Despite its passel of awards and national recognition, Baker City’s historic downtown district is missing something significant.
But perhaps not for much longer.
The glaring gap in the development of downtown is upstairs.
There’s a lot of space on the upper floors of buildings, but a relative
pittance of that space is being used for residential or business
That’s a pity.
Oregon’s House Bill 2210 might have seemed sensible to legislators who
represent temperate, and relatively small, westside districts.
But in the vast, often frigid lands east of the Cascades, the 2007 law,
which mandates the blending of biofuels with regular gasoline and
diesel, brings consequences that detract from the legislation’s
laudable goals of reducing pollution and creating a market for various
crops and logging debris.
Fortunately the Legislature, which convenes in January, can fix the
worst of the law’s problems by way of a couple of modest tweaks.
First, the ethanol.
The law requires that gasoline sold in Oregon contain 10 percent of the
plant-based fuel, which can be produced from crops as well as from
Ethanol burns cleaner than gasoline and produces fewer pollutants.
I found a dime in the bottom of my backpack, its silvery sheen
concealed by a Three Musketeers wrapper and a handful of .22 shells.
I fished the dime out and flipped it into the ceramic dish that sits on
the window sill next to the kitchen sink. This is the temporary resting
place for most of our loose change, the pennies going in one dish, the
larger denominations in a smaller one, and all of the currency afforded
a pleasant view of the Eagle Caps on fair days.
Not long after — it might in fact have been the same day — I tossed a couple of soda cans into the trash can beneath the sink.
I thought nothing of this at the time.
But some days later, while I was standing at the sink, clutching a
soapy sponge, I noticed, as though for the first time, the proximity of
the coin dish and the trash can. I doubt there’s more than four feet
between the containers.
This revelation — it was very nearly an epiphany, actually — hit me in
that powerful way unique to those instances when I realize the level of
idiocy to which I am capable of descending.
Oregon’s excellent public records law allows us to find out, among many
other matters, when our neighbors get a marriage license, or register
to vote, or apply for a permit to build a fence.
But now many of Oregon’s 36 county sheriffs — including Baker County’s
Mitch Southwick — argue that we’re not necessarily entitled to know
which of our neighbors have a permit to carry a concealed handgun.
It seems to us that on the roster of government records that citizens
ought to have access to, concealed weapons permits rank quite a lot
higher than, say, marriage licenses.
Think of it this way: If the government issues a marriage license to a
couple who aren’t ready to be married, no one besides the unfortunate
pair is likely to be harmed.
Forgive us a brief excursion into exaggeration, but compared to Baker
County’s draft zoning ordinance, “War and Peace” is a pamphlet.
Which is to say the ordinance — all 45 chapters — is long and complicated.
County officials have been putting the thing together for five years, after all.
They shouldn’t be in a rush now to make the ordinance official.
We don’t fault the county’s efforts thus far to explain to residents and property owners what’s going on.
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