While all the yard space and newspaper ink has gone to the parks measure, those outside city limits should vote YES to support the West Side Fire District and the critical community services they provide. Renewing the local option would simply maintain the current property tax rate. In an era of county budget cuts, we can’t afford to lose more lifesaving services. Vote yes for West Side Fire District. As for the parks measure, there seems to be well intentioned arguments on both sides. On one hand, almost everyone is pro parks and there is unlikely to be a serious threat to rezone the remainder of Hood River’s established parks. City counselors have the tough job of weighing the city’s goals with the will of the people (Morrison park) and there are existing options to provide input at public meetings and challenge decisions through land use appeal and at the next election.
On the other hand, measure 14-67 is the direct expression of the will of the people through ballot initiative, a hallmark of democracy in Oregon. Opponents argue it could encourage more charter changes, but that could happen regardless of this measure if enough people get passionate about an issue. Opponents also argue that it could have unintended consequences on the city’s efforts to pursue additional parks, affordable housing, or other land use goals. However, the measure doesn’t require a public vote for zoning land into a park and prospective donors would probably appreciate the added protection from this measure. In cases where the city wants to pursue a temporary park while keeping the options open for a different use in the future, the land could be zoned a special use area to avoid a “parks” designation. Maybe the best thing to come out of this measure is the citizen engagement across the board. For that, Hood River will be stronger. Either way I’ll be watching this vote from a couple blocks away.
Yes on 14-67
It has been a pleasure to work with Protect Our Parks over the last months and meet so many interesting locals.
We are a grassroots group of citizens of over 100 volunteers. With a very small budget and the efforts of many local people, we put together a campaign that included door to door signature gathering and flyers, hand painted larger signs and printed lawn signs, and a beautiful and informative website. We have welcomed the participation and support of many, many people in and around the city who love and enjoy Hood River parks.
We are simply asking to be able to vote when future issues concerning a proposed sale of any city park come about. Please join your neighbors and vote yes!
Ballot Measure 14-67 has been a contentious issue for our community no matter how you decide to vote. I want to thank and acknowledge everyone on both sides of the debate for volunteering their time and for speaking up and talking about all of the elements that make this such a complicated decision. It’s what makes our community so special. We all share the responsibility of looking after this beautiful place we call home.
My hope is that even in our disagreements we can value each other as a community and remember that we all want our friends and neighbors housed and that we all share a connection between our families through our parks.
You can fool some of the people some of the time — but defeating Measure 14-67 can be proof that you can’t fool all the people all the time. The goal behind 14-67 alters how our city makes decisions on all its park lands. It is not about protecting parks. It is not about saving green space. It is not about good environmental practice. And it is not about democratic decision-making.
Lack of transparency is usually a signal that undeclared interests are overshadowing how things get portrayed. And in the case of 14-67, the history lesson is becoming clear. To what lengths will we go to voice discontent about the city council’s decisions to grant some of the Morrison Park Land to low/middle income housing.
It is not in the common interest of our community to allow the hidden purposes of Measure 14-67 to fool us. To craft a misleading campaign to get people to think this is really about protecting parks is a disservice to local democracy.
Those “protect our parks” signs are deceptive. And they were crafted to be! When many folks are asked to place them in their front yard or on their street corner, they are not told that we already have commitments within our city political structures and processes to be conscientious about green space and to be responsibly mindful that green space is only one factor about how we build an inclusive, healthy, and economically vibrant community.
When we advocate the kind of dangerously simplistic message that we get from 14-67, we risk treating complex, just development of our community as if we can isolate and separate issues and pit them against one another rather than to treat the full dimensions of their connections.
This charter amendment puts decision-making about public parks forever in the hands of voters as if we can make public policy one disconnected issue at a time. You can fool some of the people some of the time — but let’s not let it happen to our people this time.
No on 14-67.
Rev. John Boonstra
As the discussion continues on Park Protection Measure 14-67, it’s necessary to talk about the distinction between closed executive sessions and public meetings.
