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February 2017 -- Vol. 111, No. 6

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 March
issue, with a deadline of February 16.
(The April issue has an ad and copy deadline of March 16.)


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Tree falls, snow, Brooklyn neighborhood, Portland, Oregon
The heavy snowfall brought down this tree and power lines in Brooklyn near S.E. 13th Avenue and Haig Street. (Photo by Katie Leonard)
Oaks Amusement Park, snow, Portland, Oregon
Covered by snow, the rides at Oaks Amusement Park await the arrival of spring. (Photo by Dan O'Flaherty)

Southeast slammed by big snow


Last year we had a half day of snowfall on January 3, before it melted away. The year before that, we didn’t have any.

This year we hit the jackpot.

Inner Southeast Portland residents didn’t experience a “White Christmas” – but ice and snow swept through the area both before and after Christmas itself, starting in early December.

On December 8 came snow, followed by sleet and freezing rain – a relatively small, short-term event. Then, the city was paralyzed by a bigger snow and ice storm on December 14. But we hadn’t seen anything yet.

After the Holidays, came a bit of snow and sleet on January 7. But, on January 10, there was a once-in-a-decade heavy snowfall, dumping 8 to 12 inches of snow in less than half a day, which just stayed there, making travel and school difficult or impossible for the rest of the week because the temperatures stayed below freezing day and night through the following weekend. It was considered a major, almost record-setting, event.

In the frozen Christmas-Card landscape, families make snowpeople, sleds sold out in local stores, and some risked ice skating on the thin ice of Oaks Bottom lagoon. On January 12, while cross-country skiing down there, kilt-wearing Sellwood resident Ronald Brown broke through that ice, and ended up in knee-deep chilly water. He was walked out by rescuers.

To the delight of kids, and the distress of some parents, school was cancelled for days. Many shopkeepers in the area were closed, because the increasingly icy streets were impassible to both employees and shoppers. Many office workers telecommuted. Only home businesspeople, of which there are many in Inner Southeast, experienced no difficulties in the home-to-work commute!

Pinaire, Eastmoreland, snowfall, Portland, Oregon
During the first winter storm, before the snow turned to ice, many families took advantage of the day off for some outdoor fun – among them, the Pinaire family: Wills, Brian, and Lucas. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

During the big snowstorm, the crew at the Woodstock Ace Hardware told THE BEE that shovel sales were brisk – until they sold out.

BEE readers who saw the article about the annual American Meteorological Association “What Will Winter Be Like” meeting, in our December issue, may not have been surprised by this strong blast of winter weather.

That’s because, at that late October meeting, Kyle Dittmer – Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission Hydrologist and Meteorologist, and also Professor of Earth Sciences at Portland Community College’s Southeast Campus – surprised the audience in the auditorium with a bold prediction.

We got back to Dittmer for comment after the heavy snowfall, and he remarked, “When I predicted four snow events, two minor and two major, I could hear people gasping as I announced it, all the way up to the podium!”

Earlier in his career, Dittmer had worked for the National Weather Service, before moving on to his current position. “I’ve been here forecasting weather for the last 20 years, but in the last few years, I feel my forecasting has gotten better. My models use data from here in the Pacific Northwest, instead of using a portion of the national weather model.”

Part of his forecasting takes into account the “El Niño–Southern Oscillation” (ENSO), which he describes as an irregularly-periodical variation in winds and sea surface temperatures over the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean.

“I sometimes call the ENSO ‘the heartbeat southern Pacific’; and there’s a direct correlation between its activity and the Columbia Basin water supply,” Dittmer explained.

He develops a mathematical relationship to calculate the overall water potential, and, over two decades he has developed a “sliding snow event” scale for each winter season. “This time I went with four snow events,” he remarked.

“I’ve waited for 20 years to feel this good about a forecast!” Dittmer chuckled. “It comes from choosing the ‘more correct’ years to use in the analysis. So, It’s not magic, it is experience.”

“At the AMS meeting I downplayed that we’d get a big whopper of a storm in January to not incite unnecessary fear,” Dittmer said, “but we were long overdue for a big storm like this, which typically comes at the end of January.” 

Just before this year’s major storm, early on January 10, NOAA forecasters were still underestimating the amount of precipitation heading into Portland – and here is where it met cold air pushed downward by the jet stream.

“Some of the moisture in what is called the ‘Pineapple Express’, an ‘atmospheric river’, peeled off from Northern California and headed up north,” Dittmer clarified. “In terms of moisture coming up, we got a ‘fire hose’ instead of a ‘squirt’ – and that, meeting the cold air here, triggered the large snowfall.”

