From The Editor

Potholes in the City of Roses
Potholes, delaminations, curb cuts, PBOT, Portland Bureau of Transportation, Portland, Oregon
A new curb-cut, awaiting repaving of the street around it, only inches from crumbling pavement that apparently is not part of the project – near Lewis School, on S.E. 45th Avenue. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

February was the kind of month that is hard on the streets of Portland. Snow, driving on snow, treating snow to avoid accidents – all of them contribute to the formation of potholes.

Indeed, you may recall, a couple of years back we experienced an unusual proliferation of potholes after the worst of the winter – even S.E. 82nd, a State Highway, drove like a dirt country road for a while. The city even contracted with outside vendors specifically to fix potholes after that, as we reported in THE BEE at the time.

There is a defect in the street in front of THE BEE that has long gotten our attention; although it gradually is taking off the surface, a glance at the Portland Pothole webpage reveals that it is probably a delamination, instead. Years ago, the city filled it, and now it’s back. Not a hazard yet, but worth keeping an eye on.

But what prompted this essay was a question from a reader, who reported that PBOT had been installing handicap-access curb-cuts near Lewis Elementary School in Woodstock, but had ignored the “potholes” that in some cases were just a couple of feet away. The reader wanted to know why the potholes were not fixed at the same time. “They could just have dumped some asphalt in them.”

The answer is probably simple: PBOT has a special team and system for pothole repair, and it is not the same team that puts in curb-cuts. It is not their job! On the other hand, one might ask why these workers did not at least report this damage, so another team could come out and fix them. It is possible that is also not their job, though it certainly would have been a thoughtful thing to do.

When we covered that major pothole repair outreach a couple of years ago, we learned a couple of things. One is that that shovelful of asphalt would not have done the job; if a pothole is to last it must be dug out and the road bed levels repaired even with the rest of the road, so that drivers will not just spin the filler material back up out of the hole.

The other thing we learned is that the city usually does not repair a pothole unless somebody reports it. So, if you’ve been stewing over a bad pothole on your street and wondering why nobody comes to fix it, maybe you should try reporting it!

PBOT – the Portland Bureau of Transportation – does have a special system and team for reporting and fixing potholes – and also delaminations and sinkholes and poorly-paved utility excavations, too. All can be reported the same way: Call 503/823-1700.

When you call, the city promises that somebody will be out to check it within a week, validate the report, and make plans to get the team out there to fix it. They expect that to happen within about a month.

But be aware that one of those validations is to make sure the street is the city’s responsibility! If it’s in the city, and the city paved it, it usually is. But, “private streets and undeveloped streets within the city limits are maintained by property owners. The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) also maintains streets within the city limits that are state highways” – which includes such streets as 82nd Avenue, Powell Boulevard, and McLoughlin Boulevard.

As you learned in last month’s BEE, the city is just now undertaking to resurface undeveloped (dirt and gravel) streets within the city limits on a two-year or more rotation, but unless they’ve recently done so they might not respond to a pothole problem reported on such a street. There are over sixty miles of such unpaved streets in the Rose City.

So, is there a pothole or street defect that you want to report? PBOT says, “To report a pothole, call our maintenance hotline at 503/823-1700; or you can e-mail –; or you can go online –

Letters to the Editor
Edith Mirante, BEE crossword, Oman, Jebel Akhdar
Edith Mirante, shown solving a BEE crossword atop Oman’s highest peak in the Middle East!

When you summit a mountain – what to do then?


In 2017 your Letters [column] featured me with THE BEE’s crossword puzzle in a remote region of Myanmar (Burma). Once again, THE BEE’s challenging crossword puzzles have accompanied me on my travels – this time to the entrancing Middle East Sultanate of Oman.

As shown here [in the attached photo], I completed the October puzzle on Jebel Akhdar, Oman’s highest peak. Amazingly, clue “109 Across” was “Omanis, e.g”, with “Arab” the answer!

Edith Mirante
Sellwood author

Daniel Peters, Portland, repair of gravel streets, Woodstock, Southeast Portland, Oregon
The reader took this photo three weeks after the city “repair” of his gravel street.

