Eugene Weekly : Letters : 12.17.09


Regarding Tom Schneider’s Viewpoint Dec. 3 supporting the Amazon option for the West Eugene EmX routing:

I agree with Schneider about inviting folks out of their cars to ride the EmX. Peak oil is upon us; greenhouse gases must be addressed, and total vehicle miles traveled need to be reduced. In fact, our household does not own a car or truck; we travel via LTD. We travel so much via LTD that it is apparent to us that getting folks out of their cars does not require an attractive route — Franklin Boulevard isn’t much to look at, but the EmX along it is heavily used.

Schneider also omitted a key fact in his idyllic vision of the Amazon routing. As currently designed, the bike path is not just rerouted; it is rerouted through eight single-family homes — one of those homes is ours. The city of Eugene promotes nodal development, encourages people to walk to services and then proposes to raze eight nodally located homes to make the man-made Amazon channel more riparian. How ironic. 

We are huge supporters of LTD and the West Eugene EmX project. However, the EmX routing will be a huge economic benefit to the commercial property owners along its route (ref. to the Portland Max system). It makes much more sense to bring that plus to the commercial routes than to gut a residential neighborhood and bulldoze peoples’ homes, as the current plan requires. Put the EmX where it belongs: along West 11th where the people need to travel!

Wendy Butler-Boyesen & Martin G. Boyesen, Eugene


Following are some of the reasons for Residents for Responsible Rapid Transit (3RT) support of the 6th and 7th Avenues/7th Place route (locally preferred alternate) for the proposed West Eugene EmX Project with a non-dedicated lane in mixed traffic.

 1) This route would require the least amount of property and easement acquisition, thereby costing much less. The federal government does not have a blank check for all 61 miles of the proposed EmX buildout. The 6th and 7th option would easily facilitate a future spur on North Highway 99 and the Barger area, Eugene’s fastest growing population center, as well as the airport, which has no bus service. A future link to River Road is also easily connected to 6th and 7th.

 2) A non-dedicated lane would be less disruptive to businesses and residences, due to less construction. Some signaled intersections would have the bus stops.

 3) In our 3RT survey of residential addresses in the 6th and 7th corridor, there were 197 residential units on 6th and 7th from Olive to Garfield, 274 residential units on cross streets within one block of 6th and 7th and 212 motel units on the aforementioned route.

 4) LTD’s goal of spurring economic development along BRT routes and Eugene’s MUPTE ordinance coincide, as in the recent request for the MUPTE standards to be applied to a proposed one room apartments with common kitchens and bathrooms project on Madison St. between 5th and 6th Avenues.

 5) In a 2003 Whiteaker Community Council survey, the Whiteaker neighborhood has a high ratio of “transportation disadvantaged persons” residing there. This is a federal transportation term defining people who are low income, disabled, seniors, mass transit dependent or too young to drive. A BRT system would benefit them the most!

Pauline Hutson & Jozef Siekiel-Zdzienicki, Eugene


I often wondered what they served at the Road Kill Grill that was west of Drain on Route 38. It took an economic downturn before I tried one critter they may have offered, the western gray squirrel or Sciurus griseus, Oregon’s largest tree dwelling rodent.

I live in the forested hills of south Eugene where marauding pick-ups and quiet hybrids hammer squirrels all year though it’s illegal to hunt with a vehicle in Oregon. 

This native is considered a game species, so most assaults are hit and run. 

I’m sure Eugene Skinner roasted many of them. They scurry about the Butte foraging for nuts, cones, fruit and fungi. It’s said Davy Crockett wouldn’t have made it from Tennessee to Texas if it weren’t for the squirrel. So when one fell in the morning rush, I grabbed it. 

I asked the butcher at Long’s Meat Market if he sold them. He said no and was surprised to hear they fetch a good price in England. Find a recent casualty and bone up on cleaning. The best recipes are from the South. A butcher from the Market of Choice said they’re big as jackrabbits down there and wished me the best. 