Public meetings require two things: First, that the public be given notice of the time, place and purpose of the meeting. Second, that the public be afforded an opportunity to attend the meeting. Executive sessions are private sessions, from which the public is excluded, to allow a public body to freely discuss limited matters like property transactions and personnel issues. Decisions cannot be made in executive session. They can only be made in the transparency of an open public meeting.
On March 6, 2018, the city council held a noon-hour executive session to discuss “real property transactions.” Then, according to council minutes, without any prior notice to the public, the council popped out of executive session, and went into what it called a “public session.” The council then unanimously voted to sign a purchase option agreement for sale of a public park for $1.
The public had no notice of any public meeting and the specific subject of the meeting. That’s a violation of both the letter and spirit of the public meeting law.
Suggestions in an Oct. 26 letter that the public’s recourse is to sue or recall council members are unhelpful. The public should not have to run to court or go through the arduous task of recall elections. We rely on our public officials to honor the law, not bend or break it, even if they think they are acting in the public interest.
I must agree with another citizen observer who recently commented: “If we’ve elected a city council, we don’t trust to make decisions about our parks, then we have a much bigger problem.”
The council’s open meetings violations kept the public from being heard on a major issue: Is selling a 5-acre public park for $1 truly in the public interest?
Make it easier for future councils. Take them off the hook. Let the voters directly decide the fate of our parks.
Vote yes on Measure 14-67.
‘Do your homework’
The ballot measure coming before everyone in November is very misleading, along with the green door hanger that found its way onto everyone’s doorknob.
The heading reads “Protect Our Parks.” Our parks are currently protected, not only by the City Charter, and Parks & Rec, but by our current Democratic process. We elect our city councilors to represent our views on matters such as parks.
The community witnessed, most recently, created and/or improved parks such as Waterfront Park, Children’s Park, Eliot Park, as well as the in-progress master plan. The Democratic process worked well. The city currently has 19 parks/open spaces which total over 100 acres, with 23.31 maintained acres.
Whenever decisions are made at city council, they are always made using an open process where it is assured the community’s voices are heard. This charter amendment would be making decisions for the future community’s ability to elect representatives to carry out their will. I am encouraging you to ask questions of the city about the minutes for the supposedly “closed-door meeting to sell a 5 acre park for $1.” I went digging through the minutes of city council meetings beginning in 2015 and at a city council meeting on Jan. 26, 2015 it was stated, “City is going to encourage Mid-Columbia Housing Authority and others to be the city’s partner” and again on Nov. 14, 2015,
I found this in the minutes, “There are three strategy elements moving forward we will be working on — increasing efficient use of land within the urban growth boundary, regulating and managing secondary and short term rental housing and developing (likely in conjunction with Mid-Columbia Housing) affordable housing.
Everyone can go online to City of Hood River and look at the “Minutes and Agendas” and you can read all the minutes for city council. There was no “closed door” meeting. I would suggest that as a resident you might want to find out why the petitioners would “bend” the truth around it. Ask questions. Vote no on 14-67.
Measure 14-67 is simple: It requires public vote before the city disposes of a park. There is nothing complicated or crazy about it. Opposition, however, is either confused or trying to confuse you. So, let’s make things clear.
1. Protect Our Parks is a grassroots organization formed by local citizens who donate their time for this cause. Several personal donations funded the campaign. There is no “big money” or institutional money, and we owe nobody any favor.
2. Our statements are true and based on facts. In response to Paul Thompson, Vic Pavlenko, the city did take action to sell a 5-acre park for $1. A purchase option agreement was signed with the developer. The park was then rezoned Open Space to Residential (copy of official documents: protectourparkshoodriver.com/FAQ).
3. Charter Amendments are not a crazy idea. In fact, it is a right guaranteed to Oregon residents since 1902 (read Paul Crowley’s Op-Ed from Oct. 16). Other cities do it too! Those opposed to this idea are denying your rights as a citizen.
4. In response to Kate Hoffman’s statement that measure will “open the door for any special interest group (…) to try and change our city ‘constitution’ for any reason they see fit,” Kate, seems like you are the one who doesn’t trust our neighbors to exercise their rights to propose and approve changes. I believe an engaged and proactive community is stronger and healthier. I trust our people.
