From The Editor

Making right turns at red lights

We have been so disgusted at the rampant violations of the traffic rule permitting a right turn, after stopping – when the coast is clear – on a red traffic signal, that we have been thinking for some time about writing about it here.

These violations – which we see every time we drive – include failing to stop or even materially slow down when turning right on a red light, failing to yield to cross traffic (even cutting off cars that have the green light to slip in ahead of them), failing to wait until pedestrians crossing legally have cleared not only your lane but the adjacent lane, and making the “right turn on red” turn even when it’s posted on a sign that there is to be “no right turn on red”.

Another thing that has disturbed us is seeing people making a right turn on a red right arrow.

We have just received a copy of a letter to PDOT and ODOT from Jennifer Priest, who appears to be a resident of the Creston-Kenilworth neighborhood, which prompts us to proceed on this subject this month. And, we realize, Ms. Priest is not going to be pleased with our take on the subject.

She writes, “Last week I waited 20 minutes [at the west end of the Sellwood Bridge, at a red right arrow light] to make the same turn. Again, a significant amount of that time is due to people not knowing the law and the rest of us being too polite to honk. A sign should be posted.”

Well, let’s start by giving Ms. Priest her due.  There are apparently conflicts in the law on this subject in the Oregon vehicle code, but she seems to have a point.

She cites ORS 811.360, which includes: “(1) The driver of a vehicle, subject to this section, who is intending to turn at an intersection where there is a traffic control device showing a steady circular red signal, a steady red bicycle signal, or a steady red arrow signal may do any of the following:
     (a) Make a right turn into a two-way street.
     (b) Make a right or left turn into a one-way street in the direction of traffic upon the one-way street.

“(2) A person commits the offense of improper turn at a stop light if the person does any of the following while making a turn described in this section:
    (a) Fails to stop at the light as required.
    (b) Fails to exercise care to avoid an accident.
    (c) Disobeys the directions of a traffic control device or a police officer that prohibits the turn.
    (d) Fails to yield the right of way to traffic lawfully within the intersection or approaching so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.

“(3) A driver who is making a turn described in this section is also subject to the requirements to stop for a pedestrian while making the turn.”

So, as you see, the law apparently allows a right turn on a solid red arrow, as long as a lot of requirements are met.  We find most drivers ignore one or more of those requirements.

Meantime, ORS 811.260, (8), says, in part: “A driver facing a steady red arrow signal, alone or in combination with other signal indications, may not enter the intersection to make the movement indicated by the red arrow signal. Unless entering the intersection to make some other movement which is permitted by another signal, a driver facing a steady red arrow signal shall stop at a clearly marked stop line, but if none, before entering the marked crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or if there is no marked crosswalk, then before entering the intersection. The vehicle shall remain stopped until a green light is shown.” But apparently ORS 811.60 may trump this, resulting in conflicting interpretations.

We submit that THIS is the one that promotes safety and ends confusion. So, rather than join Ms. Priest in calling for more turns on red arrows by hesitating motorists, we praise those hesitating motorists as using reason and logic.

Let us think together about this:

If there truly were no difference in turning right on a round standard red light and on a  red arrow facing right, what would be the point of taking out one signal, and installing the other?

Clearly the only reason to do it would be to discourage turning right on a red light.

So, the motorists waiting for a green signal at a red arrow are doing what was intended by those installing the red arrow signal, regardless of what the legislature may have done to mess up the traffic laws in a response to calls by motorists for more “convenience”.

Since we, and no doubt you, have regularly witnessed many violations of the requirements to be followed before turning right on red, let us join together to ask our state legislators to revise the vehicle code on this matter to make driving SAFER.

Delightfully, no change in the law regarding traffic signals would be necessary. What’s needed – is already in the law!

Specifically, we are referring to what a FLASHING signal means.  As we increasingly are seeing these days, a flashing yellow left turn signal means that you can turn left after stopping – but only when it will not interfere with oncoming traffic, which does not stop.

And, a flashing red light – it is well-established – means to stop, and proceed only when it is safe to do so. It means the same as a stop sign.

So, for those occasional circumstances when it really IS safe to turn right on red when a red arrow is controlling the turn, simply show a flashing red arrow! And make it firmly the law that you may NOT turn right on a solid red arrow, which is what it actually means to traffic engineers when they take out a round red light and put in a red right arrow.

To resolve this in the traffic code, it would only be necessary to put the wording quoted from ORS 811.260, (8), into ORS 811.360 – and then, in the quoted section of ORS 811.360, change the wording to: “(1) The driver of a vehicle, subject to this section, who is intending to turn at an intersection where there is a traffic control device showing a steady circular red signal, a steady red bicycle signal or a FLASHING red arrow signal may do any of the following:
     (a) Make a right turn into a two-way street.
     (b) Make a right or left turn into a one-way street in the direction of traffic upon the one-way street.