 Ryan Twohey, an athlete and Eagle Scout from the UO, joined me for dinner. I couldn’t find a local willing to take a bite. I suggest you stew it instead of roast it, until you’re more familiar with the gamy taste. 

Chris Piche-Cvitkovic, Eugene


Thanks, EW, for “What’s All The Dam Fuss?” addressing efforts to restore the Willamette River flow regime. Mimicking flooding is a critical half of restoring aquatic systems, but must include reestablishing the physical form of complex floodplains. The Ecosystem Research Consortium found 70 to 80 percent of islands and side channels, 40 percent of alcoves and 20 percent of primary channels have been elimimated. EWEB’s riverfront illustrates these riverine losses to development. 

A 1910 topographical map shows the Willamette bankline at EWEB gradually rose 15 feet across 500 feet, whereas the current bankline is abrupt with fill armored by rip-rap revetment. The historical map shows the Millrace top of banks averaged 400 feet wide through the EWEB site with an alcove of surface water 300 feet wide at the river confluence, but now drains through a culvert pipe in-fill. An 1850 GLO survey of presettlement vegetation confirms the 27 acre property was covered by riparian bottomland forest. 

EWEB is not meeting its vision statement for redevelopment of this public property to link “our community’s social, ecological, economic and sustainable concerns” or the city’s downtown plan to “provide appropriate setbacks where environmental or habitat issues are critical.” The planning team is limited to an architecture firm excelling in new urbanist design, supported by a Community Advisory Team representing real estate and business interests, yet the city and EWEB voice the importance of this site is more than its market value. A multidisciplinary team is missing, including professionals in ecological restoration with natural resource management experience. 

This letter does not seek to prevent development, rather to fully integrate aquatic restoration with a thriving new civic, commercial and residential district. Not only is this site EWEB’s real estate investment, but a public property of very real and significant ecological impacts perpetuated into the future by the recently proposed options for redevelopment.

Justin Simms, Eugene


I felt a strange resonance while reading the Weisman opinion piece (12/3) attacking solar electric panels. I had seen an almost identical article in Forbes. I’m not claiming that Weisman is part of a conservative conspiracy bent on attacking anything that sounds environmentally friendly like solar electric. I’m just saying check his numbers with the actual data for solar energy availability for Eugene at the UO solar radiation monitoring lab website. 

His other alarmist claims sounded like Sens. Inhoff’s and Coburn’s claims that global warming is really a vast scientific conspiracy perpetrated on the U.S. by subversive foreign agents. He also says that solar electric is only “toys for the affluent.” I say, great! Let the rich pay to subsidize solar development so it becomes cheap for the rest of us. Overall — on the “mythbuster” scale I would say Weisman’s opinion piece is “implausible.”

 Mark Barbour, Eugene


I was struck by the factual errors in Warren Weisman’s Viewpoint “Facing the Facts” on photovoltaic panels Dec. 3. Regarding his claim that they can only produce energy for trivial tasks, let’s do the math. If I can get 38 watts per square foot of solar panel in Tucson or 15 watts in London (perhaps 20 in Eugene) and I can cover a 10 x 40 foot area on my rooftop with a panel, that adds up to 8 kW in Eugene, twice as much in Tucson, which is not a trivial amount. 

That’s enough to run an air conditioner or heater, cook dinner and run a refrigerator, probably all of my electrical demands. When I’m not using the power, it can be pumped back into the power grid to help my neighbors without suffering the loss of half of the power between the generators and our home. Perhaps I can get more energy out of the roof by a solar hot water heater, but we only need so much hot water.

The article was completely mistaken in claiming that the low voltage from the arrays is not sufficient to drive electric motors. Choosing the DC voltage is all a matter of how the individual cells are connected. Today it is also easy to convert the power to a different voltage or to invert it to AC at high efficiency. This energy will go even further if we have efficient homes, appliances and electric cars, all of which I heartily support.

