From The Editor

What’s going on with your free local TV…?

It used to be you would receive this sort of information from the local daily newspaper, but nowadays there is precious little about local broadcast television from that source, so periodically we keep you up to date on the changes that affect your free over-the-air TV service. There are more channels than ever in Portland for you to watch over the air now!

Originally, the Federal Communications Commission authorized the UHF television band all the way up to Channel 83.  Back in those days, Portland had only Channels 2,  6, 8, 10, and 12 (KPTV was Portland’s first TV station, and the first commercially licensed UHF television station in the world, on Channel 27 – but it later merged with a station that had started up on Channel 12, and took its call letters with it).  There weren’t many UHF stations in those days – those are TV stations on channels on 14 and above – but there was plenty of room for future expansion, which began nationally in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Locally, Channel 22 went on the air from Salem in 1981, as the area’s first lasting UHF station; but its coverage from a tower in Silverton was pretty spotty until the station moved its transmitter to Portland, where it transmits today. The first lasting UHF TV station actually licensed to Portland was Channel 49, which went on the air later in the 1980’s, and is today owned in tandem with Channel 12.

Meantime, as UHF stations began to gain audience, particularly in the last decade as digital TV transmission took hold, the FCC paradoxically decided to auction off some of the TV band, and suddenly the television service stopped at Channel 69.  Later still, another auction took place – the buyers of these frequencies are mostly cellular telephone companies – and the TV band was clipped back to stop after Channel 51.

Well, now, guess what. Yes, another auction earlier this year. And now there isn’t a whole lot left of the UHF TV band – it shortly will stop after Channel 36. Fortunately, the digital signals can be transmitted on adjacent channels without causing the interference that prevented doing so with the old analog signals, but that still means that the entire television service will have just 35 channels to work with, and some are blocked out in each area by the use of these channels in nearby areas.

This is a particular problem in Los Angeles, where there are far more than 36 TV stations on the air. So the latest auction allowed TV stations to be paid off in the auction to give up their channels, so fewer channels would be needed. Some stations have done so – and just as “cord cutting” has caused a resurgence in over-the-air TV reception. After all, if you can get one of today’s digital TV signals, it will be perfect, with no “snow” or “ghosts”. A perfect picture. No Portland station volunteered to give up its channel in the auction, though.

And, digital transmission allows each TV station to carry more than one signal within its channel – so today you can get, free over the air, here in Portland, over 40 TV signals!

Digital transmission also means that stations can use different channels than they say they do, and the channel number they use promotionally will be transmitted to your TV so it will appear on the dial where they say it is. There are only four TV stations in Portland that are using the actual channel they say they are – 8, 10, 12, and 22. All the rest are transmitting on different channels than you think – and several are in the Channel 40-49 range.

That means that sooner or later, when the band is cut down to stop at Channel 36, those stations will have to move down. (They will still appear on the dial where they say they are, but you will have to “rescan”, at that time, for your TV set to find where they went and start showing them again.) 

Notably having to move: Channel 2 – which is actually using Channel 43, and will have to move their signal down to Channel 24; Channel 6 – which is actually using Channel 40, and will have to move down to Channel 25; and Channel 25 – which is actually using Channel 45, and will have to move that signal down to Channel 32. Fortunately, the real Channel 32, which is actually using Channel 33, will not have to move. Channel 49 is actually using Channel 30 and will not have to move, either.

Again, all these channels will still appear on your TV at the old numbers you know, but they will go black on your TV when they move, until you “rescan” so the TV can find them again.

Just when this will happen is unclear, but it will be in the next year or two, and the stations will try to make sure you know about it in advance so you don’t lose their signal for long.

Channel 22 will stay put, but the low power TV station they own on Channel 41 will move down to Channel 15; a low-power station owned by the Seventh Day Adventist Church on Channel 38 will move to Channel 36. The list we received from the FCC did not mention Channel 47, which is owned by Channel 2 and relays the Univision Spanish network, but it no doubt will remain in business on some lower channel as well. It is unclear if the low power station on Channel 46 that is owned by Channel 8, or the very low power station that is on Channel 49 but says it is on channels 4, 17, 27, and 37, will remain on the air or not. Channel 10 has a metro repeater on Channel 48, and we expect that to remain available on a lower channel to be announced.

