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December 2014 -- Vol. 109, No. 4

Memories of THE BEE's first 100 years!
In 2006, THE BEE celebrated its centennial of serving Southeast Portland!  A special four-page retrospective of Inner Southeast Portland's century, written by Eileen Fitzsimons, and drawn from the pages of THE BEE over the previous 100 years, appeared in our September, 2006, issue.
Click here to read this special retrospective!


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Street tax, city income tax, road fee
PBOT Public Information Officer Dylan Rivera discusses details of the latest street tax proposal to a visitor, at the Our Streets open house in Inner Southeast. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

NEW CITY INCOME TAX?
New “Street Taxes” plan proposed to City Council

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

The latest City of Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) plan for improving transportation infrastructure – now called the “Our Streets” funding plan – was discussed at an open house, held in Inner Southeast Portland on Wednesday, November 5.

People from all over the city gathered at St. Philip Neri Church’s Carvlin Hall, on S.E. Division Street, just north of the Brooklyn neighborhood – where attendees were greeted by a bevy of PBOT staffers, and chart exhibits that lined the parameter of the room.

“This is a continuation of the ‘Our Streets’ conversation that started, back in January, with an advisory committee,” explained PBOT Public Information Officer Dylan Rivera.

“It has expanded since then; there has been lot of community input, and conversations about funding this program,” Rivera said. 

The funding mechanism has been through several iterations, Rivera told THE BEE. And they’ve come up with something new. A city income tax. More about that shortly. First: How would they spend the money?

“Through the public input that we received from town halls in February, we identified the major needs as safety and maintenance, and established subcategories within them. Generally safety and maintenance are priorities for transportation funding.”

PBOT’s current charts for “6 Year Improvements” show that Maintenance Projects are divided between “busy” and “residential” streets:

  • Busy Streets, Paving: 38%
  • Residential Streets, Paving: 9%
  • Busy Streets, Signals, Street Lights, Signs: 6%
  • Residential Streets, Signals, Street Lights, Signs: 1%
  • Busy Bridges: 3%
  • Total: $113,600,000; or 56% of spending.

 “Safety Projects” are broken out as follows:

  • Busy Street Sidewalks: 10%
  • Busy High Crash Corridors: 9%
  • Busy Street Crossings: 6%
  • Busy Street Bike Lanes: 4%
  • Busy Street “Safe Routes to School”: 5%
  • Residential Street “Safe Routes to School”:  5%
  • Residential Street “Neighborhood Greenways”:  3%
  • Residential Alternative Street Design: 3%
  • Total: $89,400,000; or, 44% of spending.

PBOT continued with town halls and some public opinion research in the late spring, Rivera observed. “That is when we identified that people were telling us that a transportation fee based on use would be the best approach – in which businesses pay half and residents pay half.”

Business concerns acknowledged
In May, PBOT heard “several concerns” from the business community, he said. “Businesses thought we are asking for too much money. And, businesses said they did not like that [the street tax/fee] was structured into the water bill, [making] landlords pass the fee on to the tenants.”

Business owners and managers also bristled at the taxation formula. “Some [businesses] were quoted hundreds or even thousands of dollars they would owe,” Rivera said.

“Businesses really wanted something simpler,” the PDOT spokesman continued. “Their fee will be billed as part of the City Business License program, with an additional schedule for them to fill out.”

With the current plan proposal, the business road tax is based on a computation of:

  • Square Footage
  • Number of Employees
  • Gross Annual Revenue

 Monthly taxes that a business will pay will range from $3/month for non-profit organizations, up to as much as $144/month for a large hotel.

New “City Income Tax” proposed
For residents, PBOT had originally proposed a $11.52 per month “fee” per household.

The new funding proposal would be to impose a city income tax on residents, in which “low income” individuals would pay nothing, and high-wage earners would pay a “monthly equivalent rate” of as much as $75 per month, per taxpayer, based on the “tax bracket” in which they fall.

“So, for most households, with taxable income under $100,000, they'd be paying the ‘monthly equivalent rate’ of less than eight dollars per month, per taxpayer, not per household,” Rivera said. “It would be deductible from their U.S. Income Tax.”

The residential tax is per tax filer, Rivera explained. “People who file state and federal taxes jointly would pay this jointly; singles would file this one ‘single’ as well. The collection would piggyback on the ‘Portland Arts Tax’.”

