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October 2018 -- Vol. 113, No. 2
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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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Oaks Bottom Lagoon rehab, Sellwood, Southeast Portland, Oregon,
Within just one week, the new culvert was installed, the cut was filled, and the railroad tracks were spiked back into place. The Springwater Trail itself will be restored and opened through Oaks Bottom by October 31. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

New Oaks Bottom culvert installed; remediation begins


What had seemed like a very difficult challenge was successfully completed in a remarkably short period of time, at the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge Habitat Enhancement Project, in August.

This large-scale project – a cooperative effort among Bureau of Environmental Services (BES), Portland Parks & Recreation, and the U.S Army Corps of Engineers – makes improvements to habitat for protected wildlife species, and adds amenities along the Springwater Corridor Trail. It should also reduce mosquito problems in the summertime.

With the Springwater Trail and railroad berm excavated, contractors installed the open bottom section of the new culvert, including the culvert arch footings. A cofferdam held back Willamette River water from entering the lagoon, allowing for a dry work area.

“Because this is an open-bottom culvert, it’s going to have a natural grade going through,” explained LKE Corporation President and Lead to Ecologist L. Kim Erion on August 25, as the culvert arches were being placed.

“We’ve put in stream cobble and small riprap, and sand that will be graded in, and then smoothed out on both sides – so it will be more of a channel structure, rather than just a flat bottom culvert,” Erion explained.

Low summertime water levels and and low river tides created a challenge – the barge-mounted crane couldn’t get close enough to the worksite to place the precast 20,000 pound arch sections in place.

“But we’ve solved this problem by using an ancient construction technique, just like the Egyptians,” quipped Erion. “The crane is lowering each arch segment as far back as it can reach onto steel pin rollers in the keyway; then the excavator pulls it, on the ‘rollers’, into place.”

With the arch segments now in place, contractors have been working around the clock to fill the cut in the berm, tamping down the material layer by layer, until it was back at grade with the Springwater Corridor Trail.

By Labor Day, the Oregon Pacific Railroad tracks were in back in place, and trains were running again. By the end of October the Springwater Trail will again be open through Oaks Bottom.

As THE BEE visited the site along with Portland BES Capitol Project Manager Sean Bistoff on September 5, we found looking up at the new culvert to be an awesome sight.

“The work that has been done so far is incredible,” marveled Bistoff. However, he added, this project is far more that replacing a culvert.

“By removing the old culvert and the small dam – and adding roughly 2,000 linear feet of channel through Oaks Bottom, from the new culvert to the edge of the lagoon – this project is converting the area from being a reservoir into being a well-functioning wetland, which now will fluctuate naturally with the Willamette River water elevation.”

The project’s focus has been on providing juvenile salmon a refuge from the open river, in the lagoon, during their migration to the sea, Bistoff pointed out. “But it’s also a project that benefits all native species that use this wetlands – including beaver, otter, mink, deer, and the many songbirds that make this home; improvements will benefit many species.”

Before the project ends, workers will fine-tune the depth of the slough channel, continue installing channel-side amenities, and create a new “bump-out” viewing area along the Springwater Trail over the culvert.

The Springwater Corridor Trail should be open again by, if not before, Hallowe’en.

Commercial fire, motor homes, RVs, SE 27th, Gearhead, fire, Southeast Portland, Oregon
The entire rear ends of both luxury RV’s were completely burned off in the commercial fire, one and a half blocks south of Holgate Boulevard on S.E. 27th. (Photo by Eric Norberg)

Commercial fire near Holgate Blvd damages Reed movie-related business


From some distance away, people reported seeing thick plumes of dark smoke rising from the industrial section of the Reed neighborhood on the afternoon of August 19.

Woodstock Fire Station’s Engine 25’s crew was first to roll up to “Gearhead Production Rentals”, near S.E. 25th Avenue, just north of Long Street, and a block and a half south of Holgate Boulevard. The lieutenant reported back to dispatch seeing “heavy fire, and propane tanks exploding” outside the building.

Six additional PF&R units arrived soon afterward, as well as two Battalion Chiefs and an Investigator.