If you have not “rescanned” your TV lately you may not be receiving all the channels currently in Portland, many of which have general entertainment of various types. You should rescan occasionally to make sure you are not missing something you’d like to watch.

In addition to all this, the FCC is preparing to approve a new advanced digital TV transmission system which will allow even higher definition (4K), and other features and services – but, drat, it will not be compatible with your current TV. However, the FCC expects stations adopting that system to continue to provide their current digital signal for quite some time yet, so that you won’t have to replace your TV….again.

We’ll continue to keep you posted from time to time on the continuing evolutions and changes to your free local TV service.

And we fervently hope the FCC is now finally through auctioning off what remains of the UHF TV band!

Here’s looking at you…

Letters to the Editor
Trail, Sellwood Bridge, Audrey OFlaherty, Dan OFlaherty
Audry O’Flaherty stands on the new dirt trail extending south from the west end of the Sellwood Bridge. (Photo by Dan O’Flaherty)

New bridge leads to new trail


There is a great new trail under the south side of the west end of the new Sellwood Bridge. You should check it out (we all paid for it) – it’s quite nice! You access it from the northwest side – then go down under the bridge. It’s going to be much better when there is a beach to access. You can walk down about a mile, and it’s pretty bike friendly, except you have to carry your bike over the little stone stream at one point...

Dan O'Flaherty


Local students create theater company


My name is Kaya Hellman – a recent alum of Cleveland High. I am one of the founders of Portland's newest community theater company. The Inclement Theater Company operates out of the Clinton Street Theater. We are entirely run by local college and high school students and we are dedicated to serving Southeast Portland. Our first production is this July on the 7th and 8th at 7 p.m. as well as the 9th at 2 p.m.

Of all the company members, over half of them live in Brooklyn, Woodstock, Sellwood, Reed, Westmoreland, or Eastmoreland, including me. I thought that their neighbors and friends would like to hear about their work and get a chance to see them perform.

The show we will begin with is Jennifer Haley’s award-winning modern cyber play: “Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom” – a show taking place in a modern suburbia with perfect lawns and friendly neighbors. But under this paradise, something is taking control of the minds of the neighborhood’s teens; a video game where you must fight in a neighborhood just like yours against howling ghouls who look a lot like your own friends and family, to get to The Final House. But where the games end and reality begins is not always clear. It is a dark dramedy about a number of topics that include zombie killer video games, the madness of suburbia, crazy teenagers, and a bunch of parents who have no idea what reality they are in.

Kaya Hellman
via e-mail

Funding needed for closing “Sellwood Gap”


The State is in the process of identifying priority projects to close critical gaps in the regional active transportation system.  Multnomah County and its cities have identified critical connections on regional trails that would close gaps. 

Astonishingly, with up to $60 million at play in Multnomah County for project years 2018-2019, not a single dime has been recommended for completing the Sellwood Gap portion of the Springwater Trail from S.E. 13th Avenue to S.E. 19th Avenue.  Outrageous!

The State is still considering comments. The funding decisions will be made in coming weeks.  I submitted my own comments, but more advocacy could be most effective.

Michael Hayes
S.E. 11th Avenue


Spelling story correction


I would like to offer a correction to Rita Leonard's charming story in the June 2017 BEE about Claire Dolan, the Llewellyn student who won the regional spelling championship in April. The championship, a statewide event, is operated by the Oregon Spellers, [online at –]. This is a written competition, run by Oregon volunteers, not the oral Scripps National Spelling Bee. The finals of the Oregon Spelling Bee will take place at the State Fair in Salem.

The Oregon Association for Talented and Gifted –, a statewide non-profit membership association – sponsors the Oregon Spellers. OATAG offers advocacy, advice, and resources for gifted students, parents, educators and community members, and also sponsors an annual Young Scholar Award for an outstanding Oregon student in grades 4-8.

The story incorrectly referred to OATAG as the “Oregon Association for Talented and Gifted Students”. That would make more sense, but alas it is not our official name.

Margaret DeLacy
Vice-President, OATAG


Responds to letter in June BEE


In response to the letter written by Tim DuBois of Westmoreland, the designation of an Historic District does not exist to promote tourism. It is for the presentation of a special, unique part of a city or place. It is not to be judged on its capacity to earn money.

