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August 2015 -- Vol. 109, No. 12

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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Daily news!  The all-new daily PORTLAND TRIBUNE website  is updated throughout the day, every day, when news breaks out.  Click the banner at left to keep up to date on the banner news throughout the Rose City!

THE BEE has a second website -- it's searchable for past stories.  The content for the current month is similar to this one, presented in a different format.  To visit the other website, click the banner at right!






sequoias, giant, Eastmoreland, Portland
Eastmoreland neighbors hope to stop the felling of these three giant sequoia trees, each estimated to be 150 years old. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Concern: Eastmoreland sequoias may still be felled

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

Questions arose about the redevelopment of the property at 3646 S.E. Martins Street in Eastmoreland, when Everett Custom Homes of Beaverton purchased it on April 1st on a Warranty Deed for, according to public records, the sum of $326,500.

Ten days later, developer Vic Remmers filed for a demolition permit, which the City of Portland Bureau of Development Services tagged “NOT SUBJECT TO 35-DAY DEMOLITION DELAY”. This was followed by the filing for a “new construction” permit on April 13.

By mid-June, the 1,424 square foot house, built in 1922, had been demolished, and the improved portion of the 5,000 square foot property had been cleared.

At an impromptu press conference on the morning of June 23rd, held coincident with a protest against Remmers’ announced plans to remove the property’s three giant sequoia trees, Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association Chair Robert McCullough spoke with reporters.

“Vic Remmers told us that the property – as is – was now available for $800,000,” McCullough said. “Then, soon after, the cost went up to $900,000.”

Public records show that of the home and property at the time of sale had a “Market Value” $419,280 and “Assessed Value” of $201,050.

McCullough lamented that Remmers had allegedly demanded an “immediate, non-refundable $50,000 buy-in, today”. McCullough added, “We’re looking for a common-sense deal, and at the same time trying to save three magnificent trees here in the Eastmoreland neighborhood.”

OrvaLee A. Farris, RN, owner of Dove Care Services, located at the eastern dead-end of the street, commented, “These trees have been here forever. They’re beautiful, lovely trees. I think it’s a shame that they might be taken down.

“The other thing is that I have a foster care home at the end of the street. We can’t have this road blocked off with a crane,” Farris said. “How can they do that?”

About the situation, McCullough wrote an open letter to Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, saying, in part,

“At the heart of this controversy is the continued drift of Portland’s city government away from our environmental and land use values. As the number of trees in our urban canopy continues to fall, it is appropriate to consider how consistent that is with our beliefs.”

Everett Custom Homes responded, indirectly, by posting on their website, in part:

“In most cases, we try to preserve existing trees with their cherished foliage and shade. Established trees are a value-add to any real estate, if situated correctly ...The City of Portland has clear tree codes in place that require planting of new trees when existing trees are removed, to ensure the urban forest and its benefits continue to grow for generations.”

A neighbor on S.E. Carlton Street, Anthony Werre, says he discovered that the demolition contractors “shaved off” land from his own property, which backs up to the site.

“They’ve removed our retaining wall on the north side of our property without asking us,” Werre said, looking at the damage. “I am not okay with that.

“As far as I know the demolition contract did not include having a surveyor out to look at it, and there was no boundary location established,” Werre added. “I have contacted the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association’s Land Use lawyer about this.”

At this writing, negotiations are still in progress. “We have done some legal research and plan to put forward a temporary restraining order, should the negotiations fail,” McCullough said. “Last time, we were forced to take legal action against Mr. Remmers, and we will do it again.”

Meantime, Mr. Remmers appears open to ways of profiting from properties he acquires for development in Eastmoreland without having to actually develop them.



Jam for the giants, sequoias, save sequoias, Tree Jam, Eastmoreland, Portland
Musicians Bret Malmquist, Alexa Wiley, and Dale Turnbull “Jam for the Giants” at the “Save the Giants” rally on July 6th in Eastmoreland. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Neighbors rally for sequoias at “Save the Giants Jam”

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

As part of their effort to save the three giant sequoia trees in Eastmoreland at 3646 S.E. Martins Street, on Monday evening, July 6th, neighbors hosted what they called the “Save the Giants Jam” across the street from the trees.

A band played, residents talked, and a neighbor cooked hot dogs for those who came.

