More stories from August's issue of THE BEE!

Red light, T Bone, crash
A crewmember from Westmoreland’s Fire Engine 20 checks for fuel leaks and other potential hazards, after the T-bone crash at Milwaukie and Holgate. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Red-light runner T-boned at Holgate and Milwaukie


While stopped at a red traffic signal, at about 8:00 on June 27 – waiting to continue westbound on S.E. Holgate Boulevard – a driver witnessed a crash that was “almost like a movie, running in slow motion”.

The driver of a dark blue Jeep Liberty told THE BEE, “I stopped at the light at Milwaukie Avenue, and saw a white Dodge Caravan coming eastbound on Holgate, and it wasn’t stopping for the red light.

“The traffic light had been red for at least a minute,” the driver continued. “A United Parcel Service truck had the green light, and was headed northbound on Milwaukie Avenue. He tried to stop, but hit the Dodge minivan broadside.”

That’s when the witness beheld what he said seemed like a movie. “I saw the glass shattering, and the van skidding and rolling toward me. Even though I backed up a little, it still landed on the front of my Jeep, before rolling off.”

The United Parcel Service delivery truck came to a stop just north of the intersection – the front of the vehicle seriously damaged.

The driver of the Dodge Caravan was transported to a local hospital for evaluation.

“All I can say,” said the driver we spoke to, as he looked at his damaged Jeep, “is that I’m thankful that I can go home and see my kids tonight.”

Briooklyn neighborhood, infill, development
Four close-packed older homes on S.E. Pershing Street will face the projected Brooklyn four-house infill site. It is evident, here, why parking on this very narrow street with high-density development occurring nearby is an issue. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

BAC Board challenges Brooklyn infill project


A large double lot at S.E. 16th & Pershing Street in the Brooklyn neighborhood has been acquired on which to build four new infill homes. Only a block from the new Light Rail line, the lot is a prime location for development.

However, on July 8, the Brooklyn Action Corps (BAC) neighborhood association Board filed an appeal to oppose “the current development, as currently designed”, favoring instead a three-unit project that would be “more in character with the neighborhood”, and to limit potential issues with parking and access.

Parking is an issue because S.E. Pershing Street is only 16 feet wide curb-to-curb there, with parking allowed only on the south side, to ensure passage of emergency and work vehicles using the street.

Board member Don Stephens, who is also the neighborhood historian, explained that the row of closely-built homes on the north side of Pershing between S.E. 15th and 16th Avenues was built in the early part of the 20th Century. These homes have no driveways, and were built on substandard “narrow lots”, placed to provide back yard space. They were grandfathered in, under special conditions approved at the time.

Applicants for the proposed new development want to apply those same special conditions to build similar substandard “narrow” lots, but the BAC Board objects. Stephens clarified, "The BAC Board has no objection to three units built on the property, but shoehorning the fourth lot into the plan would require installation of a driveway onto Pershing Street, limiting visibility and resulting in possible safety problems.” 

In addition, the fourth lot would pose an issue for the historic Adam Hemmrich Home, which abuts the western edge of the proposed development – about two feet from the property line. “This is the oldest home in Brooklyn, constructed by the owner in 1893,” continued Stephens. “It was built even before city water and electricity were available to residents.

“The home exhibits fascinating historic details inside and out, and is a staple of Brooklyn historic tours. Zoning laws are meant to maintain the character and integrity of the neighborhood, and [limiting the development to] three lots at the proposed site seems more reasonable.”

A hearing will be held on the matter on August 27th, at the Portland Bureau of Development Services, with opportunities for comments from those present.

Portland Petanque Club President Steve Walker shows off some of the many trophies from FPUSA to be awarded during the competition. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Westmoreland hosts U.S. “petanque” championships


Westmoreland Park is well-known for its famous Casting Pond, and soon for the newly-created Crystal Springs Creek Natural Area.

But many don’t know that at the north end of the park is becoming a Mecca for players of one of Europe's most popular outdoor games – petanque (pronounced: “pay-TONK”).

Rain or shine, starting at noon on Sundays and Wednesdays, members and guests of the Portland Petanque Club can be seen tossing or rolling the hollow steel “boules” as close as possible to a small wooden target ball, called a “cochonnet”.

But, the play area was buzzing with activity on the weekend of June 28, when the local club hosted the 2014 “Federation Petanque United States of America” (FPUSA) Men’s Singles, Women’s Singles, and Mixed Triples tournaments.

“We have players here from as far away as Maine and New York; also from all over California, Oregon, and Washington – it’s a good crowd,” smiled Portland Petanque Club President Steve Walker. “About 75% of our players here today are from out-of-town.”

Walker told THE BEE that the FPUSA is the United States organization that’s affiliated with the French association, and national associations of petanque around the world.

“This is the national championship for the Men's Singles competition,” Walker said. Winners of the Mixed Triples will travel down to Walnut Creek, California, in August, to participate in the World Qualifier matches to represent the United States in the World Championships.”

It wasn’t difficult for the club chosen to host the championships. “Here in Portland, we have a very nice facility that includes a clubhouse,” Walker pointed out. “Everybody says they love to come play here.”

In total, 55 players competed on the well-groomed crushed gravel “terrain” courts. “We had to re-string the terrain to make the courts narrower, to accommodate everyone,” Walker reported, “But it seems to be working out well.”