The winter season isn’t over yet, Dittmer pointed out. “We’re still in an active season that doesn’t end until well after Valentine’s Day and we could still see another snow or ice event.”

According to his analysis, January will average near-normal precipitation, about 102% of normal; February will average out to be about 98% of normal precipitation; and, in March Dittmer expects above-normal precipitation – as much as 117% of normal.

It’s been an eventful winter to remember in Inner Southeast Portland – and it may not be over yet.

Shannon O'Leary, Adam Clausen
Brooklyn neighborhood couple Shannon O’Leary (left) and Adam Clausen were killed in a three-car crash east of the Cascades on the day after Christmas. (Photos courtesy of Lewis & Clark, and Kolisch Hartwell)

Brooklyn couple dies in Warm Springs crash on December 26


A young Brooklyn couple, both teachers, perished in a three-vehicle crash on Hwy 26 near milepost 86 on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation on the day after Christmas.

Their four-year-old son, Felix, was in the back seat and survived the accident, but an adult in one of the other involved vehicles also died. The Brooklyn couple, Shannon O’Leary (age 39) and Adam Clausen (age 37), were well-known in Portland’s Physics community. They had been on the road visiting family in Bend.

According to police reports, Clausen and O’Leary’s car was slammed into from behind by a speeding car driven by Nathan Verhaeghe from Spokane, Washington. The impact forced the Brooklyn residents’ westbound car into the eastbound lane, where it was struck by a van driven by Robert Burke of Reno, Nevada. Burke died at the scene, but his wife and 22-month-old child were transported to a hospital in Bend, along with young Felix. Verhaeghe, who caused the fatal crash, suffered only minor injuries

Marie Phillippi, a longtime figure in the Brooklyn Action Corps neighborhood association and the “Brooklyn Neighborhood News” editor, was a neighbor of the Clausens. “They were such a dear family and wonderful neighbors,” she reflected. “We were able to notify their other neighbors before the news media showed up. Felix was visited in the hospital by his uncle, while his grandparents handled things in Portland.” A GoFundMe campaign and a memorial “Felix’s Savings Fund” have been set up.

O’Leary joined Lewis and Clark College in 2011 as an Assistant Professor of Physics. She was a mentor for and strong proponent of women in the Sciences. She had a BS degree from the University of Puget Sound, and Masters and Doctoral degrees from the University of Oregon. She had been working with undergraduate students at Lewis and Clark on a quantum optics project, and is described as one of the stars of the Science faculty there.

Clausen was a technology consultant at Kolisch Hartwell, a Portland law firm specializing in intellectual property, patent, and technology law. He had previously spent eight years teaching physics at four different institutions, including Lewis and Clark and the University of Portland. He had studied general relativity at the University of Oregon, focusing on theoretical physics, and modeled cosmological solutions to Einstein’s equations in an effort to understand the behavior of the universe.

Marie Phillippi observed that both educators were talented and loved, and will be missed by many.

Eastmoreland ‘Historic District’ poll underway

Editor, THE BEE

After months of controversy, the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association is about to learn the degree of interest by residents of the neighborhood in joining a few other parts of the city in designating an “Historic District” in the major part of Eastmoreland, as a means of preserving the distinctive character of this part of Inner Southeast in the face of general city encouragement for redevelopment to create new homes and increase population density.

It seemed like a slam-dunk at first; and then opposition arose, and as readers of THE BEE have observed for months, it led to harsh words that are a bit reminiscent of the recent discordant national presidential campaign. Now, says the ENA, it is time to find out how the actual property owners in the neighborhood feel on the issue.

Robert McCulloch, an Eastmoreland resident and recent President of the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association, tells THE BEE: “We decided to follow the voting procedures set out in the law covering historic district nominations at the U.S. National Parks Service. These are different than a one man/one vote rule.  The governing law allows one vote for each property owner within the historic district. 

“This means that Karen and I, who own two properties in the area, will only get one vote, since we own the properties as a joint trust.

“Derek Blum has taken the ownership data from ‘PortlandMaps’ and prepared a fourteen page report on these properties.” THE BEE has obtained it, and you can read and/or download the report by going online to:

“While Eastmoreland has 1,600 homes – with only 1,200 homes in the proposed historic district – over 2,200 owners will be able to vote.

