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March 2017 -- Vol. 111, No. 7

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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Eastmoreland, Historic District, state commission, vote
Members of the State Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation looked at data and listened to testimony at a three-hour public hearing on the Eastmoreland Historic District proposal, February 17 at the Eastmoreland Golf Course clubhouse. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Amid Poll, state committee votes to not stall ‘Historic District’

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

As the Eastmoreland neighborhood Poll ballots were coming in at Southeast Uplift, and just as this issue of THE BEE was preparing to go to press, the State Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation held a hearing in Eastmoreland to consider whether the controversial Historic District proposal should be stopped or delayed – and voted against doing so. More details of how this came about at the end of this story. But first, continuing the Historic District story from our last issue. . .

Not in the recent history of THE BEE has publishing a story about an ongoing neighborhood controversy caused such an uproar as did the article written by editor Eric Norberg in the January issue about the January mailing of the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association (ENA) Historic District Poll ballots.

The timing of the mailing of the Poll ballots reported in the article was based on preliminary information at deadline and was, at the time, set for the week of January 16.

When the polling ballots weren’t received as quickly as some neighbors expected, acrimony rose to new heights, even including threats of financial ruin to this publication – made no doubt in the heat of emotion by otherwise upstanding residents of Eastmoreland.

So, here is the actual Poll mailing time line:

  • January 15 – The Poll document is finalized by the ENA Board of Directors and the Poll Committee. Instead of being sent immediately to the mailing company as originally announced and planned, the document undergoes a final review.
  • January 19 – The final Poll document is approved at an ENA Board Meeting.
  • January 20 – The finalized Poll document is sent to the mailing company, AdMail, a well-respected service firm. AdMail creates a computer image of the documents, merges the customized information with the text, prints the documents, inserts them in envelopes, and makes sure the mailing is stacked in postal carrier route order, as is required for bulk mail.
  • January 26 – Four working days after the Poll document was received, AdMail confirmed to THE BEE that the mailing project had been taken to the Commercial Mailing Unit of the U.S. Postal Service, and successfully mailed.

To the surprise and dismay of both the recipients and the Poll Committee, when Eastmoreland residents did receive the Poll, each Poll ballot had been customized with the name of the recipient.

“The document we submitted, as agreed to by the Committee and the Board, did NOT contain a field [a space to merge in information] for the recipient name at the top of it,” ENA Treasurer and Poll Committee Chair Robert McCullough told THE BEE. “The instructions we gave them were to insert a coded number at the bottom of the Poll that could be used by workers at Southeast Uplift – to which recipients were to return the poll for tabulation – simply to verify that it was a legitimate ballot return. The Poll ballots were to be anonymous.

“To AdMail, this was a complex mail-merge project, and they simply misunderstood,” McCullough added.

  • January 30 – After learning of their error, AdMail at its own expense sends a postcard to all Poll recipients, requesting they cut the identifying information off the top of the document before returning it to Southeast Uplift.

 Meantime – the Poll aside – at public meetings, in letters to the editor, and in well-produced websites, both sides of this contentious issue have clearly set forth their data and reasoning for either supporting or objecting to a large portion of Eastmoreland officially becoming an “Historic District”, and we review them here. . .

The concerns of those who oppose the establishment of an Historic District include, but are not limited to, in no specific order:

  • The eclectic neighborhood of homes in Eastmoreland does not embody distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction; does not represent the work of a master; and/or does not possess high artistic value;
  • The process seems “rushed”, without good reason;
  • Lack of clarity of what percentage of neighbors have to respond to the Poll for the Poll result to be valid;
  • The results of the Poll are “advisory”, and not binding;
  • State-level rules regarding Historic Districts are in flux;
  • Many homeowners wonder why their highly altered homes are deemed historic or “contributing”;
  • The process of establishing an Historic District seems inherently undemocratic; homeowner consent is automatic, unless they file a notarized objection (which many have done); and,
  • Establishment of an Historic District diminishes the rights of a property owner, and increases remodeling costs.