While the Portland Petanque Club currently has 100 members, there’s plenty of room for more. “We welcome people to come by; and we’re happy to teach them how to play. We have extra boules that they can use while they’re learning,” Walker invited.

Walker asked that their sponsor partners, all Westmoreland businesses, be named: Corkscrew Wine Bar, U-Brew and Pub, and Relish Gastropub. “We appreciate the support of our local businesses; they are really awesome.” 

Who would have known that Westmoreland Park would be a competitive destination? Come by and learn why everyone is welcome to learn and play at the Portland Petanque Club. To discover more, go online to:

Powell Boulevard, crosswalk mission
As Officer Goodrich courageously continues to risk his life crossing Powell Boulevard in the background, a Traffic Division Officer takes off to stop and cite a driver who narrowly missed him in the crosswalk during the Powell Boulevard “pedestrian mission” – a mission clearly announced on sandwich-board signs in advance of the mission location, for those keeping their eyes on the road. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Cop repeatedly endangered in Powell crosswalk mission

for THE BEE 

On the morning of June 27, it became clear to Portland Police Traffic Division Officer Joe Goodrich why so many pedestrians find S.E. Powell Boulevard so scary to cross.

From 8 am to noon that day, Portland Police officers were working a Crosswalk Enforcement Action mission, in conjunction with the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), on Powell at the S.E. 31st Avenue crosswalk. 

PBOT High Crash Corridor Safety Program Specialist Sharon White, whose nerves of steel have made her the usual “designated crosser” in these missions, started the morning in that role. White always waits for a break in traffic before she steps cautiously into the crosswalk. Even with A-frame signs, decorated with a red flag on a pole, and big red traffic cone marking off the boundary of the Crosswalk Enforcement Action, several motorists always drive past White as she tries to cross the street. 

After Sharon braved traffic and oblivious drivers for some time, Officer Goodrich, dressed in his official police uniform and wearing a bright orange safety vest, gave White a little time off by taking her place in the crosswalk.

At the first break in traffic, Goodrich stepped out to walk north in the pedestrian crosswalk.. He made it halfway through one lane of traffic when a car shot past, missing him by about three feet.  The speed of the passing vehicle caused the officer’s safety vest to flutter in the wind.

Watching this near miss was Portland Police Traffic Division Sergeant Robert Voepel. He commented to THE BEE, “You need a full traffic lane, plus six feet, before you drive by a pedestrian.” And since that is the law, he started up his motorcycle and pulled out to cite the negligent driver. 

Meantime, Officer Goodrich was manfully again dodging cars and trucks as he walked to the south side of Powell Boulevard. There, he stopped to talk with us. 

“It's a little scary, stepping out in front of cars and trucks that are probably traveling over the speed limit,” Goodrich commented grimly. “It looks like people are distracted, and not stopping.”

Because Traffic Division officers are called to investigate crashes, he said he’s been called to some of the worst. “Not long ago, a serious pedestrian injury accident, at this intersection, was captured on video. To see the pedestrian hit by the car, and fly up in the air, and land on the pavement – it was very traumatic to watch.

“My experience here today reinforces for me that I need to make sure my own kids know to always look both ways, several times, before you cross the street,” Goodrich went on. “Expect the drivers to not see you. Another lesson is, if one car is stopped for you to cross the street, look before you go into the next lane – that other car may not stop.”

Sergeant Voepel circled back after issuing his citation, and parked his motorcycle. “People still don’t see pedestrians. They’re busy trying to get where they’re going, distracted by their thoughts or cell phones, and not paying attention to their surroundings,” he commented. 

To cited drivers, it’s just a traffic ticket. But to officers working these missions, “We’re educating them; like earlier today. A line of cars stopped in the lane, waiting for the pedestrian to cross. This driver drove right past those cars – and if Officer Goodrich hadn’t paused and looked around the stopped car, she would've hit him.”

Here’s the law: A driver must stop, and remain stopped, for pedestrians. “The other law is that if vehicles are stopped at a crosswalk, vehicles in the next lane need to slow down, and be ready to stop,” Voepel said. “Do not drive past those vehicles, until you know for a fact that the crosswalk is clear.”

It was jaw-dropping for us to watch, as Goodrich had one close call after another as while cautiously crossing Powell Boulevard in a marked crosswalk.

PDOT’s fearless Sharon White later gave THE BEE statistics from the 3½ hour mission:

  • Traffic citations: 55
  • Failure to stop and remain stopped for a pedestrian: 45
  • Traffic warnings: 20
  • Cell phone violation: 9
  • Failure to carry proof of insurance: 2
  • Driving over the speed limit: 2
  • Failure to use a seatbelt: 2
  • Driving with Suspended License: 1

With these numbers, it’s clear why PBOT has named S.E. Powell Boulevard a “High Crash Corridor”, and has repeatedly held these pedestrian missions there. 

“The Police Bureau received funding for this mission from “Oregon Impact”, which pays for staff time conducting at as many as four extended Crosswalk Enforcement Actions along our High Crash Corridors,” White told us.

She observed that, based on the results of this mission, they no doubt will return to this location in the future to conduct yet another Crosswalk Enforcement Action under this grant.

