LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Reservations about 52nd Bike Project
About the [Woodstock, and northward] 52nd Avenue Bike Project: OK, so I'm all for helping the environment, and biking certainly is a healthy alternative to riding in a car. But, there is another group of people that live in Portland. People with disabilities, or older citizens who wish they could hop on a bike and ride to work. The fact is many simply cannot. I have M.S. and there are days that I have to park out front. I am still trying to work a full time job, and take care of a house. Parking down the street and around the corner is sometimes not an option. My neighbor is 95 and needs to be let out in front, so that she can avoid the stairs - where is she supposed to go? Was this taken into consideration, or was it just another youth oriented decision? Aren't there other options? Side streets? Smaller streets, like 72nd?
Trudi Tommaso-Elbon, via e-mail
SpielWerk Toys closes in Sellwood - for now
We regretfully announce that August 31st was our last day in our Sellwood store on S.E. 13th, which has been our first home and family since we opened our doors five years ago. We have thrived in this neighborhood, and are very sad to leave - we sincerely hope it will not be for long
We have always adored our Sellwood store for its charm and whimsy, but have long since run out of room to play. We have had intensions to move within the neighborhood, but despite our best efforts, we recently had to decide to give up our fight for a space that was not possible to ready in time for our move. This, coupled with the persistent uncertainties of the struggling economy, has prompted us to cozy up in our N.E. Williams location, focus in on developing projects, and to continue to serve you the best in traditional toys.
Despite recent constraints on the small toy crafter, which has hampered much of the special import toy availabilities, domestically we are experiencing an upsurge in the production of handcraft toys - which is very exciting! At a time when reaching far for goods is unsustainable, we plan to use this transition time to increase our search for more domestic product while helping to develop our own local cottage industry. We look forward to deepening our relationships with our crafting community, and soon expanding our production of signature traditional toys.
Stacee Wion, and everyone at SpielWerk Toys
Maybe the owners should be leashed?
In the continuing discussion [BEE Letters] of dogs off leash, and un-picked-up poop, I'd like to contribute my latest experience... This morning while walking my dogs (on leashes) through the field [southern Oaks Bottom] below Sellwood Park, I encountered a woman and her off-leash dog. I stopped my dogs to wait for her to leash hers so we could continue on, but she chose not to, stating that her dog is 'friendly'. I assured her my pup is too, but my older dog can be protective if strange dogs get too close to us.
Well, sure enough, her dog ran straight up to us, failing to stop on her command. When my dog barked and fended off her dog for being within two feet of us, she snapped that my dog should be muzzled. I pointed out that my dog had not bitten hers but, in my surprise at her rudeness, forgot to mention that it was she who was not in control of her off-leash dog - in an area that is not permitted for off-leash dogs to run free.
I walk through Sellwood Park and the surrounding area every day, and am frequently surprised by these people who think their dog is friendly enough to not be bound by the leash law. I no longer trust off-leash dogs regardless of what their owners may tell me, having encountered too many that were not actually under control, and some that acted aggressively towards my dogs. Another thing I frequently see are dogs that wander off or fall back to relieve themselves, while their owners walk, or jog/run, onward, not bothering to pick up the poop their dog has left behind.
I know there are a lot of bigger problems in the world, but I do wish everyone would realize that leashes on dogs in public is actually a law, and not just a suggestion for people to decide on their own - just like wearing seat-belts in cars and not talking on your cellphone while driving. It too is for everyone's safety and the well-being of our local environment, which happens to be the habitat for some amazing wildlife that doesn't care either if your dog is friendly, when it comes running up to them unprovoked.
M. Natosi, via e-mail
Historic Sellwood quilt draws interest
[Re: 'Rare quilt to be displayed at Sundae in the Park', August BEE]: This would be a marvelous quilt to document for the purpose of adding to the Signature Quilt Pilot Project of the Quilt Index, a division of The Alliance for American Quilts. I am a member of the Pilot Project Team and an independent quilt historian. My three grown children live in Portland. I would love to see this quilt sometime during one of my visits!
