Solar update

Early last year the committee researched solar energy and the process for homeowners to initiate an installation of solar panels on their roof. After some research by a small team lead by Scott Huff, the Board put on hold any further actions regarding Riverhouse HOA policy development and guidelines until Oregon’s Department of Energy had clarified its position on HOA homeowner’s rights in this matter. The law has been clarified, and now, by Oregon law, HOAs cannot prohibit installation of solar PV systems as long as the system meets all health, safety and performance standards required by state and local permitting authorities.

“A guide published by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) confirms that solar homes have higher appreciation rates.”
Oregon Dept of Energy Solar Ruling

However, HOA’s may establish “reasonable” rules related to aesthetic and placement of solar equipment. (RWC 64.38.055)
Learn more >>

Leave the Leaves

Keeping fallen leaves on our Riverhouse property would benefit the environment.

According to The National Wildlife Foundation, instead of having all our fallen leaves taken to the landfill, we have other options.
Compost Maple Leaves

  • We can let leaves stay where they fall. They won’t hurt our lawn if they are chopped with up a mulching mower.
  • We can rake leaves off the lawn to use as mulch in garden beds. For finer-textured mulch, we could shred them first. This would be instead of purchasing bark for mulch. All of the interviewed landscapers recommended mulching to help conserve water, amend our soil, and reduce the need for toxic weed control.
  • We can let leaf piles decompose; the resulting leaf mold can be used as a soil amendment to improve structure and water retention.

    If we combine fallen leaves with grass clippings (distributed on the bayside of the path that has previously been sprayed with Roundup), we can suppress weeds as well as build soil to better combat erosion, filter runoff into the river, retain moisture, and build a nutrient-rich soil that could support the growth of fresh seasonal vegetables.

Learn more from The National Wildlife Foundation >>

Fava Beans as Green Manure

Fava Beans used as a cover cropMaxine brought some Fava Beans to the Board Meeting this past week for me to plant as a cover crop. I’ve never before gardened in a location where a winter planting was possible, so I did some research for our bio-region.

In the Pacific Northwest, planting a cover crop in the fall can help to capture and recycle nutrients that would otherwise be lost by leaching throughout the winter rains. Cover crops also protect from water and wind erosion. They can help the soil absorb water more readily, suppress weeds, supply nitrogen and increase organic matter in our porous sandy island soil.

The Oregon State University Master Gardener handbook, “Sustainable Gardening” recommends fava beans as one of the choices for an Oregon cover crop.

I just planted Maxine’s Magic Beans where the pumpkins grew this past summer. Let’s see what happens? I love to watch things grow!

Learn more about cover crops from the Oregon State University Extension Service >>

Disaster Preparation Guides

One of the easiest ways to learn about disaster preparedness and have disaster-ready tools at your fingertips is to download the free, Red Cross mobile apps. These apps are available to both iPhone and Android users and contain a wealth of information about what to do before, during and after a disaster. All apps contain an “I’m safe” feature, locations to the nearest shelter, and a tool kit with items like a built-in flashlight, strobe light and whistle. These fun, easy-to-use, informative apps can be lifesavers in times of emergency.

Learn More. Download a PDF file of PREPARE! A RESOURCE GUIDE published by the Cascade Region of Oregon and Southwest Washington Red Cross

Protecting our Pets (and ourselves)

Penny, my granddog.A six-year study conducted at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine links lawn pesticides to canine malignant lymphoma (CML) with an increased risk for CML as much as 70 percent in dogs exposed to professionally applied pesticides and herbicides, or lawn care products containing insect growth regulators.

And another study published at the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health shows the detection of herbicides in the urine of pet dogs following home lawn chemical application and indicating that exposure to herbicide-treated lawns has been associated with significantly higher bladder cancer risk in dogs. Read more about this study.

In an article titled “The Seasonal Cancer Danger to Steer Your Dog Clear Of” Dr. Becker writes:

“In the study, urine samples were obtained from dogs in homes where herbicides were used, and from dogs in untreated homes. Chemicals were detected in the urine of dogs in 14 of 25 households before lawn treatment, in 19 of 25 households after lawn treatment, and in 4 of 8 untreated households. Researchers discovered the presence of herbicide in untreated lawns, leading them to conclude the chemicals can “drift” from treated to untreated properties. This means dogs can potentially be exposed in their own yard even if the yard is untreated, and from other properties if they travel from yard to yard.”

Read more of Dr. Becker’s article

Encinitas bans Roundup weed killer in parks

The use of Roundup and other glyphosate-based, weed-killing products will no longer be allowed in Encinitas city parks starting next week.

Roundup is often referred to as the world’s most frequently used herbicide, both in agricultural areas and in residential yards. Publicity material from Monsanto, the multinational corporation that produces Roundup, states that when the product is applied correctly according to label directions, it “does not pose an unreasonable risk to human health, the environment or non-target animals and plants.”

Environmental health advocates disagree, contending that glyphosate has been linked to human health problems, including cancer and illnesses involving the central nervous system. Countries including Mexico, Russia and Netherlands recently have banned its use.

Read more of Barbara Henry’s article in the The San Diego Union-Tribune

Laundry to Landscape

Sophia Chin shared this information with us.

“There is a method available for connecting the used water from our washing machines to our gardens. A $20 explanatory DVD (Laundry to Landscape) is available from Some information is also available at If enough of our residents are interested in this, perhaps we could share the cost of hiring a know-how person to do the installations.”

After reviewing the material, it doesn’t look like this would work for our unit since the washer is upstairs, overlooking the parking lot.

Please contact Sophia if you are interested in collaborating on this project.

Indigo Bush

According to Eric, the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District representative, we do not have sumac growing on the riverbank – it’s Indigo Bush.
Indigo bush is a native prairie shrub used for soil stabilization and wildlife plantings that grows abundantly along the Columbia River around Portland. It grows only up to 13 feet tall and forms dense thickets that may deter goose infiltration into our yards.

Learn more about Indigo Bush >>

The only problem that I can see with Indigo Bush is that it can overwhelm other plants, which may mean we would want to control it in some areas while something else becomes established.

Reduce Landscape Watering Costs

Riverhouse HOA members, our 2015 budget for water is $40,000! Conservation Committee members are researching ways that we might reduce our landscape watering costs. If you see a sprinkler in your area that appears to be over-watering, please leave a comment below or contact someone on the Landscape Committee or the Conservation Committee.

Get the Weekly Watering Number for FREE at

Portland Weekly Watering Number
The Weekly Watering Number is the amount of water (in inches) that our lawns will need each week.
FYI – Vegetables only need 75% of the Weekly Watering Number and Shrubs and Perennials only use 50% of the Weekly Watering Number!