Parks Bond, Portland weather
Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz and Portland Parks & Recreation Director Mike Abbaté tell why this tax needs to be continued, after it expires in 2015. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Parks Bond pitched at Cleveland High


The mood of the 150+ people that filled every table bench and chair in the Cleveland High School Cafeteria on the evening of June 30 was jovial and supportive, when Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz came to pitch the renewal of the Parks Bond Levy. 

“I came here to support the Parks Bureau,” said lifetime Brentwood-Darlington resident Dick Hazeltine, for whom a neighborhood park is named.  “I’ll pay for the bond measure because I enjoy our parks.”

Also before the meeting, business owner and President of the 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association Richard Kiely commented, “I am here because I would rather continue paying what I’m paying now, than have a larger fee to pay later.”

As attendees got snacks of fresh fruit and cookies, Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz spoke with THE BEE.

“I'm very excited about the potential to obtain resources, to make sure that our parks don’t fail,” Fritz said. “Many parks are failing in terms of structural and maintenance issues. Pretty much you name any park in our system; it needs some kind of structural improvements or maintenance. Right now we have $1.5 million a year to do all 209 facilities, citywide.” 

Fritz stressed both in the interview and during the meeting, that she wasn’t proposing an “additional” tax. “It's not an extra tax.  It’s a bond replacing one that's expiring.  If voters decide not to replace the bond, the tax bill on a house valued at $150,000 will go down by $13.  If we replace the bond, the tax rate will not go up; it will stay at the current rate, continuing for the life of the bond.” 

The meeting started off with Commissioner Fritz taking a wireless microphone into the crowd to hear questions and comments. Most interviewees were complementary of the Parks Bureau and voiced their support for the bond measure.

Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) Director Mike Abbaté started off the meeting, saying that in the Bureau’s 100 year history, “Portlanders have repeatedly demonstrated that they care about parks and recreation. As a matter of fact, you may wonder why we have had [to raise funds through] these bond measures and levies in the first place.”

Funding for PP&R comes primarily from the one source, the City of Portland General Fund, Abbaté said. “But when you look at the history of the parks system, those annual general operating funds have paid for programs, mowing lawns, operating Community Centers. 

“They haven’t ever been sufficient to take care of what we call ‘heavy maintenance’ issues,” explained Abbaté. “And, we need to repair and replace things in many facilities and parks.”

In Inner southeast Portland, for example, are these major maintenance projects:

  • Creston Park Playground – Remove outdated structures, and replace with safe and updated play equipment, to serve 1,245 nearby youth, plus students from Grout Elementary School.
  • Sellwood Park – Replace the kitchen/restroom building roof. At the pool, install new roof system in the pool house to address leaks before the structure is damaged, and make seismic improvements.

The Portland Council vote was scheduled for July 24, after THE BEE’s deadline. If the Council referred it to the ballot, the Parks Replacement Bond Measure would then appear on the November 4 ballot.

And if that bond measure passes, homeowners would again be assessed only what they already had been paying: $.0877 per $1000 of the assessed property value of their home.

Yes, 2014 is a wetter year than last

Through the first six months of this year, our gauge in Westmoreland has recorded 26.14 inches of precipitation. Last year we logged only 15.37” in the first half, and the total for the year wound up 28.89” – or only slightly more than we have recorded already in 2014

So, yes, it’s a wetter year this year, and more in line with normal rainfall in Southeast Portland. There is one abnormal day of rainfall compared to the official Portland Airport readings this year, though, and we should point it out. On May 28 there were afternoon thunderstorms with scattered cloudbursts. One of those contributed to the .94 inch of rain recorded here on that date – but it missed the airport, which recorded only .06 inch for the day. Nonetheless, this year is much more normal so far than last.

Here are the statistics for Inner Southeast recorded at our Westmorland rain gauge for the past decade, both for the first half of the year and for the annual total:

            FIRST HALF              ANNUAL TOTAL

2004         16.25”                             32.11”

2005         19.52”                             40.99”

2006         23.14”                             46.38”

2007         18.90”                             42.29”

2008         20.46”                             36.42”

2009         21.08”                             39.90”

2010         30.50”                             56.04”

2011         28.44”                             44.49”

2012         33.41”                             59.29”

2013         15.37”                             28.89”

2014         26.14”                                ?

As you see, we range from dry to wet over a period of a few years, and so far this year looks fairly normal. By the way, the amount of rainfall does not predict snow; Portland’s snowiest December ever turned out to be 2008, with 18.9” of snow that month – but 2008 overall was a little on the dry side for rain.

But of all those years in that list, only one had any sprinkles at all in early August – that was also 2008 – and it was nice on the first Sunday. That’s one reason the first Sunday in August is always the date for SMILE’s “Sundae in the Park” in upper Sellwood Park. We’ll be there again, as usual!

Paul William Krekeler, Woodstock, murder
Police say this man – 19-year-old Paul William Krekeler, seen here in a December 2013 DMV photo – was murdered on S.E. Harold Street in Woodstock, and Crime Stoppers is offering a reward to find his killer.

Reward offered in Woodstock murder case 

for THE BEE 

Just before 11 pm on Tuesday night, July 22nd, gunshots rang out in the Woodstock neighborhood, and 19-year-old Paul William Krekeler was found bleeding from a wound to the chest. He had died just as East Precinct Police officers arrived at S.E. Harold Street at 57th.

