Letters to the Editor for June 23, 2015

Crosswalks are unsafe

I have some serious concerns with our intersections and people being able to cross the street safely.

Two weeks ago as I watched one of my daughters pushing a two child stroller across 15th Street on C Street. She was almost to the center and a truck went by heading south. It did not stop, which is law.

After my girl and grandsons crossed the street, I went the same way the truck did. It stopped at the post office at 3:30 in the afternoon, it wasn’t about to close or anything. So I pulled up next to the truck and when the woman got out she was wearing a ECFR coat. I asked her if she really was ECFR, she replied she was. I said, you just drove through an intersection with a woman and a stroller with kids in it were crossing the street. She said she did not see them. A woman, a stroller, two kids? I hope you are never searching for anyone, the pickup you were driving could have killed them.

Then, on June 17 at 6 p.m., as we were heading downtown to eat, a woman was walking across 15th at B streets. A black Volkswagon convertible beetle with a younger woman talking on her phone turned left towards the highway. The woman in the marked crosswalk had to jump back to avoid being hit, the driver kept on going as if nothing happened at all. I assume she did not even know.

Several months ago on “C” Street I watched a woman drive by while texting heading east. She went clear across the westbound lane and on the sidewalk on the north side of the street.

Please learn to watch where you are going before you kill some people. In the meantime, if I see more of this I will be reporting it.

Bill Durgan, Washougal

Developments can have long-term negative impacts

The public outcry over the Green Meadows golf course development causes one to ponder why a city wants to grow. Take a fictional city and look at where growth affects the community.

The fictional city (Riverview) is landlocked with little room for developing raw land or repurposing other areas without rezoning. It has about the same population as Camas with the same city government structure, staff, and number of elected officials. Pays scales for city managers, staff, and elected officials are comparable.

Developers want to take existing single-family homes on large lots, defunct recreational areas, and rezone them to multifamily apartments, condominiums, and townhomes. They have approached Riverview’s planning department with plans and are seeking rezoning and applicable variances.

Overall, Riverview’s population will nearly double over a span of several years.

Word of planned developments has reached the public, and people are wondering how this will affect Riverview.

Wages and Salaries:

Riverview’s city budget is on par for cities of its size. The personnel department regularly reviews salaries and wages of other similar cities.

Their goal is to ensure that the elected officials maintain competitive salaries to keep low employee turnover.

Because HR departments use other government structures or even sometimes private enterprise pay structures to set their employees’ wages, there is a built in bias toward paying more as the organization gets bigger.

Operating Costs:

As the city grows, hiring more staff, the cost of housing employees, providing tools and transportation equipment, computers, and other cost increase. The increase in cost is not linear but rather in chunks as manager’s plan for expansion, for example, they have to build or rent bigger buildings, provide more spare equipment to maintain service levels.

Services:

As the population increases, demand for water, sewer, and trash increase. A sewer treatment facility has a finite capacity and requires expansion. Quick or high levels of development strains the systems earlier, possibly requiring interim capital investment and increased operating costs. Social services may increase, depending on the needs of the new population.

Jobs:

Developers sell their plans based on bringing jobs or saving jobs in the community. Construction creates short-term jobs but there is no guarantee that Riverview’s population or business will benefit as people can come from elsewhere to work, and contractors purchase goods and services contracted from outside the city.

The point here is that growth provides little benefit to the general population. Riverview’s employees benefit directly with increased wages and salaries. Increased costs spread over a higher number of property owners or by increased property values can help keep the original owner population costs from radically increasing. But overall, growth does not provide the public with a real benefit and instead there is a risk that the growth gets out of hand, elected officials do not deal with infrastructure costs until much later as problems appear requiring costly solution.

So if you lived in Riverview, how would you view growth proposals? Do any of the public presentations present a downside to doing nothing? Or less? How would you feel if you lived in Camas?

Not all growth is bad; growth for growth’s sake is problematic. This is just an opinion, but I have lived where developers were allowed to increase density without regard to collateral impacts on the community.

Mark E. Swenson, Camas

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