THE "LETTERS TO THE EDITOR" ARE BELOW THE EDITORIAL
|That sense of community in Southeast Portland|
It was not too many months ago we offered, in this space, our observation – discovered rather quickly when we arrived in this city for a new job, downtown, in 1975 – that Portland is pretty unique among big cities in thinking of itself as a smaller town than it actually is. It’s a small town with the advantages of a big city, and – with our Urban Growth Boundary – its surroundings are rural.
Time has passed since then, but that quality of “small-town Portland” – which kept us here, forsaking an industry in which promotion means moving somewhere else, and thus ended our original career – still persists. We recognized that quality then, and valued it – but it was not until the two of us, as an engaged couple, began house-shopping and wound up buying our house in Westmoreland, that it began to become clear to us what causes it.
It is that Portland is a “city of 95 neighborhoods”, the majority of them with a sense of being a small town within the confines of a big city. Most of them have their own business district, and a sense of their own history. Even today, City Hall has been supporting it with its goal of “walkability”, by which residents can shop locally and find what they need within a twenty-minute stroll.
That is not to say that other big cities do not have something that sort of looks somewhat similar. We moved here from Los Angeles, where there are a lot of small towns embedded in the sprawl of the big city, but there – as in most big cities we’ve visited – these communities carry a name but now just have a sense of being a generic district of a big city.
No matter what the names may be – Downey, Burbank, Carson, Long Beach – it’s all Los Angeles. And, in the case of our large neighbor to the north – which itself has had some pretty distinct neighborhoods in the past – the city is attempting to quash that, and make it all Seattle, as we mentioned ruefully in our previous observations on the subject.
What prompted those previous comments was the observation that there are now some forces in Portland City Hall, primarily associated with a new City Commissioner, which seem to be trying to move Portland in Seattle’s direction here.
We offer the thought that we all have much to lose, of the highly desirable qualities of Portland that attracts the growth here that we are trying to manage, if we allow our strong sense of a city composed of neighborhoods of small towns to be overwhelmed by the sense that, more importantly, we live in a big city.
If we lose that, we certainly could see a decline in people moving here – and perhaps even may see some of our most devoted residents looking to move somewhere else. Some here will welcome that – until they discover that our city has lost much of its appeal to them, also.
Portland’s neighborhood ambiance is fragile, but worth saving, in our opinion. Thus, we are quite disturbed that the Commissioner we were referring in our previous comments has managed to change the name of the city organization set up to support our neighborhood ambiance – the Office of Neighborhood Involvement – to a new name that no longer even mentions or suggests neighborhoods: It’s now the “Office of Community & Civic Life”.
The abruptly renamed office has issued a brochure saying what a wonderful thing this new name is and how it changes nothing – but there have been staff changes in this office, and a new name really does mean something.
Slice the name any way you like, it clearly no longer refers to Portland’s character as an amalgamation of all its neighborhoods, and is now just all about “life in the big city”.
Possibly that worries you a little, too, in its implications about how Portland City Hall now intends to interact with its residents and constituents in the future.
Did you rescan your TV?
In our June editorial, we explained the “musical chairs” the Federal Communications Commission is now demanding of some TV stations – to get off the channels they have been using to transmit perfect pictures to your TV antenna since the “digital TV conversion” a decade ago, and make them move to others. And we told you that starting June 1, KOIN-TV, while remaining “Channel 6” on your digital TV, would be changing the UHF channel on which it transmits, from Channel 40 to Channel 25.
If you did rescan, did you reacquire KOIN-TV?
It turns out the station was still some time away from getting their million-watt regular transmission system ready for this change they were required to make, so although they indeed have been on the air continuously since then, they have been using a low-powered backup transmitter, operating from the short backup tower next to their 1,000-foot broadcast tower at Sylvan. So its signal is quite a bit weaker right now.
If you can get the KOIN signal, low power makes no difference – a digital signal is either perfect or it is not there at all. No more “snowy” in-betweens. Many in Southeast Portland did and still do receive it.
But, if you are among those who could not receive KOIN-TV’s new signal after a “rescan” of your digital TV set, the good news is that the station expects to complete getting their million-watt regular transmitter back on the air on the new frequency before too long – they are saying, most likely by late August or sometime in September.
If you are not seeing “Channel 6”, we suggest rescanning often – and one of these days you will have the station back, if you were getting it before June 1.
In the meantime, a low-power local TV signal – KUNP, the Univision station on Channel 47 – has also made a similar transition, and is now transmitting Channel 34, although your TV will still place it on Channel 47. This station is co-owned with KATU, and serves an Hispanic audience.
As we mentioned in June, KATU itself will make a transition similar to KOIN’s, as will KNMT-TV, sometime in the next few months – and a few other low-power signals will either do the same, or go off the air permanently. So, if a station you used to get disappears – just try another rescan, and you may well get it back.
You can now receive over 50 local digital TV stations here, over the air for free, so an occasional rescan is a small price to pay to keep getting them.
