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September 2019 -- Vol. 114, No. 1
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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 the special centenary retrospective!


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Sellwood Community Center, SMILE, Parks Bureau, local operation, Southeast, Portland, Oregon
At a “Friends of Sellwood Community Center” gathering, volunteers were clearly enthusiastic at hearing that the deal to take over the Center had been agreed to by both parties, and was close to being finalized in a legal agreement. (Photo by David F. Ashton)
Sellwood Community House
Here’s the new logo planned for the Sellwood Community Center when it reopens in September as “Sellwood Community House” – run by a SMILE-overseen, but separate, nonprofit organization. Click on the logo to visit the website! (David F. Ashton)

SMILE ready to run Community Center in September

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

Although Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) “defunded” the operation of the Sellwood Community Center over the summer, and said it would close for good on August 31, a stalwart group of supporters have worked quickly and tirelessly to take over the historic building, rename it Sellwood Community House, and continue many of the services offered therein.

In July, the volunteers and their attorney met with PP&R and City of Portland officials to reach a lease/purchase agreement for the facility, but at press time the formality of signed papers had not yet been completed.

At a volunteer appreciation gathering, held in Westmoreland’s Fairlane Coffee on August 6, the SMILE Committee “Friends of Sellwood Community Center” heard Board Member Julie Currin’s good news for the 30 volunteers attending.

“As you know, we’re working to transition the Community Center from being a Portland Parks & Recreation facility to being run by an independent nonprofit organization under SMILE,” Currin began.

She said that they’d offered a proposal, and PP&R made a counter proposal. “Basically, we’re agreed on all points; it looks as if they will be leasing it to us.

“What’s left is, now that both parties have agreed upon the terms of the lease, is when it will be finalized and signed,” Currin told the group. “The city’s legal department will review it, and then send it to us to review; no one is expecting any surprises.”

The new nonprofit organization, overseen by the nonprofit neighborhood association, must now proceed as if the deal is done, Currin remarked, because time is so short before the September 1 date. “We’re moving at full speed; Portland Parks has agreed to send a note to families who use the preschool, letting them know about the changes.”

“As soon as we get up and running under the lease, and sort of catch our breath, we’ll be working toward buying the building and property,” Currin said. “We’d like to do that sooner, rather than later.”

Asked how close PP&R and the City are to the signing of the deal, the Bureau’s Community Relations Manager Jennifer Yocom replied, “We will be able to share more soon. We can comment on details, once a final agreement is signed.”

PP&R Director Adena Long chimed in, “Public-private partnerships have long been part of our Parks system. The volunteers at Sellwood Community House and SMILE are stepping up to serve the community, and we look forward to continuing to work with them on this agreement.”

If all has gone well, Sellwood Community Center will be making the first steps towards reopening as Sellwood Community House, and restoring essential preschool and after-school services formerly run by Portland Parks and Recreation, on the day after Labor Day, September 3.



Electric Lettuce, protest, cannabis, dispensary, Sellwood, near school, Southeast, Portland, Oregon
A group of neighbors and parents protested publicly at the site of “Electric Lettuce Sellwood”, a cannabis dispensary licensed to open near a preschool on S.E. 13th Avenue. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Neighbors protest new Sellwood ‘pot shop’ near preschool

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

Most of the recent push-back against the location of a new cannabis dispensary in Sellwood has been done by individuals, writing and calling City of Portland and state officials.

The subject of the protest is the “Electric Lettuce Sellwood” shop, now preparing to open at 7703 S.E. 13th Avenue, next to a toy store and just down the block from a preschool. It’s that preschool nearby that appears to be contrary to state distance restrictions, but apparently not to City of Portland restrictions.

One neighbor, Gregory Hemmen, says he’s been talking to officials about pot stores being located near preschools for a year now.

For example, Hemmen alleges that the City of Portland’s “Cannabis Map” inaccurately depicts St. Agatha Catholic School as being outside the boundary of the exclusion zone of a dispensary on S.E. Tacoma Street.

The “Creative Minds Learning Centers, Sellwood” school, which Hemmen’s daughter attends, is situated at 7733 S.E. 13th Avenue, in the same block as the “Electric Lettuce Sellwood” dispensary. “Creative Minds is a legitimate K-12 school, as defined by Oregon Department of Education”, contended Hemmen, and thus his concern.