“Detectives have learned that several neighborhood residents heard multiple gunshots prior to the discovery of Krekeler's body,” revealed PPB Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson.

“Krekeler appears to have run northbound on 57th Avenue before collapsing in a yard on the southwest corner of 57th Avenue and Harold Street. The residents of the home do not appear to have any connection to Krekeler,” Simpson said.

Witnesses reported to police that a white SUV or truck was seen leaving southbound on 57th after the shots, but it is not been confirmed that this vehicle is related to the shooting. “No motive has been determined in the shooting,” Simpson stated.

The Oregon State Medical Examiner performed an autopsy on the victim the following day, and determined that Krekeler had died of a gunshot wound to the chest.

The Police Bureau and Crime Stoppers of Oregon are asking for the public's help in solving this homicide by offering a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information, reported to Crime Stoppers, that leads to an arrest in this case, or any unsolved felony – and tipsters can remain anonymous. Call 503/823-4357 to leave the tip information.

Footbridge, Lafayette Street, PMLR light rail, MAX
One last look Brooklyn's old wooden footbridge over the railroad tracks at S.E 20th and Lafayette Street. It was to be demolished around the first of August; it eventually will be replaced by a sturdier structure next year as a concluding part of the Southeast light rail project. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

Light rail to bring Brooklyn new footbridge…eventually 


As part of the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail project, the Brooklyn neighborhood is scheduled to receive a new bridge. The rickety wooden footbridge that passes over the railroad tracks from S.E. 19th to 20th Avenues at Lafayette Street will soon be replaced with a new steel and concrete structure, complete with elevators and artwork.

PMLR spokesperson Jennifer Koozer revealed that the much-repaired wooden overpass was scheduled for removal around the end of July. “Then they'll spend one day setting in the girders [for the new footbridge], but the rest of the construction should take about a year to complete,” she said. “Stacy & Witbeck is the prime contractor for the job.”

The new structure will be realigned with a straight walkway, to better access the Rhine Street Station on S.E. 17th Avenue. It will be designed with steel girders and protective fencing to allow views of the branching railroad tracks at the north end of the Brooklyn Yard, and of railway cars passing beneath, as well as aerial views of the adjacent neighborhood and skyline.

Glass and steel elevators and pedestrian stairways will be sited at either end of the open bridge span. Views of the conceptual design images were prepared by Merryman Barnes Architects, and KPFF consulting Engineers, and can be seen online at:

There were over fifty steps to ascend to the deck of the original wooden bridge, which is the reason for the elevators to be placed at each end of the new footbridge. 

A double set of branching rail lines seen from the overpass are the inspiration for sculptural artwork by local artist Anne Storrs. The branching sculpture will be installed near one stairway entry, inviting pedestrians to contemplate the theme of transportation. These lines will be further incorporated into a design inset into the sidewalk at the foot of the opposite elevator – including lines of prose written by Cleveland High School students and Brooklyn neighbors. 

The design of the inset artwork is intended to mimic and deepen the image of the branching rail lines, suggesting roots and crossroads which look to and connect both the past and the future.

The Brooklyn neighborhood has an historic connection to both rail and water transportation, which is also addressed with the installation of a series of rusted steel rowboat planters scattered along the MAX light rail tracks on S.E. 17th Avenue.

Lents, 82nd and Duke, intersection
Lents Neighborhood Association Transportation Chair David Hyde, left, learns more about the project from ODOT Project Manager Nate Scott. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

SE 82nd at Duke intersection slated for makeover


The public got a first look at a project to be undertaken by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) recently, in a meeting at the Mount Scott Community Center. 

“This open house is to let the community know about an upcoming traffic safety project we have that will be built at S.E. Duke Street and 82nd Avenue,” explained ODOT Project Manager Nate Scott. “It is primarily a signal-replacement project.” 

This is an ODOT project, Scott said, because S.E. 82nd Avenue of Roses is actually State Highway 213. “It is operated by the City of Portland, but is a designated state highway,” Scott said.

ODOT Region 1 Traffic Operations Engineer Kate Freitag revealed that the intersection was chosen due to the number of accidents there. 

“Statewide, we look in crash data, using the Safety Priority Index System,” Freitag said.  “It shows the crash rates against the traffic volume; and helps determine where the high-crash locations are. This location was in the top 10% of intersections, statewide.”

Specifically, an ODOT document showed that in a recent five-year period, 2008-2012, 41 crashes took place at the 82nd-Duke intersection.

Scott told THE BEE that, over the next year, they’ll be replacing “old and outdated traffic signal equipment with new modern signals that will be much more visible. We are going to be improving the pedestrian signals as well, by replacing those with modern countdown signal heads.”

And there will be a safety accommodation for bus riders at the intersection also. “We'll be moving the bus stop that’s currently on the northwest corner of S.E. 82nd Avenue at Duke Street to the southwest corner of the intersection – and providing an out-of-travel-lane bus pullout there. 

“This will improve the congestion and operation issues; and increase safety. By moving the bus through the signal before it stops, that creates a safer situation,” Scott explained.

As to whether ODOT plans to add sidewalks in the area: “The project includes in-filling sidewalks on the west side of the street,” Scott said, “from S.E. Duke to Clayborne Street. And, the project also upgrades the ADA ramps on all four corners.”