“Opponents of the historic district have raised concerns about ballot box stuffing, so we have asked Southeast Uplift to count the responses and report to the Board. Every ballot will have a unique code at the bottom to allow a later audit, if required.  It will not be possible to determine which way a homeowner voted – simply whether each ballot is legitimate. Each ballot will be accompanied by an envelope addressed to Southeast Uplift.

“Under the historic district legislation, opponents can still file notarized letters opposing the nomination. There is no immediate deadline on this. To do so, they will need to file letters for more than half the property owners in the proposed historic district.

“We are trying – and trying hard – to get everyone to express their opinion on this important issue.”

McCulloch adds, “Under Oregon law, the poll is advisory, since the Board must make the actual decision. The Board members have indicated a desire to follow the guidance of the poll although, like members of the Electoral College, the actual Board vote is their own to make.

“The poll was mailed [in the week of January 23], and neighbors will have a month to make up their minds.”

THE BEE expects to report on the results as they become available.

Mikes Drive In, Sellwood, Portland, Oregon
A few light snow showers fell, spangling this photo with points of light, as customers drove through the parking lot at Mike’s Drive In on December 17, often having to drive on through and park across the street, due to the size of the crowd on closing night. (Photo by Eric Norberg)

‘Mike’s’ last day: Nostalgic customers overwhelm the restaurant

Editor, THE BEE

By all odds, the Sellwood “Mike’s Drive In” became, in its 31 years on the corner of S.E. 17th and Tenino, the most popular and most widely-attended restaurant in Sellwood and Westmoreland. And, on its last day, designated by its owner Todd Freeman as “Customer Appreciation Day”, it was clear its customers also truly appreciated the restaurant.

Saturday, December 17, started slow at Mike’s, because the day had dawned with icy streets, and the remains of the snowfall that briefly paralyzed the city two days before. But by late afternoon the traffic conditions were no deterrent to those who wanted to come and dine one more time at the iconic drive-in.

By 6 p.m., arriving patrons found the ordering line snaking into the dining room, past the soft drink machine, and down the north wall, and for a time the counter staff were taking orders to-go only, because there was no room left to sit down. A stack of the January BEE, in which the headline story was the tale of how the restaurant had come to be closing, was on the bench near the door and was rapidly shrinking.

Mikes Drive In, customer notes, Sellwood, Portland, Oregon
A few customers even left personal notes for the staff on the counter, as Mike’s prepared to close forever in Sellwood on December 17. (Photo by Eric Norberg)

Owner Freeman was on hand, as he had promised in the newspaper to be all week, and left only to go fetch more food items the restaurant was running out of as the evening progressed. Customers of all ages stood around and recalled good times there, and a few left fond notes on the counter for the staff.

Freeman wanted his Sellwood-Westmoreland customers to know he would miss them, and in a classy touch after the doors closed permanently, he hired window painter extraordinaire (and professional clown) Scot Campbell to return one more time and paint a farewell on the building.

The other two remaining “Mike’s” will remain open. The nearest, a short distance away, is the original small drive-in at the corner of Highway 224 and Harrison Street  in Milwaukie – and the other is the newly-remodeled and expanded restaurant at 7th and Madison in Oregon City.

The Sellwood building will be demolished to make way for – you guessed it – yet another new apartment building.

Sellwood Bridge, TriMet, Bus 99
The first TriMet bus in a decade to cross the Sellwood Bridge did so on December 5. (Photo by Mike Pullen, Multnomah County)

Buses return to Sellwood Bridge

Editor, THE BEE

A decade ago, TriMet withdrew bus service from the Sellwood Bridge when the old bridge’s deteriorating condition led to a weight restriction per vehicle which the buses could not meet.

After traffic was moved to the new Sellwood Bridge, still under construction, buses still stayed away – not only because the weight restriction was retained until the work was done, but because the temporary sharp turns at the east end of the bridge were too tight for a bus to safely navigate.

A clear sign that the new Sellwood Bridge is really, actually, finally done was the return to the bridge by TriMet buses in early December – shown in the accompanying ceremonial first crossing, captured in a photo by Mike Pullen, the spokesperson for the bridge’s owner – Multnomah County – throughout the entire lengthy bridge replacement project.

At present, the only bus you are likely to see crossing the bridge, though, is the business-day-only Milwaukie-to-Portland Express Bus 99, which has now been rerouted to use McLoughlin south of Tacoma Street, but Macadam north of Tacoma; with two stops in Sellwood along S.E. Tacoma. 