Asked if the Portland City Council can impose a new city income tax – the first ever, here – by decree, Rivera responded that they could.

“We have been working closely with the Portland City Attorney’s office since January, as we have considered various funding options,” Rivera said. “We are confident that the income tax and business entity fee can be approved by the City Council without a referendum.” That’s the position of the Mayor and a City Commissioner; two other Commissioners are holding out for putting the matter before the voters. The swing vote appears to be that of Commissioner Amanda Fritz.

Asked if business owners, who are also Portland homeowners, face “double taxation”, Rivera said their “business workgroup and other stakeholders” considered this issue. “They came to the conclusion that this transportation funding would be treated just like water, sewer, or phone bills that some people pay as business owners and also as residents. 

“Businesses licensed in Portland would pay the fee, regardless of whether they are based in a home or other location.” Rivera added. Our review of the proposal shows that, indeed, a discount for residents who also own businesses has been removed from the current proposal.

Some businesses would pass along expenses such as this to their customers, suggested Rivera. “The businesses would pass [the fee] along to customers who live in Portland, and who do not live in Portland.”

Safety improvements target Outer East Portland
“Outer East Portland is a big winner in the Our Streets proposal,” Rivera pointed out. “We have prioritized safety improvements there, because the needs are so great there.”

Many Inner Southeast Portland neighborhoods already have sidewalks, Rivera observed – so “they may get more of the maintenance dollars spending.”

But in Outer East Portland, he said, there are many busy streets that lack sidewalks. “And on many of these busy streets, we have a lot of pedestrian deaths and injuries,” Rivera went on. “We know, from national ‘best practices’, that if we put a rapid-flash beacon on a crosswalk, we will save lives.”

This “Our Streets Transportation Funding” scheme was scheduled for a Portland City Council Hearing on Thursday, November 20, at 2 pm in the City Council Chambers downtown – which was the day this issue of THE BEE went to press. We expect to have more on this subject in our next issue.

For more information, visit the official website:  http://www.ourstreetspdx.com. Additional questions and comments can be directed via e-mail to: ourstreetspdx@portlandoregon.gov.



New MAX train, light rail, Southeast Portland
TriMet MAX Train 512 is the first delivered unit of 18 new “Type 5” trains, destined to serve the Inner Southeast’s new light rail “Orange Line”. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Southeast Light Rail: New MAX “Orange Line” train car unveiled

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

Perhaps to heighten anticipation for next year’s Inner Southeast light rail debut, the first train to be delivered for the TriMet MAX Orange Line was kept hidden behind a large roll-up door, as media gathered on October 22 at the Gresham Ruby Junction Yard to get a first look at it.

At the 1:05 p.m., the door lifted, and train #521 rolled into the railyard.

TriMet crews had prepared the train for an “acceptance phase” – which includes a 1,000-mile “burn-in” testing period and safety certification before it can go into service, explained TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane

“Because it is the first of the ‘Type 5’ trains, we’ll be also be testing it by putting it in service for about 5,000 miles,” McFarlane told reporters. “Each of the additional 17 trains for the Orange Line will also be tested for 1,000 miles before being put into service.”

The obvious changes in this, the newest iteration of MAX trains, has a lower center section for those with reduced mobility; and increased seating for those who accompany them.

“We’re also working with the operators, looking for ergonomic improvements in the cab,” McFarlane said. “The cab [of this train] is much more spacious and some of our other vehicles, and the operator will have better visibility, thanks to new high-definition cameras and monitors.”

After reporters began touring the new train, McFarlane talked with THE BEE about the cost of redesigning the new trains that will be serving Inner Southeast Portland, and south into Clackamas County.

“We worked, from a basic model, very closely with the manufacturer, Siemens, to put a number of improvements in place,” McFarlane said. “TriMet has been a particularly challenging-but-good client [for Siemens], in that we’ve used what we’ve learned from our last set of trains to require improvements in the next set. 

“These trains have added seating, and a better and more efficient heating and air-conditioning system, for example,” McFarlane pointed out. “These trains are not like mass-produced automobiles, rolling off the assembly line; they are, at some level, custom-designed for every client.”

Much of the forthcoming MAX Orange Line’s “high-visibility” work has been completed, McFarlane commented. “The next ‘larger project’ is constructing the Tacoma Street Park-and-Ride area. Up until now it’s been used as a construction staging area.”

