Month: July 2020

Public Trash Can Expansion

In Montavilla Town, there are only two public trash cans. One sits next to the TriMet number 15 bus stop near McDonald’s. The other is a few blocks away on SE 79th. These two represent the highest density of public trash cans within Montavilla, but soon that could change. In 2016, Portland City Council expanded the city public trash can program into underserved areas. The expansion has been sporadic. However, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) expects it to reach Montavilla late in 2021.

To fund the public trash program, City Council adopted an increase to the solid waste commercial tonnage fee of $1.30. The first use of those collected funds happened in 2017, with a Jade District pilot distribution of new cans purchased from Securr. In the past few weeks, two of the new cans have arrived on NE Glisan near NE 97th Ave.

The Securr trash enclosures prevent misuse and dumping by design. These containers have locking doors and a small trash aperture that only allows individual items. Despite their availability, trash bags have already accumulated around one of the new cans. Outside of financial concerns over public trash collection, trash piled around cans has been the primary concern with public trash can programs.

Not all municipalities see expanded public trash cans are as an accepted solution to litter and dumping on city streets. In 2018, the Harlem neighborhood of New York systematically reduced trash cans. City staff viewed the misuse of the cans as a widespread failure of the program, with cans crammed full of trash bags and debris from homes and businesses. In that case, they removed abused cans and started fining residents for litter in front of their property. The city found it reduced the visible garbage on the street, but some residents felt that the Sanitation Department just shifted the burden onto them instead.

New York has a history of experimenting with trash can reduction to reduce trash. Between 2011 and 2015, New York City removed trash receptacles from select subway stations. Early success in the program demonstrated that garbage did not pile up in areas that had been a problem before removing trash bins. Critics dismissed the successes, pointing to an increase in collection efforts for the remaining cans during the testing period. The test did not accomplish the goals of lowering the garbage collected, just redistributed the volume to other areas. Ultimately they observed a 33 percent increase in track fires due to litter falling off the platform, and the test ended without any permanent changes.

New York is not alone in studying the efficacy of trash can placement on litter reduction. During 2017-2018, the City of Philadelphia conducted a study to test the principals of trash can reduction. In general, liter went up as they reduced the number of waste bins. The report recommended increasing the number of publicly accessible waste receptacles across many city spaces such as commercial corridors, parks, recreation centers, and highly trafficked streets.

Studies like the one done by Philadelphia may seem pointless, as people fell more cans will always reduce litter. However, they can help keep programs like Portlands expansion funded by reinforcing the need for public garbage cans through real numbers. BPS plans to conduct a review of Jade District trash receptacle placement, and study if trash can availability caused a reduction in litter. “With the large expansion of the trash can program into East Portland, we are beginning to plan for reviews of various aspects of the program, including placement and litter reduction.” Said a BPS official, communicating through Christine Llobregat, with BPS Communications.

However, Portland’s BPS doesn’t require a study to proceed with the expanded public trash can program. The Montavilla neighborhood should see new units on the street in November of 2021. BPS expects the citywide deployment to complete in August of 2022. 

Exact garbage can placement in our area is undetermined, waiting on community input. BPS has no existing procedure for involving the public in the can placement process, requiring them to develop that process now.

“We are currently in the process of developing the procedure for how to best gather community input for trash can placement. We will seek feedback and input from a broad array of community members, including neighborhood associations, business associations, non-profit organizations, faith communities, and individuals, with a priority focus on BIPOC communities.”

Louise Hoff of the Montavilla Neighborhood Association expressed interest in participating in trash can placement. Hoff already had a shortlist of locations that were known litter areas that could benefit from the addition of new trash receptacles.

Wide trash can distribution in Montavilla is not a certainty. Allocation happens at the city quadrant level, SE/NE/N/SW. This program should help Montavilla, but it is not the only source of public trash receptacles. TriMet maintains a limited number of cans near bus stops. Local businesses or community groups do sponsor some bus stop trash containers. Otherwise, it is up to TriMet to determine the best placement. Montavilla has a few TriMet maintained cans.