“After returning from a trip, we were shocked to find that Betty Hansen's house had been demolished,” remarked neighborhood activist Elizabeth Leach. “And, we heard that these 157-year-old giant sequoia trees would be lost to the neighborhood. We were shocked, as were other neighbors.”

Leach said they’d enlisted nonprofit “Friends of Trees” as their fiscal sponsor in the effort to raise funds to buy out the developer, Everett Custom Homes. “We did come up with the $50,000 non-refundable deposit; and we’re working on the financial arrangements.”

As is the case with most lots in Inner Southeast, the 50-foot-wide lot is actually platted as two 25-foot-wide lots. “One of them has the trees; the other one is a buildable lot,” Leach said. “Our plan is to have the lot with the trees become a ‘land trust’; and we have a couple of builders who say they are interested in building a high quality, sustainable home on the other lot.”

Whoever buys the buildable lot will have a green space next to them, Leach pointed out.  “Because of the land trust, it’s like they’re getting the use of two lots. It’ll be a pretty good deal.”

They’re raising money for the land trust on the Internet through “Go Fund Me”: http://www.gofundme.com/SaveTheGiants.  As of this writing, the campaign stands at $15,500 raised, of the $85,000 they hope to gather by the end of August. And, the negotiations with Everett Custom Homes are still underway.

“It's all about saving the trees, and promoting quality development at the same time,” Leach told THE BEE.



Harney Street, illegal fireworks, house fire, Portland
Illegal fireworks are thought to have ignited bushes that set a neighbor’s car on fire, as well as badly damaged a classic Sellwood home. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Illegal fireworks spark July 5th Sellwood house fire

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

Portland Fire & Rescue crews responded to a house on fire at 1665 S.E. Harney at 12:11 am on July 5th, little is officially known about the blaze that torched this classic home, built in 1908.

During the firefight, neighbors next door snapped photos of the conflagration, as they watched firefighters spray the west side of the house, wash down a car in the neighbor’s driveway, and eventually cut holes in the roof to extinguish the fire in the attic.

A house-sitter next door, who was sitting on the front porch because the electrical service to that house had been cut during the firefight, said the homeowners were about to arrive back home – and would find that their car, left in the driveway, had been smashed and  burned from the fire.

The owner of the damaged house, Betsy Holzgraf, corresponding with THE BEE, said, “We’ve owned the house for 23 years.

“It’s been a rental, although my husband and I plan to live in it when we downsize,” Holzgraf continued. “We’ve always felt a kinship with the Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood. Last night some careless and thoughtless people shooting off illegal fireworks caught it on fire.”

In addition to damage to their property, Holzgraf added, “Our renters, who weren’t home at the time, have extensive water and soot damage to their belongings.

“It’s so maddening that people just won’t heed all the warnings about using fireworks, or don’t care, and cause such heartache for others.”

The structure of the house is solid and well-built, Holzgraf added, and she is hoping repairs can save it.



Bomb, Oaks Bottom, Sellwood, boys find, Portland
Two members of the 142nd Oregon Air National Guard Explosives Ordnance Disposal Team walk out of the yard carrying the potential military bomb inside a metal container. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Boys find, and tote home, a bomb from Oaks Bottom

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

On July 13th, as part of an evening’s adventure exploring Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, a few Sellwood-area boys took a shortcut up to the north end of Sellwood Park, along a permanently closed trail.

On the way up, one them spotted a rusty cylinder with fins that looked like a small bomb.

“At first we left it there,” said Charlie Roberts, one of the teens. “Then, we wanted to show it to some more friends, so we went back down, and brought it up into Sellwood Park.”

After a couple of rounds of “selfies” with the sixteen-inch-long, two-inch-diameter old military ordinance, they spotted a Portland Parks & Recreation employee.

“We asked the Parks guy what we should do with it,” Roberts told THE BEE. We were talking while standing outside his family’s home, where the Portland Police bomb squad was examining the device in their back yard. “He actually told us to put it in the trash.”

So they dumped it in a park garbage can. “But, my dad and his friend were walking up and I wanted to show it to him,” Roberts said. “My dad said we should call the police.”

However, father and son decided to take the military relic home, and left it in their back yard until the next day.

“On July 14, 2015, at 11:10 am, Central Precinct officers responded to a home in the 7900 block of S.E. 16th Avenue, on the report that some kids found an unexploded military explosive,” the bureau’s Public Information Officer, Sgt. Pete Simpson, said. “Officers evacuated a few neighboring homes as a precaution.”

