From The Editor

Getting a handle on the homelessness issue

Inner Southeast has had occasional issues with campers spreading garbage and debris while making a temporary home in public parks, along the edge of McLoughlin Boulevard, and on private property.

However, those who have recently traveled downtown or to sections of outer East Portland have seen how appallingly worse the problem can be; and at least part of the problem is that the city seems paralyzed in enforcing the laws and rules that would prohibit public nuisances.

The city efforts to find a way to offer “affordable housing” is a useful approach to resolving a part of the problem, but certainly far from all of it.

And, to us, the reason for this perplexing paralysis by the City of Portland – and many other cities around the country, even including Los Angeles – in cleaning up garbage and debris on sites (including lots and sidewalks) that have become a blight on the community may be that seemingly all homeless people are being swept into the same category: And that category is the “involuntary homeless” who are unhoused simply due to financial setbacks or financial shortcomings.

That is certainly part of the problem, as living space is becoming increasingly expensive to rent or buy, here and elsewhere.

But, in our view, there are at least three major – and very different – categories of homelessness, and only solutions targeting each category can start to make a dent in solving these problems. And while public policy concentrates mostly on the first category, those that the residents of the city tend to fear most are in the third category. Neither perception is correct, but we can’t get anywhere addressing the issues involved until we are all on the same page.

The first category is the one just mentioned – the involuntary homeless, who have been forced out of their home by rent increases, or job loss, or divorce. For them, affordable housing offers real hope; they simply want to find a place to live and want to get back on their feet again.

The second category is the “voluntary homeless”. It may come as a surprise, but some people LIKE to be homeless. Our own consciousness was raised in this regard a few years ago when a gentleman came, by invitation, to a SMILE meeting in Sellwood to explain that he was homeless by choice, liked the lifestyle, and even had staked out his own semi-permanent quarters on a hillside not far from the west end of the Sellwood Bridge. To make a little money, he sold the “Street Roots” newspaper on area sidewalks, and just wanted to be respected.

He was well-spoken, and reminded us that life on the streets or spent traveling the country on freight trains is hardly new – there have been such vagabonds for centuries: Hoboes, Gentlemen of the Road, etc. Some in this category see nothing wrong in begging, thinking that contributions made to them are voluntary and charitable.

No homelessness initiative is likely to change those in category two, since they are in it by choice, and often simply seek to be unobtrusive.

The third category is the most toxic one, and it has several subdivisions. In that category are the mentally ill, and/or the criminal element, and/or the addicted. They tend to be antisocial in various ways, and may view attempts to help them end their homelessness is an opportunity to take advantage of the system – or an unwelcome intrusion into their personal world. They trash parks, leave needles and human waste about, menace others, and commit crimes both petty and serious.

Society has a responsibility to those in the third category – but it is not a responsibility to put up with them and what they do, but to respond to them appropriately. If they are mentally ill, the city and state have a responsibility to place them somewhere where they will not be a danger to themselves or to everybody else.

If they are addicted and do not seek assistance with their addiction – or if they are simply drawn to criminality – they must be held legally responsible for antisocial actions, which often include the crimes of burglary and theft, rising to attacks against others, and even murder.

These thoughts of the editor may be considered by some to be politically incorrect, but the residents of Portland who have been victimized by those in the third category have been complaining and protesting for legal relief for quite a while, and often without much response.

Relief surely must start by recognizing that there are several completely different types of homelessness instead of just one, and that each type must be addressed separately, if they are to be addressed effectively.

At least, perhaps here we might be starting a conversation that we have not yet heard take place elsewhere on this subject.

Letters to the Editor

Thanks for “Bullseye” story


Regarding the story “Clean and ‘green’: Chromium-free green glass now made at Bullseye”, written by David F. Ashton [March BEE]: I just wanted to say thank you. It is refreshing to read an article about good things coming around, in this time of negativity.

I imagine there will be some outrage because this article is [not critical of Bullseye]. . . but there are employees, artists, customers, friends, and family that want to hear the good, too, and appreciate it.

Don Graham
“Inner Southeast”
via e-mail

EDITOR’S NOTE: Reader Graham might be pleased, as we were, to notice that KOIN-TV-6 picked up David’s story from THE BEE and posted it on their own website on March 8.

Thanks to Cleveland High’s teachers


I want to write a personal thank you letter to Cleveland high school teachers on behalf of our son, who was just offered an appointment to the United States Air Force academy.

As far back as we know, no student from Cleveland has been accepted nor attended the Air Force academy since it opened. This is a first for a Cleveland senior!

