Letters to the Editor

Changing meters is illegal, unsafe

The city of Ashland wants to make sure its electric customers understand that taking individual action to change electric meters on homes or businesses is illegal and unsafe. Recent news and commentary about customers wanting not to have automated meters (those read by radio frequency) may have left a contrary impression. Please be aware of the following facts.

Ashland Municipal Code 14.12.050 makes it unlawful for any person other than an authorized representative of the city to tamper with an electric meter. Violation of this ordinance can result in electric service disruption, fines of $215 and additional costs for state-required city permits, for alterations and compliance certification by a licensed electrical contractor, for replacement meter installation and for any necessary repairs to city equipment.

More importantly, it would be easy to make a mistake in tinkering with the lines running to and from an electric meter, and the results of such a mistake can be life-threatening.

Dave Kanner

Ashland city administrator

Drive-thrus serve important purpose

In 1984 when the issue of drive-up windows was debated in Ashland, the average age of Americans was less than today, and most of the decision makers in the drive-up window deliberations still had many more years of vigorous activity.

It was a credit to the community that the issue was debated, but with the passing years and the aging of Ashland's population and with the accompanying disabilities associated with age, the reality is that some drive-up windows, particularly for essential services such as banking, have a valid place. Sometimes it is too painful, difficult, risky (such as in icy conditions), or inconvenient for people to park and walk into a bank or other business.

And sometimes, with kids in the car, it is difficult for parents to shepherd active kids or carry a sleeping child into a restaurant to buy food.

The issue then becomes how many drive-up windows do we want, and once installed, do businesses get to move the windows? The ordinance limiting the amount of drive-up windows has served Ashland well. Perhaps there should be a tax on the sale or exchange of them or the issuing of them to pay for non-automobile transportation improvements. And since it seems we should keep some drive-up windows, we probably ought to allow them to be moved.

Brent Thompson


Co-op should drop fixation on parking

As a loyal Ashland Food Co-op member and shopper, I am very disturbed that the Co-op is spending so much time, effort and money trying to change the local drive-thru banking law.

First, I would have thought that online banking is fast making drive-thru banking obsolete.

Second, contrary to the Co-op's constant talk of sustainability, an auto-centric approach to life is clearly not sustainable. Instead of supporting more cars, more driving, and more pollution — especially in the historic downtown area — the Co-op should be encouraging sustainable ways of getting around.

I usually bike to the Co-op, but when I drive there, I never have to park more than a block away. For health-conscious Ashland, walking one block should not be a problem, and in fact, might be a very good idea. For those who can't walk, handicapped parking is available right outside the Co-op's door.

Third, the cost of building underground anything, let alone bank drive-thrus, would seem to be prohibitive, as well as ridiculous for a town the size of Ashland.

I would like to see my Co-op drop its fixation on parking and place that energy on the more appropriate areas of good, healthy food; sustainable, healthy agricultural practices; sustainable modes of transportation; and community-building.

Julia Sommer


Exclusion foes offer no relief

With respect to the guest opinion (June 5) on "homeless" vagrants in the downtown, I have a problem. The four authors of opposition to the exclusion zone do not give us any relief. They advocate "more effective approaches rooted in understanding of social causes and remedies." What would they be?

The basic issue that homeless advocates avoid is that the so-called "homeless" are most likely from other parts of the state or country, here because of Ashland residents' generous attitude of kindness and tolerance. I think most residents and taxpayers here would gladly lend more than a helping hand to neighbors who have been left with no home because of the current economic situation. But to extend welcome and extra-legal tolerance to vagrants from all over the state and country is quite a bit beyond our job.

I don't go downtown anymore because of the repugnant elements who haunt it and tend to burn it down. I guess the visitors have to put up with them to see OSF.

I suggest the four authors favoring gross behavior and lawlessness should each take the most serious offenders into their homes and thereby rid us of them.

G. Lockie


Note on garbage can unwelcome

We pay a not-so-small amount to Recology to collect our trash. One morning I came out of the house to find a pre-printed label attached to our trash can with the following box checked: "Your trash weighs more than 65 pounds but we've taken it this once as a courtesy."

As far as I was aware, we pay them to do a job, not the other way around; I (a small guy, 160 pounds) moved the trash can from the side of my garage to the end of the drive and was able to lift it and wheel it without any problems.

So what gives? Aren't the trash cans lifted into the cart mechanically anyway? I don't expect snide little labels on my bin from people I pay to do a job — any comments from others?

Philip Woolf


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