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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 28, 2011 12:42 PM. The previous post in this blog was Come on, rise up. The next post in this blog is You better sit down, kids. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Daycare (oui) or school (non)?

Up the hill on SW Corbett Avenue in Portland, this place has opened. Now that the French School at the bottom of the hill has gone belly up, some parents are finding in the "L'Etoile French Immersion School" a suitable replacement facility for their wee ones. But not all of the neighbors are happy. They note that the operation is in what was until recently a single-family home, and while it might be o.k. to operate a daycare facility there, the neighbors say this is more of a private school, which the zoning rules don't allow at that location.

And so the battle is joined. City Hall land use bureaucrats, state daycare bureaucrats -- and who knows who all else may get involved? Sacré bleu.

Comments (14)

This is just great for a neighborhood already having traffic problems. Also, there is a reason schools have a large buffer area around them, it's the noise issue associated with young children confined in a small area. I don't think there is much difference in kids who are yelling and screaming in either french or english, it still is loud. This will definitely have a negative impact on the values of neighboring homes.

So "steve", is there a lot of difference between a day care and school?

It's a no-win situation for the city planners. As Charles de Gaulle might have said about Portland, "Comment pourrait-il possible de régler une ville qui possède 400 éspeces de bicyclette?"

The French School was a disaster when it first moved into the neighborhood years ago. Initially pretending to be neighbor friendly, as soon as they signed the lease for the old Terwilliger School, their true nature was revealed. Truly saddening as it was neighbors who invited the school into the neighborhood, delighted with the idea of having a functional school back in the neighborhood.

Claiming to love the fact that a small group of neighbors congregated on the school grounds for an hour in the evenings with their dogs, and claiming to be in support of continuing to allow "all traditional neighborhood uses" of the school grounds, they without hesitation began threatening neighbors with arrest as soon as they took occupancy. Soon thereafter, they began to fence off the eastern grounds, and had the intention to fence off the entire block for "the children's safety". Fortunately, the neighborhood took the issue to city hall to stop the project.

During the city council hearings, they had stated that they had no intent to fence the grounds completely, but with fear for their students safety, they felt they had no choice. (We were of the opinion that if the children were properly supervised they wouldn't need the fence, and why the heck didn't they let their kids play on the eastern half of the block where all the play structures were.) Fortunately, some diligent members of the neighborhood association dug up records indicating that they had arranged fencing contractors for the entire grounds before occupancy, and possibly before even signing the lease.

I attended many of the CTLH neighborhood association meetings during this period. Since the NA meetings were in "their building", it was a real treat to see them selectively lock the doors during a couple meetings to keep some of the concerned neighbors out. What was particularly charming was when the "director" Madam Schuback conveniently kept herself just outside the meeting room while siccing her attorney son to take the heat at the meetings.

I could only imagine what a school like that could be teaching it's students about community relations.

The French School was a bad deal for the neighborhood.

Call Verizion and see if a tower can fit there, that will get the Hoi Polloi up in arms.

"So "steve", is there a lot of difference between a day care and school?
Posted by dman | September 28, 2011 3:55 PM "

Well there ya go.

The perfect demonstration of the Portland excuse machine.

There's no difference?

I guess all of the zoning rules are optional?

dman, yes there is a major difference between daycare and a school just from functionality. But just as important, which the L'Etoile French School isn't following, is Portland's own zoning code under "33.281.030 School and School Site"..."Review Thresholds for School Uses, TAble 281". It states any school use in R zone requires Conditional Use review procedures.

And 33.281.030 A. New School Use" further states "The creation of a school use on a site that does not have a school use or is not a school site is reviewed through a Type III procedure". That is a conditional use procedure.

None of these regulations were followed or being required by the City when attention has been brought to the city's attention of these violations.

The home is in a long established, nice residential zoned R5 neighborhood.

This is much like the ICE Jail issue. The city initially said the Jail, because it had predominantly office space, didn't need a Conditional Review. After objections, proceeding towards a LUBA appeal, the City changed its mind.

This home converted to a purely business use, and a school in an R5 zone, is an affront to our city neighborhoods. This interpretation can happen in any neighborhood and next door to your home.

OK I will Ask Again: (I have no issue with how it is zoned) I was just questioning "traffic problems... the noise issue associated with young children confined in a small area" How is that different from child care or a small school? Frequently I see Child care advertised as having a teaching and learning component.