5. Costs: What is the cost of losing a park? Monetarily speaking: Millions of dollars. From a community perspective: Priceless. Elections would only occur if the city wants to get rid of a park and would likely be combined with other topics on the ballot, so costs would be minimum.
6. Dog park, temporary trails and others: If you read the measure itself, you will know that it only affects lands “designated, dedicated, or recognized” as parks. Our yet to be seen dog exercise area will not fall within the measure; plans to expanded waste plant are not jeopardized.
7. Vote yes on 14-67. Vote now.
Voting yes on Measure 14-67 ensures two things: First, that council cannot unilaterally dispose nor give away a city park, and second, that the citizens of Hood River have a say in determining what should or shouldn’t happen with their parks.
Voting yes on 14-67 is not a vote against low-income housing. Voting yes on 14-67 IS a vote to protect our parks and to ensure that our council no longer goes unchecked as it relates to the disposition or giving away of public assets.
We believe the Hood River community — the users and ultimate owners of our parks — should have a voice as it relates to their use, disposition, conversion, or sale.
Vote yes on 14-67.
I’m writing in support of the Protect Our Parks ballot measure 14-67, and in response to the empty scare tactics of opponents. A number of other Oregon towns and cities have parks protection in their charters. Charters are not supposed to be cast in stone, but are meant to be amended by the people when necessary, and after going through the proper process. Protecting our parks through Measure 14-67 will only add one more step before a park can be disposed of: A vote. The people would get to vote if a park that has been formally recognized by the city is to be disposed of, and that is all. If we want a short term dog park near the waste treatment plant or we want to create any other temporary park-like areas, they can be issued special use permits and not formally recognized by the city as a park. This allows us to develop and maintain protected parks and have special use areas to be used for other things in the future if needed.
If the people want anything else on a park, then we get to decide instead of as few as four city councilors who may or may not have our best interests in mind at that time. This measure will not lead to a hailstorm of other measures to amend the charter. Parks are imperative to a healthy community. Other subjects like where we put a stop sign can easily be decided by representative government.
I find it alarming that some city councilors and advocates for development have written letters to the editor telling people to vote no. Do they know something about the future of parks we don’t? Do they have plans for development of other parks in the future? The only reason I see to vote no is if you have something to lose by protecting parks or if you don’t care for direct democracy for an issue as important as the disposing of parks. Vote yes on Measure 14-67 if you believe parks are worth protecting and the people deserve the right to decide their fate.
Let us choose
Who would ever say that less parks is a good thing for a city? Earlier this year, our mayor and the majority of our city councilors decided just that. They signed an agreement to sell one of our parks and rezoned it from Open Space to Residential. The intentions were good: to address our critical housing issue but tearing down parks would only be a temporary solution, and would most likely hurt the community in the long run. With a growing population, we need creative solution for our housing issues. Hood River is younger than most resort towns, and we still have time to catch and solve issues beforehand. A city with housing issues is not good. A city with housing issues and lack of parks is worse. Disposing of parks is a decision too big and too consequential to be made by only a few folks. Vote Yes on Measure 14-67 to give our people the right to choose.
Over these last weeks, I’ve paid close attention to what is being said about ballot initiative 14-67 and I’ve wondered: “Who doesn’t want to protect our parks?” I haven’t found a city council person who isn’t committed to protecting our parks. And I’ve wondered: “Where is the sinister force that wants to put our parks in danger?” I’ve been unsuccessful in locating that force. And, I’ve concluded, that it simply isn’t there.
If there were such a deranged force and if that force had a presence on city council, it would have to be a majority to take action. If that were the case, there might be a legitimate future reason, unknown to us present day mortals, for considering such an action.
And, if such an action were taken to dispose of a park, I, as a citizen committed to our public parks, would still have a very powerful political action which I could take. I could initiate a recall of any and all council members who wished to take such a seemingly irrational action.
In other words, as things are, I, as a citizen, already have the power to prevent such action. I don’t need such redundancy. Wearing both suspenders and a belt does not greatly reduce my potential of being embarrassed. One will suffice. Let’s not tie the hands of our council, which we’ve all elected to represent us. Let’s let them act in accordance with the needs of the time believing that they will opt for the good of our community — and if they do not, let us remember, and remind them, that we have the power of initiating a recall.