“However, I’ve been raising these issues of dispensaries being too close to schools with the City of Portland [Cannabis Program], via emails and calls, since August of 2018 – well before [this business was licensed on S.E. 13th Avenue], near my daughter’s school,” Hemmen pointed out.

Repeated calls to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission’s compliance division weren’t answered until July, Hemmen said. “There has been little or no coordination between the OLCC and the Oregon Health Authority, regarding setting boundaries and regulations,” he told THE BEE.

“I’m not against the cannabis industry; but the concentrations of them going in is troubling,” Hemmen said. “I think sensible barriers do need to exist between such shops and our kids’ schools.

“I foresee how Oregon will become a ‘case study’ of how not to implement cannabis sales, relative to the protection of kids,” remarked Hemmen.

Neighbors protest at store
On August 2, a group of neighbors gathered in front of the “Electric Lettuce Sellwood” location, carrying signs protesting the location of this cannabis dispensary.

“I represent people in the neighborhood who are concerned about this marijuana dispensary being put in right next to a toy store, and just down the street a preschool,” said Michelle Forbes.

In addition to being located near a preschool, and within 500 feet of the Sellwood Branch Library, she said, “What really concerns me most is their advertising scheme – it’s very colorful, and playful; at this location, it’s really inappropriate.

“And, it’s kind of like your modern day ‘Joe Camel’ situation,” Forbes told THE BEE, referring to a past marketing tactic in the cigarette industry.

She, too, was concerned that while there are city regulations that prohibit dispensaries from opening within 1,000 feet of schools, “they’ve left out preschools within that definition.”

Neighbor receives ‘notice’
Only neighbors in close proximity to proposed dispensaries receive cannabis license notices from the City of Portland, THE BEE learned. “I received the notice because we live within 300 feet of the dispensary,” said Jonah Edelman, one of a group of neighbors who retained an attorney to help oppose the “Electric Lettuce Sellwood” store.

“To be clear, this is about, first, stopping a fast-growing company that apparently lacks basic decency and any regard for the well-being of children from illegally locating a dispensary next to a preschool/kindergarten.

“And, second, urging the City of Portland to update its marijuana dispensary location rules to better protect children from excessive marijuana marketing that’s proven to increase highly detrimental teenage use.”

Margaret S. Olney of Bennett Hartman Attorneys at Law, LLP, confirmed to THE BEE: “Yes, I was retained by concerned citizens to analyze the issue and write a [legal] memo. Edelman said that Olney submitted a “five-page legal memo on our behalf” to Portland City Attorney Tracy Reeve on August 12.

“Olney argues that the Electric Lettuce Sellwood siting is unquestionably illegal because it violates the 1,000 foot distance requirement from K-12 public, private, and parochial schools in ORS 475B.105, due to being less than 100 feet from a preschool with a full day kindergarten, which results in it meeting the definition of a private school laid out in ORS 339.030,” Edelman stated.

Cannabis Program ‘follows the Code’
After many neighbors wrote to Portland City Mayor Ted Wheeler and other elected officials, expressing concern about this marijuana dispensary’s location, the City of Portland Cannabis Program – overseen by the recently renamed Office of Community & Civic Life – received word from the City Attorney about the matter.

“The City Attorney wrote back to concerned people saying that, in their view, a commercial preschool doesn’t qualify as a school, under city code,” said Cannabis Program Supervisor Brandon Goldner.

“Cannabis businesses are regulated ‘strictly’, in Portland,” Goldner told THE BEE. “We have regulations that, if a [cannabis] business causes livability concerns, the Code gives our program a way to do something about it; if there are impacts, then we can respond,” he added.

Before the City’s Cannabis Code was drafted in 2015, Goldner, pointed out, there were community meetings and open houses.

“I’ll do my best explain the history and Code to those who ask; and at the same time, people should feel comfortable reaching out directly to their elected officials,” Goldner said. “The Portland City Council can change the Code.” There was no specific response to the charge that the city code may be in conflict with the state statute.

Calls by THE BEE asking for comment from Groundworks Industries, the parent company of Electric Lettuce Sellwood, were not returned.



Water squatters, sinking boat, Sellwood Riverfront Park, dock damage, Sellwood, Southeast, Portland
The operator of a sailboat floating at the dock, and “kinda” the owner of the sunken vessel as well, talks with PP&R Parks Rangers. (Photo by David F. Ashton)
Sinking boat, Willamette River, Sellwood, Portland, Oregon
A BEE reader photographed the unregistered sailboat while it was sinking in the Willamette River. (Courtesy of Laura McKinney)

‘Water squatters’ again moved away from Riverfront Park

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

For weeks, most of the space along the dock at Sellwood Riverfront Park had been filled with vessels that didn’t come to spend the day – they’d been there for weeks.