BEE reader Leonard Rubin alerted us that his street was blocked off, and that officials were looking into the potentially explosive situation. Rubin made the front page of THE BEE some years ago when an old explosive cannonball was found buried in his yard.

The police officers snapped a photo of the explosive, and transmitted it to the Metropolitan Explosives Disposal Unit, whose members came out to take a look.

After taking a passive X-ray of the device, the bomb squad decided to call in experts with the 142nd Oregon Air National Guard Explosives Ordnance Disposal Team, based near Portland International Airport.

The military experts spent some 20 minutes looking at the device before deciding it was safe to move. “It’s still potentially dangerous,” one of the Guardsmen remarked. “We don’t think it’s a high explosive, though – but perhaps an aerial illumination round.”

They went to the back yard of the Roberts’ home with a large, metal canister that looked like an ammunition container, and returned with it to their truck moment later.

Both Charlie and his dad looked a bit sheepish during the episode, admitting that their moving the military ordinance probably wasn’t a good idea. But, they were pleased it worked out safely.

“At this point, there is no information on any additional explosives in the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge,” Sgt. Simpson said. “Community members are asked not to touch or disturb these old military ordinance items, as they can be very dangerous if moved.”



Holgate Boulevard, hit and run, pedestrian, fatal
Police and paramedics responded to Holgate Boulevard at S.E. 60th, after a woman was run down by a motorcycle and fatally injured. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Biker kills pedestrian on Holgate – and flees

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

It’s not just cars hitting bicyclists, in Southeast Portland.

On the Fourth of July, at about 10 pm, a pedestrian walking along S.E. Holgate Boulevard, in the Mt. Scott-Arleta neighborhood, was struck and seriously injured by what officials now say was a motorcycle, or possibly a “trike” – a three-wheeled motorcycle.

Witnesses told police that the woman was walking westbound on Holgate, just east of S.E. 60th Avenue, when she was struck.

“The vehicle fled westbound on Holgate Boulevard,” reported Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson.

Officers and medical personnel arrived and located the victim, 60-year-old Marlene Popps, suffering from traumatic injuries, Simpson said. “She was transported to a Portland hospital”, where she died of her injuries on July 21st.

At first, investigators said they had reason to believe that the responsible vehicle in this hit-and-run had been a small to mid-sized passenger vehicle.

Then, on July 8 Simpson said, “Traffic Division investigators now believe that the vehicle that the victim may have been a motorcycle or a three-wheel motorcycle, based on further investigation.”

Anyone with information about this fatal hit-and-run is asked to contact Officer Erik Koppang at 503/823-2216, or via e-mail: erik.koppang@portlandoregon.gov.

Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information, reported to Crime Stoppers, that leads to an arrest in this case – or any unsolved felony – and tipsters can remain anonymous.

Leave a Crime Stoppers tip by calling 503-823-4357 – or text CRIMES (274637), and in the subject line put 823HELP, followed by the tip.



Sellwood Bridge
A river-level view upward towards the east end of the Sellwood Bridge project shows the old bridge that vehicles are currently still using veering to the left, with the impressive arches of the new bridge on view at right. (Photo courtesy of Michael Bolsey)

Tacoma Street now veers north at Sellwood Bridge

By DAVID F. ASHTON
for THE BEE

As the month of July began, drivers and pedestrians using the Sellwood Bridge noticed a difference on the east end: The traffic lanes were now shifted north onto new pavement.

“We’ve completed underground utility work on the north side of S.E. Tacoma Street,” pointed out Multnomah County Bridge spokesman Mike Pullen. “The bricks inlayed in the concrete sidewalk will correspond with the art features to be installed in 2016 after the new bridge reopens.”

During the month, the south side of the intersection of Tacoma Street at 6th Avenue became the focus of work, as crews began renovating that portion of the intersection. “We needed to do this, to repave it – but we kept it open, south of the intersection, for business access,” Pullen said.

In August, the bridge and side streets should be open, he said. “And, by the first of August, a new path from S.E. Grand Avenue up to Tacoma Street should be opened.”

Overall, the project is running a little behind, Pullen observed. “Workers are installing and tensioning the tens of thousands of bolts. This work is slowing the progress a little, shifting back the opening date for the bridge by about a month.”



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