Hearing extended

High density housing is planned for all Hood River neighborhoods and now is your last chance to have a say about it. Maybe. The main issues of contention at the last discussion were centered on parking requirements.

The City scheduled the public hearing that is required by law for March 8, but proper public notification was not made — they missed the deadline in addition to aspiring to only bare minimum legal requirements. Now the hearing will occur anyway, but with a suggested (not yet granted) continuance.

City Goal 2 for 2020: Inform and engage all segments of our community through transparency and proactive, inclusive and comprehensive outreach. Oops!

As of now, it appears but is not certain, you will have until March 15 to provide written testimony or appear via Zoom to do so in person. That is done by contacting the City Recorder. As dates or information are confirmed, engagethegorge.org will deliver updates on our blog.

Brian Towey, Engage the Gorge

Hood River

Meeting on ‘middle’

On Monday, March 15 at 5:30 p.m., the Hood River City Council will hold a public hearing on a “Missing Middle” residential density proposal that would increase the number of dwelling units allowed on a lot to as many at least four dwellings or up to 12 cottages on a single residential lot. It would reduce the standard size of lots. It would apply city-wide. The ordinance would be invoked at the option of the developer.

There are many reasons why this would be a welcome thing for people who have been unable to find housing in Hood River, and for employers who would like their employees to live in town. The price of these dwellings is expected to remain at about the $300,000 to $350,000 level, but even so would be within the price range of many buyers. The size of units would be capped to minimize as much as possible the visual im-pact of multiple units covering more space on a single lot. Small cottage clusters would be encouraged, though not required. The city has collaborated closely with developers to consider their needs in drafting this density proposal.

While there are positive aspects, such density will inevitably affect the natural environment and quality of life for other town residents. Only three-quarters of an on-site parking space would be required per dwelling, inevitably increasing parking on residential streets and congestion. Coverage of soil with impermeable surfaces would be allowed to increase from 50-55 percent to 70 percent of each lot, nearly doubling water runoff and minimizing streetscape green space. There is nothing to keep the dwellings from being purchased as vacation getaways. There would be no opportunity for a public hearing on a Missing Middle development.

If you would like to comment on any aspect of these proposed changes, please consider participating in the March 15 public hearing. You can do this by (1) submitting written comments by email and (2) offering brief audio testimony on Zoom or by phone. To do either one or both (both are encouraged to be sure you are heard), send your email testimony to j.gray@cityofhoodriver.gov.

Susan Crowley

Hood River

America exceptional

I wholeheartedly disagree with the Feb. 24 letter “Decency or greed” assessment of America. America is the greatest country on earth and America is exceptional.

As I look forward to a more bloated, less effective government; a trampling of individual rights and more moves towards George Orwell’s 1984; with a president that is appearing to run by executive order I might have the same view.

However, one can’t judge a country by a one-term or two-term, presidency. I would suggest taking a trip to the library (it is open) and studying our 244-year history; or venturing out to a third world country or for that matter a visit to another developed country. You will have a greater appreciation for the United States.

Dig beyond the media’s one-line headline. No country is perfect. The United States is not perfect. There is more good than bad here, and yes, we are exceptional and it is the greatest country on earth.

Steve Nybroten

White Salmon

Nightmare

Time to wake up from our nightmare of HR-1, The Congress bad dream to undermine our State’s management of voter registration and elections.

The numerous mandates do nothing to make our elections safe and have a socialist list of dreams and regulations to drown us. Congress put some time and effort to make HR-1 a partisan nightmare.

Our states and citizens can handle their own election reform legally and by the constitution with the voice of We The People, not an alienated Congress bent on keeping us underwater.

Sheilah Nelson

Hood River

A historic night

Local action on the global climate emergency gained momentum last Wednesday when the Cities of White Salmon and Mosier passed nearly identical Climate Crisis resolutions unanimously that evening. The City of Hood River passed a similar resolution in 2019 and the Gorge Commission is spending the next year to craft a Climate Action Plan for the National Scenic Area.

Columbia Gorge Climate Action Network (CGCAN.org) helped with the passage of each of these bills and is very appreciative that the city staff and city councils understand the urgency and importance of the issue. Community Upcycle helped to pass the White Salmon legislation. Each resolution calls for meaningful reductions in municipal emissions but also for public education and resilience and adaption planning to reduce the increasing harmful impacts of global warming.