On July 31, a sailboat was spotting sinking in the Willamette River – after which, the mostly-submerged vessel ended up being moved and tied to the park’s dock.

On Wednesday morning, August 7, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) River Patrol teamed up with Portland Parks & Recreation’s Park Rangers, once again to tackle the problem.

“We’re down here this morning as part of a long, coordinated effort with our ‘Abandoned, Derelict Vessels, and Camping Task Force’,” MCSO River Patrol Sergeant Mark Herron told THE BEE. “City, county and multiple state agencies – along with the public – have been working tirelessly for several years to gain more compliance, regarding long-term ‘camping’ on the waters.

“One of the biggest problems we’ve had has been boats illegally-moored at docks, or illegally-anchored boats and vessels,” Herron said. “This eventually causes damage, as at here at the Riverfront Park boat dock; and now, there’s a sunken boat attached to the dock and to the shorelines!”

Herron said that PP&R had contracted with a company to respond and remove the sunken boat, and then tow the two vessels – one of them which was chained to the dock.

Many called ‘operators’, not owners
“Records show that these boats are not legally registered, and probably haven’t been for some period of time,” Herron remarked. “For this reason, we call people on these boats ‘operators’, not ‘owners’ – because it’s difficult to tell who actually owns these vessels.”

After quite some time, on the morning of August 7, the operator of the floating sailboat “camping” at the dock told Park Rangers that he “used to, and still kind of, owns” the sunken boat. “Kinda.” When the operator learned that a removal company was on the way, he pleaded long and hard for them to call off the recovery company.

However, with PP&R Park Rangers watching, and under the supervision of the Sheriff’s Office deputies, workers from the Parks Bureau maintenance crew used a power saw to cut the cleat railing and remove the chain holding the large vessel to the dock. It was reportedly named the “Sun Princess”.

“That operator has made several promises to us about being in compliance with the dock rules – but has not followed through, until today, when they called a ‘rescue tug’ in to help them move it,” Herron said.

The owner/operators of the vessels were written citations for illegally tying up to the dock, as well as registration violations – the second of which might be dropped if they can prove that their boat is actually registered, Herron pointed out.

With a large law enforcement presence at the dock, the operator of the sunken sailboat was endlessly explaining, beseeching, and promising to comply – saying that his friends were “on their way” to help him raise the sunken vessel “this very day”.

As it turned out, the contractor never showed up at the dock that day, giving the operator a brief reprieve. The sunken boat was finally removed three days later.

Because PP&R has responsibility for enforcing regulations at the dock, the Bureau’s spokesperson, Mark Ross, said they’ve been aware of the situation.

“PP&R is the lead agency to handle the issues at Sellwood Riverfront Park’s dock; the sinking vessel was affecting our property,” Ross told THE BEE later in the day. “It was tied to several trees, causing one tree to fall, and putting others at risk of failure,” he pointed out.

“We’ve been working for days to find and notify all the boat owners who’ve tied up at the site,” Ross said. “We’ve posted the boats, texted, called, and posted to them on social media – exhausting every effort to contact them.”

Ross revealed that the dock repair was expected to take until the end of August. “Once the inspection shows the dock is structurally sound, and/or that any necessary safety repairs are complete, we will reopen it,” he promised.

The various boat docks along the river which are owned and managed by PP&R are designed for, and designated for, daily/short-term use only – not for long-term tie-ups, Ross remarked. “We continue ongoing education efforts for boaters so they can adhere to the park rules.”



Foster homeless shelter, Laurelwood Center, Foster-Powell, Foster Road, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Community members touring the new shelter got a first look at the sleeping area of the Foster Road “Laurelwood Center”. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

County opens new Foster Road ‘Laurelwood Shelter’

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

Just three days before it began sheltering specific types of homeless on August 15, elected officials, staff, and neighbors came for a look at the new $4 million shelter at 6130 S.E. Foster Road – now named the “Laurelwood Center”.

Many residents and businesspeople had expressed deep concern when Multnomah County officials announced their plans to open the shelter in the area in late 2017. This led to a meeting in late December of that year which attracted an over-capacity crowd.