About the overall project, McFarlane said the Orange Line build-out is on schedule. “Specifically, we’re about 84% done with the project. We will be opening the project on time and on budget on September 12, 2015.”



K9 cop, Eastmoreland burglar
Portland Police Bureau K-9 Officer “Bravo” celebrated his 100th career capture, when he nabbed an intruder, identified as 32-year-old David Ray Newell (upper left), hiding in an Eastmoreland home. (Courtesy Portland Police and MCDC)

K-9 cop captures Eastmoreland burglar

By DAVID F. ASHTON
or THE BEE

It didn’t seem right that, at 1 am, someone was skulking around an Eastmoreland home being remodeled on S.E. 31st Avenue near Tolman Street on the early morning of Monday, November 10.

So, a neighbor called the 9-1-1 Center, and reported the activity -- bringing Portland Police Central Precinct officers to the area.

“Officers surrounded the house, awaiting a Police K-9 Unit to arrive,” reported Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson.

“Several officers, including the K-9, entered the home, and [the dog] found the suspect hiding in an upstairs room, under some torn-up carpeting,” Simpson said.

While PPB Officer Ben Davidson and his K-9 partner “Bravo” celebrated the team’s 100th capture, suspect 32-year-old David Ray Newell was taken into custody, and whisked off to jail.

Newell was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center at 5:55 am, on charges of Burglary in the First Degree, and Possession of Methamphetamine. He remains in custody at Multnomah County Inverness Jail in lieu of $55,000 combined bail.



Tillikum Bridge, transit bridge, Portland
The new Tilikum Crossing Bridge across the Willamette River lit up October 16 and 17 when TriMet tested its ambient lighting system. This picture was taken by Portland Tribune photographer Jonathan House at around 8:45 pm on the 16th.

Tilikum Bridge’s lights are public art – and are informative, too

By JIM REDDEN
Portland Tribune
Special to THE BEE

For decades, the light atop the Standard Insurance Building downtown has signaled a weather forecast. The color indicates temperature change; and if the light flashes, it’s going to rain. Of course, that light has always been hard to spot in Inner Southeast, and with the high-rise construction around the Standard Insurance building in recent years, it’s now almost impossible.

And, it’s not going to be easy to see the lights on the new Tilikum Crossing transit bridge from most of Inner Southeast either, unless you are in the vicinity of OMSI with a view of the river. But the lights there will certainly attract attention. They are designed to give river conditions – but the code with that information will be a bit more complex.

Designed by Morgan Barnard, Douglas Hollis and the late Anna Valentina Murch, the lights are directed at the twenty bridge cables, the four tower pylons above and below the deck, and at the two landside abutments.

They change colors according to data streamed from a U.S. Geological Service river monitor near the Morrison Bridge, based on the river’s speed, height, and water temperature.

According to TriMet:

  • The base colors will be determined by the water temperature.
  • The speed of the river controls the pace at which the colors change and move across the bridge.
  • The height of the river is displayed by a secondary color moving vertically up and down the pylons and cables.

Large changes will occur over the course of the seasons, and smaller fluctuations will occur constantly throughout the day.

The LED lights in the system are five times more energy-efficient than conventional metal Halide lights, and last up to sixteen times longer with far less degradation of lighting output.

In addition to the aesthetic lighting, the bridge has aviation and river transport navigational lighting, as well as functional lighting for bridge use during nighttime hours. But the coded color display at night is not only information – it’s intended as public art.

The ambient light system is funded from a TriMet program that is dedicating 1.5 percent of the construction cost of the Portland-to-Milwaukie light-rail project to art.

The 7.3-mile new Inner Southeast MAX line is scheduled to open on September 12, 2015.



Walgreens, ATM theft, Holgate Boulevard
With the debris cleared away, workers begin rebuilding the entrance to the Creston-Kenilworth Walgreen store, after thieves smashed their way in with an SUV, to steal the Automatic Teller Machine. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

ATM ripped from Holgate Walgreens store

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

Thieves, intent on grabbing some fast cash, did thousands of dollars’ worth of damage to the Creston-Kenilworth Walgreens Pharmacy, 3909 S.E. Holgate Boulevard, in the early morning hours of Sunday, November 9th.