Of particular note on Wednesday night was the outpouring of public support for the White Salmon resolution. Commenter after commenter expressed the concern for our future and the need to take rapid and bold action on climate. This feeling of alarm is growing. Nationwide data from a 2020 Yale University study on Climate Change Communication shows that 72 percent of US adults now believe that global warming is happening and 71 percent believe it will harm future generations.

There is cause for optimism on climate with the emphasis and excellent appointments the Biden administration has made and the local action on climate. Lets accelerate the pace where ever we can. Earth Month in April will offer a chance to do more. Check out www.CGCAN.org for Earth Month activities or to submit your own ideas for Earth Month, sign up for our monthly newsletter or attend our monthly meeting.

Peter Cornelison, Hood River

Eve Elderwell, Lyle

Michelina Roth, Snowden

John Boonstra, Hood River

Attend the pumps

When did the laws change regarding self service gas stations in Oregon? I know that in 2018, the law changed to allow rural gas stations to offer self services from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Then last May the State Fire Marshal temporarily suspended the prohibition as part of the pandemic restrictions. However, when did temporary become permanent?

This phenomenon appears to be localized to Hood River. Stations off exit 62, in the Heights, and at the bend on Tucker Road have all become full-time self serve. The station off exit 62 shut down to upgrade and re-open as a self-service station. As the states surrounding us demonstrate, the price of gas does not go down with self service. The only people who benefit are station owners.

Gas station attendants may not make a living wage in our community, but they are employed. They should be appreciated for the service they provide. They keep people from the elements and from smelling like fuel. The attendants in the heights used to clean windows.

So unless or until either the State Fire Marshal or the electorate decide to make self service gas the law, I would appreciate if gas station owners where held accountable and not allowed to use the pandemic to force the change on the public.

Glen Patrizio

Hood River

Good work, News

Congratulations to the Columbia Gorge News for a year of outstanding coverage of news of the Gorge. At this time of decline in print news and with the limitations of the pandemic, the news staff has offered creative, informed articles covering all aspects of life, business, government in the three regions. I look forward to each issue. Nice work!

Judith Tebbs

Hood River

Contract is fair

I support the Hood River School Board’s stand against teacher’s demands.

Teachers are picketing in town because they want a fair contract.

Can someone please let them know:

1. The rest of us work 12 months/year, don’t have summers off and make about the same as they do

2. The rest of us don’t have a union strong enough to force Governor Kate Brown to move them to the top of the COVID vaccinations line

3. The rest of us earn 0.4 percent on our retirement savings (www.pnwfcu.org) while they earn 7.75 percent. Why should teachers be paid 19.37 times what the rest of us earn?

4. The rest of us would need $8 million in the bank to equal a teacher’s $32,000 yearly retirement. Many retire with many thousands more than $32,000.

5. The rest of us guarantee teachers are paid 7.75 percent for their retirement incomes

Yes, I thank the teachers who taught me how to read, write and think. Yes, we need teachers and I love those who choose the profession.

However, they’ve already got a deal better than anyone else I know. It seems like they’re getting a bit greedy.

Why did they choose to be teachers?

Maybe they need to find a different job and we find new teachers.

Jon Nigbor

Hood River

Go electric

Electric vehicles are coming, are we ready?

Living in a rural community, it can be difficult to act on climate change. We certainly see the effects: wildfires, droughts, and even this week heavy snow to 60º weather a few days later. The cause is well known, humans burning fossil fuels has caused an exponential increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere since the 1950s. And the solutions are clear: renewable energy, electric cars, reduce consumption and travel. But what does that really mean?

For our small communities, it was a big step to offer public transportation, but the CAT buses have been hugely successful. Rooftop solar is catching on too, and one needs only drive west to see the Bonneville Dam or east to the Goldendale wind farm to see renewable energy powering our lives. According to the BBC, studies show that by 2050 every second car will be electric, reducing emissions by 1.5 gigatons of carbon per year. This is really exciting for climate change, but how will we adapt to these cars?

Most people charge their EVs at their homes, and with EV ranges hovering between 200 and 400 miles, that is more than enough to get to work and back. Although, living in a rural community where driving is the dominant form of transportation, the lack of public charging infrastructure still makes me a bit nervous. Washington has the 4th most EV charging stations per capita, but with over half located in King County, we need better distribution.

If the Washington legislature passes HB 1204, and they should, all cars sold and registered in Washington in 2030 and beyond would be electric. GM already announced that by 2035, they will only sell EVs and Volvo will be all electric five years earlier. Electric vehicles are the future, which is why we need to make sure that rural communities are not left behind.