Pedestrian struck by impatient motorist
July 10, around 11a.m., I witnessed a car hitting a pedestrian in the crosswalk at S.E. 17th and Bybee [in Westmoreland]. It’s my understanding that the pedestrian was taken to the hospital and treated for – fortunately – minor injuries.
I was driving east on S.E. Bybee, and turned left to go north on 17th. A westbound Line 19 bus was partially blocking the intersection, so I had to pull up further than normal to complete the turn. With my view limited by the end of the bus hanging into the intersection, I had to make the turn very slowly and deliberately. As I turned, I noticed a pedestrian heading west along Bybee, approaching the crosswalk. Shortly after I cleared the intersection, I heard a car honk. I looked into my rear view mirror in time to see a black sedan whip around the back of the bus, and strike the pedestrian in the crosswalk. The pedestrian flipped up onto the hood of the black sedan, rolled over the passenger side, and landed in the roadway.
I parked my car in my driveway, and walked over to see if I could help. Someone had already called 911 by the time I arrived, and a fire engine pulled up within a minute or two. I later spoke to a police officer on the phone, and gave my account of the accident.
In my opinion, the bus blocking the intersection was a major contributing factor. Yes, the black sedan was going too fast, and turned recklessly. There is no excuse for that. But the bus created a dangerous situation, and set the stage for this accident.
My family lives less than a block away from that intersection. We’ve witnessed many close calls over the years, both here, and at S.E. Milwaukie and Bybee, one block west. This is not the first time we’ve seen someone get hit.
I also know the frustration of trying to drive (and bike!) through these intersections. They are dangerous and inefficient even without pedestrians, and potentially deadly when pedestrians are involved.
I don’t have a solution. Protected left-turn lanes would help a lot. I know on-street parking is increasingly scarce, but the trade-off seems worth it here. Finding a parking spot is frustrating, but I don’t want anyone to risk their lives crossing the street.
We’re lucky no one was seriously hurt today. What can we do to prevent another accident like this?
EDITOR’S NOTE: We have always favored four left turn lanes, in all four directions, at both these intersections. It would mean giving up a few parking places, but it would hugely clear up traffic – especially in commute hours – and make traffic safer, too, at both intersections. Let’s see if other readers offer solutions.
Thanks for Portland Memorial retrospective
[Dana Beck’s historical] article about Wilhelm’s Portland Memorial mausoleum was fascinating, but what really caught my eye was the stained glass window of the “James W” on the Columbia. In the summer of 1970, I lived on it! A friend's father had bought it cheaply, scrapped the engines, and remodeled it into a houseboat. He was gone all summer on a sabbatical in Europe, so his daughter (my pal) and I lived on it; we were 18 years old. It was docked at a ramshackle moorage north of the Sellwood Bridge [on the west side of the Willamette] between Staff Jennings and the park. I always wondered about the history of it and who James W was. Now, thanks to you, I've learned that he was Delmar Shaver's father. I can't seem to find much information on Delmar, but will continue looking.
I have no idea what became of the James W. My friend's father died in a car accident in Europe a year or two after our summer on the boat, and both his kids emigrated to New Zealand. I recall seeing it docked at another moorage nearer to Staff Jennings not long after that, but that's where the story ends. Thanks for the article.
Bad break dealing with “city sewer” problem
After living in Sellwood for the past ten years, I recently sold my home on S.E. Bidwell. During the process of selling the home, a routine sewer scope was completed, and a break was found. The damage to the line was caused by a replaced PGE power pole, and occurred within the parking strip in front of my home. When PGE was informed, they took responsibility for the damage, and provided payment for the repair – a prompt and appropriate response.
Unfortunately, the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) is refusing to issue a permit to make this simple repair! The BES is insisting that additional work, well beyond the damaged point in the line, and well above the initial cost to make the repair, be completed. Evidently, the sewer line is a “party” line [with more than one house connected to the sewer line to the street], something found throughout Sellwood. The BES wants this changed, at the cost to the home owner. Meanwhile, there is a break in the sewer line, with raw sewage seeping into the soil.
Boat parade on the Fourth
The Oregon Yacht Club residents celebrated the Fourth with their first annual Fourth of July Parade! Decorations were mandatory, costumes optional. The flotilla of motorized and non-motorized vessels was led from the south end of the moorage by the able Commodore Kelly and Grand Marshall Martha. Prizes were awarded at the grand culmination, with Lady Liberty [shown near center of photo] taking the grand prize.
Eastmoreland celebrated Independence Day with the annual parade through the heart of the neighborhood. We’ve captured the full event for everyone’s enjoyment, and posted the video on YouTube. Just search for “youtube eastmoreland july 4th parade”.
It’s nearly an hour long, and shot in high-resolution with multiple cameras. See yourself, neighbors, and friends, and send links to family members who couldn’t be there. See THE BEE’s David Ashton in action, at 1:30 and 7:10 into the video. Presented and produced by our Eastmoreland Neighbors, at www.eastmoreland.org.