Karen Alexander, Past President, Quilters Hall of Fame, via BEE online comment form
[EDITOR'S NOTE: See a follow-up article on that quilt in this issue of THE BEE.]
Thanks from the SWBA
The Sellwood-Westmoreland Business Alliance (SWBA) would like to thank the 103 local businesses that participated in our 5th annual 'Passport to Sellwood-Westmoreland' summer event on Saturday, August 6th. We would additionally like to thank the 17 individual neighborhood businesses that chose to advertise, and our main sponsors - Providence and NW Primary Care - for their extremely generous support, which allowed us to create street banners, run advertisements, make posters, adorn the street with 4' balloons, and create the passport book which 2300+ participants used to amass stamps at our businesses, vying for prizes we all donated to make this an extra fun summer day.
We gave out over 125 gift certificates for those participants that collected 10-15 stamps in their books. We extend big congratulations to the three grand prize winners: Lisa Ham, Nikki Koster, and Dana Robinson. As always, there was no purchase necessary to participate in this community event. Finally - a gigantic tip of our hat to the hardy few that tried to amass the most stamps of all. The winner of this grand prize, who truly explored and discovered all of the Sellwood-Westmoreland, is Jennifer Grebil.
Instead of walking the traditional path of a street carnival or sidewalk sale, the Sellwood and Westmoreland business owners want to encourage the exploration and discovery of the many different retail stores, restaurants, and services that our two neighborhoods have to offer. SWBA hopes visitors enjoyed their day strolling, browsing, eating, listening to music, and having a great weekend day in the Sellwood-Westmoreland communities.
Debbe Hamada, Board Member, SWBA
Too many beeps
This is a call to all neighbors in THE BEE's distribution area that are as fed up with the incessant beeping coming from the relocated Union Pacific transfer yard on Holgate as my wife and I are. We have always loved the sound of the trains and understand that the development of the Holgate switchyard was integral to the founding of the surrounding area.
However, the equipment back-up warning beeping sounds that have been emanating from the switchyard day and night are a recent development tied to the relocation of the Intermodal shipping facility from the Albina Yard to the Brooklyn Yard - a relocation that, as far as I know, came with no public meetings or outreach by Union Pacific to the residents of the surrounding area.
Admittedly, we live close to the trainyard (near Tucker-Maxon), but we are sure that others are as put off by the sounds as we are. However, a call to the Reed Neighborhood Association went nowhere. I liken the effect of the beeping to a swarm of mosquitoes; if one or two fly by once in a while, no problem. But when they swarm for hours on end, sometimes late into the night, the effect is overwhelming.
Legally, the beeping is not loud enough to qualify as noise pollution. Additionally, Union Pacific is not subject to many of the laws and statutes that state and federal agencies are. Furthermore, worker safety is (and should be) of paramount importance. However, if enough S.E. Portland residents are fed up with the situation, I feel that we could have some leverage...if even to just limit the hours that the beeping occurs or to somewhat muffle the beeping apparatus. I welcome compromise and creative solutions, and a team effort would help to bring these to Union Pacific. I would love to hear any and all input on the matter. Please contact me.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: We are informed that this beeping, which is intended to keep U.P. Brooklyn Yard employees from being run over by railroad equipment, and which usually is made when backing up, now occurs when the large overhead intermodal loading cranes move in either direction. It is federally mandated. Some conversations have already occurred with the railroad over the possibility of modifying the noise without materially reducing safety. There is not yet a result from those conversations at this time.]
Thanks from Sellwood Lofts
On behalf of the residents of Sellwood Lofts Condominium Association, I would like to thank Crime Prevention Program Coordinator Havilah Ferschweiler, Officer Eric Webber, and the firemen, all of whom helped make our first National Night Out a real success. It is so comforting to know such great resources are available to look after our wellbeing. I would also like to thank the neighbors who provided the food for our potluck, and for their donations of clothing for the women's shelter.