The author then goes on to mention the risk of toxic releases, citing Chinese solar panel manufacturers. But the same risk happens no matter what they manufacture. If they produce metal there is coal; if it is painted or plated there can be heavy metals. Solar cells manufacture uses exotic and toxic substances, but so does any other semiconductor. It comes down to the business, buyer and host country exercising stewardship for their actions. 

I respect Weisman’s non-profit work for a biogas power plant in Mexico. Methane is far worse than CO2 and has the benefit of providing energy and treating sewage. However, our world’s energy usage and consequent pollution is vast and we need many solutions to keep this unique planet sustaining its life. 

Steve Trapp, Electrical engineer, Corvallis


I would like to thank EW for having the brass ones to run my PV solar panel opinion piece (12/3) criticizing Oregon’s sacred cow. I would like to thank those many, many people who complimented the article. I can live with honest criticism, but I have to respond to Mark Luterra’s response (12/10). He makes the claim that covering “1.5 percent of the continuous U.S. would supply 100 percent of the nation’s energy.” This is a bad case of what my brother calls “fairies in the fuse box.” One and a half percent of the contiguous U.S. is 120 billion square meters. If I spotted the whole country 200 watts/m2 of sunshine and 15 percent efficient panels, this would produce 3.9 quadrillion BTUs, which is 3.8 percent of the nation’s 101 quadrillion BTU annual energy use, not 100 percent. Provided, of course, you don’t need any lights on at night. 

Luterra states the DC current produced by PV panels can “easily be transformed to high voltage and/or converted to AC to power anything that runs on electricity.” Inverting electricity does not increase its power; it only changes the current. That thing you plug into your car’s cigarette lighter is an inverter. Any guesses what would happen if we plugged a 5,000 watt clothes dryer into it?

To avoid future confusion, my suggestion to solar panel owners is to take out the electric chainsaw and cut down the utility pole in front of their houses and run solely on solar power. 

Warren Weisman, Eugene


I read Warren Weisman’s rant (12/3) on solar cells with great amusement. Hard to argue that the current technology isn’t good enough, but to hear the argument from someone who is representing a large power plant is Mexico is just ironic. What we know is that Americans will not give up their power for pretty much any reason. We know the current solar technology isn’t good enough. We know the big company answer is to build coal power plants in the boonies, and then run billion-dollar grid lines though wilderness areas to get the power to the suburbs. This business model doesn’t seem to be very good for the citizens of the planet. I don’t see why burning biogas changes this equation.

The best future is having a house on the grid, with solar, wind and batteries to run it. The cost today to make your house energy neutral via solar cells is about the cost of a nice custom kitchen.  Good news is that “W” is out of the White House and Obama is doing smart things to bring renewable energy to the masses. More good news is that the capitalist system sees green energy as the next best place to make lots of money.

My best bet is that inside of 10 years, each homeowner is going to have a chance to put solar cells on their roof and after paying a regular power bill for five or 10 years, never pay for electricity again. 

Solar energy is going to happen, or burning unlimited coal needs to not kill the planet. I’m betting on solar, and you should too.

Peter Gregory, Corvallis


I have to echo Matt Dillender’s sentiments in his Dec, 3 letter, “Dogs on the loose.” Unthinking, irresponsible, uncaring dog owners are not controlling their dogs, and a backlash may be coming. Note the unfortunate killing in the S.F. Bay Area, where a dog owner walking his dogs off leash, and not heeding a passerby’s call to rein in his dogs, was shot dead. People, even other dog owners, are getting fed up with the situation. Control your d-mn dogs!

Jeff Innis, Eugene


So many problems stem from individuals being paralyzed by apathy, unable or unwilling to choose right over wrong. Meanwhile, conscienceless corporations, agencies, industries and nations pollute our Earth, abuse workers and animals, run global scams and swindle our descendents. They kill people and brainwash them also. 