The BPS expansion is an excellent start for increasing the availability of public trash cans. If successful and supported by the public, the program could expand. Early community involvement is a way to signal to BPS that the service is wanted. Like all cities, Portland struggles to keep clean. BPS hopes this program will help reduce litter measurably. The mark of success will be cleaner streets.

Cover image Courtesy of City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. All others are copyright Montavilla News 2020.

Rapid 1931 Home Remodel

A sale is already pending on a recent remodel of the house located at 43 SE 89th Ave. Waterworks Contractors Inc. bought the small 1931 house on March 25th and quickly refreshed all aspects of the home.

The Field Issuance Remodel (FIR) Permit 20-152707 was applied for June 3rd and issued a few days ago on July 21st. It calls for an “extensive home remodel, largely interior. Exterior changes to windows in existing rough openings, remove chimney and fireplace from the street-facing elevation. Replace all mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems.”

At just 968 square feet, the house could be considered small for the neighborhood. It originally had no street-facing windows. Instead, it had a large river stone chimney dominating the front wall. With the chimney removed, two windows join the door on the building’s street side.

Image from Google Maps

The renovation focused on making the most out of the limited interior space. Removing the dividing wall between the kitchen and living room created a nearly 30-foot deep core space. Each of the two bedrooms gained builtin closets. The one bathroom expanded into the front bedroom, allowing the addition of a double vanity. There is an 8-foot by 18-foot basement room that would be considered non-livable space due to its single egress. That room’s finished in the same style as the main floor. The listings calculation of 1,164 square-feet looks to include the basement room.

The property has a detached garage and a rear deck accessible from double doors off the back bedroom. The builder chose many high-end finishes, completely transforming this building. Although completed quickly, this could stand as an example of how to maximize value with minimal space. As more infill homes pop up in Portland, proper use of small spaces will be essential, and buyers will need to readjust their expectations of size.

CrossFit Montavilla Closing

Over the weekend, CrossFit Montavilla announced they would be closing at the end of the week. The business has occupied 8040 SE Stark Street for over two years. Local businesses and customers are expressing their sentiments over the shutdown on the company’s Instagram.

According to the Instagram post announcing the closing, “COVID-19 realities” are the cause for the shutdown. Many businesses have struggled to operate profitably during the pandemic. Social distancing restrictions are more difficult for organizations that offer indoor services as they do.

CrossFit Montavilla brought many benefits to Montavilla Town through an upgraded shopfront and active customer base. Previous to CrossFit Montavilla‘s residence in the building, it was home to A-1 Foam Rubber. In its early life, Fred Meyers owned the building. Although all too short, CrossFit Montavilla’s time in the building was a positive mark on the history of that space.

Below is the text from CrossFit Montavilla’s Instagram post.

To all of our members and the Montavilla neighborhood…

We are grateful to have been given the privilege to form friendships and build community through health and fitness over the last 2.5 years Thank you for trusting us enough to invite us into your story. It has been an honor to partner with you, and to share life through daily ups and downs.

Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 realities we are facing, we will be closing our doors at the end of this week.

While we grieve this loss, we have many “wins” to celebrate. First and foremost, we celebrate each friendship made and relationship built, for these are lasting and go beyond the walls of the gym.

Let’s have a great, final week of workouts together!

Glisan Affordable Housing Breaks Ground in 2022

Late last year, Metro purchased the former Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) property at 432 NE 74th Ave. Metro now intends to develop the site for affordable housing. Full utilization of this site could create one of the most significant housing developments in Montavilla.

“Metro purchased the property through the Transit-Oriented Development program with the intention to build affordable housing in partnership with Portland Housing Bureau and using Metro Housing Bond funds.” Explained Patrick McLaughlin, Senior Development Project Manager for Housing & Transit-Oriented Development at Metro.

Metro’s Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) program seeks to build more places where people can live and work near transit. Often they accomplish that through partnerships with the private sector. One of those projects, Orchards at 82nd, brought 47 residential units to SE Division. McLaughlin sees similarities between that project and the TBN site, noting similarities in the developer selection process.