It has been a long hard road for Harper John Lee. He has been up countless times until 2 a.m. doing IB work, or up at 4-5 a.m. to make a wrestling meet, or gone to school for a class cabinet meeting as he is the Vice President of the senior class. However, on March 15 all his long hours, and early mornings, have finally paid off. Since kindergarten (at Llewellyn Elementary with Mrs. Eunice Tursi) Harper has wanted to be an Air Force pilot and this very morning he received an offer of appointment to the United States Air Force Academy.

Cleveland is our neighborhood school, and we never wavered from attending. It is an amazing public school, and we just wanted to write our neighborhood newspaper to thank the staff and school!! That this year we’re celebrating Cleveland's centennial celebration is just a further testament to the strength of this school and the students it puts forth in the world. THANK YOU!

Ryan and Jessica Lee
via e-mail

Spotted a whirlpool in the Willamette


I just took a video of a whirlpool North of Oaks Park [on March 10; it’s posted on YouTube]:

Richard Melling
via e-mail

SMS Marimba Band victimized by thief; public help sought


I am the director of the marimba program at Sellwood Middle School (SMS). The custom-designed cargo trailer used to transport the instruments to performances was recently stolen. A new trailer is needed, so students can continue to share their joyous music with the community.

With the help of a SMS Mom, a GoFundMe campaign has been set up to raise money for a new trailer and shelves. Our goal will be $4,000. I am reaching out to the community for donations to help pay for a new trailer. Since the money will go to the SMS PTA, who will then purchase the trailer, your contributions are considered tax deductible.

Thank you for helping make the community aware of this situation. Donations can be made online at:

Nathan Beck
Math Teacher and Marimba Band Teacher
Sellwood Middle School

Public invited to Peace Pole planting


The Rotary Club of Southeast Portland will be installing two Peace Poles on Friday, April 21. One will be placed at PF&R Fire Station 20, at 2234 S.E. Bybee Boulevard in Westmoreland at 1 p.m.; the other will be planted at Southeast Uplift, in their Nature Garden Space, at 3534 S.E. Main Street, a block north of Hawthorne, at 2 p.m. on April 23. The Portland Peace Choir will perform at the Southeast Uplift celebration. Anyone interested is more than welcome to attend either or both events.

A Peace Pole is a hand-crafted monument that displays the message and prayer “May Peace Prevail on Earth” on each of its four or six sides, usually in different languages. There are tens of thousands of Peace Poles in 180 countries all over the world, dedicated as monuments to peace. They serve as constant reminders for us to visualize and pray for world peace.

When we plant a Peace Pole in the community, we are linking with people all over the world who have placed Pace Poles in the same spirit of peace.

Kathy Stromvig
Southeast Portland Rotary Youth Exchange Coordinator & International Chair

“Disgusted” by bickering in Eastmoreland


I am thoroughly disgusted by what is happening in Eastmoreland concerning “Historic District (HD)” status. The issue has pitted neighbor against neighbor in a kind of “trickle down” nastiness, resulting in much misinformation, “tribal” steadfastness, and confusion.

In my opinion, residents should stop fighting each other and start fighting the City of Portland, who is the enemy. The “Resident Infill Project (RIP)” is a problem all over the City, not just Eastmoreland. The City is determined to increase density except, apparently, in the West Hills, no matter how it affects its much loved neighborhoods and the people who live there. This is being done for future residents at the expense of those of us who already live here. We deserve better, and must fight the City to save all neighborhoods. Thank you.

Roberta Hyde

EDITOR’S NOTE: In addition to the above letter, THE BEE received five letters in advance of the ENA meeting on March 16 advocating what the ENA Board should decide concerning proceeding with the planned Historical District – three urging continuance and two urging the plan be terminated. Since the decision by the Board has since been made, it seems more relevant to us now, instead, just to print letters sent subsequent to this decision. They follow.

Response to ENA decision on March 16


The Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association ("ENA") latched onto the Eastmoreland Historic District ("HD") as a bulwark against density. While density is a technical term that relates to the amount of homes per unit area, it is often used as euphemism for "lower income people" and other disparaged groups. ENA board member, Tim Moore, declared during a fall 2016 interview about density and the historic district: "Our feeling is that the density should be where it belongs. You're talking about lower income people or younger people who want to rent or need to rent and they need to be where there's good transit, and there is not good transit here. This is a little oasis because it's down here, and it's just not appropriate." Can A Stranger Designate Your House as Historic? In Oregon, They Can, compiled by Randy Gragg with OPB October 23, 2016, updated October 24, 2016.

Article 4, Section 1 of the ENA Bylaws prohibits the ENA from pursuing any policy, recommendation, or action that discriminates, in any way, against certain individuals or groups. As evinced by the words of ENA board member, Tim Moore, the ENA is pursuing the HD partly to keep "lower income people" out of Eastmoreland. This violates Article 4, Section 1 of the ENA Bylaws. As such, the ENA must withdraw the HD nomination.