The focus of the firefighting were two high-end motor homes that had burned so fiercely that the back ends of both vehicles had completely disappeared. An adjacent grip truck was singed as well.

“An electrical power line burned through, and fell on one of the RVs, causing firefighters to momentarily pull back,” reported PF&R Public Information Officer Lt. Rich Chatman. “Crews were able to protect exposures to buildings near the fire” – which took about 17 minutes to contain.

The cause of the blaze at this Reed neighborhood business – which serves the motion picture and television production industry with vehicles, grip gear, film lighting equipment, production supplies, and expendables – is still under investigation.

Mayor Ted Wheeler, Brentwood Darlington Neighborhood Association, personal appearance, Q and A, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood Association Chair Chelsea Powers welcomes Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler to the BDNA Community Center. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Mayor Wheeler talks ‘policy’ with Brentwood-Darlington neighbors


The Community Center’s large meeting room was nearly filled to capacity on Saturday evening, September 8, when the Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood Association hosted Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler for the second time within a year.

“After Mayor Wheeler came to our meeting last November, we followed up with this office, and asked him to come back and update us on some of the topics we talked about last year,” BDNA Chair Chelsea Powers explained before the meeting started.

Topics on the agenda included creating an “Action Plan” for the neighborhood, crime and public safety, and distribution of funding and/or projects to the area.

Asks for ‘Action Plan’ funding
After a brief self-introductions of those at the head table, and by the Mayor, Powers began by saying that BDNA, with the help of Portland State University students, had created a neighbor Action Plan.

“The Portland Bureau of Planning & Sustainability (BPS) told us so that to be truly actionable by City Bureaus, a formal legislative process needed to be conducted, as required by the city code; and, although BPS requested funding for doing so, the Mayor’s budget did not include funding for this project,” outlined Powers.

“Will you support funding of the recommended Action Plan for BDNA in next year’s proposed budget?” she asked the Mayor.

Wheeler characterized the current budget as “highly controversial”, as he balanced clear community priorities heard from Portland’s 95 neighborhoods, including:

  • Addressing the homeless crisis
  • Housing and housing affordability
  • City infrastructure projects

“These will continue to be my priorities, and I want to be very clear about that,” Wheeler stated, adding, “I don’t know what the 2019 budget will look like.

“But a large portion of this [Action Plan] report speaks to the lack of collaboration and coordination among City Bureaus,” Wheeler added, “I will make this commitment to you here and now, today: I will work with your neighborhood leaders and identify the issues, and we can do that right now.”

Creating a ‘neighborhood hub’
Powers pointed out that neighbors to the south, in the Ardenwald-Johnson Creek neighborhood, are becoming a part of the City of Milwaukie’s formal planning process for the creation of “neighborhood hubs”.

“Our BDNA plan recommended a planning strategy similar to this, with clusters of development along S.E. 52nd, 72nd and 82nd Avenues – and with S.E. 45th Avenue and Harney Drive being an ideal starting point,” Powers explained. “Are there city budget discretionary funds that could be used for this purpose?”

“I am not aware of any discretionary funds available in the current budget,” Wheeler responded, quickly adding, “But I don’t see why we would [need to] work on it, because it is consistent with the ‘2030 Plan’ just passed by the Portland City Council.”

Even without a specific budget, Wheeler encouraged BDNA residents to work on this as a “neighborhood initiative”, in conjunction with his office and with planning bureaus, “with the resources that we already have allocated for system development.

“If you have any concepts you’d like us to see, I say great, count me in!” Wheeler invited, and then added, “I have found that, when neighborhoods take leadership roles in determining their future, things do tend to happen a lot faster.”

Budget equity explored
Bringing up a topic discussed at the Mayor’s first meeting in the neighborhood, Powers again explored the view that BDNA residents pay taxes that are high compared to the investments received – investments such as Urban Renewal funds, bringing in large nonprofits, and other investment funding. “How will you ensure that investments are distributed to neighborhoods like Brentwood-Darlington, which need more capital improvement?”

“Our property tax system has long been in need of fundamental reform,” Wheeler agreed, adding, “Property taxes for a lot of people are already super high; I want to acknowledge that.”

