THE "LETTERS TO THE EDITOR" ARE BELOW THE EDITORIAL

From The Editor

The power of rumors and of needless worry

The phone rang, and the caller – who identified herself by name – asked somewhat accusingly just why THE BEE was ignoring the “current Sellwood crime wave”.

“What crime wave?” we asked. “You are the first person who has called and told us there was one.” She seemed quite surprised.

She told us of an incident of vandalism on her own property. She had dismissed a man at her door whom she did not know, and he angrily vandalized her garden on the way out. She referred with less specificity to other alleged criminal incidents in her vicinity, including car break-ins.

We told her that we routinely monitor a “crime map”, prepared for the media and constantly updated, from the Bureau of Emergency Services, which staffs the “9-1-1” phone lines and the “non-emergency” 503/823-3333 crime reporting lines. And, we said, we had not seen any clustering of crime reports in the Sellwood area.

Indeed, we told her, the Inner Southeast area tends to have fewer crime reports every day than most other parts of the city. Again she seemed surprised.

We pointed out that if crime is indeed rampant in Sellwood, those victimized apparently are not doing a good job of reporting it. (If crimes are, or may be, in progress, call 9-1-1; if the crime is recent but not current, or if there is a suspicious circumstance, call “non-emergency”.)

Our under-staffed police force – dispatched from the downtown Central Precinct, for areas west of S.E. 39th Avenue (Chavez Blvd.), and from East Precinct near I-205 for areas east of 39th – is assigned to patrol areas based upon the volume of crime reports from these areas.

Want more police patrols? Report all crimes that occur, no matter how minor.

We asked where she lived – and lo and behold, she actually lives in Westmoreland, about three blocks from where we live. There is certainly no crime wave here, or we would personally have experienced it.

(We asked why she said she lived in Sellwood when she actually lived two miles north of it, and she said she thinks of the neighborhood as “Sellwood-Moreland”, and finds it easiest to leave off the second part. Many who live in Westmoreland tend to get their back up about Westmoreland being called Sellwood – because it just isn’t!)

Anyway, she apparently had gotten the idea that a lot of crime had been happening around her because of online rumors and second-hand reports. We, ourselves, having lived here since 1979, have seen a steady decline in crime in our part of Westmoreland over the past three-and-a-half decades – to where this area now is the most crime-free we have seen it to date. Perhaps that’s because there are more owner-occupied homes here, and more young families here, than at any other time we have lived here.

That is not to say there is no crime. This is a city, and of course there is. Locking your house and cars is a good idea. Not leaving anything of possible value visible in your locked car is a good idea. Using an alarm is a good idea (although too many false ones can work against you). But in our observation of living here for close to forty years, there is less crime in our area now than at any time since we bought our house in 1979.

However, online rumors (and perhaps occasionally deliberate prevarications) persist. This past month we also received some specific questions about “what is happening to our neighborhoods” – specifically in Sellwood-Westmoreland – from another resident; we value him as a reader, and we appreciate that he took time to contact us with suggestions; but we were astonished by some of his impressions.

He suggested that a column from the neighborhood association – SMILE – addressing things going on here would be nice. “To me, THE BEE is ubiquitous in this neighborhood. You could publish a monthly column called, ‘A smile From SMILE’. Something like – each Board member takes a turn writing a column about neighborhood affairs. People could respond in the editorial section. That way people could get to know their representatives. If Board members have a disagreement on a subject, all the better. They could both write their views and let the reader decide. It would invigorate conversation, and let people know the issues and the people of their neighborhood association.”

This particular idea surprised us, coming from a self-identified regular reader who even knew there already was such a column (on page 4 or 3 of each printed issue) – but thought that there was little worth reading in it. Since some of the specific questions he posed would have been answered by the Board member who wrote the lead item in the August SMILE column, we referred him to it, and he seemed startled: “What he said is great communication! This is the first thing I’ve ever heard from SMILE that reflects my and many others’ opinions. However I think it would be better as its own column with a main headline with regular-sized lettering on a white background.”