Reasons in support of the establishment of an Historic District, according to its adherents, include, but are not limited to, in no specific order:

  • Stops demolitions; a national historic district designation is the only tool left to halt speculative demolition and development;
  • Helps Eastmoreland remain primarily a single-family residential neighborhood, as it was originally planned to be;
  • Preserves Eastmoreland’s character and history;
  • Maintains livability by preserving green space, the tree canopy, privacy, garden setting, and reducing densification;
  • Meets educational and services needs of the neighborhood, by not increasing unplanned residential density;
  • Supports a multi-generational neighborhood, with a variety of household sizes and ages, as currently is already found in Eastmoreland;
  • Takes ownership of the neighborhood’s future; and,
  • Future generations will be thankful if, before it is too late, this unique neighborhood is preserved and is worthy of joining the thousands of other Historic Districts around the nation.

When THE BEE visited the Southeast Uplift neighborhood coalition office just north of Hawthorne Boulevard to check on the Poll ballots received, stacks of the ballots – due on February 24, after this issue of THE BEE had gone to press – had already been locked in a secure file. 96 more envelopes had been received just that day.

State Advisory Committee holds hearing
On February 16, the “Keep Eastmoreland Free” neighborhood group, which opposes the Historic District, invited the State Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation (SACHP) to tour Eastmoreland. At 1 p.m. on February 17, SACHP hosted a hearing at Eastmoreland Golf Course. THE BEE was there.

Almost every seat in the hall was filled, with some standing, as the meeting got underway; an estimated 150 people were in attendance.

Telling about the proposal for the Historic District was a representative from AECOM, the consulting firm hired by the ENA Board, who also answered questions put to it by SACHP members.

Then, numerous witnesses testified against establishing an Eastmoreland Historic District; some also spoke in favor of the proposal.

At the conclusion of the three-hour hearing, SACHP members voted unanimously not to stop nor delay the Eastmoreland Historic District proposal, allowing it to go forward.

This finding didn’t detour “Keep Eastmoreland Free” from continuing to collect signed, notarized statements of objection to the process from homeowners, adding to the more than 600 already in hand.

THE BEE will continue to follow this story, including the certified poll results as reported by nonprofit Southeast Uplift.

The official ENA webpage in favor of the Historic District is: http://historicdistrict.eastmoreland.org  

The opponents’ “Keep Eastmoreland Free” website is: http://www.keepeastmorelandfree.org

And now, a new group called “HEART” (“Historic Eastmoreland, Achieving Results Together”), has started another new website at: https://ihearteastmoreland.org



Reed College, student dead, apartment fire
After putting out the blaze, firefighters worked to extinguish any remaining embers. (Courtesy of PF&R)

Reed student perishes in off-campus fire

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

One person died and two others were injured in a fire at the Garden Park Apartments, just north of the Reed College campus, across S.E. Steele Street at 30th Avenue, in the early hours of Sunday, February 5.

“At approximately 5:15 a.m., the first arriving engine company reported heavy flames from the back side of at least one upstairs apartment unit,” reported Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) Public Information Officer Lt. Tommy Schroeder.

The PF&R Battalion Chief on-scene quickly called for a “second alarm” to bring additional units and personnel to the scene, Schroeder said, because of the high volume of fire involvement, and the probability of occupants inside sleeping at that time of the morning.

Firefighters made a rapid initial attack on the blaze while simultaneously coordinating a search and rescue operation. “The search crews were able to remove one fire victim from the unit,” Schroeder said. “Two occupants were able to escape the fire on their own by jumping from a second story window. One of those individuals has been released from the hospital. The other patient is still under observation at the hospital. A secondary search verified the apartment was then clear of occupants.”


Margalit Mara Gibbs
Margalit “Mara” Gibbs died of injuries suffered in the predawn apartment fire. (Facebook photo)

The three women caught in the burning apartment complex, not affiliated with the school, were all Reed College students.

The person trapped in a bedroom, and carried out by firefighters, was Margalit “Mara” Gibbs, later revealed Reed College President John Kroger.

The other two occupants, Miranda McGough and Hattie Dalzell suffered minor injuries, and were released from medical care.

“At this point, investigators have not found anything that appears to be suspicious,” later remarked PF&R’s Lt. Rich Chatman.



Brooklyn neighborhood, distraught man, fake gun, shooting
Detectives talk amongst themselves, while standing in the cordoned-off intersection of S.E. Lafayette Street and 22nd Avenue. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Distraught man, with fake gun, shot in Brooklyn

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

On the southern edge of Powell City Park – at the northern end of the Fred Meyer headquarters complex parking lot – the sight of an armed man caused someone to call the 9-1-1 Center about 6:30 p.m. on Thursday evening, February 9.

