Seismic retrofits are an opportunity

Seismic retrofits are an opportunity

In response to your March 18 article, "Historic downtown faces earthquake risk," Restore Oregon has been studying the challenges of seismic safety for several years. There are over 5,000 historic unreinforced masonry buildings (URMs) across the state. These icons of our traditional downtown business districts should be restored, seismically upgraded and their productiveness maximized — not out of sentimental nostalgia, but to ensure that lives, livelihoods and livability are preserved.

Retrofitting these buildings will happen only with the coordinated efforts of both the private and public sectors. Three practical policy changes would go a long way toward making Ashland and other historic downtowns economically, culturally and seismically resilient:

1. Local communities can follow the examples of Medford and Portland in inventorying URMs, adopting triggers for mandatory seismic retrofit and allowing for multi-year phased upgrades to spread out the cost.

2. To incentivize structurally sound buildings, a seismic safety rating system would boost public awareness, activate market demand, and generate payback for investing in retrofits.

3. Oregon should join 34 other states in adopting a State Rehabilitation Tax Credit to help pay for retrofitting and restoring historic commercial buildings. Proven nationwide to create jobs, stimulate local economies, and make historic buildings safer, a tax credit program would inject much-needed state support into downtowns across Oregon.

While our seismic imperative is often viewed as a looming threat, it also presents the opportunity to make Oregon's downtowns resilient for generations to come.

Peggy Moretti, Restore Oregon


Choice is between Big Ag and small farming

Measure 15-119 is a choice between Big Ag and small farming.

Pollen travels and knows no boundaries. When pollen from GMO plants invades non-GMO plants, all value of the non-GMO plants is lost.

Jackson County is too small to allow an adequate barrier between GMO and non-GMO crops. "Your right to swing your arms stops at the tip of my nose." The right to grow GMO crops stops when the pollen infects non-GMO crops.

Big Ag or small farming? The choice is yours.

Edith Montgomery