The result would be much more consistent, much safer, and much easier for careful drivers to interpret.

There are many more dangerous traffic practices we could discuss, but we’re out of room. In the meantime, till the legislature makes the meaning of red arrow signals clear and unambiguous, we are going to be among those who stay stopped at the stop line until the red arrow light turns green.

Letters to the Editor
Stop the Demolition

Reflections upon a demolished house


It was around noon on Thursday, February 5th. It was on Miller Street between 11th and 13th. My friend and I parked on that road -- and at the time, there were two walls of the house still standing. The interior of the walls were robin egg blue and, for whatever reason, they’d kept the beautiful golden curtains on the lone window amongst all the rubble and debris. There was a worker who looked like he was leaving, because he started putting “danger” signs around the plastic fence.

My friend and I got some tea, and when we came back no one was there, so we borrowed one of the neighbor’s “Stop the Demolition of Portland Homes” signs, and she climbed up to the house. Quite a few of the neighbors came out and watched; some took pictures too, and a few came up to talk to us after. I had put the film in my camera a long time ago and I didn't realize it was black and white unfortunately. I really wish I had had more film with me!

I think it would be a neat project having Portland people standing in these houses – especially when there are still remnants from the home it once was to someone. It makes it more personal and powerful – and, I feel, relatable – hopefully, in a way that can make a difference!

Shade Baldwin
via e-mail



It is with sadness I see our neighborhood change in such a drastic way, destroying homes to build larger, new ones.  It seems to be a growing trend, here in Sellwood and throughout our beautiful Portland.

I want my children, when they grow up, to remember where they lived, their friends, the stories, and adventures they are creating. But also I want them to be able to come back to this beautiful Sellwood that has been their home their entire life (and my own for 20 years), and see their home still standing.  I know, standing in front of one's home from childhood, fills you with emotions and hopefully with happiness and special memories.  I don't want to deprive my kids of this. But seeing how the trend is going in our neighborhood, I doubt they'll have such luck.

Marcela Villagrán
via e-mail


She grew up with THE BEE – literally!


I am Kathy Hilson Wein, daughter of Fern and Howard Hilson, former owners of the Sellwood-Moreland Bee. I have just read a copy of the February issue of THE BEE and must write to give you a standing ovation.

From napping in a basket in the front window of THE BEE on 13th Street [in Sellwood] to working the folder and stenograph when I was in high school, I witnessed the hard work and love that my parents put into the newspaper. “Down the Avenue” was done by my mother, who spent every Saturday shopping at all of the advertisers and picking up local news on her notepad from all of the people we met. As a child I spent most of the day tugging on her skirt to get the through the shopping, so we could do something fun!

The articles are so well-written and so reflective of the care for the community. Even though I don't live there anymore, I read every story and even the ads. The letters to the editor are so well written, and reflective of the strong sense of community pride.

The quality of the news and writing surpasses most of the daily papers I have encountered! You must be so appreciated by the community and, hopefully, are getting the recognition you deserve.

Can’t say enough – I am actually tearful with happiness to see THE BEE, which was more like a favorite relative to me than a business, thriving and making this Hilson so very proud.

Kathy Hilson Wein,
Bremerton, WA
via e-mail

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Hilson family owned THE BEE in the middle of last century, starting in 1949; later it was owned by the Pry family in the 1970’s and ‘80’s, and its owner in the 1990’s was John Dillin. In September of 2000 Dillin sold it to Community Newspapers/Pamplin Media, and suggested yours truly as Editor. You can still read the four-page “centennial celebration” section of our 100th anniversary issue in September of 2006, here. And we greatly appreciate the comments, above, of Ms. Kathy Hilson Wein!

Fig Buttercup, Lesser Celandrine, invasive weed, daisy

Invasive weed to watch for – and to remove


I am writing to inform other residents of the highly invasive plant Lesser Celandine (Ranunculus ficaria), so that we can all take action to remove it from our properties. This aggressive invader is very difficult to remove once it has spread to an area. Lesser celandine is in bloom from late winter through early spring. Since Lesser Celandine is spread by seed, this is a good time of year to remove it before it seeds. It resembles the Oregon native plant marsh marigold, which is not common to Portland. Lesser Celandine is not a native plant, and is a threat to native plant communities. I’ve provided a photo of this plant in bloom for readers’ reference, from an Oregon Department of Agriculture brochure.

