Month: August 2021

Bike Shop Move Signals Trouble on Glisan

After nearly three years on NE Glisan Street, TriTech Bikes moved out of Montavilla. A relentless series of break-ins, vandalization, and assaults pushed this business out of the neighborhood. Its departure could become the first in a wave of area shops relocating to better parts of Portland or closing down permanently.

TriTech Bikes owner Dylan Carrico-Rogers grew up around NE Glisan and wanted to be part of its revival. His shop, formerly located at 7323 NE Glisan Street, occupied a transitioning section of Glisan across from the Candlelight Restaurant and Lounge. Before the pandemic, despite challenges, the area was on its way to becoming a walkable business corridor. 

Within the last 18 months, Carrico-Rogers experience three break-ins, two nearby shootings, property destruction, and biohazardous waste all over the property. After losing $25,000 to theft, TriTech Bikes’ insurance premium increased by 150%, with the insurer threatening to terminate coverage if it happened again.

In a phone interview, Carrico-Rogers expressed how disappointed he is in the neighborhood support systems. According to Carrico-Rogers, he reached out to his landlord after each break-in but found them unsupportive and incapable of securing the building. The Portland police failed to patrol the area after months of sustained burglary and violence surrounding his shop. Even when an unlicensed and uninsured motorist totaled his vehicle parked out front, police officers let the person drive on due to insufficient resources.

Carrico-Rogers felt ignored by a local business association that he saw as focuses on Stark Street. By his assessment, the community is mishandling Portland’s problems and unwilling to voice a collective outcry for help.

He pointed to the community’s excessive empathy for the houseless as contributing to open drug use, public defecation, and increased larceny. He admits he reached a breaking point but cautions the neighborhood that he is not alone. 

According to Carrico-Rogers, other business owners he spoke to on NE Glisan, from NE 67th to 82nd Ave, are also looking to move. He explained that those who owned their buildings would keep the property but shutter the business. People working in the area see a future where NE Glisan is build up like inner SE Division Street. However, they know that transformation is five or ten years away. Carrico-Rogers explained that no business could survive what the area has become, waiting for things to improve.

TriTech Bikes new location at 2622 SE 25th Ave

Daily life has vastly improved for Carrico-Rogers and TriTech Bikes staff. They relocated to SE Clinton Street in a single-story shopfront located at 2622 SE 25th Ave, Suite A. Now positioned in an active commercial area closer to the city center, things are safer and calmer. Now they can focus on supporting customers and recovering the losses suffered over the last year and a half. 

UPDATE – The opinions of the subject interviewed in this story do not represent the perspective of Montavilla News.

SE 92nd Blue Postal Box Removal

This summer, the number of United States Postal Service (USPS) blue collection boxes in Montavilla dropped to four. In July of this year, postal employees removed the iconic blue collection box at 1231 SE 92nd Ave, leaving a sizable gap in the neighborhood for outbound mail-drop locations.

This recent removal was not the first disappearance of this collection box in 2021. In January, thieves broke into this box to steal mail and rendered it unusable. USPS crews replaced the damaged unit within a week. Unlike last time, criminals were not responsible for its permanent removal. Instead, budget cuts and declining use sealed its fate.

A year before the collection box’s removal, national controversy surrounded the reduction of postal services ahead of the presidential election. USPS staff reportedly focused blue box elimination on “redundant” units and not single boxes. None of Montavilla’s five boxes fit that profile and were deemed safe. Ultimately, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy postponed changes to the postal system until after the November 2020 elections, further reducing public concerns. However, the cost-saving efforts resumed in 2021 and progressed without much attention, leading to the box removal from SE 92nd Ave.

SE Montavilla Collection Boxes. Map courtesy USPS

Montavilla’s distribution of blue collection boxes has historically skewed towards SE Stark Street and NE Glisan Street. However, two locations south of SE Washington Street provided acceptable coverage for residents. This latest removal has created a much wider gap between places where people can deposit outbound mail. Although these reductions are driven by declining use, citizens expect a reasonable distribution of mail services. Securely sending mail from a home address has increasingly become difficult due to theft and other logistical challenges.

The same area targeted by this USPS collection box reduction will become the location for greater housing density within a few years. Several apartment projects are underway or proposed close to SE Division Street, and new residents would have used the 92nd Ave location. 

