Not so  friendly

Well, spring has final arrived and with it the return of the pilots training school, based at the Hood River airport. It’s a return of two years ago, when the port held two hearings to let upset citizens voice their displeasure of the constant, day after day, hour after hour of planes circling low over the same neighborhoods. To say that is distracting is an understatement.
 
Once again, there is a fairly large group of residents west and south of the airport who are more than mildly upset at this constant noise disruption. Make no mistake, this has nothing to do with what used to be the day-to-day operations, as they will tell you to call the port office, who will tell you to call the airport. You can call Tac Aero, who is responsible for the training school, but all that would result in is like putting a fox in with your chickens for protection.
 
There are two members of the board of directors that I have confidence in. They are both respected businessmen and I believe they would listen to your concerns and take them into consideration. I urge each of you to email Ben Sheppard at bsheppard@portofhoodriver.com and Hoby Streich at hstreich@portof hoodriver.com.
 
I find it amusing that the port’s mission statement, in part, reads, “The Port of Hood River Seeks to initiate, promote and maintain quality of life.” That must be after making money at the expense of quality of life for many longtime residents of Hood River.
 
Jim Eastman
Hood River
 
Editor’s note: Jim Eastman’s name was inadvertently changed on his letter, which originally ran in the April 10 edition.
 
Lot 700
 
I am writing to encourage caring people in this community to ask our city council to build affordable housing on Lot 700. I am fully in favor of using the entire lot for affordable housing.
 
This is not an environmental issue. I have heard opponents assert that Lot 700 is the only place in Hood River that is still “wild” and has wildflowers. I am a wildflower enthusiast, and I can tell you that this is not true. There are wildflowers in pastures on Rocky Road, along Indian Creek, planted in my backyard, and in many other places.
 
But even if it was true that wildflowers only grow on Lot 700, it is still a poor argument, because Hood River is a city. The City of Hood River is not a wild place. But we are surrounded by abundant public and protected wild places, and beautiful accessible nature. To say we absolutely must keep every bit of open ground within the city limits is selfish. An entitled desire of people who already have secure homes and access to wild beauty.
 
We are also surrounded by hundreds of people who grew up here and can’t find housing, people who do the hard work of the service industry, who work at nonprofits, who clean and cook, who care for children, who make this a wonderful city, but have no hope of ever affording a home. These people are so much more important than a few Grass Widows and Desert Parsleys. And let me remind you, I am a wildflower lover, a member of Native Plant Societies who plants wildflowers in my own yard!
 
Please, fellow lucky residents of Hood River, let us all care about the people who grew up here, but can’t afford to live here anymore. Please, friends, let us care more about unique and beautiful people than about common wildflowers and common open space.
 
Heidi Venture
Hood River
 
Editor’s note: Heidi Venture’s name was inadvertently changed on the letter she sent in for the April 10 edition.
 
Fund county
 
I agree with Jane Camero, that I too usually recommend Panorama Point or Ruthon Park to give visitors their first taste of the Hood River Valley or the Columbia River Gorge. I am also saddened to see these closed.
However, this is not the first act of elected officials.
 
County budgets have been dwindling for many years and reserves have been used to keep these parks open. The reserves are now down to bare-bones and numerous programs have already been reduced. To find out the details, go to the Hood River County website and in the middle of the home page, you will find a link to all the financial information.
 
Logging on federal forest used to provide the county with about $2 million a year. Also, the county currently has the same number of personnel as in 2006, despite a population increase of 35 percent and inflation since then of about 25 percent.
 
Many of the jobs the county performs are mandated by the state, so those have to take precedent over other areas (such as libraries, parks, history museum).
 
In 2017, I went to a county commission meeting where they were discussing a potential sales tax. Prior to 2017, other ideas such as wind turbines and a gas tax had also been investigated to produce revenue for the county.
Next year, even more programs could be cut or eliminated ... but there is an opportunity for us (the citizens) to help with this situation. The county commissioners are allowing the citizens a chance to vote on funding for these programs. Two ballot measures will be in your mail box in May.
 
Whether you want to reopen Panorama Point, keep the History Museum open, make sure we have 24/7 law enforcement on duty, or believe 4-H and the health department are important to the fabric of the community, please vote to restore our county programs.
 
Vote yes twice for measures 65 and 66.
 
Kate McBride
Hood River
 
 
Editor’s note: This letter references Jane Camero’s letter “Fund parks,” which was printed in the News’ April 6 edition. Kate McBride is a member of the Hood River City Council and is married to County Commissioner Rich McBride.
 
‘Not even close’
 
Mr. Trump says our country is full. Not even close! Population growth here is at its lowest rate in 30 years. Just drive across the country and look at all the empty, habitable space. If the U.S. shared the same population density as Europe — 300 people per square mile — there would be a billion people living here, three times our current population.
 
To put that in perspective, Hood River contains 2,810 people per square mile, and we still have room for orchards, wineries, two golf courses, an expansive high school campus and the Indian Creek trail. We could easily feed more people; American farmers currently export 25 percent of food grown here.
Immigration benefits everyone by bringing in a bigger workforce with more talent, ingenuity and diversity. Closing our borders to most migrants is wrong for many reasons, but it is also self-defeating.
 
Jennifer Hanlon Wilde
Hood River
 
Thanks, city council
 
I thank our city councilors for their perseverance on the Morrison Park/Lot 700 issue. Their recent rezoning decision allows mixed use (affordable housing) in that area.
 
Nothing is more basic to the health of our communal fabric than having affordable housing options for people. And nothing is more ethically defensible than the policies a community undertakes to provide for and ensure access to this housing and to integrate it into the heart of beautiful places in our city.
Everyone knows Hood River is impossible for low and middle income families. There are too many people who cannot afford to live here.
 
For anyone of conscience, this is a problem that will keep us up at night. If we sleep through these realities, we will wake up with a community that is exclusive, monolithic and boring. Our town will lack diversity and the richness of a greater variety of people that is visible only when dreams of affordable neighborhoods become a reality.
 
Regretfully, we live within the realities of economic and social disparity. While we can’t eliminate those inequities, we can take steps to build a city that is not afraid to correct an unbalanced playing field.
 
I cherish our neighborhood “green spaces.” And green space and housing space do not need to be pitted against one another. That is a false narrative. Parks and high density housing have to be in relationship with one another and the more they overlap the greater is the just use of our land resources.
In 2015, based on its 2015 housing inventory and Housing Needs Analysis, the city committed to creating affordable housing as its number-one priority.
Let’s share our abundant green spaces, not only for those privileged enough to reside here today, but by those who could share these resources with an expanded and more inclusive housing market tomorrow.
 
You can’t create affordable housing out of thin air. It takes land — and it requires a commitment to responsible and determined planning that is inclusive, forward thinking and just.
 
Rev. John Boonstra
Hood River

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