The store’s security alarm sounded at 4:26 am at the store, after a four-door, dark-colored smaller SUV with a spare tire on the back got up speed and rammed through the front entrance.

“Officers arrived in the area and contacted the security company,” said Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson. “They were told that the suspect vehicle backed into the front doors of the store, smashing the glass.”

While the driver waited in the truck, two thieves clambered through the smashed entrance, but they didn’t head for the pharmaceutical dispensary in the back of the store, video surveillance showed. “It appeared to officers that the only thing missing was an Automatic Teller Machine,” Simpson reported.

One of the suspects is described as an unknown-race male, medium build, wearing dark clothing. A second suspect is described as an African American male, medium build, with short hair or a shaved head, facial hair, and wearing dark clothing. There is no description given for the driver, who evidently stayed in the vehicle during the heist.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to provide tips by e-mail to CrimeTips@portlandoregon.gov.



Westmoreland Park, natural play area
Kids flocked to the park’s new Natural Play Area. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Celebration officially reopens Westmoreland Park

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

The revamping of Westmoreland Park has been in the planning stages since 2003 when its “Master Plan” was finished – and the construction effort has taken longer than a year: The park was officially reopened on October 25.

Representatives of the three governmental entities involved, Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) , City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services (BES), and Army Corps of Engineers, were on hand for the celebration, as were as a variety of nonprofit and community groups.

As many as three hundred neighbors and friends who came for the festivities saw informational booths and demonstrations, and were invited to tour the park and Natural Play Area – as well as listen to numerous speeches.

While Native American drummers from the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde began the official program, Portland Parks & Recreation Director Mike Abbaté talked with THE BEE about the achievement.

“This is absolutely marvelous,” Abbaté smiled. “It is another example of how, in Portland, we are committed to incorporating nature and ecological processes into the way we work, live, and play. We have a natural-based play area here now that is absolutely spectacular.

“Both kids and adults are here, and are overwhelmed with the beauty of this place; and, it’s as accessible as it is functional,” Abbaté said. “Furthermore, it's impressive that the ecosystem of this park is functioning more as it once did.”

BES Environmental Program Coordinator Ronda Fast commented, “We’re here to celebrate the return of salmon to Crystal Springs Creek!”

Seeing fish in the creek, Fast said, “is validation that we did the right things, in the right places. The native Coho Salmon appear to be spawning – a sign that they like the improvements we’ve made.”

Dressed in his formal uniform, United States Army Corps of Engineers Colonel José Aguilar was also on hand for the grand reopening. “Every mission in which we’re involved is about people coming together.  And it is tremendous how everyone came together to make this project happen.

“Starting with Congressional funding that allowed the US Corps of Engineers to do this,” Aguilar went on, “to working with the City of Portland and the local community as well – good partnerships are instrumental. And, the lesson learned is, ‘Look at the things that we can do when we work together’.” 

Staff members from the Johnson Creek Watershed Council (JCWC) were also part of the celebratory day. “Crystal Springs Creek is important to the health of Johnson Creek, because it is a cool water tributary,” remarked JCWC Volunteer Coordinator Amy Lodholz. 

“This is the first stop for fish, on their way back up to their spawning ground,” Lodholz observed. “If they can come up Crystal Springs Creek, they can come up Johnson Creek’s bigger channel. We’ve found salmon seventeen miles upstream in Johnson Creek.”

U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer said he was really impressed with the park’s newly opened Nature Play Area. “My grandson insists that we visit this at least once a day, sometimes more often. As soon as it opened, we ‘inaugurated’ the play area, and we both enjoy it immensely.”

Speaking for Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, Commissioner Nick Fish represented both PF&R and BES.

“In 80 years of Portland park development, we realize that our initial plans here did not serve the environment very well at this park,” said Fish. “Sometimes we find ourselves undoing prior actions, having learned lessons of how we can do better.

“Crystal Springs Creek is a humble waterway, only 2.5 miles long,” Fish continued.  “But, its contribution to the local watershed and the Johnson Creek watershed is profound.”

Officials were invited to plant Camas bushes in the wetland area; guests strolled the new boardwalks, and kids frolicked in the Nature Play Area.

Then, as the first major storm of the season blew in, signaled by high winds, the crowds began to drift away. But, the newly improved north end of Westmoreland Park was by then officially open for the enjoyment of Inner Southeast Portland residents.