The intersection upgrade is currently in its planning and contracting phases; construction is expected to begin next spring, and be complete in the fall of 2015.

Woodstock Park, dogs
Eighteen-month-old Emmett Lisle shares a Wheat Chex snack with Lily – a friend’s dog – while she is under the control of her “responsible dog owner” in Woodstock Park. (Photo by Elizabeth Ussher Groff)

Canine concerns dog some users of Woodstock Park


“Dogs in Woodstock Park” was a hot topic at the July Woodstock Neighborhood Association meeting.  The dilemma of how to happily and safely integrate dogs with people at the park has been an issue over the past several years. At this meeting, attendees came up with several suggestions.

The discussion began with Paula Chernoff giving an account of A scary incident that led her to write a letter to THE BEE and other newspapers. Chernoff, a retired attorney, was nearly knocked over by a big, aggressive dog, she reported, while walking her smaller dog.

The challenge of how to stay safe from big unruly dogs led to a broader discussion of how to maximize enjoyment of the park for everyone.  One person commented that the grassy knoll is a beautiful vantage point in the park.  She suggested that there be a study of park usage – children, adults, dogs – to determine if it would be desirable and possible to have a smaller, separate off-leash area to allow everyone to enjoy that pleasant, elevated part of the park.

The issue of fencing an off-leash area got batted around a bit, with some agreeing that a fence would provide a clear boundary of demarcation. However, this suggestion was countered several times with the argument that as long as there are irresponsible dog owners who let their dogs run anywhere, even a fenced-off area would not be a solution.

Some attendees went on to suggest more stringent enforcement of existing dog rules, to bring irresponsible dog owners into line.  It was thought that several weeks of Portland Parks & Recreation Rangers giving tickets to offenders ($150 each!) could be a deterrent.  

A dog-owner attendee then commented that she has seen families with young children come to the park with a family dog that is allowed to run loose while parents are distracted by caring for their children.  Other attendees chimed in with stories of big, scary dogs running unsupervised, inhibiting park users’ enjoyment, or getting into fights with other dogs.

Given passions the expressed at the meeting, WNA Vice-Chairperson Elisa Edgington expressed the hope that dogs in the park will not become a divisive issue. “We all love our dogs, and there ARE a lot of responsible dog owners,” she commented.

Gary Bankston, identifying himself as a responsible dog owner who is in the park nearly every day with his dog, emphasized, “The park is a wonderful place for people to make community ties.  Responsible owners can be a good influence in the park.  I’ll continue to talk with offending dog owners.” And before the discussion was ended, it was clear that Bankston was not alone in his hope that the park can continue to be a positive social environment for all. Summer off-leash hours are 5-10 am and 7 pm-midnight hours at Woodstock Park.

At the upcoming August 6th Woodstock Neighborhood Association meeting, Bryan Tierney, Dog Off-Leash Administrator for Portland Parks & Recreation, will be present to discuss the challenges of off-leash dogs in Woodstock Park. The meeting starts at 7 pm at the Woodstock Community Center, 5905 S.E. 43rd Avenue.

Bicycle thieves, Eastmoreland
It appears this car-prowl suspect is stuffing loot into his pedal-pushers, before making a getaway from the Eastmoreland scene of the crime. (Photo courtesy Portland Police)

Eastmoreland bike thieves caught on camera, but escape 


Two young men broke into vehicles in Eastmoreland during the early morning hours of Wednesday, June 25, smashing and grabbing valuables from cars and trucks in the vicinity of S.E. 36th Avenue and Henry Street.

“Additionally, the suspect stole three bicycles from an area residence,” reported Portland Police Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson.

“An alert neighborhood resident took pictures of the suspects as they rode the stolen bicycles in the neighborhood,” Simpson added.

Both suspects appeared to be white males, wearing drooping dark shorts and gray hoodies.

Officers checked the area, but the suspects had fled, Simpson said, and at last report still had not been identified.

Anyone with information about these incidents or the identity of either suspect is asked to contact Detective Chris Brace by e-mail at: – or by phone at 503/823-0541. 

House fire, air conditioner origin
Truck 25 firefighters check the eaves, looking for embers that could rekindle the fire, while another looks into the burned home, while standing next to the air conditioner suspected of starting the blaze. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Aging air conditioner suspected in Creston-Kenilworth fire 


A home at 4023 S.E 50th Avenue was ablaze, with flames belching out of the living room window, when Portland Fire & Rescue received the 9-1-1 call at 2:23 pm on Thursday, July 10.

“Smoke was emitting from the eves,” said PF&R Battalion Chief at the fire, “but one resident was already outside the structure when crews arrived.” 

Woodstock’s Station 25 Truck and Engine firefighters were concerned at first, when the neighbor who called the fire in to 9-1-1 also told them that the blaze had burned through the electrical service wires. But, as firefighters arrived and sized up the situation, they discovered it was actually the telephone line that had dropped in flames.

“Engine 25 assumed command and performed fire attack, as firefighters from additional companies completed primary and secondary searches of the home, secured utilities, and protected adjacent property,” said PF&R Public Information Officer Lt. Rich Chatman.