In other words, presented as a separate news article. In fact, we regularly do run such news articles – plus, as it happened, our own editorial the month before was also devoted entirely to the same subject that concerned him, but apparently the gentleman had overlooked it. He went on:

“I do see there is a headline article [in the current issue] about Eastmoreland’s ‘historical plan’. One of the concerns I have heard, and put on my question list, is asking if Eastmoreland will accept the population increase as Sellwood/Westmoreland has been forced to do. I’m not sure of the gist of the article, but it seems like a way of dodging what has happened to us. They are even going to poll neighbors! It seems like unequal treatment between neighborhoods. I never saw a poll asking about high density apartments on this side of the tracks. This is something that could be addressed by THE BEE. If these kind of issues aren’t dealt with head-on, resentment will build up and things like posters on telephone poles will turn into protests.”

And after that, as has already happened, rumors and lies will abound.

Well, the problem here is that not only has THE BEE itself regularly reported on all this, and not only has the SMILE column regularly reported on it – but, in Sellwood and Westmoreland, there already has been an exhaustive community poll taken over a year ago by a special SMILE committee led by Board member, Vice President, and former SMILE President, Gail Hoffnagle – and the full and complete tabulated results have been posted for months in a PDF document on both SMILE’s blog website, www.SellwoodMoreland.org, and its procedural website, www.SMILErecords.org.

Further, these poll results have been promoted for examination and feedback repeatedly in the “SMILE reports” published over the last year! In fact, SMILE just sent a letter to the city arguing that the temporary pedestrian crossing on S.E. Bybee at 22nd be made permanent, when the nearby culvert removal project is done – since it was identified as one of the most-requested new marked crossings needed – in last year’s neighborhood poll!

So, the problem appears to be that although THE BEE has presented all this news in all sorts of different formats – from news stories, to SMILE columns, to editorials – some readers just don’t feel they have the time to go through the paper to find them, even though they say they want to know about them. We only publish once a month; that allows a lot of time to read each BEE. 

Plus, we receive – and print – Letters to the Editor about all these issues all the time. If somehow we manage to overlook something, our readers don’t! If they disagree with something in THE BEE, you’ll find out there also.

THE BEE is available in print and online. We mail 16,500 issues each month to Inner Southeast homes, and we place 3,500 issues on free newsstands around the area for those who may not get it by mail, or who may have recycled it prematurely. No newspaper or magazine circulates more widely in our section of Southeast Portland.

And, there are no “fill” stories here; everything we print is actual news of all sorts which relates directly to the area we serve. So, the more thoroughly you read this newspaper, the more you will find out.

People: If we don’t report these things, nobody will!

So, we hope YOU are among those who really read your BEE, and are willing to take the time to inform others you encounter who “haven’t had the time” to read it. Learning the truth was, in fact, the subject of last month’s “From the Editor”; and THE BEE is striving to bring it to you every month.



Letters to the Editor
Collision, Milwaukie Avenue, Sooutheast Portland, careless driving, Patrick Philpott
This collision in Westmoreland on Saturday afternoon, August 13, took out a wheel on both vehicles, making them undriveable and congesting traffic for a time on S.E. Milwaukie Avenue. (Photo courtesy of Patrick Philpott)

Crashes rising because of bridge closures?

Editor,

I came across an overturned vehicle on S.E. Milwaukie Avenue down by Claybourne Street [in Westmoreland] not long ago. Now, today, August 13, at about 1:50 p.m., there was another crash on Milwaukie between S.E. Tolman and Carlton Streets, in front of the 7-Eleven store. Looks like the congestion and poor driving on Milwaukie is starting to mount up problems. With the large construction projects underway on the main thoroughfare (another one soon at S.E. Yukon and Milwaukie), and having the Sellwood Bridge closed periodically has pushed more traffic down Milwaukie and 17th Avenues; it would be interesting to compare accident data on these thoroughfares during the periods of bridge closures. Another route to include would be those detouring through Eastmoreland and heading north on S.E. 28th. School is opening, and it’s already treacherous for pedestrians – with vehicles ignoring clearly-marked crosswalks, and with red-light violators.

Patrick Philpott
Via e-mail

 

Eastmoreland “preservation plan” debate continues

Editor,

There’s been much debate in Eastmoreland lately about whether designating the neighborhood an historic district will raise or lower property values there. But one thing is clear: whatever the effect on property values generally, designation is sure to devalue some houses. Some homeowners, who knows how many, will lose out.

