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Council holds rare session in Mid-County

Publisher’s note: Welcome to Perlman’s Potpourri for December, a roundup of news items from the Gateway and Parkrose neighborhoods of mid-Multnomah County from veteran Beat Reporter Lee Perlman.

Coming up, deciding how to spend the first half-million dollars in support of the East Portland Action Plan, the Portland City Council holds a rare evening meeting outside the council chambers at the Midland Library.

A plan to change bus routes drew the ire of residents at a neighborhood meeting. Activist Linda Robinson said the problem was the design of the Parkrose/Sumner and Cascade stations and that transit riders to the south “shouldn’t have to suffer because the city and TriMet did stupid things.”

An east Portland office developer runs afoul of design regulations.

Portland Adventist’s newest edifice, The Pavilion, is an 180,000-square-foot building on schedule for a May 2009 completion date. The Pavilion will have a Cardiovascular Care Center pulling together all services related to heart issues.

Remember the old bingo hall in Gateway, next to J. J. North’s? The Portland Development Commission is closer to acquiring it for a park despite the need for environmental cleanups at the site.

Also in Perlman’s Potpourri, Innovative Housing has begun accepting tenants in 82nd Place, a 58-unit development in two buildings on Northeast Broadway at 83rd Ave.

While not on the scale of Adventist Medical Center mentioned above, Western States Chiropractic College is proceeding with a new capital project. It has applied for an amendment to its conditional permit to build a new 8,500-square-foot building on the northwest corner of its campus.

The Portland Development Commission seeks to partner with the nonprofit Human Solutions in a major development on Northeast Glisan Street at 99th Avenue.

As part of its Safe Routes to School program, Russell Academy and parent volunteers are asking the city to install five new pedestrian crossings at key intersections.

And finally, Perlman has sad news to report. Ann Pico, longtime Mid-county activist and a founder of the Wilkes Community Group passed away.

But first, to City Council’s trip to Mid-county ...


Council comes to east Portland for Action Plan hearing and vote
In a rare change in procedure, the Portland City Council will hold its hearing on the proposed East Portland Action Plan Dec. 17 at 6:30 p.m. at the Midland Library, 805 S.E. 122nd Ave. City Council candidates and aspirants often speak of holding hearings in times and places convenient to the general public, but evening hearings are rare; use of venues other than City Hall are even rarer.

The plan is the result of a year’s work by the Bureau of Planning staff and a broad-based steering committee composed of both elected officials and community representatives. It examines issues and problems in east Portland and offers a variety of action items to address, including several short-term ideas that it hopes can make an immediate impact. Council has allocated $500,000 to fund such projects.

In recent months a subcommittee has proposed seven items as the plan’s short-term top priorities. These items are:
• Providing Storefront Improvement Program grants to businesses on Southeast Division Street east of 122nd Avenue. (This program, usually provided by the Portland Development Commission in urban renewal districts, is highly popular and chronically under-funded.)
• Hiring an advocate working out of the East Portland office to help implement the EPAP projects.
• Providing pedestrian crossings in conjunction with the Safe Routes to School program.
• Initiating planning studies for future improvements on Southeast Powell Boulevard.
• Funding studies for Gateway Green, a proposed recreation area located on 35 acres owned by the Oregon Department of Transportation at the confluence of the I-84 and I-205 freeways (see below).
• Initiating a pilot plan study to improve land use, development design, access and connections along Southeast 122nd Avenue between Division Street and Foster Road.
• Creating a grant fund to finance implementation of EPAP projects.

Proposed bus changes draw fire
Ideas for bus route changes by TriMet drew strong criticism at a Hazelwood Neighborhood Association meeting last month.

TriMet service planner Tom Mills said that the transit agency is experiencing delays on its Line 15 route due to the difficulty of getting in and out of the Parkrose/Sumner Transit Station. The agency also wishes to provide better service to the East Portland Community Center, he said. To deal with these issues, he proposed two scenarios for route changes.

In option one, every other Line 15 bus would go to the community center on Southeast 106th Avenue, skipping 102nd Avenue. In option two, all Line 15 buses would take this route. To compensate, the frequency of Line 22 would be increased from its current schedule of one bus every 30 minutes to one bus every 15 minutes under option two, with somewhat less frequency under option one. This would retain the current level of service on part of 102nd Avenue.

However, Mills conceded, it would mean that service would be reduced or even eliminated south of Northeast Pacific Street.

The proposals drew strong protests from those present. Several said that the area where the service would be reduced, including Portland Adventist Hospital and the Cherry Blossom senior complex, are the core of the neighborhood. Activist Linda Robinson said the problem was the design of the Parkrose/Sumner and Cascade stations. The transit riders to the south “shouldn’t have to suffer because the city and TriMet did stupid things,” she said. She urged Mills and his cohorts to get involved in the station-area planning effort. (Mills later told the Memo that TriMet was involved in this, but that any improvements that might come out of it are too long-range to be currently considered.)

Woodland Park Neighborhood Association Chair Alesia Reese said, “Woodland Park and Parkrose won’t accept a reduction in service.”

“I’m with Alesia on this,” Hazelwood Chair Arlene Kimura said.

Hazelwood board member and Opportunity Gateway Program Advisory Committee Chair Bob Earnest said he did like the idea of providing direct service to the community center. Many seniors and children use it, and “the only service they get is the LIFT handicapped minibus,” he said.

Mills said that the proposals are just ideas and that TriMet is not committed to either of them.

Developer hits design obstacle
Developer Bob Schatz has run afoul of city design regulations.

Schatz told the Hazelwood Neighborhood Association last month that he wants to build a four-story office building at 123 N.E. 97th Ave. The building would contain 91 small office units ranging in size from eight by eight feet to 10 by 12 feet, which he would rent for as little as $150 a month. “I’ve found there’s a lot of demand for someone who just needs a place for a desk and a computer,” he said.

The property is in the Gateway Urban Renewal Design District, making the project subject to design review. Planners are unhappy with Schatz’s plans to place a large, black metal “O” on the side of the building. This, plus the lack of a sufficiently noticeable street entry, does not give enough prominence to the street, Schatz was told. His alternative is to appeal the staff’s denial to the Portland Design Commission.

“I want something that someone can see and instantly recognize,” Schatz said. “The front is more attractive than most already.”

Hazelwood board member and realtor Fred Sanchez expressed sympathy for Schatz. “Have we seen any building permits here at all?” he asked. “What I thought was, ‘Great, something unique,’ which is what I thought this neighborhood was about.”

Hazelwood Chair Arlene Kimura was more cautious. She noted that the neighborhood had fought to get design review as protection against badly designed development. “We certainly don’t want this building not to be built, but everyone must meet the design guidelines,” she told Schatz. “If we let you off, we’d have to show a good reason for it. If you could show a stronger front, we could support you.” Schatz says he plans to build two more buildings adjacent to the first, one of which would be two to three stories tall, the third 110 feet high.

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