Sacrilege in the making

I've seen many bad ideas coming out of Portland City Hall over the years, but the current plan to rip up and re-do the South Park Blocks is one of the stupidest.

For one thing, given all the other major, major problems downtown is facing, it's obscene that they're talking about blowing tens of millions on fixing something that clearly isn't broken. If the City of Portland has $40 million lying around, there are a lot other things that need to be taken care of first. Like:

– Pick up all the damn garbage lying around everywhere. I saw that over the weekend SOLV volunteers pulled 7,000 pounds of trash off the property near the Kerby Avenue ramps to the freeway. Seven thousand pounds! Why are volunteer Moms and Pops out there picking around in the used needles and excrement? This is what we pay taxes for the city to do.

– Get a competent police force that isn't brutal, lazy, and racist.

–Stop the recurring anarchist riots. I saw the editor of the Oregonian patting her reporters on the back over the weekend for covering the disturbances, sort of. But now the riots are "far between," she says. Yes, only two or three destructive rampages against small business a month. Wonderful.

– Get a decent mental health care system in place. The Reagan memorial open-air treatment program is not working.

– Get the homeless camps organized, managed, and contained. If you want to make the parks better, you can start by getting the creepy tent cities out of them. Don't wait until The Latest Kafoury finds everybody a nice little apartment. She's hallucinating,

– Stop the gang wars that are making Portland streets a shooting gallery and killing innocent people.

When the city has all that done, then they can talk about ripping up a perfectly good park to give the bloated bureaucracy and the construction weasels something to do.

* * * * *

Even if the timing were right, what they're proposing to infllict on the South Park Blocks is terrible. They're going to cut down all the stately old elms, plant native blahblahblah, put in (you guessed it) a bike freeway, and eliminate street parking.

What? Those elm trees are the heart and soul of Portland. Now the rap from City Hall is that they're "diseased," but critics are pointing out that a professional arborist recently told the city that 95 percent of the trees are healthy and just need maintenance.

Of course, the parks bureau won't maintain the trees because the powers-that-be want them gone. This is the routine when the urban planning overlords want to get rid of something decent: neglect, neglect, more neglect, then declare blight and tear down.

Portland does not need another bike path where pedestrians have to dodge speeding hipsters on fixies. Portland does not need more on-street parking removed. Portland does not need the elm trees cut down. But the arrogant bureaucrats want those things, and so the train is on the fast track to make them happen.

They may actually ram this through over the next month or so. The City Council member nominally "in charge" is one of the rookies, Carmen Rubio, whom I have not heard say a single sensible thing in her five months in office. The bureaucrats and contractors are probably going to eat her alive on this one.

Create an atmosphere where only clowns will run for office, and you get a circus. Or more like a sketchy roadside carnival.