Rape of W. Hayden Island: Even architecture dude gets it
The paving over of wildlife habitat on West Hayden Island by the Port of Portland for a pointlessly redundant shipping terminal will be one of the final disgusting acts perpetrated by the Sam Rand Twins as they leave City Hall. Shame on the three continuing members of the City Council, who are playing right along, and shame on the Goldschmidt Party people who are pushing so hard to make yet more bucks for themselves and their friends at the expense of the birds and the bees.
The sacrifice of struggling wildlife for the sake of a quick buck is so egregious that it's even attracted the opprobrium of a local architecture critic, and that's saying something. Usually the architects are among the prime villains in the wrecking of Portland livability, and their media followers usually try to help them get away with it. But in this case, one such writer, Brian Libby, is speaking up eloquently:
Last night's hearing before the Planning and Sustainability Commission, the only opportunity for public comment, was practically a caricature of self-serving moneyed interests pitted against community members fighting only for values and their homes.
Whenever someone testified in favor of industrial annexation, he or she came from an organization that would directly benefit from the environmental usurpation. A union representative whose colleagues would be hired for the construction on West Hayden spoke of "family-wage jobs," implying that trying to save endangered species directly resulted in his babies going unfed. A series of business and port alliance representatives, neckties removed from their black suits, sung the praises of industrial development and finished their remarks to the sound of silence from the packed audience or some poor unironic single clap. Whenever a homeowner about to be displaced or choked by diesel fumes pleaded with the council for mercy, or an environmental group leader pleaded for the accelerated timetable to be slowed down, a chorus of applause rang out from the commission chamber and its filled overflow-room....
The annexation of West Hayden Island would be troubling enough in its own right, but now Mayor Sam Adams is attempting to skip the unfolding process and bring about a City Council vote by the end of the year. Even those at last night's hearing tentatively willing to support the annexation admitted they felt blindsided and disappointed by the mayor's effort to seal the deal before he leaves office at year's end. Most of the community groups at the hearing, such as a group of Native American tribes with ancestral connections to the Columbia and to West Hayden, told the Planning and Sustainability Commission they had never been brought to the negotiating table until the deal was already done....
The West Hayden Island annexation plan is to take 300 of the remaining 800 acres for Port of Portland expansion. That may sound like a fair trade-off at first: wildlife still gets more than half. But think of those 800 total acres as the last toothpaste in a tube already squeezed to the limit. Aside from a few tiny parcels here and there, the city has already taken virtually all of the wildlife area that ever existed in the Portland area. If we take 300 of 800 acres remaining on West Hayden Island, we're not leaving more than half to wildlife and the floodplain. We're going from 98 percent of local wild areas claimed for development to 99 percent. We're squeezing the very last remnants out of the toothpaste tube and expecting no future cavities to form.
The whole thing is here. It's one of the best commentaries on Portland hypocrisy in a long time, and one of the very best things written so far about the shabby farce being played out around the environmental atrocities soon to come to West Hayden Island.
Of course, there's not much architecture involved in a shipping terminal -- a giant parking lot and some cranes -- and so it doesn't cost Libby too much to speak his mind. But he's noble to do so. It's too bad that as usual, the fix is in in Portland.