La Vida Local
Irregular Notes on West End Life
By Rosanne Graef
Random Thoughts on Gardening, Face Masks, & the Property Revaluation
Herewith, a brief compilation of observations and ideas that I’ve been thinking about lately. Some might be useful, amusing, or thought-provoking for you. Or not.
Plastic Bag Ban
On July 1st, 2021, enforcement of the state’s ban on single-use plastic shopping bags begins. The ban was to have gone into effect on Earth Day 2020 but was postponed twice due to the pandemic.
Composting Pilot Program
Since Earth Day 2021, Portland residents may drop off food waste at designated sites located at community gardens at Boyd Street, North Street, Douglass Street, Clark Street, and at the Riverside Recycling Facility.
Green Thumb Ingenuity
Gardeners are always resourceful. A fellow on my street has small beds and pots of edibles growing in every possible spot around his building, including strawberries in wooden boxes next to the outside ledge of his basement windows.
In Japan, gardeners lovingly coddle their garden vegetables and fruits with supports and protective netting that keeps them clean and free from rot, as well as preventing them from becoming misshapen. This seems to be a great answer for the question, “What to do with unneeded face masks?” Instead of throwing them away, rig those masks up as hammocks for ripening tomatoes!
Speaking of Face Masks
For many people the loosening of pandemic restrictions has happened very suddenly. With all that we have gone through over the past months, in both the medical and political realms, let’s hope that we can navigate a polite, respectful, and compassionate transition for everyone—especially those in public-facing jobs.
Flying Blind – The Property Revaluation
Property revaluations are often fraught with anxiety. Due to the pandemic, Portland understandably delayed its property revaluation for over a year. However, when less than a month before the public’s vote on the school budget, we’ve been told that the revaluation statements won’t come out before the election as planned. Rather, expect them three weeks afterwards. It is a cause for concern. The reason the city gives for the delay is that commercial real estate values have suffered due to Covid-19, and the firm conducting the property revaluation, Tyler Technologies, needs more time to take those effects into account.
We hear every day that residential real estate prices—especially on the peninsula—are soaring. This dramatic increase is also largely attributable to the pandemic. This is not reassuring to those of us who have been and continue to be here for the long haul. Believe it or not, there are still people who do not regard their homes as cash cows just waiting for the prime moment to be milked!
How long will the commercial crater versus the residential bubble last? Who will be strapped until the next revaluation?
Having to vote on a school budget with this revaluation question mark hanging over us is unfair. We always advise voters to inform themselves of the issues and potential impacts of their decisions. How is this to be accomplished when you don’t even know the value of the property you own or rent?