By Luke Griffin
Everyone in Concordia has had the opportunity to watch a house be torn down to make way for new houses, duplexes, and skinnies, for better and/or for worse. This is the continued chronicle of my personal experience.
Unlike last year, this winter has been very Portland: rainy, dreary, and chilly. It seems it has rained every day since November. The rain is great though, especially after a year of drought, unless you have a poorly designed duplex next to you with no gutters. Then, you get a pounding waterfall cascading down onto your side yard, foot deep water the length of your house where your grass and flowers once lived, and a serious potential for dreaded basement flooding.
One morning during a deluge, I went outside to assess the damage. Because the building was poorly designed, the roof did not send water down the front, back and sides, off many peaks like normal houses in the area, but instead directed the waters into the center and then off to each side. Without gutters, there was a sheet of water pouring off and into my yard. Witnessing this, it was obvious there was a real chance of the water swamping my basement.
I had yet to complain to the developer about anything but thought he should do something now to keep my house from flooding. I called him and without any apology he told me they would do something sometime soon. I explained he really needed todo something ASAP, but he dismissed my worry.And in many ways, why wouldn’t he? There is no city code mandating that developments have gutters, real flood control, or anything that would protect neighbors. If my house was flooded, it wasn’t his problem. There would be no fines or actions taken by the city according to officials. And, as the developer does not live in the neighborhood, he wouldn’t have to deal with meat all. Panicked, I tried one last time to get him todo something. He hung up on me.
I called the city inspector and was told there was nothing against the law, the city had inspected the site during the survey and would not return until final inspection. I was transferred to erosion control. They told me I could dump sand in my yard. Later that day workers had covered the swampy mess with hay. The rain continued.
The next month was continuously wet. Though no visual water seeped into my basement, the humidity got to 90%. I know: I can’t prove the cause, so said the City, but the conclusion isobvious to most. On top of this issue, one Sunday loud construction began at 8am, a violation of the noise ordinance. Numerous neighbors complained. The police finally showed up around noon but the work did not stop until about four. At most, the developer received a $250 fine for the incident, a tiny drop in the bucket compared to the expected profits of over half a million dollars. The workers kept piling trash in front. They repeatedly blocked my driveway and rudely told me they’d eventually move.
And the City? Well, there wasn’t much they would do about any of it. With few regulations, minuscule fines for infractions, a maze of uncommunicative bureaucracies, and little motive to hinder the development boom, they were of no help, even if the lady at ONI was nice. The City That Works…but for whom?
Five weeks of almost continuous rain after the yard flooding began, they finally put up gutters.
Luke Griffin was born and raised inNE Portland. He’s been a Concordia resident for the last four years, and is a former CNA board member. Luke works primarily in the legal field engaging in social justice in the areas of employment, housing and the environment.