Think about it. The value of a house depends on the willingness of people to buy it, and historic designation will scare buyers aware from some houses in Eastmoreland. Those are houses that could use some upgrades. Maybe they haven’t been remodeled in a while. Or re-landscaped. Maybe they haven't yet added an “accessory dwelling unit”. Those sorts of improvements can be impossible in an historic district – and, even when possible, they are difficult, time-consuming, expensive, and uncertain. So, buyers will shy away from those homes. They won’t make an offer or won’t offer as much as they otherwise would.

When you buy a house you naturally want to fix it to your liking. And that’s just it: in a historic district, you can’t just fix a house to your liking. You first have to satisfy a review committee of neighborhood watchdogs with clipboards full of “design standards”. The standards in Ladd’s Addition, an existing historic district, go so far as to say what color your house can be. (“Earth tones” and “muted colors” are “encouraged”, while “bright colors” are “discouraged”.) These restrictions are sure to dampen the enthusiasm of some house hunters.

Imagine: You and your spouse are at an open house, and you like what you see. You’re thinking, with a few small changes, it will be perfect. One bedroom upstairs is a little cramped and dark, but a dormer window would solve those problems. The kitchen nook is not quite big enough for the whole family to sit down for a meal, but everyone will fit comfortably if the back wall is pushed out a couple feet. And the front porch would look so much better with some brickwork added. All doable and within budget. Then your realtor says, “By the way, this is an historic district. You can’t make any exterior changes without neighborhood review and approval. And that process will take months and cost you five grand on top of the cost of the building permits.” You sigh and ask her to show you houses somewhere else.

Tom Christ
Eastmoreland

 

Editor,

First, thank you for your front page article on the Eastmoreland Historical District. I'm sure it prompted many interesting discussions. In my own discussions, I have uncovered the following:On April 14, 2016, the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association (ENA) signed a contract with AECOM Technical Services, Inc. The contract is for $48,564 if AECOM also prepares historic district guidelines; it is for $38,600 if no historic district guidelines are prepared. The ENA entered into this contract having never taken a formal survey to determine if a majority of the residents in Eastmoreland want to form a historical district.The ENA sends numerous e-mails with pictures of homes being demolished. The ENA never sends e-mails with pictures of new, energy efficient homes and the families occupying them. The ENA repeatedly vilifies the developers who purchase properties in the neighborhood. The ENA never mentions the owners who profit from these same purchases because that would put a sympathetic face on the situation. Often times the owners are elderly and need every penny to pay for assisted living. The ENA has ceased to have any semblance of a fair and even body. By only promoting one side of the issue, they have created a division and provided absolutely no foundation for a compromise.


Melissa Wyman
via e-mail


Editor,

I live in the Little Store in Eastmoreland, on Knapp Street. I made it my home in 2015 after an eventful year, including the replacement of rotted beams, a seismic and energy retrofit to modern code, and the slow, painful removal of many layers of vinyl tile and tar paper. I spent vast amounts of sweat and treasure to restore the building to a state where I can say it can last for another 90 years. Given the effort I've taken to keep the building in a state that reflects its past, one may be surprised to know that I strongly oppose the proposed Eastmoreland National Historic District. I feel that the design restrictions, layers of additional review and delay, and intrusion into property rights too far to bear. Eastmoreland is the result of an evolution; it was not built in a day and our variety of housing styles does not reflect the guidelines of a central planning committee, but the hopes, desires, and unique requirements of families that called this neighborhood home for decades. I want Eastmoreland to be diverse and welcoming, to include a variety of housing types that exist at multiple affordability levels, for those who start out renting, saving up for their first home, to families that want to buy a larger house for a growing family, to seniors that wish to downsize. I find the proposed district to be a grossly inappropriate tool for a neighborhood whose residents are doing quite well.

Chris Chen
via e-mail



Editor,

Two letters in the August issue of THE BEE make telling arguments against the historical district proposed for Eastmoreland, but they avoid any discussion of the twin challenges facing the neighborhood.

First, over the objections of the ENA, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability is pursuing a plan to rezone the neighborhood by lowering the special requirements for Eastmoreland lots from the present R-5 designation to those approximating what would now be the city’s R-3 designation. The [R-5] label remains the same, but the substance is radically diminished, thereby allowing more buildings on smaller lots.

Meantime, the City Council seems intent upon following the recommendations of a committee stacked with supporters, including developers, of increased density by means of multifamily buildings, townhouses, and skinny houses. Eastmoreland, in short, is about to become an experiment in residential densification that will be driven by developers; and, given the forces behind this project, it will inevitably be implemented and transform the neighborhood.