Therefore, to continue the protection of our parks that we currently have, I urge a “No” vote on 14-67.
Parks are very important to us we and cannot let them go so easily. Measure 14-67 would give our community the right to vote and decide if we keep or sell a park. It is simple. Unintended consequences of the measure? To list just a few: Increase community engagement on the topic; increase our democratic process by giving the decision-making regarding disposal of parks to thousands of people, and not only four; reassure parks protection to potential land donors.
Why should we vote on park disposal and not let a few councilors decide for us? In response to Stu Watson, parks — unlike garbage rates, paving bids or skateboard usage — are a huge asset of our community. Needless to say how important parks are for the people and the environment. Losing a park would impact our community forever. A decision that can only be regretted, but never redone. A decision much too important to be made by only four people. While we can trust our representatives to take care of many things, an irreversible decision should be made by the people. Don’t let anyone convince you that your voice is not important. Your opinion matters! Let the people decide. Let the people vote. Vote for a voice, a choice. Vote yes on 14-67.
Please come to the port board meeting on Nov. 5 as a first step in reducing airport noise. From April through September, the roar of planes has become virtually nonstop, all hours, every day. After 21 years creating a home here, there were days last summer that I had to leave it because the overhead freight train, circling round and round, was intolerable. If it hasn’t affected your home yet, it may very soon.
At the Nov. 5 meeting, the port will decide whether to spend several million dollars on a “Connect VI” project which would, among other things, build jet fuel tanks so that turbine-driven aircraft can be added. This type of aircraft are frequently larger than piston-powered aircraft; larger engines and propellers mean more noise. If you build it, they will come.
Given the spike in noise complaints last summer, there seemed to be consensus among the commissioners at the Oct. 22 meeting that airport traffic needs to be addressed in the upcoming business plan update and that public input is essential. Ironically, there was no recognition that the proposed construction de facto and irrevocably makes the choice to add more and different traffic.
The port is also planning a survey and public meeting process about airport uses and noise to take place November 2019 through September 2020. The process outline acknowledges the need to identify potential impacts from proposed development, while ignoring that Connect VI would happen before the public has any chance for input.
Please ask the port to shelve all construction at the board meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 5 at 5 p.m. at the port office, 1000 E. Port Marina Drive, or email the commissioners using the addresses at portofhoodriver.com/about-the-port/port-commission.
It’s interesting in our lovely town of Hood River, with many folks knowing each other and hanging out in the same coffee shops and restaurants, that we are being inundated by misinformation and false narratives about measure 14-67. It’s disappointing to see and hear most of this coming from some of our current and past elected and appointed city officials. Hood River does not have the best stellar history on protecting city parks. If you ave time to access and view some old city pictures you will find we have lost some parks grounds to parking lots where families and children used to play.
Measure 14-67 simply gives citizens of Hood River a right to vote on preserving our public trust, the city’s parks.
Over the last few weeks, Hood River voters have been lectured to about what a bad idea Measure 14-67 is and what a mess it will make of the city council’s ability to conduct its business. Most of the lecturing has come from current or former council members or elected officials who seem highly offended at the prospects that citizen voters of the city would be able to have input into an extremely limited (city parks) land-use issue.
Fast forward to the city council meeting on Oct. 28. There at the end of the agenda for the evening was a resolution authorizing city staff to negotiate the purchase of a Rand Road property for $1.6 million to develop housing. With no discussion about what the business model will be for the land, what the development costs will be, whether the city will manage the project, whether it will be sold or given away to another developer, how the sales price relates to the appraised value, etc. The resolution passed with only Erick Haynie voting no. So, with no public input and very little detailed discussion, the city is proposing to execute the largest land purchase in city history. For those of us on the outside looking in, this appears to be a knee-jerk reaction by the city in response to the failed and costly Morrison Park proposal. The speed and haste surrounding this proposal to purchase land that private sector developers have passed on because it didn’t pencil out, leaves me with all kinds of questions. And I know I’m not alone. But it also confirms to me that allowing for a little bit of public input into decisions about our existing city parks is probably a good thing. Please join me in voting yes for Measure 14-67.