At the August shelter preview, Senior Director of Programs Stacy Borke for Transitions Projects (the operator of the shelter) told how stakeholders had come together on the issue.

“To accommodate the concerns of the business association and the neighborhood associations, an unprecedented part of the project was a creation of the Steering Committee, under the leadership of Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson,” Borke told THE BEE.

“At these committee meetings, comprised of representatives of all of the neighborhood association representatives and business owners in the area expressed what they wanted to see in a shelter coming into the area,” Borke said.

An example she gave was providing an on-site space for the clients who bring pets for a large “pet relief area” in the private secured courtyard.

“The committee also developed a ‘Good Neighbor Agreement’ that covers all sorts of aspects about what is expected of the program, [including] issues like safety, trash, and what it means to be neighborly; and, establishes really clear communication guidelines for everyone,” said Borke. “And, going forward, we’ll have regular ‘Advisory Committee’ meetings, bringing people together to talk about how the program is going, and how the community can get involved here.”

Asked whether it is a “low barrier shelter”, as originally announced, Borke replied, “Yes, the program is really accessible, helping people who are sleeping unsheltered to reduce every barrier there is to coming inside. So, people can bring their pets, their partners, and their possessions,” explained Borke. “The goal is trying to help people come inside and reconnect with services.”

A concern about the “low barrier” concept expressed by some neighbors is that the shelter accepts those individuals who might be alcohol and drug affected. “Being sober or abstinent is not a requirement for the program; But, we have expectations around [drug or alcohol] use, and rules about behavior, bringing it or using it on site,” Borke said.

A 24-hour, full-service shelter
Although the legal occupancy plaque states “Maximum Occupancy 286”, the Laurelwood Center will host only 120 people: Women, couples, and with a priority for to those with disabilities, who are over age 55, and veterans. It is “100% accessible”.

Staff services, including housing connections and a built-in medical clinic, have an operating budget of $1.3 million per year.

“I came out here today to support this great example of how we, as a city, are thinking more intentionally about the kind of shelter we are providing,” Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler told us upon his arrival that evening.

“This shelter is a Navigation Center model shelter, which means it is not just an overnight place to stay,” Wheeler pointed out. “When people come here, some will be connected to mental health services, others to addiction services, still others might get job coaching, or job-related services.

“The bottom line here is that it is not just a warehouse for people – it is to make sure that the residents have a clear transition strategy off the streets, into housing, and reconnecting with their future.”

The Mayor praised the community stakeholders for their partnership with the project. “People been very receptive, and they understand that this could be a game changer for a lot of people who are on the streets.”

Commissioner acknowledges contentious start
“Today is a day for celebration; [this shelter] represents the very best of our community,” said Multnomah County District 3 Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson, during her formal remarks.

“I recall how, when it was announced in December, 2017, not everyone was as happy as we are today,” reminisced Pederson. “At the meeting in the SEIU hall, across the street, I was listening to questions, concerns, and feedback from neighbors and businesspeople.”

After her remarks, Vega Pederson told THE BEE, “This shelter represents hope; it also represents stability, and a new chance – so people staying here can take that next step and make the changes in their life that they want.”

A Past President of the Foster Area Business Association, and also the owner of Red Castle Games, and a new commercial property owner in the area, Matthew Micetic, commented, “Homelessness is something that affects us as a community every day. Through the community engagement process, and influenced by our neighborhood, there have been innovative solutions found in the process of establishing a new shelter in our city.”

Speaking to the hundred people gathered at the event, Micetic beseeched his neighbors, “Keep engaged! By being engaged, we can make this a success story of how people can transition away from [living on] the street, and change their lives.

There isn’t yet a webpage for the Laurelwood Shelter, but for information you can contact the manager, Angel Roman, at angel.roman@tprojects.org – or by calling 503/280-4776.



Portland, Bridge Pedal
Thousands of bike riders rode across the Sellwood Bridge while participating in the 2019 “Portland Bridge Pedal”. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Thousands of bicyclists again pedal ‘Sellwood Bridge’

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

While this year’s “Portland Bridge Pedal” didn’t close the Sellwood Bridge to vehicle traffic, on Sunday morning, August 11, some drivers seemed surprised to see a steady stream of bicyclists heading west in the bike lane and sidewalk.

“We were excited to have the Sellwood Bridge back on our 2019 ride,” remarked the event’s organizer, Rick Bauman. “It’s a popular bridge with our participants!”