By establishing an historical district, however, Eastmorelanders can at least influence and shape this transformation. Not to do so will leave us helpless spectators in the face of bureaucratic heavy-handedness, and the developers’ thirst for profits. The slogan of the [proposed historical district’s] opponents, “Keep Eastmoreland Free”, raises an obvious question: Free for whom? To reject the historical district will make and then keep Eastmoreland free…..for the developers.

Stuart L. Campbell
Eastmoreland

“Truth in media” editorial

Editor,

Re: your editorial, “How technology disrupted the truth”. I thought you might be interested in this related information. This is a 2-hour presentation from CSPAN Book TV in which the author describes how non adherence to scientific fact is related to the rise of authoritarianism. The first hour is the author speaking the next hour is an interview with the author. 

It’s online at – https://www.c-span.org/video/?411578-1/book-discussion-war-science&start=224&transcriptQuery=the

Lisa Lakes
Via e-mail

 

Thanks from a Woodstock block party

Editor,

I love the paper – thanks!

48th and Ogden had an excellent “National Night Out” Block Party on July 30th. In the weeks leading up to the event, we walked up and down Woodstock and asked businesses if they'd like to participate in some way. The response was amazing and we're so proud to call Woodstock our home. I keep looking to tell everyone how fortunate we are to live here and in that spirit would like to thank the following sponsors if I may:

Otto's, Double Mountain Brewery and Taproom, Grand Central Bakery, Woodstock Ace Hardware, Woodstock New Seasons Market, Mehri’s Bakery and Deli, Tani's, Pizza Roma, Cloud City Ice Cream, Safeway, Papaccino's Coffee Shop, Bike Gallery, and First Cup Coffee Shop. Thanks!!

Mia and Owen Holder
via e-mail

 

Salmon Celebration is coming to Westmoreland Park

Editor,

The 3rd Annual Salmon Celebration at Westmoreland Park is coming up on October 2nd from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Crystal Springs Partnership, Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R), Portland Bureau of Environmental Services (BES), as well as SMILE and nonprofit and business partners, invite all to a free public celebration of Crystal Springs Creek. We will celebrate the creek, as well as the restoration that has helped bring wild salmon back to the city.

The Salmon Celebration coincides with the Sellwood-Milwaukie Sunday Parkways bike ride presented by Kaiser Permanente. Similar to last year’s ride, the route takes us to Westmoreland Park where the Salmon Celebration is held. New for this year, Sunday Parkways takes riders to the City of Milwaukie too. Details of the Sunday Parkways ride are here: http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/67625

The Salmon Celebration will include a Native American blessing and drumming, a traditional salmon bake (with samples!), storytelling for all ages, fun and educational inter-cultural activities, and ways to get involved in this special urban watershed. The event will be free and open to all. Details of the Salmon Celebration on the Crystal Springs Partnership website are here: http://www.crystalspringspdx.org/index.html

As co-chair of the Crystal Springs Partnership, I am proud to help pull the community together for this event. In 2014 we featured the re-opening of Westmoreland Park, including the restoration of Crystal Springs Creek and construction of the wildly-popular Nature Play area. In 2015 we continued to celebrate the creek and its habitat for wildlife and people in the rejuvenated Westmoreland Park, and welcomed the constant stream of cyclists of Sunday Parkways enjoying the neighborhoods and parks of Southeast Portland.

This year, we continue to celebrate the restoration of the creek and the importance of this area to many cultures. We hope to see you on October 2nd, and at future Salmon Celebrations!

Karl Lee
Crystal Springs Partnership
via e-mail

 

Thanks from “Sundae in the Park”

Editor:

Rain clouds threatened this year's Sundae in the Park in upper Sellwood Park on August 7 – but beautiful weather and mild temperatures prevailed instead. The musical line-up began with the young artists from the Opus School of Music. BEE ace correspondent and part-time circus barker David Ashton introduced the “Amazing Henrik Bothe”, who dazzled spectators with thrills, spills, tricks, laughter – juggling and spinning-dinner-dishes on his unicycle! The “Coupe Duet” followed with some hometown bluegrass by Joanna McRae and guitarist Chris. The afternoon’s closing act presented Chuck King and his talented group of musicians, the “American Coots”. This summer's singers and musicians sounded great thanks to the professional audio of Guy Yankovich of Northwest Audio and Video Productions and his sidekick, Jeff.

