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August 2019 -- Vol. 113, No. 12
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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!


The next BEE is our September
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Portland City Code 3.96, code change, neighborhood associations, reaction, Southeast Portland, Oregon
Gathered to discuss the Portland Office of Community and Civic Life’s “Committee 3.96” recommended code changes are (from left): BDNA Equity & Inclusion Committee Chair Meg Van Buren; BDNA Board Member Pam Hodge; WNA’s Southeast Uplift Delegate Anna Weichsel; and BDNA Land Use Committee Chair Stephenie Frederick. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

City bent on cutting off neighborhood associations?


When the City of Portland’s former Office of Neighborhood Involvement (ONI) rushed an “emergency” measure to the Portland City Council to change its name to the “Office of Community and Civic Life” (OCCL) on the afternoon July 18, 2018 – that turned out not to be the only thing that the office’s relatively-new Director, Suk Rhee, and that City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, had in store for the Bureau, or for the residents of Portland.

Later last year, as former ONI personnel were all being replaced, OCCL set up a hand-picked 25-member committee, officially called “Committee 3.96”, to write new wording for City of Portland Code 3.96 – the section of the law which deals with the Bureau’s, and the city’s, official relationship with Portland’s 95 neighborhood associations.

“I asked to be on this committee, but I never heard back from them,” said Allen Field, a Board member of the Richmond Neighborhood Association, who has been sounding a clarion call to other neighborhood associations about the unpublicized changes now proposed for Portland Code 3.96.

“Although I signed up for e-mail notifications from OCCL about their committee meetings, neighborhood associations weren’t notified,” Field said. “The May and June committee meetings I attended were a sham; no public input was allowed.”

Neighborhood associations in Portland, for decades, have been granted the right to convey opinions and recommendations on city matters from their own districts – the only organized “citizen feedback system” Portland has. The city does not have to act on any of this feedback, but is supposed to consider it.

Even if that recognition is removed, many if not most of the volunteer-led neighborhood associations may continue in existence in some form – but they would have no standing before, or support from, the city government.

Woodstock takes a stand
After members of the Woodstock Neighborhood Association met at their July Board meeting about the proposed code languages changes, Chair Sage Jensen shared with THE BEE her Board’s thoughts about why it opposes the current Code 3.96 draft language.

“The Woodstock Neighborhood Association believes that creating a strong sense of community starts at the grassroots level, and is fundamental to building a strong, vibrant, and equitable Portland,” Jenson began. “The proposed changes to the City of Portland’s Office of Community and Civic Life do very little to promote community-building amongst historically underrepresented members of the community – but rather, it further fractures and divides Portland at the very grassroots level it was built upon, by ‘gutting’ the vital community-building our city’s 95 neighborhood associations have accomplished.”

The WNA Board agrees that their association and others do need to evolve with the communities they represent, if they have not already been doing so. “However, the proposed changes lack specific structure or direction for incorporating voices from marginalized and/or minority communities.

“As the Board of WNA, we are saddened that our city leaders have chosen to abandon our neighborhood organizations, rather than supporting and working alongside everyone in the community … [to] bring more voices to the table, versus ‘dismantling the table’,” Jenson said.

Concerned about land use standing
Although the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association (ENA) Board of Directors has discussed the code change proposal, ENA Chair Rod Merrick told THE BEE that it has not yet settled on an official stance on it.

Merrick pointed out that land use issues have long been a concern in Eastmoreland. “Speaking just for myself, the new code [proposal] leaves the neighborhood association’s role in reviewing land use and advising the City in other matters – codified elsewhere – in limbo.

“Ms Rhee is facile with the current angry and divisive rhetoric of exclusion, elitism, racism, and sexism; [and identifying] older voters and homeowners as obstacles to a brighter, equitable future,” commented Merrick. “But the likely result of this aspirational and insubstantial code rewrite will be to further disenfranchise all of those for whom Ms. Rhee claims to speak – except those, like her hand-picked committee of 25, [who are] likely to echo her agenda.”

Statements such as those aside, some volunteers from Inner Southeast neighborhood associations have been gathering to discuss informally the code change effort at the Office of Community & Civic Life.

One such conversation took place at a mid-July roundtable discussion in Woodstock’s First Cup Coffeehouse, at which representatives from the Brentwood-Darlington (BDNA) and Woodstock (WNA) neighborhood associations gathered to discuss the code change proposal and process.