Admittedly, few people consider proximity to a collection box when deciding where to live. However, USPS blue box placement is one aspect contributing to the walkability of an area. Portland leaders are building the city to encourage car-free activities, and reducing postal boxes is just one small change that will push back against that initiative. With luck, a new box location will arrive at some future date and fill in the gap felt in southeast Montavilla.

Blue USPS Collection Box before it was removed from SE 92nd Ave and Hawthorne Blvd

Volunteers Clean Around JOIN

Today, 31 volunteers cleaned the blocks surrounding the houseless support organization JOIN PDX at 1435 NE 81st Ave. SOLVE Oregon coordinated the event and provided cleaning supplies. Crews focused their efforts on the neighboring parking lot for Eastern Cathay Restaurant and other nearby streets.

JOIN sponsored this event, with many staff from the host organization joining community members in cleanup efforts. The cleaning event kicked off at 10 AM and ran until 12:30 PM. During that time, volunteers filled dozens of trash bags with litter and gathered piles of discarded car parts. SOLVE-trained staff collected over fifty hypodermic needles and safely disposed of them.

SOLVE event coordinator Peter Brewer said that his organization appreciated the support from JOIN. He recognizes that this section of Portland suffers from intense litter and indicated that his group intends on returning to this location more frequently for future cleanups. Upcoming events will appear on SOLVE’s online calendar.

Images courtesy SOLVE Oregon.

Update: Volunteer count updated from 27 based on final counts from SOLVE.

Disclosure: The author of this article volunteered for this cleanup even.

SE Division Turn-Lane Reconfigured

This month, construction crews began lane reconfiguration work on SE Division Street near SE 92nd Ave. The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) will replace a continuous painted center turn-lane with physical separation and left turn controls. Portions of the center divider will transform into a raised median with street trees and pedestrian islands. This work is part of the Outer Division Safety Project and the Division Transit Project.

Out past 82nd Ave, SE Division Street features five lanes dedicated to automobiles traffic. Two lanes accommodate vehicles traveling westbound, and two are for eastbound traffic. The fifth lane is a multi-directional turn-lane used for short distances while executing a turn. PBOT determined that a significant number of crashes occurred to vehicles using the turn-lane. By adding a raised center median to SE Division, PBOT expects to reduce collisions between cars and produce safer pedestrian crosswalks.

Example of marked left turn space. Image courtesy of PBOT

Creating a raised median will change how drivers access businesses and side streets. The continuous divider will restrict left turns along the road except for designated areas. Drivers needing to access a location on the left side of the road may need to drive past their destination and execute a U-Turn at a marked left turn space. This configuration confines cross-traffic to specific locations and eliminates head-on collisions by cars using the turn-lane simultaneously.

Image courtesy of TriMet

Non-motorists will also benefit from the raised median. A lane-width divider will provide a mid-crossing island for pedestrians to safely wait for cars to stop. This protective space allows two shorter crossings and reduces the length of time both directions of traffic need to stop when yielding to foot traffic. Additionally, bicycle commuters will be less vulnerable to unexpected cross-traffic with the new configuration. The raised median does not resolve all bicycle collision issues. However, it will reduce those interactions to marked intersections where there should be better visibility.

Work on SE Division will continue until the Summer of 2022. Look for disruptions to normal traffic flow over the coming months as crews install the permeant median. Drivers and pedestrians should use extra caution in this area as people adjust to the new configuration.

New Recycling Law Introduces Statewide Changes

In this legislative session, Oregon lawmakers passed the Recycling Modernization Act (SB582), creating a significant overhaul of state policy that will modernize Oregon’s recycling system. Governor Brown signed the bill into law on August 6th. In a shift from the traditional recycling doctrine, partial funding for these enhancements will come from packaging, food service ware, and paper product manufacturers.

Across the country, consumers bear most of the recycling burden. Individuals must find an appropriate recycling collector for their items, pay recycling fees to trash services, and fund programs with tax dollars. When this law goes into effect at the beginning of 2022, Oregon will create a new “shared responsibility” recycling system. Consumers are still responsible for much of the recycling process and costs. However, this marks a shift in the government’s thinking on waste reduction. If recycling costs impact producers of single-use items, then there is an incentive to reduce packaging and improve the recyclability of products. Within the law, producers of non-recyclable products will pay higher fees to the program, incentivizing a shift to use recyclable materials.