The ENA shifted to the HD after the ENA's land use committee ("LUC") frustrated (some would say sabotaged) a potential R7 for Lower Eastmoreland (SE 27th-36th). Throughout 2013 and 2016, the LUC steadfastly and quixotically lobbied the City of Portland to downzone 100% of Eastmoreland from R5 to R7. In this quest, the LUC ignored (or blocked out) all overtures by the City about a potential R7 for Lower Eastmoreland (SE 27th-36th). Ultimately, the LUC's 100% of the neighborhood strategy cost Lower Eastmoreland (SE 27th-36th) a potential R7. Self-interest partly explains the LUC's approach. The public record indicates that the following LUC members live in houses located in Upper Eastmoreland (above or east of SE 36th): Rod Merrick, Meg Merrick, and Clark Nelson. These Upper Eastmoreland houses would not have been covered if the City had downzoned only Lower Eastmoreland.

The Berkeley Addition was dropped from the HD, yet nearby SE Cooper was retained. The "contributing" concentrations for the Berkeley Addition and SE Cooper are comparable: 42% vs. 44%. Self-interest partly explains why SE Cooper was retained in the HD. The public record indicates that ENA board members and the leading HD proponents, Rod Merrick and Meg Merrick, live in a "non-contributing" significantly remodeled house on SE Cooper. Including SE Cooper in the HD affords them, even though their house is "non-contributing" the right to control the aesthetics and development of other houses in the HD, especially those on SE Cooper.

[Writer identified; name withheld by request]


Broken Promises: The Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association Board Rejected its Own Neighborhood Survey Results and Moved Forward with the Proposed Eastmoreland National Historic District Anyway. Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association Board members stated publicly that they would respect the results their own neighbor survey regarding the proposed national historic district. They just broke that promise.

Robert McCullough personally voted No on this matter. [As did two other Board members, and three more abstained.] The board, however, voted to continue the process against the express wishes of the majority of their neighbors.

On Thursday, March 9, the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association’s own third-party neighbor survey showed clearly that a majority of Eastmoreland neighbors oppose the proposed National Historic District. They are breaking their promises to accept the will of the neighbors. ‘Keep Eastmoreland Free’ is asking all neighbors to sign an objection to the proposed Eastmoreland National Historic District. It’s the only way to reject this deplorable behavior and stop a costly proposal. 

Patrick Cummings


In the last print issue of THE BEE a letter from Robert McCullough, Treasurer of the ENA, decried a three page leaflet being distributed (he believed) in his immediate neighborhood and perhaps more widely, suggesting racism as a motive for establishing an Historic District – and with no author’s name on it. He sent us a copy of it, with his letter. We added an editor’s note to the print version of THE BEE condemning, in general terms, any anonymous screed making scurrilous comments. On the day the March issue arrived in many mailboxes, we heard from an Eastmoreland resident who asked to come show us in person what he believed the “leaflet” really consisted of – a large volume of paper, much of it print-outs of e-mails, which concentrated on the misattribution of a statement on the contentious Historic District matter by an Eastmoreland leader – as broadcast by Oregon Public Broadcasting. The audio soundbite, he said, was clearly not by the person it was attributed to (McCullough also referred to this misattribution in his published letter), and the item has since been removed from the OPB website, he said. Both he and McCullough would like to see a correction from OPB. This resident came to THE BEE with all this paperwork, and said that it had not been anonymous (his name appeared on the e-mail print-outs). He believed this volume of paper was what McCullough was referring to.

However, McCullough’s “leaflet”, sent to us with his original letter, was actually a PDF document received from a neighbor that constituted only three pages – which had indeed been extracted from all this paperwork, but with no attribution included. It is unclear how widely or narrowly the three-page extract was actually distributed. The actual author said what he wrote was not intended for wide distribution; and, if it were widely distributed, he said he does not know who distributed it.

The author who McCullough thought was anonymous has thus been identified, apparently did not intend to be anonymous, and was not intending wide distribution. He is an attorney, and asked specifically that we “withhold his name”. Since his name is now known to both THE BEE and to McCullough, ending the anonymity, we are honoring his request, as we routinely do on letters sent to us by people who identify themselves but want their name withheld when their letter appears in the paper.

He did specifically agree with our general condemnation of anonymous screeds with scurrilous comments, but does not think what has happened here qualifies – at least, insofar as he himself is concerned. This Editor’s Note is intended to clarify the situation which McCullough’s letter reported, and to let BEE readers know that at least this one acrimonious situation, within the larger contentious issue, may have been defused – with a better understanding by each party of the other’s perceptions and intentions.

Letters to the Editor may be submitted via e-mail by clicking HERE.

All letters to the editor are subject to editing for clarity and available space, and all letters become property of THE BEE.


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