City efforts lacking in repairing dirt streets


I was thrilled to read [February BEE] that PBOT has the know-how to improve our gravel streets. Alas, their efforts truly failed by the time they got around to the Woodstock area. They lazily performed a very superficial job. They minimally scraped and filled some potholes (4900 block of S.E. Martins), and insufficiently compacted the roadbed (4800 block of S.E. Carlton). Hence, the potholes have rapidly reappeared. If they can’t do the job well enough to last three WEEKS, how do they expect it to last three YEARS?  And, PS – they conveniently “forgot” to repair the 4700 block of S.E. Henry.

Daniel Peters


BEE error on use of “Forever” postal stamps


Your February article updating folks on the recent postal increase was helpful, however the advice not to use non-denominational “forever” stamps on international mail was incorrect. In fact, the USPS prints a flat rate first class international stamp for the explicit purpose of overseas mail, and it has no denomination printed on it. I’ve been sending mail overseas for many years, and often use a combination of forever stamps and stamps with the price marked on them. We pay the USPS for outbound international mail service; the receiving country’s postal service is not concerned with the postage once it’s in their system. Hope that clears up any confusion!

Wendy Ferguson

EDITOR’S NOTE: The editor added that information to the article as a result of advice received some time ago from the U.S. Postal Service; but a cautionary note remains. Apparently the USPS has managed to obtain general acceptance of non-denominated stamps from many other countries, but some may still reject transmitting mail without an indication of the postage paid, as Canadian postal officials once told us was the case there. That’s because they may not know what postage amount had actually been paid, or indeed if any had been paid at all if only Forever stamps are used – and every country requires a specific postage amount having been paid on incoming international mail if they are to transmit it internally. Some countries may now accept U.S. non-denominated stamps (they would have to be aware of their current value, and their authenticity, to do so), and others may not – it remains their option. In any event, as the USPS now says, “Customers can use Forever Stamps for international mail, but since all international prices are higher than domestic prices, customers will need to attach additional postage. The value of the Forever Stamp is the domestic First-Class Mail letter price [for the first ounce] in effect on the day of use.” And right now, all Forever stamps are worth exactly 55 cents.


Woodstock needs help for plant sale


We need your help for this year’s Woodstock Neighborhood Plant Sale, a benefit for the Woodstock Community Center. The plant sale is scheduled for Saturday, May 11th, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Community Center, 5905 S.E. 43rd Avenue.

The sale depends primarily on donations from generous gardeners in the community. We are looking for perennials, as well as vegetable starts, herbs, ground covers, native plants, ornamental grasses, houseplants, and small trees and shrubs. We encourage you to contribute plants from your garden, potting them by March or early April, in preparation for the sale.

Proceeds from this annual sale support volunteer efforts to provide routine maintenance, including custodial service and supplies, for the Community Center, as part of an agreement with Portland Parks that has helped keep the center open since 2004.

You can drop OFF your contribution at the Woodstock Community Center on May 10th, between noon and 7 p.m. If you need empty pots, or an alternate drop-off time, call Terry Griffiths at 503/771-0011 – or Sandy Profeta at 503/771-7724.

Terry Griffiths
via e-mail


1950’s Woodstock was not so safe for kids


I am writing to share a correction about an article [“Woodstock School 1958 reunion”] printed in THE BEE in August of 2018. That article states that children were free and safe to roam in the Woodstock neighborhood. I beg to differ about safety. . .  There was a lot of freedom for children to roam their neighborhoods in the 1950s, but it was not safe [from sexual predators]. People just didn’t talk about the dangers. Once they started acknowledging that danger lurked in children’s neighborhoods, the rules had to change. It wasn’t that it became dangerous for children to roam; adults recognized that it wasn’t safe to allow children to run free, in my neighborhood in the 1950s. . . I’m writing to let you know that safety for children, in any time of history, is always a myth. The ones who are kept close to home are the children who are safe.

Barbara Pelletier
via e-mail

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