Katherine Pavesic, SLCA Neighborhood Watch Coordinator, via BEE online letters form
Developer abandons a plan for skinny homes in Eastmoreland
The house at 6745 S.E. 36th had been on the market for six months when developers saw the opportunity to buy it, demolish it, divide the lot, and build two 'skinny houses'. Although the planned Tudor-style 26-foot-wide houses looked well designed and attractive, we felt they were totally out of place in the neighborhood. Neighbors quickly organized and sought the support of all Eastmoreland residents. Around 100 emails were sent to the developer and to the city planner. The developer, Mike Hubbell of The Portland Development Group, saw excellent profit potential in building two houses, and none in building just one new house. Fortunately, he says he found a way to renovate and add a floor [to the existing] house that would yield some profit, while winning the support of the neighbors.
The house, built in 1926, has beautiful hardwood floors and a unique fireplace, but the kitchen and bathrooms will be modernized and new electrical work, insulation and heating and air conditioning will make the house more energy efficient and earn designation as an Earth Advantage and Energy Star Home.
The previous owner spent a wonderful retirement in the house and worked diligently in the yard and gardens. The grounds contain a great variety of plants, shrubs and trees. It would have been a shame to lose them to new construction. The new renovation will preserve much of the delightful grounds and plantings.
The neighbors wish to thank all of those in Eastmoreland who supported the efforts to prevent these 'skinny houses'. We hope to work with the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association in meeting with the city planners to preserve the beauty of the area.
William and Molly Morgan, via e-mail
ENA weighs in on skinny homes controversy
Over the past few weeks the neighbors on Southeast 36th received quite a shock when a developer proposed razing one of the fine old homes and replacing it with two 'skinny' houses. After a great deal of effort by the neighbors and the surrounding community, the developer has decided to remodel and improve the home rather than destroy it. I am grateful to both the developer and the neighbors for making the right decision.
Many of us have been disappointed in the decisions coming from City Hall over the past few years. THE BEE has reported several times on our battle with the Mayor to keep the city's trees alive along Reed College Place. Perhaps one of the most serious errors was a belief that providing an incentive to raze high quality existing housing in favor of lower quality housing would make the city more livable or more prosperous. The correct way to add high density housing is actually to add to the housing stock, not provide incentives for its destruction.
P.S. A quick response to the concern raised recently [in the BEE Letters column] to the use of caution tape to protect the plantings along Reed College Place. We will make sure that the plastic gets into the right hands to be recycled into park benches and other useful objects rather than the landfill. Thanks for the comment!
Robert McCullough, President, Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association, via e-mail
Architectural perspective on skinny homes issue
Developers are paying premium prices for close-in city land because properties in these areas appear to be holding their value and selling more quickly than in most suburbs. Contrary to the beliefs of some folks, these demolitions are not caused by the Urban Growth Boundary driving up land values…Portland's zoning regulations are encouraging such infill.
Amendments to Portland's zoning regulations have eroded the historic 'R5' 5,000 square foot lot designation. While the name and general description have not changed, the fine print allows 3,000 SF lots or in some cases 2,500 SF lots. The changes to the code were well-intentioned efforts to allow infill development on vacant lots, and to increase density to improve the efficiency of urban services - including transit - and to provide additional affordable housing by increasing the supply of buildable land. A parallel goal is to preserve the character of these neighborhoods prized by the residents and important to the health of the city. Now is the time to assess these policies. Are they working as intended?
Too often the results of infill in the R5 residential neighborhoods have been poorly designed, and compromise the quality and scale of the neighborhood streetscape. The City's efforts to counter this effect with 'community design standards' have had limited success. A particularly unfortunate example has been the insertion of multiple 'skinny houses'. These are exempt from portions of the design standards, and are very inefficient in the use of energy and land. On wider lots, the demand for larger houses and garage parking often combine to reduce landscaping on the street and visual and acoustic privacy between houses. There is a real need for houses designed for the neighborhood rather than the generic catalog house plans that suburban builders are offering.
