and even illuminate important points
first state funding source for agricultural land protection
made in Mr. Carlson’s article.
The numbers coming out of Idaho, as noted in the article, and supporting a new generation of farmers.
And in Idaho, we are calling on elected leaders, espe-
and the numbers coming out of the West in terms of farm-
land loss are downright scary. We need local and state offi-
cially in the Treasure Valley, to ensure good planning to
cials to pay attention to this and to invest in funding and
protect our land base — and invest in supporting farmers
tools for farmland protection.
and ranchers.
It is also important to consider how one allows develop-
Perhaps it’s even time to consider a funding source for
ment to happen. Planning is important. Urban sprawl and
agricultural conservation easements in Idaho. After all —
low-density development are both very damaging to farm-
No Farms No Food and, perhaps, even No Future!
land. It is easy to recognize urban sprawl and perhaps sim-
plest to address, compact growth strategies have worked
Hannah Clark is American Farmland Trust’s Pacific
Northwest region director.
well in communities. Low density development poses an
The East Oregonian welcomes original letters of 400 words or less on public issues and public policies
for publication in the newspaper and on our website. The newspaper reserves the right to withhold
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Pendleton, OR 97801