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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 4, 2012 8:43 AM. The previous post in this blog was They hear you -- they just lie to you. The next post in this blog is What they're planning to do to Lincoln High. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Friday, May 4, 2012

A guest post from Dave Lister

Dave Lister, an area businessman and former Portland City Council candidate, recently resigned from writing opinion columns for The Oregonian. Here he shares with our readers a new column. -- J.B.

For Lents, another insult from City Hall
by Dave Lister

Frank Fleck is on a mission. Fleck, a Lents resident and president of the Springwater Trail Preservation Society, is on a quest to protect his neighborhood’s property values, employment opportunities, and livability, which he believes have been jeopardized by the City of Portland’s fast-tracking a conditional use permit for a food-composting transfer facility right next to Johnson Creek at 101st Avenue and SE Foster Road.

In March of last year, Fleck, along with all the Lents residents living within four hundred feet of the proposed site, received a mailer. It advised them that Recology, Inc., the same company that has North Plains residents up in arms over the putrid odors coming from their Washington county composting operation, was seeking to expand their yard recycling transfer station to include food scraps collected by Portland’s new composting scheme, scheduled to go into effect at the end of October. In Fleck’s view, the selective mailing was just the first of several disingenuous acts on the part of the city.

"To begin with," Fleck said, "the impact of this site will extend much further than 400 feet, but the city was only conforming to the minimum legal requirement for notification. Most of the residents didn’t know anything about it." Fleck was equally disturbed by what appeared to be a rigged game at a Bureau of Developmental Services hearing to consider Recology's request on April 6th of last year. "The BDS hearings officer, Gregory Frank, approved Recology’s request to waive the 120 day appeal period virtually without discussion. That cut our appeal time to fourteen days. Why would the hearings officer offer that up to Recology on a platter?" Fleck asked. "It looked to us like the fix was in."

Despite their disappointment over the BDS hearing, Fleck and his allies looked for support at the county and state level. The Portland City Council received two letters dated July 7, 2011 urging them to reconsider Recology’s request, one from Multnomah County Commissioner Judy Shiprack and the other from Oregon State Senator Rod Monroe. Shiprack commended the city’s composting program but wrote "it is my view that the site on SE 101st is not the appropriate place to help achieve this goal." Monroe wrote: "It is my view that the site on SE 101st is not the appropriate place to help achieve your recycling goal, and we encourage you to consider the impact that this facility will have on the citizens near the site." Unfortunately, these protestations did not sway the city council. In October the council tentatively approved Recology’s request "with conditions." In November it gave Recology the green light by approving those conditions.

Fearing the worst, the Lents Neighborhood Association attempted to work out a "good neighbor" agreement with Recology to mitigate the operation's impact on the neighborhood, but the results have been disappointing. Recology rejected most of the neighborhood's proposed amendments, nine points in all, and the city pointed out that it had no authority to enforce any portion of what they considered to be a private agreement. With all other options exhausted, opponents of the site have now referred it to Oregon’s Land Use Board of Appeals, the final arbiter in the matter.

You can't help but wonder why the city is ignoring the neighborhood concerns, the environmental concerns over the possible impact on Johnson Creek, and the recreation concerns of the impact on the Springwater Trail. Fleck thinks that it simply comes down to the fact that Lents is, and always has been, the city's stepchild neighborhood. "We feel like the city has always treated us like a dumping ground, and now they want to put a dump here," he concluded.

Comments (15)

We had a volunteer from the City of Portland out canvassing in Powellhurst-Gilbert asking for feedback about the composting program earlier this week. The young man seemed a genuinely surprised that the feedback was predominantly negative.

Most of the neighbors I've spoken with are pleased to have the ability to add food scraps to their green containers if they choose to do so. However, nobody's pleased with the tradeoffs. The little bit of additional material going into the green container doesn't merit picking it up weekly or cutting garbage service in half. Further, locating a smelly transfer station in a neighborhood and on a busy arterial is a huge price to pay for the negligible value (if any) the program creates.

I asked the volunteer if there was any evidence that the program was having any effect on greenhouse emissions and he said he wasn't aware of any. Evidently the underlying theory is that composting will reduce methane emissions and that any carbon emissions, from the fleet of trucks picking up handfuls of food scraps from each home, will be offset by a reduction in methane production. I guess we're all supposed to take it on faith that the hit we're taking to livability and affordability are justified by a hypothetical net reduction in our impact on global warming.

Evidently the underlying theory is that composting will reduce methane emissions and that any carbon emissions, from the fleet of trucks picking up handfuls of food scraps from each home, will be offset by a reduction in methane production.

Composting, done correctly, doesn't stink.

I wonder whether anyone who's driven through or near North Plains thinks Recology composts correctly. I wonder why anyone would think they would do it correctly in Lents, either.