THE BEE was there, and the four participants made it clear they were speaking only for themselves, and not making official statements on behalf of their respective neighborhood associations.

Calls for support of neighborhood associations
“It’s important for people to know where our goals coincide [among neighborhood associations and the OCCL] – in that Portland has a very complicated history around culture, race, identity, fairness, and justice – and, in this context, we are in support of pursuing the same goals as the OCCL is laying out here,” remarked BDNA Equity & Inclusion Committee Chair Meg Van Buren. “If we understood why the OCCL is proposing this change; if they were to work with the neighborhood associations to more fully support our outreach to disenfranchised communities, it would be a much healthier way to approach this.”

BDNA Board Member Pam Hodge spoke up, “I would welcome help from the city in connecting our neighborhood association with other identity-based groups, so we may partner collaboratively; however, I feel strongly that neighborhood associations should continue to be recognized by the city of Portland, and in legally binding code language, as they are today.

“Other civic organizations that may also be recognized by the city in the future should be held to the same standards set forth in city code, including requirements for open meetings, public records, and non-discriminatory practices.”

It concerned her, Hodge said, that in the Portland Auditor’s independent performance audit of ONI – now OCCL – was highly critical of the Bureau, but not the neighborhood associations, which she remarked, “seem now to be under attack. In my mind, any proposal to delete references to neighborhood associations in the code is an attack. Code language is important in ensuring that neighborhood associations are legally recognized by City government.”

Decries process as secretive
BDNA Land Use Committee Chair Stephenie Frederick commented that while the OCCL’s committee held “community conversations” with four groups, according its official report – 12 Hispanic participants at one meeting, 45 Slavic-Russian language speakers at another, and “30-40 Vietnamese” at a third; and, that “thirty-four people attended” a “community dialogue” held at the Somali American Council of Oregon – not one “conversation” was held with any neighborhood association groups.

“The process leading up to this new code language has been secretive,” Frederick said. “I feel that a more professional approach would have been meet with neighborhood associations, and tell us what they want to have the [neighborhood associations] do.”

Finds City Club comments upsetting
After attending the Portland City Club meeting on July 12, Frederick said the comments of OCCL Director Suk Rhee were “discomforting”. “Asked how her Bureau would accomplish the very general goals that she has laid out, she they would ‘work within existing city Structures’,” Frederick reported.

When questioned about how a draft of the recommended code changes included removing all mention of neighborhood associations, and deleting requirements that these groups follow “open meetings” and public records laws, Frederick said that Rhee appeared to become flustered and angry, and replied that that this was a “false question”.

Frederick said that she has long valued Portland’s recognized neighborhood association structure which has been in place for decades. “So, to think all of our neighborhood associations may be losing our standing, I’m very unhappy and upset.”

‘Trust us’, OCCL asks
The vagueness in the code section’s new language was particularly concerning, Brentwood-Darlington’s Hodge said, due to the number of what were essentially management issues brought to light in the City Auditor’s report. “It is as if the OCCL is now saying ‘Just trust us, we will flesh out the proposed code language in future contract and grant requirement criteria.’ Given their track record, we see no reason for the city to further empower the OCCL, at the expense of neighborhood associations and other civic groups.”

Up for a quick vote
Also of concern, said Hodge, is that the Portland City Council is apparently set to vote on this code change immediately following the Labor Day holiday, on September 3, despite requests from neighborhood associations and district coalitions to slow down.

“On July 1, the Southeast Uplift Board of Directors drafted a resolution recommending that the OCCL allow 45 days from the date that the Office publishes their final proposed Code language changes, before the Portland City Council is to vote to adopt or reject them.” But it does not appear that will happen.

Lightning strike, Westmoreland, tree limb down, Southeast, Portland, Oregon
This is the photo of the fallen tree limb blocking S.E. 20th, north of Bybee in Westmoreland, after the thunderstorm in the 6 p.m. hour of Thursday, June 27. The limb fell across utility wires on the way down. (William A. Henderson photo)
Lightning strike, Westmoreland, Portland, Oregon
Here’s a close-up of the end of the broken limb, showing burn marks suggestive of the lighting strike having blown the limb from the tree out into the street. (William A. Henderson photo)

Late June thunderstorm brings rain, Westmoreland lightning strike

Editor, THE BEE

Thunderstorms occur only occasionally in this part of the country, and more often than not the lightning is the cloud-to-cloud type, rather than cloud-to-ground. But in the 6 p.m. hour of Thursday, June 27, an intense thunderstorm rolled through Inner Southeast Portland, dumping heavy rain briefly. THE BEE recorded .39 inch of rain in just a few minutes as the storm went through, and another .49 inch over the following overnight hours.