Firefighters quickly knocked down the blaze, but some fire had extended into the attic space. The crew of Truck 25 cut a “vertical ventilation” hole in the roof to allow hot explosive gasses to escape, and to douse the attic with water.

A fire investigator took a long look at a  large old-fashioned window air conditioner lying on the ground, in front of the burned-out window frame. 

Neighbors and firefighters speculated that either the air conditioner, or the power cord, could have started the fire. 

“No injuries to civilians or firefighters resulted from this fire,” Chatman reported. “Official fire cause and damage estimate are pending the result of the investigation.”

New bridge and path at Johnson Creek Park


Johnson Creek Park at S.E. 21st and Sherrett Street in Sellwood is receiving a new wooden bridge and also a new graveled access path.

In mid-June, the old arched bridge over Crystal Springs Creek was removed, and protective fencing was installed until new timbers could be milled. Betsy Redfearn, Portland Parks & Recreation Maintenance Supervisor for South and Southeast, observed that, “The old timbers were decaying, and the arched design of the bridge was not deemed ADA-accessible. The new bridge will be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and should be in place by mid-August.” 

In addition, a wide gravel path has been installed at the north side of the park to access the spit of land between Johnson Creek and Crystal Springs Creek. A mature cherry tree was removed nearby, but both sides of the graveled path have been replanted with native trees and shrubs to assist in flood abatement.

The new gravel path is sited near the intersection of S.E. 23rd & Sherrett, and leads into a grassy area with picnic tables. PP&R Horticulturist Cindy Wright remarks, “A crew from the Bureau of Environmental Services planted ash, alder, oak and big leaf maple trees along the path in Spring.” 

This quiet little Sellwood park is a great place to observe a variety of birds and riparian wildlife. Children enjoy looking for snails, small clams, and fish, in both creeks, as well as playing in the nearby playground.

Angry driver shoots up the street in Foster-Powell

for THE BEE 

A new Foster-Powell neighborhood homeowner on S.E. 70th Avenue near Lafayette Street looked concerned, as he watched police activity to the south of his location, with yellow police tape cordoning off the street, just after noon on Saturday, July 12.

“We just moved into this neighborhood, thinking it was safe,” he said. “I hope we didn’t move into an area with gang activity.”

The story behind this police investigation turned out to be far more bizarre than would have been a gang drive-by shooting, however. 

At 12:37 pm, Portland Police East Precinct officers rolled into the area to respond to a “gunshots fired” call -- just one intersection south, at S.E. Rhone Street and 70th Avenue. 

“The person who reported the gunshots told officers that a dark-colored SUV had stopped at a stop sign,” PPB Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson said. “The male and a female in the SUV were arguing with each other.”

Apparently the disagreement was heated, so the neighbor told them to stop arguing and leave, or he'd call the police – a request that apparently did not go over well with the SUV’s driver.

“As the driver pulled away from the intersection, he stopped, then fired several shots, before speeding away northbound on S.E. 70th Avenue,” Simpson said. “Nobody was injured during the shooting, and it does not appear to be gang-related.”

The vehicle was described as a dark-colored SUV – possibly an older Chevrolet Suburban, with black or dark silver “primer-looking” paint, black wheels, and possibly with one back window broken out, bearing Washington plates. The driver is described as a white male in his 40s with many tattoos and, apparently, a weapon. 

Anyone with information about this shooting is asked to call the Police Non-Emergency Line at 503/823-3333.

New rules fail to dampen the fun at Brooklyn’s informal water slide 

for THE BEE 

New rules posted for the Brooklyn Park water slide this year didn't hamper neighborhood enthusiasm for the celebrated hot weather feature. Park attendant Craig Montag said this was its 37th year of operation; generations of Brooklynites have enjoyed the informal slippery slide down Brooklyn Park’s hill.

As for those new rules, a Portland Parks & Recreation post at the top of the slide listed them – intended to improve safety, and maintain the integrity of park grass and plastic sheeting. 

Rule number one is that adults or over age 18 are not allowed on the Slip-n-Slide; and children must proceed one at a time instead of in groups. No obstructions are allowed within 20 feet around the slide, and no lubricants of any kind to make the slide more slippery are allowed. As previously required, no cut-offs, jeans, jewelry or shoes are permitted.

Montag notes that during hot weather (temperatures exceeding 90 degrees), the activity is set up only about  about once a week, in order to preserve the grass on the hill and the Little League field below. This year, the “splashdown” area at the base of the slide was extended horizontally with plastic sheeting, to disperse excess water over a wider area.

During the hot weather periods in July, squeals of delight were heard and happy smiles were seen along the water slide – a damp but happy feature of hot summer days in the Brooklyn neighborhood, on Milwaukie Avenue just south of Powell Boulevard.

Johnson Creek Park, bridge
It’s gone, Jim: The arched wooden bridge at Johnson Creek Park has been removed, and temporary fencing installed, until the new bridge is opened in August. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)
Foster Powell, driver shoots
Police officers examine bullet holes in this tree and a house, after an irate driver fired several shots at a neighbor who objected to the noisy argument going on in his vehicle. (Photo by David F. Ashton)
Brooklyn neighborhood, waterslide
A fun-loving youngster launches off the top of Brooklyn Park hill’s famous informal hot-weather water slide. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)
Stump grinder, gas leak, Woodstock
This tree stump grinding job comes to a quick halt, after the blades slice through an underground natural gas line. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

Stump grinder punctures gas line in Woodstock 

for THE BEE 

The sound and smell of natural gas spewing into the air shut down the 4800 block of S.E. Long Street in Woodstock, at 9:40 am on Friday, July 18.