Suggestion to discourage scavengers in recycling bins
Please do not put your returnable-for-deposit cans and bottles in your recycling bins or garbage cans. After living in Sellwood for 43 years, I think it’s time for action. Our block has decided not to enable most of the can and bottle collectors referred to as “Canners”. Bottles and cans equal cash, which is the only thing these folks can’t get from government agencies and nonprofits. More often than not, in my observation, the cash is used for cigarettes, pot, alcohol, and – most disturbing – meth and heroin. I have constructed a secure receptacle to receive cans and bottles out on my curb. I’ve also made adhesive signs that say “No cans and bottles for deposit refund are in this container”. Hopefully, when a Canner reads the sticker they won’t rummage through the trash, making noise and messes in the middle of the night. All of the cans [that are securely collected in my receptacle] are going to a drug and alcohol-free senior citizen who is a native Sellwood resident, and on disability. If you or a group would like some info on building such a receptacle and choosing your own good cause, or need these stickers, or want to drop off cans, or need a can/bottle pickup, e-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org
American Legion honor conferred
On 29 July, 2018, a significant award and presentation was made to local American Legionnaire Jerry Craig. The Blue Cap of the Year award is recognizes a Legionnaire who exemplifies the goals and objectives set forth by the American Legion. The award is presented to a Legionnaire who has not held, ever, an elected position above the Post level. The award recognizes significant accomplishment by the Legionnaire in the areas of recruitment, children and youth services, community service, and service to troops and veterans. There is only one Legionnaire from the American Legion Department of Oregon recognized for this award – no runner-up or honorable mentions. From over 16,000 Legionnaires in the Department of Oregon, Legionnaire Jerry Craig of the American Legion Milwaukie Post 180 was selected this year for this extraordinary honor.
Post Commander Michael Wilson
Provocative comments about historic districts
I have found the outrage over the dividing of ownership of a home to end the historic district application for Eastmoreland to be hypocritical at best. The entire process was manipulative and undemocratic from the beginning. For starters neighborhood associations are an unrepresentative board elected in a very low participation election. To think they should have any power is absurd and only reinforces the power of already powerful interest groups, particularly older white homeowners. These boards are not elected via mail in ballot over the course of a couple weeks. They are elected by people who know the association exists, care about what they are doing, and are free the day of the election to attend a lengthy and frankly boring election meeting. In the end it is a very low percentage, one that would make our pathetic national voting participation rates look like a fine example of democracy.
The next manipulation is the very strategic mapping of what would be the historic district. Why not get rid of the less affluent part of the neighborhood, they would only make the process more difficult. If only advocates could have gone down to the individual lot scale and get rid of the many non-“historic” homes that fall within the zone. This part of the process just shows it is not about historic preservation, if it were just go ahead and get your home on the register. It is about stopping other people from making investments that make sense for them.
The next problem is that the neighborhood poll was completely ignored. The outcome of the closest thing to a democratic process was a clear no on the historic district. The votes that were neither yes or no do not count. Yet the NA decided that they would take those votes as meaning yes.
Perhaps the most important breakdown is that the whole city should be able to vote because we are all affected by the vote. When Eastmoreland decides to put up a wall and say this is an exclusive neighborhood that will not contribute to the housing supply, that displaces demand, typically in a filtering way that ultimately ends with displacement of low income residents in gentrifying neighborhoods. The whole city of Portland should vote on the matter.
Finally, what it takes to get a yes or no outcome is not at all equal. To get to yes requires 50%+1 votes on the already established unrepresentative board that all logic showed was a guaranteed yes vote. To get to no requires 50% +1 notarized signatures of all effected homeowners. This in and of itself can also be a distortion. If for example all those in favor were two named owners per home and those opposed were all single owner homes it would require significantly more then [sic] 50% of effected [sic] homes to get to no.
The bottom line is it should not be a surprise that a manipulative, undemocratic process that skewed heavily in favor of the anti-change protectionist measure got defeated by a last minute manipulation of the system by the opposed side. The better option to avoid this divisive and insane process would have been to allow the status quo where Eastmoreland still changes slower than frozen molasses.
EDITOR’S NOTE: We have served on a neighborhood association Board with Mr. DuBois, and have enjoyed his provocative comments, which appear to be have been primarily intended to make us all think. He did get elected to that Board by members of the public at which a quorum was present – it should be noted that an election meeting at which he is a candidate is never “boring”! He eventually departed from the Board by choosing to do so. His suggestion such Boards should be elected in a by-mail ballot that, by his view, must largely involve voters “who do not know that the association exists” may not result in much of an improvement, and runs counter to the city rules by which such associations must operate. (THE BEE does cover these associations and their activities.) His thought that an historic district should be entirely composed of historic homes does not square with the governmental definition, and his proposal that all voters in a city should be required to vote on a given localized historic district is also rather unique. His comments may provoke responses from BEE readers, which we suspect is his intention!
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