But when one of the many lightning flashes was followed by a clap of thunder less than two seconds later at the BEE office in Westmoreland, we knew there has been a strike, and that it was very close – probably within 1,600 feet of our location; and we reflected then that the last actual strike in Westmoreland had been about 18 years earlier – it had scarred the asphalt in the street, and caused substantial damage to a house, on S.E. 20th Avenue, just south of Knight Street.

The following morning we received a photo from Attorney William A. Henderson showing a substantial tree limb down across S.E. 20th, a bit north of Tolman Street, as a result of the storm the night before.

It seemed to us that although there had been wind gusts during the thunderstorm, none of them had seemed strong enough to tear a big limb off a tree – so we suggested to Henderson he more closely examine the limb to see if it showed any indication of burn marks.

Bingo. Burn marks at the base of the limb. It appears the tree had been struck by lightning! He sent a second close-up of that, and added that his son Joey had been inside the Henderson house, across the street from the tree, and he’d reported “a loud bang, followed by additional bangs that lasted for about 30 seconds.”

With thanks to Mr. Henderson for the photos, we remind you that if you see a lightning flash, and if the resulting thunder is heard within 15 seconds of the flash – that lightning was less than three miles away, and you are in danger and had better get inside fast!

Milk Carton Boat Races, Rose Festival, Westmoreland Park, casting pond, Southeast, Portland, Oregon
Here, paddling intently on the Westmoreland Park Casting Pond, were Sellwood’s Obi Bastian and Annabelle Sain-Mortlock. (Photo by David F. Ashton)
Milk Carton Boat Races
Paddling their way to a victory in the “Adult Multiple Rider” category of this race were Cassandra Walters and Bill Walters from Woodstock. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

‘Milk Carton Regatta’ in Westmoreland tops off Rose Fest 


After collecting empty milk jugs and cartons for buoyancy from local coffee shops, restaurants, cafeterias, and individuals – and buying lots of duct tape! – families and friends built 19 semi-floatworthy craft and brought them to the Westmoreland Park Casting Pond on June 23, to participate in the annual Portland Rose Festival Milk Carton Regatta.

A few years ago, the Royal Rosarians took on the mantle of producing this, the last of each year’s official Portland Rose Festival Events.

“It’s important to the Royal Rosarians to continue this tradition, because we are the official greeters and ambassadors of goodwill for the City of Portland,” remarked this year’s Master of Ceremonies, Royal Rosarians Royal Regent (Past President) Adam Baker. “All who come here to watch or participate would agree that this is certainly a goodwill-building, feel-good, family fun event.”

Oregon Dairy Princesses, Milk Carton Boat Races
In this “Multiple Rider” race, Oregon Dairy Princess Ambassador Natalie Berry, Marion County Dairy Princess Tysha Beeman, and Klamath County Dairy Princess Jaime Evers competed intently. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Each of the registered milkcraft can be used in multiple competitions during the day in the kids, adults, and mixed racers categories, he pointed out.

“When you see the good wholesome fun people are having here, it’s clearly worth the effort to plan and produce this, here in one of Portland’s finest parks,” Baker grinned just before starting the first race.

From all over the greater Portland area, teams arrived to compete – with local families prominently included. In heat after heat, they paddled, rowed, and fell into the water, as they tried to win races across the historic, depression-era Casting Pond.

The complete list of winners had not yet been provided to THE BEE when we went to press, but these races are really more about having fun than winning, and always have been. See you at the Milk Carton Boat Races next year!

Save the Giants, sequoias, eastmoreland, southeast portland, oregon
Arthur Bradford announced that the organization he heads had reached its fundraising goal – being able to buy the land on which the Giant Trees grow. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Eastmorelanders celebrate success in ‘Saving the Giants’


Since they started the project, the Eastmoreland group calling themselves “Save the Giants” has had a number of celebrations in the lot at 3656 S.E. Martins Street, under those giant Sequoia trees which were saved from a developer’s chainsaws.

