From The Editor

City struggles with density; remains oblivious to parking issues
Editorial, density, apartment houses, Inner Southeast, no parking, Westmoreland, Portland, Oregon
With a new three-story apartment in the background, the new owners of the four-unit apartment house at right, on the corner of S.E. Harold and 17th, evidently decided they no longer need to provide parking for their tenants and are building on the parking lot yet another small apartment house! All their renters, old and new, will now be parking on the street. (Photo by Eric Norberg)

How do you feel about having people living in a little house in your back yard?

Portland has been struggling with the “Residential Infill Project” for quite a while yet. They thought they had gotten a handle on it, then a new mayor was elected, and changes were requested. So now there is a new “public discussion draft”, on which public input has been sought. The comment period was short, and it will be interesting to see what comes of that.

But, key points appear to be that – to discourage unpopular “McMansions” in neighborhoods with conventionally-sized houses – new size restrictions are proposed for homes in the R2.5 and R5 residential zones, which are common in Inner Southeast Portland, and the height of structures in all zones will now be measured from the low point of the lot rather than the high point, as before.

But the price to be paid for that, in the name of increasing density to accommodate the new residents to the area who continue to flock to the Rose City and are expected to continue to do so in the future, is permitting more “Accessory Dwelling Units” (ADUs) on residential lots. At the moment, residents are generally allowed one. The proposal is to allow two, for extended family or for rentals, though probably not for short-term rentals. And to allow more duplexes (which can have one ADU on the same lot) – and triplexes on corner lots.

One little fly in the ointment concerning building the ADUs (sometimes called “granny flats”) that has emerged is that although the City of Portland really wants these to be built to accommodate more of the population inflow, Multnomah County has been considering these to be “major improvements” to the property, and reassessing the value of the property (and the consequent property taxes) much higher than they have been for a given piece of property, under the property tax limitation measure. “If you build it, taxes will increase a lot.” Be prepared for that.

Meantime, the city has been encouraging the building of apartment houses, and north Westmoreland – zoned for high density apartment buildings as a result of a 1990’s promise by TriMet of having a MAX station nearby – has resulted lately in an explosion of apartment houses, with more to come, despite the fact that TriMet not only changed its mind about the “Harold Street Station” it promised, but subsequently developed amnesia about that promise itself.

Currently the MAX whizzes right by those new apartment buildings, but if you want to catch the train you’ll have to hike to the Bybee Bridge or to the Holgate Station (or take a bus there, TriMet cheerfully suggests). The city has noticed the change of plans by TriMet, and is now proposing to downzone north Westmoreland back to what it used to be – which is why developers have been scrambling to build apartment houses north of Reedway where and while they still can. Some big ones are planned along the west side of Milwaukie Avenue in the near future.

And all those apartment houses (many large ones have been built, and more are planned, in both Westmoreland and Sellwood) have created a real problem for residents near them.  Most have little or no parking; the city encourages that, because they want people to stop buying and driving cars. (They don’t seem to mind the tax revenue from the auto dealers, though.) Robert McCulloch, former Chair of Southeast Uplift, calls this sort of thing “aspirational zoning” – rather than zoning to accommodate what people actually do, zoning to try to force residents to do what they’d rather not do.

But, it is not working. Street parking has become quite dense around and near these buildings, and residents are increasingly not able to park in front of or near their homes. The city has suggested a paid permit system for residents to park a limited number of cars on the street; if the Rose City does not acknowledge that people are still buying and using cars, including all those renters, it may have to turn to permits (and then the renters will have no place to park!).

Not only are there a lot of cars parked on the street around and near the new apartment buildings, but clearly some of them are new cars – they still have registration stickers on them. The renters are still buying cars (and the lack of a Harold Street Station for MAX is encouraging them to do so in north Westmoreland). Parking remains a knotty issue in Portland.

The last issue the city is wrestling with, concerning density and housing, is “affordability”. Those of us who first rented in Portland at $125 a month forty years ago certainly gasp at rents that are ten times that, and more; but realistically almost everything seems to cost ten times what it did forty years ago!

So how is “affordability” defined today, and how can the city encourage cheaper accommodations – without encouraging slums? Incentives are being offered to developers to build some of their apartments to be “affordable”, with lower rents for those who meet a low-income test. But these “affordable” units can often be “transferred” to developments away from the “most desirable” areas, so they may be of little help to those wishing to live close-in to downtown in Inner Southeast.

