From the political to the bizarre, we get a lot of letters. Here are some of our favorites. Keep 'em coming, Central Oregon!
Showing Up for Racial Justice in Central Oregon, (8/10/16)
Dear Source Weekly,
Huge thanks for including resources for your white readers interested in racial justice in the July 13th issue.
Black Lives Matter doesn't mean other lives don't. Like people who say 'Save the Rainforests' aren't saying 'Screw all other types of forests.'
I have never been stopped by the police and thrown in a psych ward for 8 days for driving a car that is "too nice" for me to be driving. I've never been followed around a store by security simply because of the color of my skin. I don't have to sit my son down and talk to him about how to stay alive around people who hate him for no reason other than fear and ignorance. To deny the truth of these experiences because they make me uncomfortable would be to place my comfort above the safety of others, and I cannot do that.
A ProPublica report found that from 2010 to 2012, black men between the ages of 15 and 19 were killed by police at a rate of 31.17 per million, while white men in the same age range were killed at a rate of 1.47 per million. The #BlackLivesMatter movement arose because of these statistics, which have been illustrated by the deaths of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Freddie Gray, Mike Brown, Eric Garner—the list goes on and on.
It is high time we white folk take off the boot of racism (citizenshipandsocialjustice.com/curriculum-for-white-americans-to-educate-themselves-on-race-and-racism).
Best Local Issue
Congratulations to the Source for highlighting the increasing problems created by the tourism industry in Central Oregon.
Several weeks ago on a Friday afternoon, I was driving into Bend on Hwy 20 from the west. When I got near Empire Ave. the traffic was backed up over a quarter of a mile. "A traffic accident" I thought, but there were no signs of a problem. A few weeks later, again on a Friday, the scenario was repeated. Then, it struck me, this congestion was the result of tourists arriving for the weekend.
In moderation, tourism is probably good for Bend. But it is now out of control and I believe things will only get worse. Why?
We have numerous vested businesses interests, including hotels, destination resorts, vacation rentals, restaurants, a ski resort, and tour agencies, who want increasing numbers of people. They hire agencies like Visit Bend to advertise for more tourists and will never be satisfied unless the numbers continue to increase. (Interestingly, individuals' or organizations' promotion of their own self-interest is know as "Tragedy of the Commons" because it usually results in a deterioration of a public environment.) According to the article in the Source, we average 20,000 tourists per day.
The next step will be for various groups and government agencies to attempt to mitigate the impact on natural areas, probably by limiting the numbers of visits by requiring some form of registration. This is already being done to control visits to Lava Butte and parts of Shevlin Park. The days of hopping in the car with the kids for spontaneous trips to a river site or park will eventually end. Even with this attempt at control, some recreation sites will probably resemble "Coney Island."
Tourism creates a tremendous negative impacts on our local environment. At the very time we are trying to find ways to limit CO2 emissions, the area is being flooded with thousands of tourist cars. We are told this is good for the economy. A Bulletin article stated that the Tourism/Hospitality industries account for some of the lowest wages in the area. What percentage of the individuals who work for the Tourism/Hospitality industries can afford a house, or apartment in Bend? It is the owners of the resorts and restaurants who are making the money.
The title of your article should have been "Paradise Lost."
System Development Fee Woes, (10/12/16)
My husband and I have lived and worked in Bend since 1995. We feel betrayed by the city we love.
In 2000, we purchased a house at 241 SE Airpark Dr. in Bend. We were aware we were on septic and had a metal septic tank. We were also aware that the city of Bend had recently installed a sewer line down the private airstrip behind our house with the intent for residents along the airstrip to eventually hook up to sewer. We figured we would hook up to that line if and when our system failed. Our system never failed, we never had a problem with our septic tank or drain field.
In April 2016, we put our house on the market. We could sell our house at a good profit and not be required to pay Capital Gains due to our ages. We were blindsided when we were made aware of Oregon's "300 Foot Rule." Since we purchased our home, Hollow Pines subdivision had been built and had brought in a sewer line to within 300 feet of our property line. The city no longer allowed us to hook up to the line in the airstrip since it was a pressurized line. We were never informed of this change in thought by the city. We were required to hook up to the line in the street...200-ft. and uphill from our home. Since we were downhill from the sewer, we had to purchase a pump and tank. We had to pay nearly $10,000 to the city for permits, including a System Development Fee of $4745.47!
We were required to tear up our deck to trench from our backyard to the street. We were required to dig a seven-foot deep-hole for the sump and pump. This procedure took twice as long as expected. We received a rough permit on the sewer line, filled the trench and then were informed a code had changed and we needed to dig the trench again to install a vent line. We also were told we didn't need to repave the entire width of the road since it wasn't in very good condition, then after the project was completed, the city changed their mind and required the paving at an additional cost of $3,000.
It is obvious that the city of Bend has no plan developed for people caught in similar situations. We were not told complete details about how to proceed. We were not told of a reimbursement district program offered by the city until we accidently heard about it and asked. The purpose of this program is so that others in the neighborhood would not benefit from our expense. We were told there was a program, but the process needed to be started before construction began...There is no plan in place to help citizens pay for the required installation. For some this would be a tremendous financial burden making it impossible for them to sell their homes. This was not a terrible burden for us, but certainly not how we planned to spend $60,000 from the sale of our home. That is correct—$60,000!
—Pamela and Joseph Moritz
Best Worst Letter
Vote This Way, (7/20/16)
As a native Oregonian, I've always known that the Bend community was a dynamic, sun-filled recreational community as well as a growing economic environment. On a recent vacation, we explored the Lava Cave, walked the Lava Cast Forest loop, floated the river and played golf at nine different courses. We were blown away by the growth, delighted by the La Pine Rodeo and attended the best concert ever by Grammy award artists, Lonestar.
Now we're thinking about buying a second home in the Bend area, but we won't know until November whether that's a good idea or not. We're old enough to not need jobs but wise enough to know we want to live among people who pay attention to what's best for their community.
While in the area we learned that Deschutes County has the opportunity to vote for change in their troubled Sheriff's Department. It's apparently the first time in two decades that the incumbent hasn't been alone on the ballot, appointed by his predecessor regardless of his nefarious ties. We also heard about tax Initiative 28, which basically amounts to a disguised sales tax. We hope voters pay attention to their opportunity to vote against higher taxes and for new leadership in the Sheriff's department. Then we'll decide whether or not to re-locate.
Letter of the Year
Cheers Christie! Now that the "disguised sales tax" called M97 has been shot down, perhaps you'll regale our fair city with your presence at least six months of the year? Gosh, we can't wait to have you. In leiu of the "sales tax" you might have paid during visits, we will gladly accept your property taxes all year instead. —Nicole Vulcan, Editor