Many investments across the city “aren’t sexy”, but are necessary, he added, such as the $1.1 billion “Big Pipe” project, and putting new roofs on, and air-conditioning systems in, community centers – projects that benefit all Portlanders. The Mayor went on to reference the $12.5 million investment in Errol Heights Park and investments in the Springwater Corridor, and capital transportation investments made in the area.

When pressed about assuring equitably in funding, Wheeler responded, “Equity doesn’t mean equal distribution of resources; it does mean an intentional focus on areas that have been historically underserved and underrepresented when it comes time to distribute money.”

Help with crime, illegal camping and criminal justice
Powers read a portion of a submitted comment deploring the neighborhood’s perceived high level of crime and illegal camping, “primarily done by known repeat offenders”:

“It feels that we are in a post-apocalyptic state, where roving bands of criminals are allowed to camp in our back yards, steal anything they can, set fires, and threaten us by name.”

The questions then posed by Powers included, “How do we end the revolving-door nature of offenders being arrested and then released back into the community almost immediately?” and “How can those with mental health issues and the drug-affected be quickly assigned caseworkers?”

“I’m the first Mayor in nearly a generation that has advocated, and has successfully brought on, more police officers through the budget process – and it was a withering process. The budget hearings were very…” Wheeler paused while searching for his next word: “Challenging.”

Wheeler said that his budget added 58 police officers; but he tempered that number by reminding that it takes about 18 months for an officer to be fully trained and certified. He also pointed out that the Police Bureau continues to lose about 20 officers per year due to retirement.

While, as the Commissioner of Police, Wheeler does have the power to hire and fire the city’s Chief of Police, and has input on the Bureau’s policy, he said, “Let me be crystal clear about this: I am not directing police officers. In regard to policing the city, command-and-control rests with Chief Outlaw.”

He went on to deplore the lack of federal and state resources for the mentally ill and drug addicted. “I have come to realize that I can only truly hold myself accountable, and make a difference, about the things that I can control: The issues around livability, trash, housing, the contributions we make to homeless and shelter programs. I can only advocate and insist that we do more in these areas.

“I will make a commitment to you that I’m not going to back off, or lose any energy, around the complexities of solving the homeless crisis or the public safety problems in the city – or, frankly, the trash and livability issues in the city,” Wheeler promised. “There are huge complex problems, and I’m highly motivated to work with you to address them.”

Asks that NRT officers not be reoriented
Finally, a question from the audience suggested that Portland Police Neighborhood Response Team Officers were being diverted to other duties. “Can they be redirected to their main focus, managing livability?”

Wheeler said he was unaware of this, adding, “This is of great interest to me; I’ll check in on this.”

After the meeting, on his way out, THE BEE asked Wheeler how he found his reception in Brentwood-Darlington.

“I thought this is a fantastic meeting; people came with excellent questions and genuine concerns,” smiled Wheeler, as he walked into the night.

The Mayor’s staff promised to provide written responses to all of the issues brought up in the meeting, and when they do, the answers will be posted on the BDNA website at –

Muz Afzal, Southeast Uplift, neighborhood coalition, nonprofit, Main Street, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Cutting the cake to celebrate Southeast Uplift’s 50th anniversary was their Small Grants Program Manager, Muz Afzal. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

‘Southeast Uplift’ celebrates 50 years of neighborhood service


Although many Inner Southeast Portland neighbors have lately been expressing concern about the future of Portland’s neighborhood associations and coalitions, there was festive mood at the Southeast Uplift neighborhood coalition office on S.E. Main Street on Thursay afternoon, August 23, where its 50th anniversary celebration was underway.

All Portland’s 95 neighborhood associations are assisted and supported by these nonprofit city-funded “coalitions”, of which Southeast Uplift is just one.

“We’re celebrating our organization’s past, as well as looking forward to its future,” remarked the coalition’s Executive Director Molly Mayo with a smile. “It is so inspiring to work with the many people volunteering in the twenty Southeast neighborhoods we serve; making valiant attempts to network community groups together!”

During the coming years, Mayo reflected, “I look forward to seeing neighborhoods improving a ‘sense of community’, and working together for community events, emergency preparedness, and community initiatives – coming together even more, as neighbors, than they have in the past.”

