Say ‘yes we can’
At the Nov. 16, 2015, City Council meeting, they discussed ways to stop job growth, cut existing jobs, how to stop people from renting private property, how to eliminate Short Term Rentals (STR) by attrition, how to cap the number of STRs and ways to impose more regulations and restrictions on the residents of Hood River.
The argument was that STRs caused the shortage of rentals for low income housing. To fix this alleged cause, they proposed regulations to eliminate existing STRs and to prevent future STRs from starting, regardless of the demand and need of services. By placing heavy restrictions and regulations on property rights and stifling economic opportunity, this will stop tourism, lower the value of homes and decrease the desire to live here. Presto! Low income houses all over town. Success by anti-progressive, obstructionist standards. This is how bad policies ruin a thriving, growing community.
Vacation homes are not part of the low income rental pool. These homes are large, empty nester family homes and expensive vacation homes. Low income renters could not afford to live in these homes. The people who own them can’t afford to live in these homes, that’s why they are in the STR market. Hood River should help hardworking residents earn income from their largest investment, their homes, by allowing them to have STRs.
To address the low income housing shortage, Hood River should make it profitable for private builders to construct low income housing. Incentives like expedited time issuing permits, lower cost building permits, free water service and sewer hookups, re-zoning R-1 lots to R-2 lots, easing the rules for granny flats with sufficient parking, re-institute 35’ tall homes, and more urban density. There are lots of tools in the city planners’ arsenal, they just need to get creative, find ways to say “YES, we can do this.”
I’d like to explain why the Polallie-Cooper timber project makes sense.
With a degree in environmental science, I’ve read consistent case studies that show the unhealthy state of our western forests. Thousands of years of the natural fire cycle came to an abrupt halt during the last 150 years. Our fire suppression practices has left us with dense, fuel-loaded forests so when a fire breaks out, it scorches the landscape. In addition, we have a high mortality rate of trees, plants, and animals and massive soil erosion that chokes our streams where our salmon spawn. With climate change, these super fires are only getting worse; therefore, I encourage others to rely on factual science rather than uneducated opinions.
Will this relentless stream of name calling, arguing, finger pointing, shallow late-night comedians and mindless dimwitted political analysis we call the election process ever end? “Hallelujah!, Holy ..., Where’s the Tylenol?”
This session a significant energy bill passed the State Legislature that will change where Oregonians get power. The new law will phase out coal power and replace it with a mix of renewables and natural gas. However, as in any debate about energy resources, there is always a question not only of what resources we use to generate electricity but where we will develop projects to meet our needs. This is a critical economic development question.
Oregon spends about $6 billion annually importing power from other states, supporting jobs in those communities.
Meanwhile, we have a number of valuable resources that we can use to generate clean renewable energy. This creates an economic opportunity here in Hood River County. Agriculture is the largest sector of the local economy, accounting for nearly $120 million in raw sales in 2013. A total of 15,325 acres are farmed in the valley. Farmers Irrigation District serves 5,888 acres and has been delivering water to farms for over 100 years.
For nearly 30 years, FID has operated two hydropower facilities that help not only generate renewable energy for our community, but that help reduce the cost of delivering water and allows us to reinvest in modernizing our system, increasing reliability and drought resiliency. Modernized systems conserve water, allowing us to leave more water in-stream to protect fish and other vital habitat. There is a huge potential to develop projects like this in irrigation districts throughout Oregon — projects that will save money, generate renewable energy, conserve water and create jobs.
This session, Rep. Mark Johnson fought to create a new market for community renewable energy projects. His leadership was vital to ensuring that as we invest in meeting our needs, we do so by responsibly by investing here at home. While there is a lot more work to do, it is a significant step in the right direction. We look forward to continuing to dig in with Rep. Johnson to create a market that will allow us to realize community renewable energy market potential.
Manager of Farmers
Irrigation District and
Hood River County
Commissioner, District 4
I am glad to see ODOT and WSDOT pushing for the status change of The Hood River/White Salmon Bridge (Hood River News, Feb. 20). Also, I’m grateful to our federal and state representatives for their much needed involvement and to Executive Port Director Michael McElwee for his continued enthusiasm. When I attended an open house at the Port in late 2011, he injected energy into his presentation on the Port’s overall well-being. Being from White Salmon, my main reason for being there was to discuss the bridge’s replacement. Mr. McElwee and Jon Davies (Port Commissioner) were very open to that discussion and saw the importance of such an endeavor.
The first meeting to discuss a bridge replacement I can remember was in 1994 at the Klickitat Valley Bank in White Salmon. Since then, a lot of work has gone into studying it. If anyone is interested in that work, please visit www.rtc.wa.gov/stud-ies/sr35.
The question which I’m not sure has been addressed is, even with grant money coming from other sources, will the FAST Act allow the new bridge to be owned and maintained by the Port of Hood River? Would the Port of Hood River be willing to give up their cash cow? I think it’s doubtful. Maybe it’s not necessary. Then again, maybe they’ve no choice, and if that’s the case, they had better get those parking meters installed.
White Salmon, Wash.
Thank you, arts community
Another season to be impressed by all the cultural events that boost our community’s health. I’m always sorry to miss any of them (e.g., “Father of the Bride” at CAST Theatre, Mandolin Orchestra at Riverside) but grateful for those I can take in, just in the Hood River Valley alone. The Columbia Gorge Orchestra Association (CGOA) “America” concert last weekend was a tour de force for the Sinfonetta orchestra, the local String Quartet, conductors Mark Steighner and Rebecca Nederhiser, and the special guest artist from Tennessee. This coming month brings another original Steighner musical, “Close to Home,” to the Hood River Middle School (directed by Nederhiser, March 4-5);”Other Desert Cities” (staged reading directed by Judie Hanel March 18-19 and March 25-26); the VOCI Choir in concert (March 11 and 13); Rachel Harry’s direction of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” at Hood River Valley High School (March 4-5 and March 11-12); an exposition of handmade instruments, with community jam session and free concerts at the Columbia Center for the Arts (March 4-5); student exhibits, readings, gigs, arts workshops, and doubtless much more that I don’t even know about, here and in the other Gorge communities. We live in a place so enriched by the arts. Hats off to all those who work so hard and with such talent to grace us with them.
I really feel that this new hotel at the DeeTour venue site is going way overboard. It’s bad enough that this site is going in, on the account of Highway 281 is already bad enough with heavy traffic and this will add more, plus add to my commute because I usually work in the evenings. I think it was pretty sneaky of the developers to add this hotel in after getting approved for the venue.