If any of these issues are of interest or concern to you, whether you are a property owner or a renter, we suggest you get involved in your own neighborhood association (we told you how to identify yours, on this page in the last issue of THE BEE), and in particular its Land Use Committee. This is your most direct neighborhood conduit to the planners working on all this at City Hall.

Letters to the Editor

Concern about McLoughlin’s trees


With winter coming on, I’m growing more and more concerned about the dying trees lining 99E near Westmoreland Park. They pose a serious road hazard. One tree on the east side of McLaughlin came down. It’s not uncommon to have limbs fall into traffic. There are several rotten trees. There was already one serious accident a few years ago when a tree pierced a van. It’s only a matter of time before a serious incident results. I contacted ODOT.

Linda Bergquist
Via e-mail

EDITOR’S NOTE: The problem with the majestic trees along McLoughlin Boulevard in Westmoreland and Sellwood is that they were all the same type of tree and were all planted at the same time in the 1930s, as seedlings, when Highway 99E – “the Superhighway” – was being completed, as has been reported in the past by our historical writer Eileen G. Fitzsimons (and we've printed a photo of the blank landscape, the new highway, and all those seedlings). When they are planted at the same time, they are prone to dying at the same time, and we may again have to endure a time when the landscape on both sides of the highway has no trees. The most likely solution to prevent this cycle from repeating is to plant a variety of different types of trees to replace these, as they are removed, so their lifespans will be staggered.


Likes BEE historical articles


I thoroughly enjoy the Bee’s historical articles, and Dana Beck’s piece on Umatilla Street and the birth of Sellwood was especially captivating. Sellwood came to life with detail about its residents and their lives, as well as its evolving relationship with Portland. The last line about holding a piece of the neighborhood’s history “in [our] hands” was a really nice touch.

One thing I’d love to see alongside these historical articles is a small reference map of the specific area being described. It would greatly enhance the experience of reading about these unique neighborhoods.

Wendy Ferguson


More about the recycling changes


My name is Satish Palshikar and my wife is Arlene Palshikar. I have an M. Sc. In Manufacturing Engineering from OIT, studied Environmental Engineering, successfully completed a Master Recycling courts, and take an active part in Master Recycling in the Portland Metro Area. . .  Because China stopped accepting American scrap plastics, may recycling places like Far West Recycling took away plastic dumpsters, and do not take any plastics. . . accepting papers, glass, and metals only. . .  I called Metro Recycling and told the lady about our plastic recycling experience. Hoever, I got a shocking and surprising answer from her that I have to throw away our plastic recycling into the garbage. . . We later took our car full of plastic, paper, metal, and glass to Metro’s drop-in station I-205, near Oregon City, opposite Home Depot. They accepted everything. We had to put plastic, glass, metal, and paper in appropriate dumpsters. There was no charge; as long as it is recycling and not garbage, it is free. [But will it continue?]

This is what I want to share. . .  It’s very serious that, coast to coast, all plastics will go into the garbage, and America is going backwards, to the 1950s and ’60s, when it was a throw-away country. America has had plenty of time to develop plastic recycling methods, to shred and use plastic to make new things. It is never too late to do the right thing. This country should start developing a plastic cycle chain, and the future will be great.

Satish and Arlenr Palshikar
S.E. Flavel Street


[Re: November BEE “Letter” about China ending the purchasing of recycling in the U.S., and the consequent end of the private recycling at New Seasons Markets and Far West Fibers]: Metro has done some work with “plastics into oil” technology, engaging with Portland corporation Agilyx ( We have the technology available to take plastic into oil, while supporting a local company. Portland recently signed an agreement to stop the plan for shipping plastics and other materials to Brooks to be burned.

What can Agilyx technology do? Is it proven? Where is it being used? Is it as good as the claims on the website? What is the amount of crude that Portland could produce a day? What is the cost-to-product ratio? How much would it cost Portland to recycle our plastic into oil? Where would the funds come from to do so?

And what is Metro’s plan? What is Metro going to do with all the plastic and paper being collected, since it can no longer be sent to China, nor can it be taken to Brooks and burned. What did Metro learn in its partnership with Agilyx? Why did Metro stop pursuing a plan to buy and use an Agylix Generation 6 after, permitting and running a Generation 5, retiring the 5 with the plan to run the 6 24 hours a day? I sent an e-mail to ted Wheeler and city council members. I received a response from Wheeler’s office; Wheeler did not know about Agilyx, or Metro’s relationship with Agilyx. Ted Wheeler has an assistant researching the option now.