The goal to reduce energy use and build green is compromised when quality housing stock is demolished and replaced by larger houses. The loss of history both architectural and cultural is destructive to the fabric of the City. In the older parts of the city, the prized neighborhoods are valued because they tell a story of time past and embody the character of the place and relationships. They preserve the design aspirations and values of homeowners, architects, developer/builders, and public agencies which had the vision to create such places.
Clearly the time has come to re-evaluate and refine the regulations. Three suggestions for improving neighborhood preservation and reducing wasteful demolition are outlined below.
1. In the R5 zone, prohibit demolition of existing houses occupied within the last 5 years on existing lots proposed for lot segregation into sub-5,000 SF lots.
2. Strike the rule allowing by right construction of skinny houses except where there is a single vacant lot of record. Where there are multiple adjacent vacant 25-foot wide lots of record, allow only attached housing having the general appearance of a single dwelling on such lots in the R5 zone. This is similar to the regulation for corner lot sites.
3. Obtain Historic District status requiring design review and designs tailored to their site and context. Prevent demolition dependent infill on lots less that 5000 SF under any circumstances except where such a pre-existing lot is vacant. The Ladd's Addition, King's Hill, and Irvington neighborhoods have adopted such protection and the Reedwood neighborhood is considering this as well.
Only the third approach can be applied locally. It requires a designation process to confirm the resources to be protected and the vote of the neighborhood residents. Suggestions 1 and 2 would require concerted pressure on City Council by multiple neighborhoods to consider housing cost, resource conservation, energy conservation, neighborhood preservation, and design impacts to counter demolition dependent infill.
JR Merrick, Southeast Portland, via e-mail
'Mustard Seed' still a community resource
A reminder to Inner Southeast residents that 'The Mustard Seed' is a retail non-profit store, offering fine clothing, inexpensive but of high quality, as well as coffee cups, dish sets, kitchenware, baby shoes and clothes, purses, jewelry, hats and accessories - ladies enjoy browsing in the boutique, where they find exceptionally nice clothing. But there's also men's clothing, hard and soft cover books, even items that would make a nice wedding gift. The store, in All Saints' Episcopal Church at 40th and S.E. Woodstock Boulevard, is not only a community resource but also a fundraiser for the church. Come visit for a delightful look-see, and leave with happy purchases! But it's open only two days a week, so we'll hope to see visitors on Fridays and Saturdays, 10-3.
Bettie Meeker, Woodstock
Thanks from 'Sundae in the Park'
Perfect weather, excellent entertainment, delicious food, and lots of socializing created nothing short of a fun-filled day for those who attended the 32nd annual 'Sundae in the Park' on the first Sunday in August - this year, the 7th of August.
Many thanks are in store for those who volunteered their time, or performed at the festivities. Performances on the stage included - the blues, rock and sassy vocals from the Kris Deeland Trio; the exhilarating and unforgettable songs and dancing of the students of the NW Children's Theatre; and as always, the soothing sounds of Tall Jazz. The lineup continued with some Cajun heat and swamp rock, as the hot fiddling of Kelly Thibodeaux and screaming guitar strings of Buddy Sawyer sent the crowd into a frenzy of delight. And, don't forget the little lady with the soothing voice, Angela Joy Barclift of Etoufee, that made it an unbelievable night! The splendid vocals of the young duo Lewis and Clark wrapped up the performances. Activities for children and adults were offered by volunteers Kate Loggan (croquet and hula hoops), Jeffrey Kolwitz (bubbles), Gail Hoffnagle (Bingo), Meyer Boys and Girls' Club (facepainting), and Sellwood Community Center (creative hats). The Oregon Zoo's ZAP program offered a chance to observe small animals, reptiles and birds in the shade of the park's huge trees.
An event this size takes many additional volunteers to make it a success. The SMILE History Committee: Joe Johns, John Fyre, Michael Hayes, LynAnn Beck and Eileen Fitzsimons answered neighbors' questions and gathered new information about the area. Special help from SMILE board members: Tom Ramsey, Pat Hainley, Matt Millenbach, and Sean Murray made set-up and clean-up a breeze! Tom even took time to help Southeast Portland Rotary scoop almost 2,000 ice cream sundaes. A food court organized by Loaves and Fishes provided a large choice of menu items from Curbside Grill, Bruce Lee's Kitchen, Oregon Ice Works, DeMolay, and Loaves and Fishes.