Last year, Sellwood’s new bridge wasn’t on the route, Bauman said, because of construction underway along the Springwater Trail Corridor.

“But this year, we estimate more than 2,500 riders took part in our ‘Main Ride’ route, and they all got to enjoy their ride along the Springwater Trail and across the Sellwood Bridge – something that makes us all happy!” Bauman said.



Headon crash, parked car, DUII, Brentwood Darlington, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Police officers patiently talked with the driver of this red Suburban, who for a time refused to get out of his vehicle, after smashing into the parked car. He was eventually charged with DUII, in this incident on S.E. Harold Street. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

DUII driver runs into a parked car at SE 67th

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

Emergency first responders were called to what was dispatched as an “Injury Crash” in the Mt. Scott-Arleta neighborhood, on Harold Street, just east of S.E. 67th Avenue at 4:46 p.m., on Thursday, August 8.

Woodstock Fire Station 25’s Ladder Truck Company arrived – but found no substantial injuries, and waved off an ambulance.

Arriving East Precinct officers beheld a red GMC Suburban, with Washington license plates, which appeared to have run head-on into a Scion which had been parked at the curb, on the north side of the street.

A Traffic Division officer was called to the scene to perform a sobriety evaluation -- but the driver of the Suburban refused to get out of the vehicle.

After considerable conversation with the reluctant driver, the Traffic Divison officer took what appeared to be a “compressed gas dust blaster” canister from the driver, and set it on the roof of the Suburban.

Then, for about nearly an hour, officers patiently talked with the male driver, while a female in the Suburban was engaged in conversation also. Finally the driver climbed out and met with officers.

“The driver was taken to the hospital; he also received a criminal citation for Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants,” PPB Public Information Officer Carlos Ibarra confirmed to THE BEE.



Sundae in the Park, Henrik Bothe, ice cream, Sellwood Park, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Starting off his show at the 40th Sundae in the Park, widely-performing but Sellwood-based family entertainer Henrik Bothe juggles clubs. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

40th Annual ‘Sundae in the Park’ perfect – but will there be another?

By DAVID F. ASHTON|
For THE BEE

Warm summer weather, and the cool shade of the tall conifers towering over Sellwood Park, made this year’s “Sundae in the Park” very inviting for a couple thousand of Sellwood and Westmoreland neighbors on Sunday afternoon, August 4.

“It being our 40th annual ‘Sundae’ here, it’s a big anniversary for us,” said Sellwood Moreland Improvement League (SMILE) neighborhood association Board Member Gail Hoffnagle.

“It’s great to see youngsters enjoying wonderful activities, families treating themselves to ice cream sundaes, a raffle with lots of prizes, and great live music and entertainment!” Hoffnagle beamed.

While enjoying the demonstration by Mr. Lizard at one end of the park and Henrik Bothe’s juggling and balancing antics at the other, guests lined up for sundaes made from the 42 Umpqua Dairy ice cream and sherbet tubs, and served by Southeast Portland Rotary Club members. Also helping with the task – after their Sunday service elsewhere – were volunteers from Eastbridge Church.

“Sundae in the Park” has taken place in Sellwood Park on the first Sunday in August since 1979, Hoffnagle pointed out – “It’s SMILE’s version of the ‘National Night Out Against Crime’ for the neighborhood, starting long before there was such a thing officially!

“‘Sundae in the Park’ has been going on for 40 years because this is an afternoon where neighbors can get together, meet new neighbors, and have a wonderful time enjoying our park with music and conversation. It keeps our neighborhood strong, and it’s a lot of fun!”

Calls for volunteers
But there are two obstacles which raise questions about whether this very popular event can continue next year.

“Two of its primary organizers have announced they will retire this year, and the committee is searching for volunteers to help keep this neighborhood tradition alive,” Hoffnagle said. “But there are well-organized records and plans for how to put it on, and those who are retiring are eager and willing to personally show a new generation of neighbor volunteers the ropes.”

There are also questions about new city policies which threaten to require SMILE to pay thousands of dollars to use the park for this event next year. That might not be a show-stopper, if volunteers do step up to help run Sundae in the Park next year – but it might be the nail in its coffin if they don’t.

Interested in helping keep this tradition alive? It’s fun, and a great way to meet neighbors. For more information about it, please contact Nancy Walsh at 503/233-4140 or 971/570-2702, or by e-mail at – nacnypw@msn.com (and yes, that really is how it’s spelled)!





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