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Commander Crebs transferred to Central

Editor's note: Welcome to Perlman's Potpourri, news items from across the Gateway and Parkrose neighborhoods of mid-Multnomah County from veteran Beat Reporter Lee Perlman.

Coming up, Mike Crebs, the popular commander of the Portland Police Bureau's East Precinct, has been transferred downtown.

City Council considers two important planning measures in January, amendments to RICAP 5 and the Bicycle Master Plan.

Also in this month's Potpourri, Perlman reports the Opportunity Gateway Program Advisory Committee determined by consensus their highest priorities for spending in the near future.

Longtime Hazelwood activist Linda Robinson is appointed to the Portland Parks Board.

And finally, work on the Portland Plan is moving forward and concerns from activist Bonny McKnight about the Balkanization of City government.

But first, the farewell to Crebs...


Crebs reassigned
Mike Crebs, commander of East Precinct for the last four years, was reassigned last month to head the Portland Police Bureau's Detective Division. Mike Reese, commander of Central Precinct, took over East Precinct. David Famous, in turn, replaced him downtown.

“It's bittersweet to me,” Crebs said. “It's been a wonderful four years. Serving the citizens of east Portland has been wonderful; they are so grateful for our service and so supportive. I've never served with officers who were so dedicated.”

In other respects, the East Precinct community is not as well served by the city. “When driving around the area, it saddens me to see so many dirt roads, lack of proper lighting and stuff. We want people to take pride in east Portland, and there's a lot to be proud of, but they need basic resources.”

For that reason Crebs, who served on the advisory committee of the East Portland Action Plan, urges citizens to get involved in the creation of the Portland Plan, which will update the 1980 Portland Comprehensive Plan and set policies and regulations for public and private activity.

“This is a very fast-growing area, and citizens need to get involved in planning for it. It's important for citizens to help shape the future, and make sure they have the resources for a livable community - not just police - but other amenities.”

He mentioned the East Portland Community Center and its new aquatics center, across the street from East Precinct.

Other hearings
Two other planning issues will be coming to the Portland City Council early this year. RICAP 5, a collection of code amendments on a variety of subjects, is set for Wednesday, Jan. 6. at 2 p.m. Among other things, it contains measures to liberalize regulations governing the development of new accessory rental units in single-family zones. Other changes would facilitate the installation of small solar or wind energy generation devices in such zones.

The update of the Portland Bicycle Master Plan, calling for new routes, is set for 2 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 4, at City Hall 1201 S.W. 4th Ave. All hearings mentioned are open to the public.

Gateway budget priorities
At an informal session last month, members of the Opportunity Gateway Program Advisory Committee determined by consensus that their highest priorities for spending in the near future are projects aimed at job creation, job retention and economic development, with the creation of parks and other new public infrastructure a lesser objective. According to Sr. Project Program Coordinator Justin Douglas, of the Portland Development Commission, the district's estimated budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year will be approximately $5 million.

Robinson appointed to Parks Board
Commissioner Nick Fish has appointed longtime Hazelwood activist Linda Robinson to the Portland Parks Board. The group serves as an official sounding board for bureau policy as well as an advocate for bureau policy and programs. Among other things, it took a strong position against a proposal in 2009 to install a new minor league baseball stadium in Lents Park. Robinson, one of the charter members of the grassroots Citywide Parks Committee, is the first east Portland resident to be appointed to the Parks Board.

Balkanization of city government continues
Meanwhile, work on the Portland Plan is moving forward. Last month the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, charged with the work, convened the first meeting of the project's Citizen Advisory Committee. Of 60 people named to the body, 36 showed up, including David Douglas Superintendent Barbara Rommel and Russell Neighborhood Association and Citywide Land Use Chair Bonny McKnight. The bureau will hold a public hearing on a series of lengthy white papers concerned with various aspects of the plan beginning at 6 p.m., Jan. 26 at 1900 S.W. 4th Ave. 1900 Building colloquially referred to by the city workers who inhabit it. The information can be obtained at

People in other parts of town - particularly Southwest Portland - have complained about the process so far. Only very limited summaries of the position papers are available in hard copy, and downloading the large documents is difficult, especially because of the elaborate graphics accompanying them.

McKnight told the Memo she agrees with these complaints and that it is part of a larger problem. “Our most significant challenge will be dealing with city government as remote as it has been in the past at a time when we absolutely have to have public involvement.” The budget cuts in the Bureau of Development Services have resulted in the removal of senior civil service people with low seniority throughout city government, known as bumping, and there's been no public discussion of this.

Another issue long considered is the Balkanization, or the breaking up into smaller and often hostile units, of city government with each commissioner leading rather than managing his or her own bureaus. “It's an inefficient way to do business at any time and especially right now,” McKnight said. “There's no attention to major problems, such as deteriorating infrastructure that gets worse, and more expensive to deal with every year. It will continue until something falls down, or our water quality becomes so bad we can't use it, and something has to be done.”
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