Crews from Woodstock Fire Station 25, just a couple blocks away on S.E. 52nd Avenue, arrived within moments and began to prepare for the worst – something igniting the escaping gas, which could have turned the ruptured pipe into a blowtorch right next to the house.

Engine 25 had its pump hooked up to a hydrant by the time THE BEE arrived, but they held off charging (pressurizing) the hose line to await developments.

Just inside a fence, PF&R Battalion Chief Robert Zavodsky pointed out where a stump-grinding machine had accidentally hit and severed a natural gas line. “Natural gas was detected inside the home, so  firefighters opened the doors and provided forced air ventilation.”

When a worker from Northwest Natural arrived, he checked in the crawl space for natural gas buildup.

“Sometimes, gas lines can be run close to the surface of the ground, skirting around underground obstacles such as tree roots,” Zavodsky said.

Soon,  the gas line was safely capped without further incident.

“The fire safety message here today,” Zavodsky pointed out, “is to contact the Utility Notification Center any time you're going to dig in the ground, and get a ‘utility locate’. Their service is free, and it guarantees you’re not going to have a problem like this.”

Before you dig, even just to install a fence post or trellis, call 8-1-1, or go online to:  for information about having all underground utilities located, usually within 24 hours.

Southeast Quadrant Plan, Oregon Rail Museum
At the Southeast Quadrant Plan open house, visitors browse exhibits, dwarfed by locomotives in the Oregon Rail Heritage Center, where the meeting was held. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

City’s new “Southeast Quadrant Plan” revealed 

for THE BEE 

The City of Portland’s Bureau of Planning & Sustainability (BPS) came up with a unique location in which to hold their open house for the new “Southeast Quadrant (SEQ) Plan” on the afternoon and evening of Tuesday, July 8 – the Oregon Rail Heritage Center, opposite OMSI under the new McLoughlin/Grand viaduct.

Interested people had no difficulty finding the venue; shortly after the meeting began at 4:30 pm, some 40 attendees were there, examining exhibits set up between the towering locomotives in the engine house.

“We are doing an update of the zoning and policy framework for the Central Eastside,” explained BPS Senior Planner Troy Doss.

Project’s staff shared input they’ve received from the SEQ Stakeholder Advisory Committee that helped develop the draft land use concepts presented at the open house, Doss said.

“It’s really been untouched over the last 25 years,” Doss remarked. “We're trying to figure out what the role of an ‘industrial sanctuary’ is, as we move into the Twenty First Century and beyond. The existing policies and zoning tools more aptly apply to industry as it was in the 1970s, and they don't consider the industries that have come along.”

The Central East Side is primarily an employment center, Doss said. “There are some proposals to look at other scenarios – more of a commercial mixed-use, and perhaps some residential growth at some of the new TriMet MAX Light Rail Station areas.”

The take-away from the open house, Doss said, was that the city is trying to increase employment density in the area. “We’re seeing a huge demand for industrial type office space.  Not traditional type office space, but something that’s more appealing to software and industrial design and apparel companies.” 

Based on input they’d received at the open house, Doss said that he and his co-workers will continue their analysis over the summer, and make a presentation in September. 

To learn more, here’s their specific project webpage:

Troubled House, Franklin High School, principal change
Hours after an intense fire swept through this house, it’s now been boarded up. Officials say they’ve filed for a “demolition order” for this house near S.E. 70th and Crystal Springs Boulevard. (Photo by David F. Ashton)

“Troubled house” burns on Crystal Springs Blvd


Little has been revealed about the house fire at 7028 S.E. Crystal Springs Boulevard that brought out a full complement of Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) crews at 4:38 am on Thursday, July 10 

“Crews were forced to withdraw [from inside the structure] due to heavy fire,” stated PF&R Public Information Officer Lt Rich Chatman. “One smoke inhalation injury [has been] reported.” Chatman later told reporters than another individual was being treated for a burned hand.

Later that morning, several neighbors made it clear to us they didn’t want to be seen speaking with reporters, for fear of retaliation by the homeowners and their “guests”.

One man did speak with THE BEE, and said, “If [the owners] had a fault, it was that they were ‘too nice’, by letting people stay in the house. There may have been as many as ten people ‘crashing’ there.”

The man further stated that he was told that the house was going into foreclosure. “The owners were going to file for an extension, but the filing papers burned up in the fire.”

City of Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement (ONI) Crime Prevention Specialist Katherine Anderson characterized this residence as a “troubled property”, and said that officers from the East Precinct Neighborhood Response Team and a housing inspector from Bureau of Development Services had all had several contacts with the owners. 

Speaking with THE BEE, East Precinct Neighborhood Response Team Officer Mike Chapman explained that their role is to respond to neighborhood livability and crime issues, based primarily on calls from neighbors, or in conjunction with Crime Prevention Specialists.

“We’ve been to this property numerous times,” Chapman said. “Primarily, we’ve responded to what is categorized s ‘vice calls’ – that is, many people coming and going from the property, usually by bicycle, at all hours of the day and night.”

