July Cheers & Jeers calls out litigious developers, praises local helpers

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July is always a busy month in Camas, but it seems like this particular July has been packed with evening and weekend events — including the upcoming Camas Days celebration and national motocross races in Washougal, which are expected to bring tens of thousands of visitors into the Camas-Washougal area this weekend.

CHEERS: With that in mind, our first July Cheers goes out to the folks who work throughout the year to present the annual Camas Days spectacular — from the city of Camas staff behind the joyous Kids Parade to the members of the Camas-Washougal chapter of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs who honor this area’s outstanding senior “royalty” every year with a dessert coronation and post-grand parade luncheon.

This year marks Camas Days’ 45th birthday and it is sure to be a sweet one with the “Candyland” theme. Look inside this week’s Post-Record for the lowdown on the annual event and be sure to check our website at throughout the weekend to see photos from the 2019 Camas Days events.

CHEERS: The second Cheers of the month goes out to the Friends of the Columbia Gorge volunteers and advocates who have helped the Friends and the Cape Horn Conservancy monitor and care for trails within the Cape Horn Trail system, resulting in what a Friends member calls “the most beautiful and well-done trail in the entire Gorge right now” in an article published on the Hometown page (B1) of this week’s Post-Record.

We are all lucky to live and/or work in such close proximity to the amazing wonders contained in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, and should give thanks to those who donate their free time to help protect our natural wonderland of a neighbor.

JEERS: This brings us to the July Jeers, which goes out to the Vancouver-based Waverly Homes developers who, in 2018, decided to sue the city of Camas instead of meeting their required obligations for tree and wetlands preservation on a 12-home subdivision off Camas’ Northwest 43rd Avenue.

The city of Camas settled instead of entering into a costly legal battle and, in the end, the developers were able to remove all but a handful of the nearly 80 trees on the property despite city staff’s — and an impartial county hearings examiner’s — findings that showed the developer could (and should, according to the hearings examiner’s decision) take steps to save more than 30 of the well-established trees.

Instead of complying, the developer sued. Now, the trees are gone and all the time spent by city staff, concerned neighbors and the hearings examiner trying to come up with a solution that emphasized livability and nature over profit was wasted. Jeers to that.

CHEERS: Related to that Jeers is a Cheers for members of the Camas Tree Protectors (CTP) group that popped up recently on social media, attracting more than 500 members and quickly forming an impromptu gathering across the street from the Northwest 43rd Avenue development to call attention to the type of “urban clear-cutting” that happens all too frequently on housing developments in suburban areas like Camas.

CHEERS: Our final Cheers goes out to fact that Camas could — after decades of talking about it — finally get a community center.

Voters will decide in November if they are willing to issue general obligation bonds in an amount up to $78 million for the construction of a new community aquatics center and renovation of three Camas sports fields.

As Camas City Councilman Greg Anderson said recently, “it’s a big ask … but there’s a lot in this ask.”

We’re looking forward to covering this issue leading up to the November general election and to seeing how the voters in Camas will react to the ballot proposition.