The months-long battle over three towering Eastmoreland sequoias might be rounding a final, sawdust-sprinkled bend.
Neighbors and fans of the majestic trees have plead with Portland developer Vic Remmers, owner of Everett Custom Homes, to leave the sequoias up. Remmers has said 'no dice,' arguing the trees need to go if he's gonna get MAXIMUM CASH for his investment. He offered to sell the land to neighbors at a handsome profit, but they've been unable to pony up the requisite $900,000.
The issue's been in and out of the headlines since this summer, but now it may be the end for the trees. After demonstrators turned away work crews hoping to fell the sequoias earlier this week, Remmers has gone full-on, kids-movie-style evil developer, showing up with cops to press his right to cut down ancient trees.
Neighbors report police have already made arrests, but they've also got to figure out how to get an unclear number of activists down from those regal boughs. (Climbing harnesses are the new Guy Fawkes mask of Portland protest. People should wear them on marches, carrying ropes, just to keep the authorities on their toes.)
And now the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association is reporting Mayor Charlie Hales has asked Remmers to hold off cutting the sequoias. The mayor's office hasn't made that statement public, if it's true, but this whole fight—along with a similar one near SE Clinton—has prompted elected officials to acknowledge the city's new tree code makes it too easy to get rid of old trees.
The mayor's an Eastmoreland resident. He's also the police commissioner, meaning cops might not be on scene for much longer.
Anyway, Shelby's headed down to moneyed Eastmoreland to report from the scene. Stay tuned.
Update, 1:14 pm: The trees are apparently safe for now. After being cagey with the media all morning, the mayor's office just issued a release saying the sequoias will be left alive while the neighborhood and Remmers continue to work out a deal. Here's the mayor's office's version of events.
On Thursday, Sept. 17, the mayor’s chief of staff, Josh Alpert, contacted both sides and asked for three things:
● All protesters off private property.
● A stay on cutting down the trees,
● And time for the mayor’s office to organize last-minute diplomacy.
Alpert spoke to both sides throughout the morning.
As of 1 p.m. today:
● There is a tentative structure of a deal.
● The trees are staying for now.
● It is up to the neighbors to implement the deal.
The parties are not releasing details of the negotiations until they are complete. We hope to hear back from both sides by tomorrow.
Unclear what's happening with the young man who was in the tree.