Portland woman starts petition to save city's iconic views

PORTLAND, Ore. -- One Portland woman is trying to save the city's iconic views before tall buildings block them.

Aesha Lorenz, who lives in Southwest Portland, started a petition late Tuesday night. By Wednesday morning, it already had about 50 signatures.

Her intention is to let city officials know that people care about Portland's beautiful views.

The possibility of highrises going up getting in the way of Portland’s views of Mt. Hood or the Vista Bridge is a part of the City of Portland's big "Central City 2035" plan. It’s been in the works for years and focuses on growth and development.

“I was like wow, we have to tell people. This is terrible,” said Lorenz.

In 1991 the City Council decided not to protect the view of Mt. Hood from Salmon Street Springs due to the possible economic impacts to development.. So buildings on the central eastside are currently allowed to be 150ft to 250ft tall. In order to protect the view, allowable building heights would have to be lowered to 30ft to 55ft. A recent recommendation from the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission agreed with the earlier City Council decision, and sided in favor of economic development. A report on the city’s website says if the view of Mt. Hood remains protected, the city would lose out on $15.9-million and 2,200 jobs. If the recommendation goes through, it means tall buildings could pop up on the central eastside blocking the view of Mt. Hood.

“This is unfair and it's giving people living in highrises only, the ability to see those views. That's not fair, that's not just, that's not what Portland's about,” said Lorenz.

She said Portlanders have a right to have a view, but locals aside, the move would be bad for people who visit Portland.

“If I were sitting here looking that direction at buildings that were skyscrapers or tall apartment buildings, it would be disappointing. This view is beautiful,” said Tim Martin, who is visiting Portland from Riverside, California. 
 
But it's not just the view of Mt. Hood from Salmon Street Springs that's a concern, it's the view of the historic Vista Bridge.

“The Vista Bridge is an iconic bridge of Portland. It's one of the oldest,” Lorenz said.

It's possible taller buildings could go up along the north side of Southwest Jefferson Street from the Vista Bridge to Southwest 17th Avenue, affecting views of the bridge from the east.

For people standing on the Vista Bridge looking toward the river, city officials say the view will be fully protected. They said the Central City 2035 plan would actually reduce building heights to ensure that the existing view be kept.

Still Lorenz is on a mission to save Portland's iconic views for everyone to enjoy.

“This is part of loving to live in Portland,” she said.

Lorenz hopes to get as many signatures as possible before Jan.18. That’s when there will be another opportunity for people to weigh in. The years-long process is at its tail end right now. City officials said they’ve held numerous public hearings.

Lorenz is Secretary of the Southwest Hills Residential League and hopes to have her petition on the website and/or Facebook page soon. It’s also accessible on the Nextdoor app for people who live in the same area.

City officials with the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability say Mayor Ted Wheeler has asked planners to reconsider protecting the Salmon Street Springs view of Mt. Hood. Discussion around that request is underway and the public will be able to speak out about it early next year.

It's anticipated the final plan will be put to a city council vote in January.

© 2017 KGW-TV


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