That provides one of two ways for Sellwood residents to get directly to and from Downtown Portland on public transportation – the other being the Tacoma MAX Station on the east side of S.E. McLoughlin Boulevard, just south of the Tacoma Street overcrossing.

So far, north Westmoreland residents are not as lucky. When MAX light rail service began, all direct downtown service to and from S.E. 17th and Harold Street on McLoughlin from Buses 31, 32, and 33 was discontinued – but no Harold Street MAX Station was ever built, so their nearest stations are at Bybee and Holgate Boulevards.

Of the two remaining buses serving north Westmoreland – Bus 70, which used to terminate at the Rose Quarter, now winds up on N.E. Fremont; and Bus 19, which still does go to and from downtown, does so not on the new Tilikum Transit Bridge, but very slowly – at least in commute hours – on the Ross Island Bridge.

Tri-Met’s stated reason for avoiding the speedier Tilikum with Bus 19 is to maintain service to a single bus stop at the west end of the Ross Island Bridge.

Unimproved streets, Woodstock neighborhood, Portland, Oregon, LTIC fees
Some of Woodstock’s unimproved roads are fine for residents who prefer the pedestrian-friendly lanes like this one. Others, especially those close to Woodstock Boulevard, are screaming for improvements that are simply not affordable for the adjacent property owners. The street improvement fund created by the city’s LTIC fees may provide funding for projects in Woodstock and elsewhere with a preponderance of gravel streets. (Photo by Becky Luening)

LTIC Fees: The Answer to Woodstock’s Unimproved Streets?


At the Woodstock Neighborhood Association meeting of December 7, 2016, Kyle Chisek from the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) gave a presentation on the city’s new approach to funding street improvements.

Chisek explained that, until recently, developers of infill residential projects on unimproved or under-improved streets were required to fully improve streets adjacent to their developments, with sidewalks, curbs, and half-street paving.

However, rather than bringing about contiguous street improvements, this policy only led to disconnected fragments of streets being improved.

So, last April, the city adopted a new funding mechanism called the Local Transportation Infrastructure Charge, or LTIC. Now, developers of new single-family residential infill projects, on under-developed “service traffic streets” that lack curbs, are only required to pay a fee of approximately $600 per linear foot of frontage. Payment of the fee is due prior to the issuance of new building permits or, in the case of lot splits, prior to the approval of the final plat.

Applicants who elect to build frontage improvements themselves, to city standards, are exempt from this new fee. Chisek observed that, although the LTIC is a much simpler way for developers to cover their fair share of street improvements, PBOT is seeing more delays in developers picking up their building permits.

Although LTIC is seen as a partial funding solution, and won’t pay for all fixes, it seems a good start for funding more cohesive street improvements in some of Portland’s residential neighborhoods. The next step for the City Council is to determine a process for prioritizing spending from this new fund for projects citywide. Chisek mentioned public surveys as one tool in this process, and indicated that citizen involvement in identifying their own priorities might help in steering money to a specific neighborhood.

Neighbor Mark Ripkey reminded attendees of the Capstone study conducted by PSU students in 2010, involving LARKE Planning and the WNA, to explore uses and community-based strategies to address Woodstock’s many unimproved roadways. An “Out of the Mud Idea Book,” as well as the final report issued from the 2014 Woodstock Charrette visioning process, both offer multiple ideas for partial improvements on streets near the neighborhood’s commercial center.

Ripkey, who owns a home on an unimproved section of S.E. Martins at 42nd Avenue, said that when he works out in his yard in the summer, he notices a constant stream of neighborhood kids going by. He thinks it’s much safer and enjoyable for this kind of foot traffic to be off Woodstock, and envisions improvements to Martins that would make the street more of a pedestrian bikeway, safe for families, yet still accessible to auto traffic for businesses.

Ripkey has proposed creating a nonprofit to help fund neighborhood street improvements. He said he has talked to most of his neighbors on Martins between 40th to 45th, and they all favor a process whereby residents can come to consensus, block-by-block, on what they want for their street, and not have solutions forced upon them.

WNA Land Use Committee members present at the meeting discussed the initiation of local planning efforts in order to identify priorities and develop concept drawings for specific under-improved street blocks, especially those nearest to Woodstock Boulevard.

Kyle Chisek commented that having a clear direction coming from the WNA could certainly play to the neighborhood’s advantage in terms of steering some of the LTIC funds their way.

He also confirmed that there are creative options available for improving the neighborhood’s gravel streets that don’t require full paving, with curbs and sidewalks.

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