Children’s activities included “Giggles the Clown”, “Mr. Lizard”, “Penny's Puppets”, and “Kelsey the Face-Painting Lady”, plus assorted dinosaur crafts to tie in with the Movie in the Park, “Jurassic World”, at dusk. Gail Hoffnagle organized “Bubbles”, “Bingo”, and the “Cupcake Walk”. She was assisted by Elena Hoffnagle, Peggy Miller, Kate Loggan, and volunteers from Christ Church Sellwood.

Information and craft tables were staffed by volunteers from noon to 5 p.m. These tables included: Christ Church Sellwood, St. Agatha's Catholic School, Sellwood Baptist Church, Sellwood Violet Garden Preschool, the Butterfly Lady (Beth Whiting), Oregon Psychological Assn., GirlStrength, Sellwood Community Center, the Sellwood Bridge Railing Project, NET (Neighborhood Emergency Team), The Multnomah County Library (Sellwood Branch), the Park2Park Project (Sellwood-Westmoreland), SMILE, and of course four of SMILE's very busy committees – History, Transportation, Land Use, and SNAC!A day of fun and socializing was followed by an evening of music and the outdoor screening of “Jurassic World”. This “Movie in the Park” program was sponsored by the SellwoodWestmoreland Business Alliance (SWBA).

Drawing and Bingo prizes earlier were donated by: Bellagio's Pizza, Blue Kangaroo Coffee Roasters, Cloud Cap Games, Collage, Gino's Restaurant & Bar, Grand Central Bakery, Kim’s TaeKwon-Do, Westmoreland Dairy Queen, Laurel Public House and Brewery, New Seasons Market in Sellwood, OnPoint Community Credit Union, Orange Line Wines, Post5 Theatre, Savory Spice Shop, Rumpus Events, Tilde, Wallace Books, and Starbucks. Please express your thanks when patronizing these businesses – we are so lucky to have them as neighbors!The “piece de resistance” of the day – the delicious ice cream (Umpqua) sundaes were ably scooped by the Southeast Portland Rotary Club, assisted by FIRST Robotics Team 1432 and their mentors. A percentage of the proceeds from ice cream and food sales is donated to the Thelma Skelton Meals On Wheels Center on Milwaukie Avenue.

The Meals on Wheels People’s food booth received donations from the following: Childers Meat, Columbia Empire Meats, Pacific Foods, Goody Man Distributing, New Seasons-Sellwood, New Seasons-Woodstock, Gary Quinn, Elayne Janiak, Karl Voiles, and Marcus Lampros. Many of your neighbors also volunteered in the food area during the day. Papa Murphy's not only sold a variety of delicious pizza & pop at Sundae in the Park, but also helped with advertising by including an event flyer with each pizza they sold from the store on Milwaukie Avenue, and they also contributed to Meals On Wheels. Also helping: Collette Livermore, Peggy Kerl, Elayne Janiak, Karl Voiles, Sam & Jeanine Teitelman, Cindy Chaffee, Gary Quinn, Tom Gauger, Robert Boyle, Linda Rickerd, Jan Hainley, and Richard Moore.

An event this large – 2,000-3,000 people – takes the work of many volunteers and city staff. We could not have had a successful day (and night) without the help and energy of the following people: Pam Orser (permits & trouble-shooting,) Julie Skarphol and Christ Church Sellwood (Contacts, event leaders), the Adsideo Community (set-up), Kathy Aune and her grandchildren Alyssa, Austin, and Aden (Prize drawings & Bingo), The Hainley clan – especially Matt (set-up and clean-up) – Jeanne Walsh Masser (set-up & clean-up), Ed Nunez (set-up), and SMILE President Corinne Stefanick (SMILE table & trouble-shooter).

We also had assistance from Heiberg Garbage & Recycling, City of Portland Event Recycling, graphic designer Gray Whelan, and the Portland Parks Movie in the Park staff (Alex and Chariti, and the climbing wall staff), and Parks Operations staff (Vince & Mark). Whew! Thanks to all!

--From the SMILE Sundae in the Park Committee: Nancy Walsh, Dana Beck, Eric Norberg, Gail Hoffnagle, Diane Jensen, and Nanci Champlin





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