Rahmana Wiest
S.E. 48th Avenue

Questions fire cause


Regarding the article “Eastmoreland home rocked by ‘explosions’ and fire” [November BEE], I have a complaint about your statement: “...the cause of the fire was determined to be ‘improperly discarded smoking materials’.” I understand that this is from the Portland Fire Department, and thus came from their investigation on the night of the fire because they sent no one in the week following to do any further research. Therefore, you should have said: “...the initial cause of the fire...”

Upon a more thorough investigation by the insurance company, the likelihood of problems with the extension cords in the garage was a more likely cause of the fire. This is not good reporting.

Baruch Bashan
via e-mail

EDITOR’S NOTE: It took a week for the determination of the cause of the fire to be announced by the Portland Fire Department – because, as is often explained, it takes time for investigators to reach a decision on the cause of a fire – and sometimes they are not able to determine one at all. In this case, that was the determination; and, in the view of the investigators, that was their final determination. They are probably open to revising that determination if additional evidence is presented to them.


Even more about “that word”


I am writing this after reading all the other letters to the editor, the “Editor’s Note”, and now the recent letter from J. Stoneking about THE BEE’s use of the word thug, and the word thug, in general. 

I thought the “Editor’s Note” took a defensive stance and argued for old tired standards. It struck me as from someone who doesn’t want to change because they don’t care if they offend anyone. Then you published the letter from J Stoneking, someone who wants to back up the editor. But doesn't make the editor right.

J Stoneking says as a teacher, she or he thinks conserving the meaning of words is a very important issue. As a teacher, J Stoneking should know that the meaning of words change with time. Far-right media uses the word as a racist dog whistle against blacks, and this is a huge problem with our Democracy right now. This is an infinitely larger problem then adjusting our understanding of how the word thug is used in today's world.

Chris Churchill
Lifetime Sellwood resident
now living in Brentwood Darlington

EDITOR’S NOTE: Reader Churchill evidently has overlooked that after the first two letters we received and published, acquainting us with this alleged new meaning of a word in the dictionary, we responded that we would therefore not be using it anymore, and indeed we haven’t – not even when we were able to report that the two extremely violent bandits referred to in that article, months ago, were found, arrested, charged with over one hundred felonies, and were jailed with bail required of over one million dollars each. They certainly did fit the dictionary definition of the word, but we held our tongues – and the only place the apparently newly-offensive word has appeared in THE BEE since the letters began coming several issues ago has been regularly here, in the Letters written to the Editor, and reader Churchill has just done it again!

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.

Maxine Edith Smith
Maxine Edith Smith

Maxine Edith Smith

September 8, 1922 – September 20, 2017

Maxine Edith Smith died peacefully in her home on September 20th, 2017, at the age of 95.  She was born in Brooks, Iowa, on September 8, 1922.  She and her husband, Dale Stuva, moved to Portland in 1954. She later became a single parent and moved to the Woodstock neighborhood in 1968. She raised her family in a bright yellow house with a large front porch at 42nd and Mitchell Street. Living in the area for over 40 years, she had many great memories of happy children and wonderful neighbors; she said the area really hadn't changed that much over the years. “Woodstock is still a caring community, with good schools and friendly businesses just like way back when.” She observed that The Disco-Mart is now a Safeway store, Country Bill’s is gone, and the Busy Corner grocery store is awaiting a comeback.  But the houses are still well cared for, and there are lots of families.

Friends comment that Maxine was an open minded, caring, and thoughtful person; a great listener who gave hope to many people during her life. She worked many years with people with disabilities, teaching them a vocation. In her later years, Maxine lived on Steele Street across from Woodstock Park. She loved watching all the happenings there, from kids' ball games to dogs romping in the fall leaves. One friend comments, “It is remarkable and should be noted that Maxine was witty and wise up to the end – a joy to be around.”

In late August of this year she developed kidney failure, and lived in her home on hospice until her death. She is survived by her five children – Robert, Duane and Barbara Stuva, Denise Lourwood, and Sue Krueger, all in the Portland area. She was a proud and involved grandma to twelve.  Her great-grandchildren brought her great joy, and she even got to meet a great-great grandchild.


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