In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Affordable housing coming to city; rural food banks low on donations

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Cheers: The Vancouver City Council has approved the development of a 152-unit apartment complex off Southeast 1st Street just east of 164th Avenue. The low-income housing project would be built by the Vancouver Housing Authority, which will pay $1.5 million in impact fees, including $400,000 to Evergreen Public Schools.

Understandably, many residents expressed concerns about the development, primarily about adding traffic to a spot that already can be harrowing for drivers; increased density could exacerbate congestion for local residents. Councilors acknowledged that traffic in the area long has been overlooked, and that road improvements are necessary. But despite the concerns, the council rightly recognized the need for affordable housing options. Not long ago, that area of the city could be categorized as rural. Now it can support more density.

Jeers: Some Clark County residents are going hungry this summer as the North County Community Food Bank struggles to stock its shelves. Officials report an increase in need in the rural area, having served nearly 6,600 more people in the first half of 2013 than they did in the first half of 2012. At the same time, the all-volunteer Lewis River Mobile Food Bank, which used to give away about 6,000 pounds of food a month, reports having handed out 7,500 pounds in March.

With a typical summer downturn in donations, the small, rural food banks are unable to meet the need in their areas. To donate, contact the North County Community Food Bank at 360-687-5007, or the Lewis River Mobile Food Bank at 360-263-5763.

Cheers: Clark County Commissioners are considering changes to an intersection at Northeast 199th Street and 29th Avenue that recently was the site of a fatal accident. According to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, the amount of traffic on 29th Avenue does not warrant a four-way stop at the intersection, but commissioners have demonstrated a willingness to ponder the move in order to improve safety.

A car crash in July resulted in the death of 17-year-old Kaitlin Miller when the vehicle in which she was a passenger ran a stop sign at the intersection and was struck by an SUV. Many safety measures had already been added to the intersection, but a four-way stop might be beneficial if it could prevent another such tragedy.

Jeers: With budget constraints and sequestration being buzz words throughout the federal government, it's difficult for the U.S. Forest Service to defend a recent move. Last week, the Forest Service revealed it has elevated the jobs of seven of the agency's top nine law enforcement managers to level 15, the highest federal pay grade below the senior executive ranks.

That reclassification could boost base pay for the employees by $20,000 or more, up to $155,000 a year, according to The Seattle Times. During a time when private industries are feeling an economic pinch and government entities are constantly citing budget shortfalls, such a move only adds to the cynicism of taxpayers.

Cheers: The Landover-Sharmel area in northeast Vancouver recently hosted its annual neighborhood picnic, providing camaraderie and fellowship in addition to hot dogs and hamburgers. And they are not alone; of the 66 recognized neighborhood associations, about half host organized picnics, Judi Bailey, who manages Vancouver's neighborhoods program, told The Columbian.

In an era when many people feel disconnected from their neighbors and a sense of community is difficult to foster, picnics pay dividends that last well after the sun has gone down. Law enforcement officials long have stressed that knowing your neighbors is one of the keys to preventing crime.