Based on information they’d learned after arriving at the scene at approximately 7:15 p.m., Central Precinct Police Officers believed the man might have moved west, along S.E. Lafayette Street, to a point between 21st and 22nd Avenues.

Soon, 33 police units had gathered at the scene, and S.E. 22nd Avenue was closed from Powell Boulevard south to Bush Street.

“Officers, including an Enhanced Crisis Intervention Team officer, contacted the man and began to talk with him,” recounted Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson. “During the contact with the man, the officers developed information that he possessed a handgun.


Don Allan Perkins
Police say this man, 56-year-old Don Allan Perkins, displayed a “realistic-looking replica firearm”. (Courtesy of Portland Police Bureau)

“As officers were attempting to continue communication, the man exited the vehicle [in which officers had found him] and had an encounter with the officers, which resulted in two officers firing shots that struck him,” said Simpson.

“Immediately after the shooting, officers quickly developed a plan to safely approach him and render medical aid, and did so, until medical personnel arrived and transported him by ambulance to a Portland hospital,” added Simpson.

The suspect's handgun, later revealed to be a realistic-looking replica firearm, was recovered at the scene.

The following day, Simpson disclosed that 56-year-old Don Allan Perkins was recovering from the gunshot wounds, and is expected to survive.

McLoughlin Boulevard, summer, paving project, Portland, Oregon
At a previous meeting in Sellwood, ODOT Region 1 Community Affairs Coordinator Lili Boicourt told how traffic will be impacted during the McLoughlin Boulevard rebuilding project, especially near the Crystal Springs Creek bridge. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Big McLoughlin Boulevard paving project gears up

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) revealed a year ago a bridge reconstruction, improvement, and paving project for the road they call Oregon Highway 99E – otherwise known as S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard.

As disclosed in THE BEE last May, the months-long project – which will start at S.E. Harold Street and move south to S.E. Harrison Street at the north end of the City of Milwaukie – will disrupt traffic along the highway through this summer.

ODOT Region 1 Community Affairs Coordinator Lili Boicourt tells THE BEE that the contractor has now been selected, and work is beginning in March.

The 2.6 mile stretch of highway was last worked on in 1994, and has deteriorated to the point that it needs to be repaired. “Grinding and repaving the highway will repair and preserve the road, and provide a smoother roadway surface,” Boicourt explains.

The Crystal Springs Creek Bridge opposite the Westmoreland Union Manor will also be replaced with a new culvert. “Replacing the bridge necessitates four full weekend closures of northbound 99E from S.E. Tacoma Street,” Boicourt said. The official northbound detour for closures is Highway 224 to I-205; but most likely drivers will instead choose to use S.E. 17th and/or Milwaukie Avenue from south of the work area, to S.E. McLoughlin north of Harold Street.

McLoughlin Boulevard will get a “full makeover” during the project, which includes widening the highway foundation in some areas – particularly between Harold and Tacoma Streets – and improving drainage in others.

Learn more, including the schedules for road closures and paving work, at a “drop in” open house ODOT is holding at SMILE Station in Sellwood, S.E. 13th at Tenino Street, on Tuesday afternoon, April 4, from 5 until 7 p.m.

Another source for ongoing information is online: http://www.99Epaving.org



Starbucks, takeover, Westmoreland, two arrested
Busy Bybee Boulevard between S.E. Milwaukie Avenue and 16th was closed by officers while the odd confrontation continued.

Starbucks ‘takeover’ closes down Westmoreland business district

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

The peace of a sunny winter Saturday morning was shattered at the Westmoreland Starbucks coffee shop on Saturday, February 11, when a man and woman sauntered into the store around 10:30 a.m.

Multiple customers who witnessed the event as it unfolded told THE BEE that the pair looked relatively calm, but then began shouting words to the effect of, “Get out, get out now! Something bad is about to happen.”

“The man grabbed the phone out of the manager’s hand, as I think she was calling for the police,” a customer said.

But, other customers in the coffee shop were calling 9-1-1 themselves, but in fear, some left their cell phones in the store as they hastily exited as commanded, while still on the line with 9-1-1 operators who could clearly hear the commotion taking place.