The "negative impact on the values of neighboring homes..." also surprised me because I was led to believe the opposite.

City people are sure nosy. :-)
Jokes aside, I like reading about this stuff. Since moving out to the desert it just seems so remote and silly. But even out here there are people whining about the placement of windmills and what not. Guess everyone's got to whine about something. I stick to bitching about healthcare.

dman, I can understand your puzzlement when some details aren't before you.

If you look up ORS657 Childcare regulations and statutes, up to 16 children can be in a childcare facility of this classification. Many people don't know this. That is not how many of us who grew up in Oregon experienced some next door neighbor providing childcare, taking care of their own children plus a few neighborhood kids. Plus, they weren't schools with required outdoor play-areas, and several other stipulations.

If you click onto Jack's "this place" you'll see that in over 40 pages of L'Etoile website that this school has 8 teachers, after school programs such as theatre, marshal-arts, music, and other after school children programs who aren't even registered with the school. So, even if they want to call it "childcare" there are even more than 16 children coming to a home in a residential neighborhood.

Traffic. SW Corbett is a designated main arterial street, and recently designated a major bike arterial street. It is a shortcut from SW Barbur and Terwilliger and all of southwest Portland to Johns Landing, Sellwood Bridge-the eastside, to Lake Oswego, and to South Waterfront besides downtown. Being an older neighborhood, many homes have no off-street parking, so they park on the street. The street is narrow so when frequent parking on both sides occur it becomes a one-way street. With parents dropping kids off at all hours and frequently with all the school programs there is a problem. Like several evenings ago over 21 cars visiting the school causing major headaches.

Also, Sam's Bike Plan has designated that SW Corbett lose one side of the street to parking to add bike lanes, meaning for residents there will be even less on-street parking.

As far as property values, property taxation appeal boards as well as county assessors typically devalue homes near or next to schools. This has been ascertained from experts in the field.

Maybe your thinking is like one state Childcare staffer stated to a neighbor, "We should be happy that a childcare facility is coming into our neighborhood". Within 15 blocks on just the east side of SW Barbur there are over 11 childcare, pre-school, charter school, Montessori facilities. The neighborhood seems to be doing it's fair share of childcare. Plus, OHSU just added a big facility a bit north in South Waterfront.

As more is learned about this matter, there are several more infractions of codes, statutes, and the process under which a license is issued. For example ORS657A requires no more than 2 employees. There are 8. It also requires that children be "pre-school", but their own website states "first grade", and has after school programs ages with no limit.

Another aspect is the abundance of words, phrases on the website that prescribes a "school". And certainly "$7650 per school year tuition" makes it a school and not what most parents would pay for "pre-school".

There's is also the lack of off-street parking required in R5 zoning. L'Etiole took over the garage for a gymnasium and classroom, leaving no parking. If the city deems it is only a daycare, according to their Table 266-2, based on square footage of the facility, 6 off-street parking spaces are required.

There's more, but I hope this helps fill you in, and helps other citizens of Portland and the state realize the gorilla in the room. I guess it's like the windmills to some, and environmental infractions to others, and I hope you don't stigmatize this as nay-saying, or sticking ones nose into unimportant matters. We are losing too many fine, older neighborhoods of Portland and elsewhere.

Jerry - but, but, but fine older neighborhoods are not the fine condo bunkers that the planners want to shove down all of our throats. As for what to do about land use violations, well there is your neighborhood association if the leaders are not in bed with the city or court.

Jeffs: after a bunch of kids step in dog dung, those dogs are less welcome.

As to the "8 teachers" part, most of those are part time, and only there for a few hours a week.

This is certainly a case of neighbors who should get a life. A single family home cannot house many children, and whether to call it a daycare or school is immaterial, it doesn't change what goes on there at all. The woman who started that endeavor saved jobs and is contributing to our economy. Good for her, and shame on those busybodies next door.

Bluepire,

Ever heard of zoning?

Suppose I open a pig farm and the city says as long as I call it a park it's OK.

This place is a school and in violation of numerous codes, period.

You, are out of line.

Ben is so right! Returned home to screaming kids. This school represents how laws and zoning are interpreted by our inefective city employees...just depends on who you try to get answers from.They don't work for us.. they work us over. Having spent years (and money)to improve my property for retirement years this is really a bust


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