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71 people sign letter to city criticizing the New Seasons plan for SE Portland

Portland residents have not been in agreement about the proposed New Seasons store on SE 20th Avenue between Division and Clinton. Some are flat-out against it, others wish to see the chain compromise on its zoning requests, and some are welcoming and unquestioning. Over a 24 hour period last week, a letter to the city about the proposed zoning changes was circulated in the neighborhood for signatures. The letter does not ask that New Seasons not be allowed to build; rather, it states concerns with the proposal as it currently stands. 71 people signed the letter, which was mailed to the city's Bureau of Development Services; to Brian Rohter, president of New Seasons; and to the local neighborhood associations and business group. While one point in the letter (the placement of the dumpsters) has since been revealed to be factually incorrect, the remainder contains some fairly solid critiques of the New Seasons proposal that should give the city some food for thought. These are points that could be raised in person at the zoning hearing, which is taking place on Monday, August 18, at 9:00 a.m., in the third floor hearing room of the Bureau of Development Services at 1900 SW Fourth Avenue. Rohter has gone on record saying "dozens of people" in the neighborhood want his store. Here are dozens more who are not in full agreement with him.

The text of the letter follows:

August 6, 2003

Bureau of Development Services
Land Use Review Section
Attn. Duncan Brown and Kate Green
1900 SW Fourth Ave, Ste. 5000
Portland, OR 97201

cc: Brian Rohter, President of New Seasons; Susan Pearce, Hosford-Abernathy neighborhood association; Douglas Klotz, Richmond neighborhood association; Nancy Chapin, Division/Clinton Business Association

Re: Case File LU 03-125469 CP ZC AD (New Seasons Market)

Dear Mr. Brown & Ms. Green:

We, the undersigned, have concerns about the above referenced case that is scheduled for hearing on August 18. We feel that the rezoning changes as currently proposed will have adverse affects on Southeast Portland, specifically the Hosford-Abernathy and Richmond neighborhoods. Here are some of the concerns we are bringing to your attention:

  • Automobile and truck traffic will increase on neighboring streets. SE Division, a major traffic corridor, will become even busier, further endangering cyclists and pedestrians. Worse yet, Clinton St. and 21st Avenue will also see increases and both these streets run through primarily residential areas with many children, bicyclists, and pets. Additionally, the intersection of 21st, Division, and SE Ladd Avenue is already clogged; waits there are lengthy for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians alike and will become worse. Air pollution will worsen from the increased number of waiting vehicles.
  • The loss of the house at 1924-1926 SE Division will result in a loss of housing in the neighborhood. People live in this duplex, and they will have to move if the zoning change goes through and the building is demolished or moved. Even if the house is moved, it might be impossible to find a suitable location for it in the same neighborhood, which will result in a net loss of housing in the local area. The property at 2024-2038 SE 39th Avenue, which is being offered to replace it, is currently unsuitable for housing' the result will be a net loss in housing at the city-level until replacement housing is built there.
  • The loss of the house at 1924-1926 SE Division will negatively change the character of the neighborhood. The house, which dates to the earlier part of the 20th Century, is representative of the character of the surrounding streets, which are primarily residential with leafy trees and flower gardens. If a commercial establishment takes over this spot, an important contributor to the flavor of the neighborhood will be lost, especially if the new establishment puts dumpsters there, right next to the St. Philip Neri convent.
  • The zoning designation for 2543 SE 20th Avenue, "CN2", is inappropriate for a commercial establishment of the size and scope planned by New Seasons. CN2 is "intended for small commercial sites and areas in or near less dense or developing residental neighborhoods. Emphasis of the zone is on uses that provide services for nearby residential areas, and on other uses that are small scale and have little impact." The surrounding neighborhoods are established, not "developing", and are fairly well filled in, not "less dense". The New Seasons store as planned is not "small" or "small scale" when compared with other businesses in the area, and will certainly have more than a "little" impact.

Thank you for your time and consideration,
xxxxxxxxxx (71 names and signatures)


picky picky picky 17.Aug.2003 02:19

mr. whipple

Jeez........ the amount of new traffic will not be that noticable....... the duplex is not that big of a deal ............. seems like you can find some more important issues with this issue, or better yet.. move on to one that is really worth the fight. New seasons will improve your neighborhood.

not so picky 17.Aug.2003 02:33

lives in the hood

these details are not small if you live there. people are definitely concerned about traffic. 21st already gets too much, and clinton doesn't need anymore. this is about trying to keep a fairly liveable neighborhood fairly liveable. it's also about getting folks involved in their community. most of the things that affect our every day lives in our urban surroundings are out of our control or imposed on us by other people (usually rich ones), and it ain't cool. new seasons will definitely have effects on Hosford-Abernathy and Richmond: good if you're a property owener, bad if you're a renter or people's co-op shopper.. btw, the duplex is a big deal to at least one of the people living in it, who doesn't want to move.

i'm really sick of this "move on to something important" talk as well. what's more important than protecting the things and places and people that you love? especially if those things are like the red and black and people's co-op and the cascadia forest alliance, all of whom will suffer if the neighborhood gentrifies and rents go up.

as for other reasons to oppose new seasons, we've got plenty, mostly from an anti-capitalist perspective. but this letter to the city is not the place to bring those up. they just want to hear specific things about land use issues. diversity of tactics. this tactic is by-the-books, within-the-system.

Response 17.Aug.2003 12:14

Property Owner

It is not necessarily good for property owners either. Money is not the bottom line for everyone. As a property owner I am concerned about traffic issues, my childrens safety and general liveability. I care about peoples and a small neighborhood feel, and local control. Please do not lump all property owners in the category of greedy capitalists.

bike lanes 18.Aug.2003 03:05

android

division is apparently slated to be re-paved from 7th to 39th sometime soon. does anyone know if bike lanes are going to be added at that time???
how easy it would be to have parking up one side of the street only, then divvy up the remaining space between cars and bikes-- one lane each way for both.
as it stands, division is extremely dangerous for bikers, and new seasons is not going to help.

don't like it? 19.Aug.2003 01:21

riotlager

people didn't like the fred meyer at hollywood either, but now guess who shops there? people in the neighborhood. folks like you bitch about new stores then ante up and shop there anyway. save us some time and quit whining. you'll be buying your "organic" produce at new seasons in 7 months, and loving every fucking minute of it.

go after 20.Aug.2003 08:34

bush instead

this New Seasons campaign is hilarious
there was a grocery store there before
did you try and have them evicted for causing traffic problems?
still boils down to the small-minded thinking that
New Seasons will take business away from Peoples
- g - e -t 0 -v -e -r i-t
Peoples will survive

and, the Peoples expansion did create more traffic
in the neighborhood - where were you then?