Tim says that Eastmoreland doesn’t conform to the designation of an Historic District, in that there is nothing about it that is unusual or special. Not true. It was carefully planned from the beginning, bordered by a public golf course on one end and by Reed College, one of the most picturesque campuses in Oregon, on the other. An alley of grass and trees, Reed College Place, connects the two – a design that is not the case of any other place in Portland that I know of.

If Eastmoreland were to become an Historic District, which he claims it does not qualify for anyway, he says we would have visitors all over our yards taking pictures of our houses, as in Oak Park, Illinois. There is no reason to believe that would happen. If he is interested in tourism as a money maker, there are plenty of places – Oaks Bottom, the Rhododendron Gardens – that tourists could visit. And if, as he suggested, we have so much political influence, why did it take four years to try to get the zoning here changed to avoid demolitions – all to no avail?

Everybody is entitled to his opinion, but when that opinion seems to have been influenced by those who don’t put the interests of Eastmoreland first . . . it’s time to get on the side of Eastmoreland as an Historic District.

Judith Wyss
S.E. Crystal Springs Blvd.


Architect: Concern about Oregon House Bill #2007


Sausage making has transformed an innocent-sounding bill to increase the availability of “affordable” housing into an expensive and confusing if not cynical response to everyone’s concern about the housing shortage/affordability crisis. This sneaker wave bill just had its first hearing since it was discovered and exposed to scrutiny in late June. This is not the Oregon way to do land use planning.

Ushered to the front of the line by House Speaker Kotek, the bill is an unholy alliance between the Oregon Homebuilders (OHBA) and 1000 Friends of Oregon. . . Keep this in mind as you read about the impacts. . .

HB2007 Outlaws single family zoning throughout the state in the name of affordability. Single family housing is the overwhelmingly preferred pathway from renting to home-ownership, stability, and wealth-building. Zoning is intended to designate appropriate use at a variety of densities and upzoning does not make housing more affordable. . .

HB2007 Eviscerates discretionary design review everywhere except in locations in Portland – Central City, and Gateway, on the grounds that is takes too long and interferes with needed housing! (Like what is going on in Sellwood and Westmoreland.)

HB 2007 arbitrarily short-circuits the land use and plan review process for “needed housing”. It deregulates constraints on potentially inappropriate housing on land owned by “places of worship”, and on land near airport runways. It requires 60 years of “affordability” for projects accelerated through the land use review process. This is clearly unrealistic, since there is no funding provided for enforcement.

HB 2007 ignores Planning Goals #1 and #2 – Land Use Planning – the goal language states that actions must be consistent with comprehensive plans of cities and counties. “Single-Family-Residential” is a comp plan designation in city and county plans throughout the state. Looking at the million dollar duplexes in Northeast Portland, there is good reason to limit where and how they occur.

In summary HB 2007 has emerged as a statewide land grab entitlement for developers. It will arbitrarily double density, fuel more demolitions of affordably-priced single family housing, add environmentally harmful landfill waste, drive economic and social displacement, higher land values, and more costly housing. And once upon a time, “1000 Friends” was a friend. Shameful!

Rod Merrick, AIA, NCARB
Merrick Architecture Planning
via e-mail


“Time for closure” in Eastmoreland


Around the time this is published, the National Park Service will be deciding on next steps related to the Eastmoreland Historic District. Approved or denied, I hope that Eastmoreland neighbors will respect the outcome of this process. Despite the claims that this process is unfair or undemocratic, the fact is that this represents the closest thing possible to getting the definitive input or vote of every single Eastmoreland owner within the proposed HD boundary. For the past 6+ months, Eastmoreland neighbors have been mailed, visited, called, or contacted through other means to register their support or objection. I don’t think one could legitimately say that there has been a lack of opportunity to weigh in. The Keep Eastmoreland Free group has done an amazing job of reaching out to all neighbors and they deserve a lot of credit for giving everyone the chance to object to the formation of a national historic district in Eastmoreland. We will soon know whether the majority voted against the HD.

So, provided there are no tricks or shenanigans related to objections or property ownership, we should all be prepared to accept the outcome of this comprehensive process. With that said, I am troubled by the active legal action underway against the State and the threats of additional lawsuits. A few well-heeled and well-connected individuals may be prepared to drag our community into a drawn out legal process, but I don’t think that’s what most residents want. Historic District fatigue set in a long time ago and the idea that this could be dragged out for months and months will only delay or irreparably harm our healing process, not to mention cost a whole lot of money to individuals and taxpayers.

Derek Blum

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