High-level planning for this project will start soon and continue into 2021. During that time, stakeholders will settle on goals for the development. Then Metro will select a developer through a competitive process. Already potential builders have inquired about the property, according to McLaughlin. “Developers have expressed a lot of interest in the site, but we haven’t had any detailed conversations with them about proposals since that will come later in the process.”

Portland has an urgent need for affordable housing, and the pandemic will only make that need greater. McLaughlin offered a best guess at a construction start date for this project. “Right now, I’d suggest construction would start in 2022. However, COVID-19 is making it a little tricky to be certain.” As with other affordable housing coming to NE Glisan, this project is years away from completion. However, if this project can be delivered in three years, it will be arrive when it will be appreciated the most.

Development along NE Glisan has increased over the last year. The transformation of the TBN site could become the most substantial change to the area and set a tone for future growth. This project has the potentail to improve housing and the vitality of NE Glisan as a main street of Montavilla.

White Rabbit Will Wait

The much-anticipated opening of White Rabbit Cafe and Bakery will have to wait until 2021. Morgan and Jax Hart have postponed the launch of their new brunch spot to preserve the restaurant’s original intent, which could not exist with current restrictions. Instead, they will lend the space to their other creations. Starting August 14th, 7940 SE Stark Street will become Heartbreaker Market.

The original Hungry Heart Bakery location, at 414 SE 80th Ave, will temporarily become an ice cream focused shop, serving Heartbreaker ice cream by the scoop, and pint. The transformation of the 80th Ave location will happen in the coming weeks.

According to Morgan Hart, postponing White Rabbit was the only reasonable choice if they were going to open the location as envisioned. Staff expressed that they are not conferrable offering table service at this phase of the pandemic. Brunch is inherently a sit-down experience. There was not an elegant way to make White Rabbit takeout friendly. “Nobody does Eggs Benedict takeout,” said Morgan Hart. “it would be mush.” For the Harts, this was not White Rabbit’s time to open.

Courtesy of Hungry Heart PDX, LLC

Construction at the new restaurant has been underway for months, albeit slower due to social distancing. The Stark Street location is mostly completed now, except for booths and other dining room finishes.” The kitchen looks like a kitchen [and] the counters are looking beautiful,” exclaimed Morgan Hart when describing the progress. This level of completion at Stark Street is sufficient for takeout services. The Harts did not want to waste the opportunity to use the new larger kitchen and prep space. Moving operations to the Stark Street location will be a relief for the seven staff members who have been trying to make do in the smaller kitchen on 80th Ave.

Heartbreaker Market will not provide table service at this location. As Hungry Heart operated down the street, they will continue to serve takeout through zero-touch sales. They plan to expand the menu at the Stark Street location, incorporating some of the takeout friendly options intended for White Rabbit.

The fully implemented White Rabbit will open in January 2021. At that time, Hungry Heart will return to its old location. The Hungry Heart menu will then adjust to focus on sweets, with savory items remaining on Stark Street at White Rabbit.

The Harts have a strong vision for their restaurant creations and compassion for their staff’s wellbeing. That has guided them to look to a longterm perspective when planning around this pandemic. They expect to be in Montavilla for many years, making proper execution of their vision more important than a hasty opening.

New Corner Ramps at NE Couch

The intersection of NE Couch Street and NE 80th Ave will receive much-needed updates. Reconstructed corners and new sidewalk ramps will replace the deteriorated curbs there today.

At this intersection, current sidewalk corners do not have ramps, having been constructed in 1915 and 1928 before they were standard. As a T-intersection, only two corners exist, and the opposite sidewalk on NE 80th has no curb-cut for pedestrians to use. The addition of an ADA compliant ramp on the west side of NE 80th looks to be part of this project. These upgrades will allow for pedestrians to smoothly navigate the intersection.

Image from

This segment on NE Couch Street has some historical lot alignment issues that created an awkward street. At one time, a building on the northeast corner of the intersection blocked NE Couch from expanding to the full road width. In 1950, construction of the current corner building allowed proper setbacks for widening the roadway. That road expansion has yet to occur. Now what would have been a sidewalk and street is instead a gravel parking lot for the building. Unfortunately, the street markings made in preparation for this roadwork, indicate that the roadway will remain in its skinny alignment.