Beyond adjusting the financial model for recycling, this law focuses on program expansion and logistical enhancements. The bill includes funding to improve recycling sorting facilities and consumer education programs throughout the state. In rural Oregon, the bill provides subsidies to get material to sorting facilities. Additionally, it increases access to recycling for people living in apartments and other underserved housing.

Expanding recycling collection will not necessarily reduce waste if items have nowhere to go after being sorted. Provisions in the law ensure collected plastics are actually recycled, not just transported and disposed of in a landfill. Not only will these changes increase the effective operation of Oregon’s recycling program, but they may also restore consumers’ faith that their recycling efforts are worthwhile.

Staff from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will spend the next few years developing the specific rules needed to implement this law. The DEQ created a form for stakeholders to register their desire to participate in the rules advisory committees or other advisory groups. Expect to see many small developments around Oregon’s recycling program as planners engage with the public and manufacturers. These changes affect a greater number of businesses than any other Oregon recycling law, and its thoughtful implementation will detriment if Oregonians see the desired effects on the environment.

Image courtesy of Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

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A Market Built for Delivery

Recently, a new market opened along SE 82nd Ave. However, it’s not designed for you to peruse their aisle or visit at all. REEF Technology opened this new location at 1133 SE 82nd Ave to host a collection of impulse-focused brands serving the growing online delivery market. These sellers advertise their products for quick local delivery through various app-based delivery services like Uber Eats, DoorDash, Grubhub, and Postmates.

Before the pandemic, Miami Florida based REEF Technology began developing their nationwide network of parking lots into delivery hubs and ghost kitchens. That business grew immensely during the pandemic, as customers moved to pick up and delivery services for their dining activities. According to the company’s website, “REEF helps property owners transform their parking assets into micro-distribution centers, in turn connecting the surrounding community with the goods and services they need.” This Montavilla location features a refrigerator trailer for ice cream and other cold packaged products. Next to that trailer is an unlabeled food cart that can provide cooked meals for a host of delivery restaurants under REEF’s NBRHD Kitchens program.

Unlike other customer-centric businesses, this location opened quietly. In late May, Portland City inspectors marked electrical permit 21-041316 as complete. It covered the installation of a new outdoor 200 amp electrical panel with service hookups for the mobile distribution center and food cart. Between the trailers, a portable toilet provides washroom facilities for the few employees working the site and the stream of gig-workers showing up to collect the outgoing deliveries.

REEF owns and operates Light Speed Market from this site, offering connivance store products exclusively through delivery apps. Other brands listed on the locations signboard are independent companies that sell directly to customers online or through regular grocery distribution. Their partnership with REEF allows them to advertise their products on delivery apps alongside local restaurants and more prominent brands. The growth of this model is an indication that it works for REEF’s partners. Less-known brands gain national exposure through the listings in delivery apps, and restaurants can launch in new locations without needing infrastructure or staff.

An environmental conservation argument could support this model as well. Micro distribution centers placed throughout a city will reduce the distance delivery drivers travel, decreasing greenhouse gasses generated by those vehicles. Additionally, shorter routes promote fossil-fuel-free delivery methods like bikes or electric scooters.

Despite the benefits, parking lot markets and unlabeled kitchens could potentially cause damages to a neighborhood. Established businesses in the area now have to compete against a brand with significantly lower costs. Rent on a shared kitchen is substantially less than staffing a dedicated restaurant. Additionally, these micro-distribution centers and ghost kitchens employ minimal staff and do not add to the vibrancy of the streetscape.

REEF has discovered a successful business model that feeds the growing appetite among customers for instant gratification with little effort. Demand may subside after the pandemic, but this type of delivery-only operation is likely here to stay unless people put away the delivery apps altogether.

Volunteers of America Buys Glisan Property

In May, the Oregon branch of Volunteers Of America (VOA) bought a large property on NE Glisan Street from Central Bible Church. The property spans two blocks, encompassing the large church building at 8815 NE Glisan Street and the unpaved parking lot across NE 90th Ave.