During at least one of the visits, they noted that the property had no electrical or water service.

After the fire, Chapman said a person who claimed to be a resident told him that someone else, living in the house, probably fell asleep with a lit cigarette while sleeping on the couch.

However, PF&R investigators have not released any information about this fire’s origin or suspected cause, or any estimated extent of damage.

An exploration of public records showed several “Housing General Complaint” records about the property.

A “Nuisance Owner Occupied Complaint” filed May 26, 2011 stated “Garbage not picked up for three months. All over the street, overflowing out of their cans, and all over the neighborhood.”

Another complaint logged in on September 25, 2013 was for “Occupied Sheds” in the back yard.

The inspector, Bureau of Development Services Distressed Properties Specialist Mitch McKee told THE BEE that the power was off when he inspected the property that day. On January 14, when the City performed a “nuisance warrant” of the property, he didn’t see anyone living in the back yard.

More recently, a “Code Compliance Zoning” case was filed on May 5, with a “Trailer parked in front of house in driveway”.

McKee verified that the owner is facing foreclosure.

“We have an open housing case on this property,” McKee said. “There is currently a complaint to have the property vacated. Since the fire, we are requesting demolition.”

Before a warrant can be issued to demolish a property, it first must go through a hearing process, McKee explained. “The hearings process takes time. The original [vacate] complaint has to be altered, cleared by management, and sent to the Hearings Office, which is scheduled about three weeks out.”

If the city prevails, a judgment will be issued two weeks after the order is signed; then, demolition takes at least 90 days later, McKee said.

Asked why housing inspectors can’t do an inspection immediately when a complaint is lodged, McKee said, “Without a search warrant, we’re permitted only to walk straight from the sidewalk to the front door. Even just to come onto the property to do an ordered clean up, a warrant is required. It all takes time.”

It is unknown where the owners – and their “guests” – are currently residing, but officials told us it may be at another property they’re watching, right down the street, at 6927 S.E. Crystal Springs Boulevard.

Franklin Principal joins PPS leadership team; replacement sought 


Portland Public Schools has a new level of leadership under the aegis of Antonio Lopez, Assistant Superintendent of School Performance.

PPS Superintendent Carole Smith in July announced development of the new team of seven Senior Directors to better support schools and students with additional expertise. The new team drew members from across the district, including Franklin High School’s Principal Shay James, whose former position at the high school will be reassigned.

Smith said, “These changes elevate our most successful strategies to a District level [for]…supporting Principals in improving instruction, engaging families, building partnerships, and forging solutions when challenges arise.” 

Mr. Lopez has served as a regional administrator, coaching and mentoring Principals. In his new role, he will oversee the team and report back directly to Smith.

The new Leadership Team is composed of both current and new administrators. Larry Dashiell will be Senior Director of the Cleveland and Wilson Clusters; Karl Logan will be Senior Director of the Grant and Jefferson Clusters; Sascha Perrins will be Senior Director of PK-12 Programs; Korinna Wolfe will be Senior Director of Multiple Pathways to Graduation; and Greg Wolleck will be Program Director of Schools.

New members of the team are: Shay James, Senior Director of the Franklin Cluster; Lisa McCall, Senior Director of the Lincoln and Madison Clusters; Charlene Williams, Senior Director of the Roosevelt Cluster and Benson High School.

Team members will supervise all grade levels in their cluster, and will spend most of their time in the schools, while Perrins and Wolleck will primarily handle matters in the central office.

Car fire, Woodstock neighborhood
Firefighters from Station 25 mop up, after extinguishing a vehicle fire in front of the Plaid Pantry store at 42nd and Woodstock Boulevard. (Photo by Rita A. Leonard)

Car Fire on Woodstock Blvd hampers afternoon traffic 


A mid-afternoon car fire on Friday, June 27, at S.E. 42nd on Woodstock Boulevard slowed and detoured traffic, as police and fire personnel responded to the smoking Jeep Compass with a blackened hood. 

East Precinct sent officers to redirect traffic around the damaged minivan, while Woodstock’s Station 25 firefighters Fire Fighters doused the blaze. The stubborn engine fire still exuded wisps of smoke for some 15 minutes after first-responders arrived, but fire crews continued to spray the engine until all traces of smoke were gone.

No one was injured during the incident, although impatient drivers along Woodstock Boulevard fumed at the unexpected traffic delay at the start of the afternoon outbound commute.

Reed College won’t divest fossil fuel holdings

Sustainable Life magazine
Special to THE BEE

Reed College’s Board of Trustees has decided against selling off the college endowment’s investments in fossil fuels, as requested by climate change activists in the campus group “Fossil Free Reed”.

In a letter issued in mid-July to “Fossil Free Reed”, Reed Board Chairman Roger Perlmutter said the Trustees agreed that climate change “poses quite possibly the biggest challenge in human history,” but don’t believe the private college should divest its oil, gas, and coal company stock holdings.

The trustees were clearly divided, Perlmutter said in the letter.

Some were concerned about financial losses resulting from changing investment managers or investment strategies.

Others thought the move would be hypocritical as long as the college community is consuming fossil fuels. 

Yet others said the college’s chief role should be to reduce its carbon footprint, and educate students about climate change and ways to address it.

To read the full statement from the Reed College Trustees, go online to:

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