Musicians were on hand to enliven the party; a chef at the barbecue cooked for guests; and volunteers from many of the neighborhoods served by Southeast Uplift met and networked.

“Southeast Uplift is important to our neighborhood, because it provides a lot of resources, and is the central place for all Southeast neighborhood associations to get information and resources. We’re thankful for the consistency and clarity they provide our board,” assured current Woodstock Neighborhood Association Chair Sage Jensen.

Although Chloe Eudaly, the current Portland City Commissioner in charge of the “Office of Community & Civic Life” – until a recent City Council “emergency” name change, known as the “Office of Neighborhood Involvement”, the Bureau that oversees Southeast Uplift – was notably absent, other city officials came to celebrate.

The Bureau’s former Commissioner, Amanda Fritz, stopped by to lend her good wishes, and spoke pointedly about the value she sees in neighborhood associations.

“As they celebrate their 50th anniversary, I think it’s wonderful, and also amazing, that some of the volunteers who started it are still active and are with us today,” Fritz observed. “Neighborhoods are place-based; there is a substantial need for a place-based system.

“We want people of all different backgrounds, cultures, ages, and races to be living together in our neighborhoods – getting to know each other, and looking after each other.”

About providing financial and logistical to coalitions and neighborhood associations, Fritz stated, “I think this is essential, absolutely essential. If we don’t create neighborhoods where people know the people who live around us, we risk losing what we’ve have had for so long: The feeling of many villages together, instead of being a massive city.

“I want places and structures for neighborhoods to organize together, to advocate for what they want – not for what the city or other governmental bodies want, but for what they see is best for their neighborhood!”

Woodstock Gives Back, Woodstock Community Business Association, WCBA, Woodstock Neighborhood Association, WNA, Woodstock Community Center, anniversary, Southeast Portland, Oregon
The “Kids’ Parade” down Woodstock Boulevard was one highlight of a special day of celebration, sales, and charity in the neighborhood. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Woodstock hosts a day of celebration and giving


The atmosphere was decidedly festive on Sunday, September 9, as the fourth annual “Woodstock Gives Back” event and sale orchestrated by the Woodstock Community Business Association (WCBA) dominated the morning and midday, and the celebration of the Woodstock Community Center’s 60th anniversary was an afternoon highlight on S.E. Woodstock Boulevard.

Throughout the day, business was also brisk at the Woodstock Farmers Market, which served as the staging location for the “Woodstock Kids’ Parade”.

“We thought it would be a good way to kick off our Community Center’s birthday – by holding a Kids’ Parade along Woodstock Boulevard,” remarked its coordinator Sage Jensen, current Woodstock Neighborhood Association (WNA) Chair.

“Before we go marching, ‘Dingo and Olive Root Beer’ are gathering a crowd here at the Farmers Market with their funny songs and stunts,” Jensen smiled. “Having this fun and kind of silly parade is our way to give back to the community!”

Along the boulevard, many colorful balloons marked the businesses participating in “Woodstock Gives Back” – each raising funds for its own chosen charity, while also offering sales and promotions for customers, and participating in a prize drawing involving collecting business cards from participating stores on a bracelet.

Helping folks at her sidewalk sale, participant Erin Beauchamp of Red Fox Vintage said, “It feels amazing to be able to do something for our community; our store is donating our proceeds to Planned Parenthood.”

By mid-afternoon, a street party was underway at the Woodstock Community Center. Volunteers were serving birthday cake and ice cream; kids participated in crafts and games, and the Sellwood Middle School Marimba Band was on hand to play.

“Having our Center turn 60 years old this year is a good reason to have a big party,” grinned “Friends of Woodstock Community Center” Chair Dawn Haecker.

“And more than its longevity, we have another reason to celebrate – thanks to rallies, letter-writing, postcards, and calls to the Portland City Council during the last budget session, our Community Center is still open,” Haecker said. “Hosting this party is another way to say ‘thank you’ to all of our community members who continue to support us.”

Many people will remember the joy of the day, and a variety of worthy charities will have benefitted from patronage of Woodstock neighbors and visitors to the community again this year.

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