Graphics for the fliers, posters and the website were designed by Gray Whelan and Jeffree White. Printing assistance was provided by Joel Fields' Sellwood UPS store on Tacoma Street, and flyer distribution was also provided by Jon Willie's Westmoreland Papa Murphy's Pizza. The SMILE information table was staffed by President Matt Millenbach, LynAnn Beck, and a neighborhood resident - Cherry. Pam Orser worked with Portland Parks, Multnomah County, and the City of Portland to provide the needed permits. Benny, with Sunshine Dairy, delivered all the ice cream plus the freezer to the park; Westmoreland QFC donated freezer space for extra ice cream. Jeff Milkes (Zone manager for Portland Parks) and his staff set up the stage, the rock climbing wall, and the giant movie screen, and they monitored the garbage cans, cleaned the restrooms, and picked up litter. Their help was greatly appreciated! Their big-screen movie and even more live entertainment was provided under the stars to finish off a great Sunday! Bingo prizes were donated by Bee Thinking, Cloudcap Games, Grand Central Bakery, Moreland Theatre, Nectar Frozen Yogurt, and Volcano Cones. Many Sellwood and Westmoreland merchants donated dinners and merchandise certificates for drawings during day.
Thanks also go out to area non-profit groups who sponsored displays and activities: Johnson Creek Watershed Council, Crystal Springs Community Collaborative Project, Portland Parks Nature and Willamette River Stewardship program, Oregon Rail, and Beth with information on nature planting and butterfly habitats. If we have forgotten you, we apologize.
'Sundae in the Park' was organized by a committee of five - Nancy Walsh, Dana Beck, Eric Norberg, Lynne Chowning, and Gail Hoffnagle. If you would like to help with next year's festivities, contact SMILE. New helpers and ideas are always welcome, and needed, to keep this neighborhood tradition going strong. Don't forget to check out our new website: www.SundaeInThePark.com - and send us your photos of the event, so we can include them. See you next year, on the first Sunday in August!
SMILE Sundae in the Park Committee, via e-mail
Major art event at Lewis and Clark College across Sellwood Bridge
Wanted to give you a quick heads-up that in September, a major collection of new art from some of the Northwest's most influential contemporary artists will debut at the Hoffman Gallery at Lewis and Clark College. The exhibition will feature the work of 20 past fellows of the Bonnie Bronson Fund - including David Eckard, Christine Bourdette, Marie Watt, MK Guth, and Kristy Edmunds - and is the first gallery event to bring this cache of artists together in one exhibition. The Lewis and Clark exhibition is the centerpiece of a multi-part tribute that should appeal to readers with an interest in Pacific Northwest art. If you aren't familiar, the Fund is a tribute to the legacy of Bonnie Bronson, a powerful force in the regional art community who died in a climbing accident in 1990. Learn more online: www.lclark.edu .
Linda Tesner, Director, Hoffman Gallery for Contemporary Art, via e-mail
SMART Seeking Volunteers in Southeast Portland
I want to let BEE readers know that 'SMART' ('Start Making A Reader Today') is seeking volunteers for the coming program year, beginning in October. We're celebrating our 20th anniversary this year, and volunteers have been at the very core of SMART since our founding. We are looking for site coordinators to run SMART programs in five sites in Southeast Portland. We are also always looking for volunteer readers to spend an hour per week reading one-on-one with PreK-3rd grade children. If you're interested in taking on this fun and rewarding volunteer opportunity, please contact the SMART Metro office at 971/634-1616, or visit our Internet website at: www.getSMARToregon.org - to learn more.
Laura Goldman, via e-mail
All letters to the editor are subject to editing for clarity and available space, and all letters become property of THE BEE.