Lazy Susan Open for Dinner

Construction is now complete on the much-anticipated restaurant taking over the former Country Cat location. This past weekend, Lazy Susan staff officially started dinner service, representing the diner’s official opening.

Kayla Morrell, of Lazy Susan, described the opening weekend as successful. “We’ve seen a fair amount of turnout for our first weekend of full-service dining, and hope that continues as word gets out in the neighborhood.”

Dinner service is available from 4 PM to 9 PM, Friday through Sunday. They expect to add Thursday dinner in the near future, as business ramps up. Lazy Susan will also begin opening for brunch on Sundays and Mondays. However, the exact time and date for brunch service are yet to be determined.

Lazy Susan’s dining area and bar are ready to accept customers, having been carefully worked on for months. However, indoor seating will remain closed. “While the situation with COVID continues, we plan to remain in a takeout and outdoor-dining only format.” Said Morrell. 

The restaurant’s interior expresses both cozy and open feelings. Woodwork surrounds the interior on all surfaces and creates compartments within the space. However, the areas’ division is represented on the outer edges, making the core of the room open and expansive. Wood dominates all corners of Lazy Susan, but the variety of stains and finishes prevent it from feeling excessive. Recessed lighting and ornamental light-fixtures illuminate all the compartments, further creating defined space without walls. The contoured paneling of the ceiling and wood floors will reduce sound reflection, creating a comfortable volume, once the room is packed full of people. For now, customers will have to view the detailed woodwork and creative lighting through the windows. 

The kitchen is updated to support the charcoal centric menu. Some eliminate are a holdover from the Country Cat. Two under-counter refrigerators and the six-burner range are original. The custom charcoal grill is all new and sits center stage in the open kitchen. Future customers will be able to sit kitchen-side to watch the seasonal creations sizzling.

Lazy Susan occupies the corner shopfront in the historic Dickson Drugs building, located at 7937 SE Stark Street. The second weekend of dinner service starts tonight at 4 PM.

Renowned Portland firm, Osmose Design, created Lazy Susan’s distinctive look.

Last Call for Pottery Fun

Pottery Fun on Stark Street is closing permanently. All remaining items in the store are for sale, starting this weekend. The sale runs from Noon to 4 PM on both Saturday the 25th and Sunday the 26th.

Located at 7821 SE Stark Street, Pottery Fun offered craft activities creating personalized painted pottery. The sale should include many craft supplies as well as some shop fixtures. 

Closing a decades-old business is a financial and logistical challenge. Support from the community in purchasing the items from the store will help with both difficulties. Consider a final visit to Pottery Fun this weekend to say thank you. Perhaps you will also find some part of Pottery Fun you want to take home with you.

Disclosure: The author’s daughter once worked at Pottery Fun.

Town Storefront for Sale

7850 SE Stark Street is listed for sale by its owner, who operates Electronic Claims Services from this location. Property listings for Stark Street storefronts are uncommon, particularly in buildings centrally located in Montavilla Town.

Constructed in 1946, it was home to bicycle stores for much of its early life. First as Lawrence H. Hook’s Hook Cycle Shop, and later as Mt. Tabor Schwinn Cyclery. This trend lasted until the mid-1980s. In 1998 the current owners bought the building for their business.

This building is one of the old holdouts from a darker time on SE Stark Street. In the 1990s, many storefronts in the area converted to office space, and very few buildings were inviting to pedestrians. With 20 years of curtains drawn and staff entered from the parking lot in the back of the building, it has looked more like a wall than a storefront. Electronic Claims Services is a good neighbor and a Montavilla East Tabor Business Association member. However, their business is exclusively online, and this space is more effective as a retail or food-related establishment.

The sale of this building is an excellent opportunity to activate the front of the building with large windows and a public-oriented business. It is between the theater building and Thatcher’s Lounge. SE 79th Ave ends right at its door, making it one of the most visible structures on the block. Commercial real-estate moves slowly, but soon enough, something interesting should arrive at this location.

Interested buyers should contact Nathan Drake with Marcus & Millichap.

Nathan Drake
(503) 200-2046