We need more charging stations, especially DC fast chargers that can charge up to 80 percent in just 30 minutes. These chargers are an investment, but they are an investment in a clean future for all.

Rachel Luther

White Salmon

Thanks, responders

It might be that the coldest part of winter is sneaking off and won’t be back until November. It might be that it will pounce again, but either way, now is a good time to thank all the men and women who help us get through these months.

I’m thinking of the snowplow operators hustling to keep the roads clear, the power company employees untangling branches from power lines in the middle of the night, first responders — deputies, police and patrol officers, EMTs — as well as dispatchers and tow truck drivers and no doubt some other folks I’m not remembering.

We’re fortunate in this county to have such competent and dedicated folks who answer these calls. Here’s one thing we can all unite on: thanks, ladies and gentlemen.

Rick George

White Salmon

Big tech threat

Common threats create strange bedfellows. Socialists, conservatives, nationalists, neo-liberals, and autocrats may not agree on much, but they all recognize that the tech giants have accumulated far too much power.

None like the idea that a pack of American hipsters in Silicon Valley can, at any moment, cut off their digital lines of communication. This movement is a form of censorship. Going from the freedom of information to the control of information is not what America is about.

Bill Davis

Hood River

Songer’s overstep

Sheriff Songer of Klickitat County declares himself a “constitutional sheriff.” This is troubling as constitutional sheriffs generally believe they hold ultimate law enforcement power in their county, outranking even the state and federal government. They also make their own interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.

Sheriffs and their subordinates should be non-partisan, as they are elected to serve ALL of their county indiscriminately.

This is unlikely in Klickitat County. Sheriff Songer and some of his subordinates have repeatedly intimidated peaceful protests (including a small group of newly graduated high school seniors and their parents), yet members of the right wing militia group “Patriot Prayer” have shown up at his sponsored events, and all the while Songer proclaims Black Lives Matter to be a “terrorist organization.” None of this is non-partisan. (By the way, BLM were recently nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for their work against racism and racially motivated violence).

Sheriff Songer likes to expound conspiracy theories on his Wednesday morning radio talk show on KODL 1440AM. He seems eager to disparage Governor Inslee, CDC recommendations, and democratic legislators and legislation. Recently he is promoting “People’s Rights” (an anti-governmental group founded by Ammon Bundy).

Sheriff Songer has identified by name and community the lead person of BLM in the Gorge on radio. This has directly placed this person at risk of retaliation by extremist groups.

This is dangerous! Sheriff Songer commands a large posse, and I am grateful for its many volunteer functions, but does the posse have a role in upholding the law? If so, what is the training of the posse and does it include deescalation tactics? How are they identified? Are their actions insured by Klickitat County? Does the Sheriff’s department or posse include members of extremists groups such as Oath Keepers, Proud Boys or others?

I urge the Klickitat County Board of Commissioners, who allocate the Sheriff’s budget, to take responsibility and be accountable. Please head off potential issues/actions encouraged by conspiracy theories and extreme groups that Sheriff Songer is promoting.

Jeri Jablonski

White Salmon

One hour matters

In the Feb. 24, article entitled “HR schools out-line plans for phased-in return to in-person school March 8,” one of the justifications put forth for a school day that will end at 11:45 a.m. reads “Starting with a schedule ending at 2:10 p.m. would only yield about an hour more education time.”

The argument is essentially that lengthening the school day isn’t really worth it, because, by the time you add in required staff breaks and prep time, children would only receive about an hour more education time during this two hour and 25 minute extension (see last two paragraphs in the article).

An alternate parental perspective is that an hour a day is a lot!

Practicing an instrument, an academic skill, napping, doing a fun activity… whatever it may be… an hour a day of doing anything with a child ... is ... well ... a lot from my perspective.

Moreover, for me, the fact that children would only have one hour more of education time lands as a parental “so what” on the receiving end. I believe the district should offer full day, in-person school as an option to our children, no matter whether it’s at the elementary, middle, or high school level, and regardless of the proportion of the day that is “education time” while the children are under district care.

To the article’s general conclusion that “starting out a partial day makes real sense to us as educators,” I offer an alternate perspective, namely, starting out a full in-person day makes real sense to this parent.

Heck, under the current staggered reopening plan, the district still has a month planning time to figure out how to make it happen at the high school.

Becca Sanders

Hood River