When greedy, power-serving politicians, bureaucrats and executives aren’t playing this-wing, that-wing, chicken-wing to the public, they lounge in the revolving doorway, doing drugs, making shady backroom deals and having sex-scandals. Therefore, their governments are called out of touch, draconian, sick, corrupted and broken. Their militaries, operatives and police stand accused of crimes against humanity: murder, torture, rape, brutality, fraud, theft, perjury and ineptitude. Why? When people cannot or will not responsibly make choices for themselves, they leave a power vacuum for those in waiting, who would intentionally choose wrong over right.

What are now being blamed as problems are actually the results of the problem. We cannot hope for change to be delivered to us from a dead system. We must become self-sufficient and choose, make and be the changes we would like to see, or our lives will go decided for us.  

Mike McFadden, Springfield


In the trial of Mankind vs. Mother Nature, the deniers are shouting: “Some evidence does not fit; you must acquit”!

While true, some botched evidence might acquit mankind of the crime of global warming, there has been no testimony from prime suspect Mr. Sunspots, who has mysteriously vanished from the courtroom. There is still the undeniable evidence that the bloody knife of CO2 is causing the acidification of Mother Nature’s oceans. Mr. Sponge Bob and all his shellfish friends will perish, including all of the selfish deniers, if mankind is let loose to continue his crimes against Mother Nature. 

Michael T. Hinojosa, Drain


I am not an avid football fan, but I bristled at the suggestion (Slant, 12/3) to rename the UO/OSU game out of concern for some detriment due to a misplaced association between the “Civil War Game” and actual warfare. 

Before EW staff outed themselves, I imagined only some fathers of middle school football players and a few rabid fans misunderstanding the context of the term civil war in reference to a football game. It is the context and not the word that carries meaning, to paraphrase Chris Rock. 

The term has history and is part of the community’s social fabric surrounding UO/OSU football. Deleting the word war from the title of a football game will have no affect on how our country views the act of war nor make any worthwhile statement about our “peace loving state.” Perhaps we could call it the “Air Bowl” to better represent everyone who loves oxygen.

Isaac McCoy-Sulentic, Eugene


In thinking about how candidate Obama’s “Change We Can Believe In” has become President Obama’s small change, I recalled a statement made by his one-time family pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Asked in an interview by Bill Moyers about Obama’s critical words in a Philadelphia campaign speech that ended their 20-year relationship, the firebrand cleric responded: “He’s a politician, I’m a pastor. We speak to two different audiences. And he says what he has to say as a politician. I say what I have to say as a pastor. Those are two different worlds. I do what I do. He does what politicians do.” 

Wright was right. Obama says and does what politicians say and do. How audacious of us to hope for someone and something different.

Benton Elliott, Eugene


In response to Tom Schneider’s Viewpoint (12/3) concerning the Amazon option of the west Eugene EmX, which is, in part, a response to my Viewpoint (11/19), how can there be an answer, or even a least offensive option, in a list of offensive choices? It’s like choosing between rabies and botulism. Since all options are such an affront to so many for so many reasons, let’s expand the conversation to find solutions that don’t wreck so much havoc on so many. 

And in all the cost calculations, let us not forget the most profound cost of the Amazon option — the human cost. On ethical and moral grounds alone, the Amazon option should be shelved. In order to reach the bike path, the EmX needs to dissect and destroy a quiet neighborhood — we’re talking peoples lives here — homes and families for 10, 20 and 30 years. A long-standing thriving neighborhood would be left with dangerous, disparate and disconnected streets where, currently, children play. And nearby, eight townhouse units are slated to be demolished (to make room for the bus) and residents need to be bought-out and relocated. 

Are these the standards we wish to live by? Are we this dehumanized? This insular? This much part of a shameful juggernaut? The list goes on and on, like the 50-year-old trees in front of the Extension Service — cut. The list goes on. The bus would travel within 10 feet of low-income housing! The list goes on.

James Lewandoski, Eugene