Heather Brunelle
via e-mail


I’m noticing that the Fig Buttercup or Lesser Celandine is rapidly spreading throughout the neighborhood. This plant is currently in full bloom, and is easy to spot with its bright yellow flower. When left to spread, the plant will take over and choke out native plants, and invade any space that contains soil, including cultivated grass. My hope in writing this is that residents will become aware of the plant in their yards, and take measures to eradicate it before it has spread to every yard in the neighborhood and into our local parks. There are many websites that contain comprehensive information about the plant and how to eradicate it. I found several by online-searching for “Fig Buttercup information”. One site that I found especially informative was by the U.S. National Park Service.

Patrice Sanders
via e-mail

EDITOR’S NOTE: Apparently this plant also propagates through tubers underground, so we understand one way to control it is by digging it out, including all the tubers, and disposing of it – as well as the dirt around it – in a plastic bag in the garbage, NOT in the green garden-debris bin. We have also been told informally that the surest way to eradicate it is to use Lilly Miller Brush and Vine Killer. Even those normally avoiding herbicides seem to agree that this invasive is so unwelcome as to advocate its use in this case.


“Thieves are stealing Subarus”


Is there a Subaru parked in your neighborhood that you haven't seen before? On the evening of Sunday, February 8, my red 1994 Subaru wagon was stolen from the street in front of my Sellwood home. I was inside the house when it happened. I've become part of rash of Subaru and Toyota thefts in the Portland area.

According to the Portland Police, Subaru theft increased 350% last December, and has remained a trend. The majority are Legacy or Impreza models from 1991-1999. Thieves apparently have a special key that can unlock and start the engine. Officer Brad Clark who responded to my call said that many of the stolen Subarus have been recovered – and are often found in the same neighborhood they were stolen.

Please call the police non-emergency line if you notice an abandoned vehicle on your street: 503/823-3333.

Jelica Summerfield


Tips hat to Wallace Books


I am a teenager that goes to Sellwood Middle School. I really liked the January issue article on Wallace Books [in Westmoreland]. It is nice to see a local business have a spotlight be shined on it, because that is exactly what it needs. I especially liked your reference to [Doctor Who’s] Tardis [which is much larger inside than it appears outside, as does this bookstore], because it is so unimaginably true! Having a bookstore you can walk to is really awesome, so a shout-out to them for choosing Southeast Portland as an ideal location. It was a smart choice.

Aidan Burns
S.E. 18th Avenue

Annual Plant Sale seeks donations


As it has for nearly 25 years, the Woodstock Neighborhood Association (WNA) is planning its annual “Stone Soup” Plant Sale for the Saturday before Mothers’ Day. This year’s sale will be on Saturday, May 9th, between 9 am and 3 pm at the Woodstock Community Center.

As in previous years, the plant sale will depend on generous donations from local gardeners. Donations result from crowded perennials that need dividing, as well as from plants that gardeners have decided to move or replace. Many types of plants find their way to this sale, including vegetable starts, herbs, ground covers, native plants, grasses, houseplants, small trees and shrubs, and a wide variety of perennials.

Proceeds from this annual Plant Sale have always supported neighborhood needs and priorities. For the past ten years, the sale has underwritten the WNA’s commitment to provide “routine maintenance” for the Woodstock Community Center, as part of a Partnership Agreement with Portland Parks and Recreation that enables the Community Center to remain open. Specifically, Plant Sale proceeds pay for custodial service and supplies for the Center. 

Contributions of quality plants for the plant sale can be dropped off at the Woodstock Community Center, 5905 S.E. 43rd, on May 8th between noon and 7 pm. Anyone who needs empty pots, or an earlier drop-off time, should contact me at 503-771-0011.

Thanks to ongoing neighborhood generosity, this “Stone Soup” of a Plant Sale has continued to be a popular and successful fundraiser for the Woodstock neighborhood.

Terry Griffiths
via e-mail

Community garden plots available in Southeast


Portland Parks & Recreation’s Community Gardens Program coordinates fifty community garden sites throughout the city for people to grow healthy organic produce, spend time outdoors getting fresh air and exercise, connect with neighbors, share love of gardening, and cultivate friendships. 

Southeast Portland residents interested in growing food organically and participating in a vibrant garden community are encouraged to sign up for a garden plot. There are a variety of garden plots available in Southeast Portland neighborhoods, including Brentwood-Darlington and Lents:

Sign up for a community garden plot – they range in size and cost, and scholarship assistance is available to individuals and families in need. Water, land, and shared tools are provided. To sign up for a plot, visit the PP&R Community Gardens website, or call 503/823-1612.

Kathy Dang
Portland Parks and Recreation
via e-mail



I enjoyed the article on the 82nd Avenue Plan in the February BEE. There was just one thing I wanted to correct: We have identified $15 million for projects (not $50 million as the story states).

Michael W. Mason
via e-mail

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.

Drew, Long Haired German Shepherd

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