Division street, car into house, car hits police cars
The stolen car was pulled back from the house on the south side of S.E. Division Street into which it had crashed, when its driver attempted to elude the police. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Crook in stolen car smacks police unit, smashes into house

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

A car idling in the otherwise empty parking lot of Portland Community College Southeast Campus drew the attention of a Portland Police East Precinct officer at 5:40 pm on Sunday evening, October 26.

“The officer determined the car was stolen,” said PPB Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson. “The driver of the stolen vehicle sped away from police,” Simpson went on.  “As it exited the parking lot onto S.E. Division Street at 80th Avenue, he crashed into a responding patrol car.”

That patrol car, driven by an East Precinct sergeant, was sent careening into a utility pole. “The suspect vehicle then traveled through a field and hit a home,” Simpson added.

Because police originally believed a passenger in the stolen car had run off, a Police K-9 team was brought in to search the area. It was later discovered that that passenger had gotten out of the stolen car prior to the brief chase.

Another PPB sergeant who responded to the scene commented to THE BEE, “This was one of our new vehicles; all of the air bags deployed, helping to protect the officer.” 

The sergeant was transported to a Portland hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries, Simpson said. “The suspect was treated at the scene for non-life-threatening injuries.”

After being arrested, 28-year-old Troy Lynn Harrison was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC) at 7:50 pm that evening on numerous outstanding warrants.

He was also booked on new charges of Assault in the Third Degree, Attempt to Elude by Vehicle, Attempt to Elude on Foot, Failure to Perform the Duties of a Driver (Hit and Run/Injury), Unlawful Use of a Motor Vehicle, Possession of a Stolen Motor Vehicle, Reckless Driving, and Unlawful Entry of a Motor Vehicle.

After his arraignment in Multnomah County Court the following day, Harrison was transported to Multnomah County Inverness Jail, where he remains on a Probation Violation Hold, as well as in lieu of $26,234 bail.



Post 5 Theater, Sellwood
Isabella Buckner (as Rosalind) and Chip Sherman (as Orlando) prepare for their roles in the Post5 Theatre Company’s production of William Shakespeare’s “As You Like It”. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Northeast Portland’s “Post5 Theatre” moves to Sellwood 

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

The resident theater company housed in Montavilla’s MilePost5 art collective, called the “Post5 Theatre Company” since 2011, has now moved to Sellwood.

“Post5 Theatre started as a free Shakespeare company,” said Producing Artistic Director Ty Boice, speaking with THE BEE at their new Sellwood location. “We believed that everyone should be able to have access to the rich work of William Shakespeare, and the transformative experience that is live theater.”

Over the years, the theater company has branched out to works by other authors, both classical and modern, Boice remarked.

“We sought out a ‘permanent home’ in a community where we believed we could grow and flourish,” Boice said. “The greater Sellwood area is everything that we were looking for in a community – to put some roots down.”

More than just a change of venue, Boice said, their ambition is to create a “performing arts center”, while continuing their theater company.

“We will host classes and workshops, in dance and visual art, and acting – and we’ll provide ‘scholarship rates’ for people here in Inner Southeast Portland. We want to become a valued member of this community.”

They’re creating a space where both adults and children can be introduced to acting and theater arts, Boice explained. “We invite the community members to come see shows on the main stage. We’ll also have some late-night programming for adults – featuring a full-service bar, presenting entertainment ranging from stand-up comedy, to variety arts, to concerts.”

Their new facility is at the corner of S.E. Lambert Street and Milwaukie Avenue, in what was formerly a church school gymnasium and auditorium. “We share the building complex with a church that is in the north section of the building,” remarked Boice. “We’re establishing the performing arts center and theater in the 5,000 square-foot south annex.”

The first production in Sellwood is William Shakespeare’s “As You Like It”. “We’ve abridged the play, making it more accessible to the general community. With a cast of fourteen, and live music, it’s a fun and interesting production.”

The production began in mid-November and runs, on Thursday through Sunday evenings, through December 13.

On Tuesday, December 2nd, at 6 pm, Post5 Theatre is hosting a free “Neighborhood Welcoming Party”, with live music, a silent auction, and some door prizes as well. You’re invited.

 --SUMMARY--

Post5 Theatre
1666 S.E. Lambert Street
Sellwood
www.post5theatre.org

postfivetheatre@gmail.com





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