Customers agreed that they didn’t see any weapons displayed, nor there was there mention of a robbery – but the shop quickly emptied out, leaving the man and woman alone inside.


Rodney Allen Smith, Lisa Grier
48-year-old Rodney Allen Smith, left, was charged with Coercion and Theft in the Third Degree; his wife, 48-year-old Lisa Grier, was booked on a charge of Coercion. (MCDC booking photos)

An employee of the shop told an officer at the scene that she was working behind the counter when it began, and she frustrated the invading duo because she didn’t immediately put down her cell phone.

“The guy looked at me and said, ‘Get out here now, you’re not doing it fast enough’, she recalled.

The calls for help weren’t unheeded; Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Central Precinct officers blocked off S.E. Bybee Boulevard between SE Milwaukie Avenue and 16th Avenue; others took cover in positions around the coffee shop.

“Officers determined the identities of the individuals, and learned they were experiencing a mental health crisis,” said PPB Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson.

“Officers talked to both people and got them both to come out and surrender peacefully, and were taken into custody at 11:11 a.m.,” Simpson said.

48-year-old Rodney Allen Smith and 48-year-old Lisa Grier were booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC) at 3:26 p.m. that afternoon on a charge of Coercion. “Smith was booked on an additional charge of Theft in the Third Degree,” Simpson said.

This wasn’t the first time the pair behaved that way, Simpson reported.

“On February 3, Smith and Grier were the subject of a police call at the Jantzen Beach Safeway store after Smith claimed to have a gun, demanded the store to be evacuated, and locked himself in the manager's office,” Simpson revealed.

“Smith was accompanied by a woman who was later determined to be his wife, Lisa Grier,” added Simpson. “Officers were able to de-escalate the situation, and Smith surrendered peacefully and was taken to the hospital by ambulance on a ‘police officer hold’ for a mental health evaluation; Grier was released at the scene.”

Repeating the stunt in the same way resulted this time in an arrest for the pair. After being arraigned in Multnomah County Court, Smith and Grier remain in custody at MCDC; Smith in lieu of $6,000 bail, Grier in lieu of $5,000 bail.



Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, winter light festival
Visitors took shelter from heavy rain showers as they walked through and admired this sculpture in front of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

OMSI set aglow during second ‘Winter Light Fest’

By DAVID F. ASHTON
For THE BEE

The heavy rainstorms sweeping through the area on the first four evenings of February didn’t stop Portlanders from heading out to the second annual Portland Winter Light Festival, held near the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

The idea is to illuminate Portland’s east bank of the Willamette River – “brilliantly awakening the city in the dark of winter into a glowing tapestry of light, color, artistry”, according to a poster for the outdoor festival.

In OMSI’s front plaza, the sight of a huge “fallen robot” called “Mechan 9” – which had first appeared at this year’s “Burning Man Festival” – captured the attention of all who passed by. “I considered that a good way to display a robot would be to have it fallen, but still alive, partially buried in the ground,” said its creator, Tyler Fuqua. “It’s an image that evokes mystery.”

After volunteering about 1,000 hours for last year’s inaugural Portland Winter Light Festival, the now-Managing-Director, Michael “MJ” Joyce, said that he and other supporters worked throughout the year to present the second festival February 1-4.

“It’s a lot of fun; it’s an exciting and charming sort of event,” Joyce told THE BEE.

More than 50 artists and performers participated in this year’s festival, with displays running along the river pathway from the OMSI campus south to the Tilikum Crossing transit bridge – with a few displays on the west bank of the river as well.

“We’ve met our goal of creating a free event, open to the whole community, with an atmosphere that is really delightful, unthreatening, and welcoming to everyone,” Joyce smiled.

“People who come here are invited to participate with the interactive displays, or to dress in lights – so, it’s more than just being a spectator going to a parade, but also jumping in and being part of it.”

With the success of the second annual Portland Winter Light Festival in spite of this year’s rainstorms, Joyce says he expects interest and involvement to only continue to grow. “Our volunteers donate thousands of hours to their project and to the festival, and sponsors like Portland General Electric help pay the bills.

“I believe this will become an annual event that becomes an internationally-recognized festival,” Joyce said.





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