...and,

I wonder what our "Eastside" lame duck commish thinks about his beloved Lents. Or did he move on up after his latest serial divorce.

...also,

Surely Mr. Jefferson "Eastside" Smith must be asked about this issue - perhaps McDonald could do it - and, of course, edit his response for brevity.

"You can't help but wonder why the city is ignoring the neighborhood concerns,"

No need to wonder, they only care when they need your votes - otherwise they feel only contempt for their minions.

Reminds of the joke about a guy that went into his shrink and said, "Doc I can't get anyone to listen to me, everybody just ignores me." Doc replies, "Next".

I'm really glad to see that you'll be posting here, Mr. Lister. I'm a Democrat, but I always enjoyed reading your column in the Oregonian, and you changed my mind several times on things. And I wish you'd run for city council again.

Neil Anderson

Just to keep the record straight the council vote was 4-1 with Randy Leonard in dissent.

Composting, done correctly, doesn't stink.

Composting with meat and bones most certainly does, which is among a number of reasons why it's not recommended as part of a comprehensive back-yard recycling program.

Recology's trying to use aerobic composting on material that should be composted in a closed system, anaerobic environment. So, it stinks.

I agree with Neils comment.I always looked forward to Listers columns in the fish wrapper. Also , Lents isn't just 'The city's stepchild neighborhood', its 'The city's REDHEADED stepchild neighborhood'....

As someone who drives Foster with some regularity, I have to say that to date, I've not noticed any new and updated "putrid odors."

Not guaranteeing that will hold up through August.

As someone who drives Foster with some regularity, I have to say that to date, I've not noticed any new and updated "putrid odors."

As far as I know, the Recology site on Foster hasn't started accepting food waste yet. Last I heard residents of Lents were appealing to the state Land Use Board over the project.

Recology's website indicates that the site doesn't take food waste.

This article talks a little about the appeal pending at the state level.

You can't help but wonder why the city is ignoring the neighborhood concerns,...

Par for the course.
Not only this neighborhood, albeit they have been treated shabbily, but so have others. This city as exists now, is not for the people.

My concern is that this will set a precedent, for other food-composting transfer facilities throughout our city. Don't think they won't except perhaps in the "protected" neighborhoods.

Is this part of Eco-districts plans? Details?

http://www.recologyoregonmaterialrecovery.com/fosterRoadRecyclingCenter.htm

Typically, mixed dry waste loads contain all or some of the following materials: mixed waste paper, metals, plastics, yard debris, wood, concrete, rock, brick, dry asphalt, construction and demolition wastes, land clearing debris, and/or gypsum wallboard (untreated and unpainted). Unfortunately, toilets, sinks, bathtubs, couches and mattresses cannot be recycled effectively, so we prefer not to take them.

We cannot accept "wet" household garbage, or waste which is liable to decay, spoil, or become putrid.

PROHIBITED MATERIALS: Wet Garbage, Food Waste, Chemicals, Commercial Refrigerants, Railroad Ties, Paint, Auto Parts/Motors, Tires Over 22.5 Inches, Hazardous Waste Including Asbestos Containing Materials

So tell me unless I am misunderstanding, why is city having us put food waste in with our yard debris if Recology is saying it is prohibited?

Fortunately, we do have a scientist, microbiologist, who has decided to run for Mayor,
who would do what is best for our community in this and other such very important issues. It doesn’t look like the insiders want to stray from agendas for vested interests.

They have not wanted Fernandez to be in important debates despite his knowledge in many arenas including important debt/financial matters facing our city.
Fernandez would do what is best for the health of our community.

http://scottfernandezformayor.com/

Recology's trying to use aerobic composting on material that should be composted in a closed system, anaerobic environment. So, it stinks.

Ergo,

Recology is not doing the composting correctly, is it?

I was referring to the subject at hand, not back-yard recycling.

What did I miss, here, Max?

You are right that Lents isn't the only neighborhood being crapped on.. er.. enhanced with a yard debris recycling project.
Concordia and Cully neighborhoods will get to suffer one soon too.

As a life time Lents resident/homeowner/Portlander am angry and outraged that only residents within 400ft got the initial notice of Recology to locate on Foster.As sure as the old Dewyer lumber mill (former) odor would waft through the air in the 70's so too will Recology. You could smell the wood and mill from Bloomington park...anyone remember? Im sick of having goverment mandated programs forced upon our citizens. I for one refuse to use the solid food waste composting..I recycle but thats it. Cannot wait to vote in November!!!

Mr. T.
It is important to vote in the Primary on May 15th!
Look at the top left column for Jack's
selections.
I won't put food waste in my compost either.
I hope this can be stopped.
I am outraged as well that people who do not live in the neighborhood
would do this to others.


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