During the Holidays, the group held tree-lighting parties; supporters came to “Save The Giants Jams” during the summers – and the residential-sized lot became a destination for school trips, during the past four years.

But, the “Save The Giants Jam #4”, held on Saturday, June 22, was a very special one, according to the organization’s President, Arthur Bradford.

“‘Save the Giants’ is a nonprofit organization – and it now owns this property!” Bradford exclaimed, as some of the 300 people who attended the party enjoyed the afternoon listening to music in what’s now being called “Save the Giants Park”.

“Four years ago, it looked as if these magnificent trees were coming down; crews were here with chainsaws, and there were ropes in the trees,” Bradford recalled about this story, covered from the beginning by THE BEE.

“There was a really exciting week in September four years ago, when hundreds of people came together to save the trees by purchasing the property,” Bradford recalled. “That took a lot of time and work, on behalf of a lot of people.”

By holding parties and special events, and promoting merchandise sales and online fundraising, the organization eventually raised a remarkable $400,000 to pay for the land.

“We started our celebration today by being $7,000 short of the goal; but by the end of the day, we’ve cleared our fundraising goal significantly,” Bradford announced to cheers as the party wound down.

All for the love of trees
What captured the imagination of supporters, Bradford said, is that the giant Sequoias are estimated to be 130 years old, with the largest one standing about 180 feet tall.

“Because we’ve reached our fundraising goal, that doesn’t mean that we will stop holding events like this,” Bradford assured. “We will continue to have school groups come and visit. They come and learn about these trees, and the history of the property, which is really important to us.”

The group plans to build a better stage in the corner of the lot, and perhaps add some other natural amenities, he remarked. “Then, we want to raise money for other nonprofit organizations, by holding more events here – in addition to our Holiday Tree Lighting and our summer barbecue.

“In this way, the trees will be now be ‘giving back’ to the community that helped save them!”

For more information on the organization, go online –

Pavement fire, line down, fire department, extinguished, Eastmoreland, Southeast Portland, Oregon
A fallen high voltage line sizzled and sparked on the pavement in Eastmoreland, after being knocked to the street by a falling tree limb; Westmoreland Fire Engine 20 arrived, and put out the burning street with a hose. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Downed power line sets street on fire in Eastmoreland


A gust of wind through the Eastmoreland neighborhood took down a large tree limb south of the intersection of S.E. 32nd Avenue at Crystal Springs Drive, just before 9 a.m. on Wednesday morning, July 10.

As the limb fell, it brought with it both TV cable and Portland General Electric lines, and the electric wires began sparking on the damp pavement.

Westmoreland Fire Station 20’s Engine Company arrived within moments of notification, putting up safety exclusion tape around the danger area, and assessing nearby homes for damage.

A PGE Eagle crew member was soon there too, assessing the situation along with the firefighters. As the PGE worker prepared to sever the 12,000 volt “primary” wire atop a mid-block pole, the firefighters noticed that the sparking cable had ignited the asphalt pavement – and quickly put out the fire.

It took about two hours for the twenty affected customers nearby to have their power restored; the falling tree limb was removed from the street later that afternoon.

A reminder that if you see a power line down, it’s probably still charged – don’t touch it!

Feds kick back Eastmoreland ‘Historic’ nomination for more work


On July 18, the Keeper of the National Register, Acting Associate Director Joy Beasley, wrote to the [Oregon] State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) that, after a detailed review of the materials, she was again returning the nomination of the Eastmoreland Historic District for listing in the National Register … “to allow the SHPO to resolve issues relating to the counting of owners and objectors.”

The reasons for returning the nomination, Beasley stated, were:

  • Questions regarding the objection count
  • Treatment of Real Estate Trusts, in general
  • Questions regarding the validity of certain trusts

The letter was not made public until July 22, when this issue of THE BEE was being prepared for press. Oregon SHPO spokesperson Chris Havel commented, on that day, that – as a potential resolution for the Eastmoreland and other nominations – starting in “late 2019”, Oregon Parks, SHPO’s overseeing State department,  now proposes to “review administrative rule revisions that implement the National Register program in Oregon.”

Since it appears that any rule changes will not be adopted before sometime in 2020, it’s unlikely that this issue will be resolved any time soon. We’ll have a more complete report in the September BEE.

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