In a message from the Central Bible Church about the sale, they described VOA’s intentions for the property. VOA of Oregon runs programs throughout the State that focus on serving the elderly, youth, individuals released from incarceration, people with disabilities, and recovering addicts. At this facility, they will repurpose the existing building and campus to expand the availability of programs they currently offer in Portland. Although VOA is in the early stages of planning, some services expected at this site include the VOA Family Relief Nursery, recovery services, and counseling services.

The Central Bible Church supported its members for 89 years. However, financial difficulties forced the organization to cease operations last year. They held their final service on Sunday, February 23rd, 2020. In a letter to the congregation, church leaders explained that the staffing levels and size of the property were more than what members could support. Mounting utility costs for the 60,000 square-foot facility outpaced its active use, and 65% of the operating budget went to employee-related costs, 15% greater than similar faith-based operations.

Church leadership also pointed to new seismic requirements in the Portland code and over one million dollars in deferred maintenance as deciding factors in the church’s decision to shut down. Staff gifted historically significant documents and pictures from Central Bible Church to the Multnomah University library, which will become part of the school’s permanent archive. Displaced members and leaders created a new church in NE Portland called Stone Table Church and are slowly building up that congregation.

Central Bible Church leadership was happy to have sold to an organization in line with its goals. Like the previous owners, Volunteers Of America is a faith-based organization. Unfortunately, the sale has displaced the SkateChurch that shared the property with Central Bible Church. SkateChurch is currently seeking a new location. 

With such a large property, VOA has many options to develop the land further. Although, there are significant changes needed to the existing structures to meet future requirements. Look for the long-vacant building return to use soon, as it transforms to serve its new function in the community.

View of unpaved parking lot across NE 90th Ave from the main property

Montavilla Jazz Festival 2021

The eighth annual Montavilla Jazz Festival returns this year as a three-day hybrid event. Attendees can participate in live-streamed concerts by local artists and view the premiere screening of Call + Response. Unlike previous years, the festival is free to view online or at designated screening locations.

Farnell Newton headlines this year’s Montavilla Jazz Festival, running from August 20th to the 22nd. Performances held at Portland Metro Arts will live stream to select locations in Montavilla and around Portland. Limited in-person tickets are available through Ticket Tomato.

This year more jazz fans have an opportunity to participate in the annual event, as the hybrid nature makes it infinitely accessible to all interested Portlanders. This long-running tradition supports and strengthens local music culture, enriching the community by showcasing the best of Portland jazz. This year, both enthusiastic fans and casual appreciators of music can take part in the celebration. Review the schedule below for more information and to plan your attendance.

Friday, August 20th

9:00 – Montavilla Jazz Film Night

Call + Response plus Blue Cranes film premieres screening outdoors at Portland Art Museum Courtyard
Links: Project pageFacebook event

Saturday, August 21st

4:00 – Ryan Meagher: AftEarth

Lineup: Ryan Meagher, guitar and compositions; Tim Willcox, tenor sax; Andrew Jones, bass; Charlie Doggett, drums; Tina Granzo, drawings and animations.
Links: Artist pageFacebook eventwatch this show! Limited in-person tickets available here

5:30 – Call + Response (film)

Participants: Micah Hummel, music + Jeff Oliver, film; Noah Simpson, music + Shilpa Sunthankar, film; Idit Shner, music + Deejuliano Scott, film.
Links: Project pageFacebook eventwatch this show!

7:00 – Rebecca Sanborn

Lineup: Rebecca Sanborn, voice and compositions; Randy Porter, piano; Jon Shaw, bass; Ji Tanzer, drums
Links: Artist pageFacebook eventwatch this show! Limited in-person tickets available here

Sunday, August 22nd

4:00 – George Colligan: Fredson the Jeffy

Lineup: George Colligan, piano and compositions; Lisa Lipton, clarinet; Micah Hummel, drums.
Links: Artist pageFacebook eventwatch this show! Limited in-person tickets available here

5:30 – Call + Response (film)

Participants: Micah Hummel, music + Jeff Oliver, film; Noah Simpson, music + Shilpa Sunthankar, film; Idit Shner, music + Deejuliano Scott, film.
Links: Project pageFacebook eventwatch this show!

7:00 – Farnell Newton Quintet

Lineup: Farnell Newton, trumpet and compositions; Kyle Molitor, trombone; Ryan Meagher, guitar; George Colligan, organ; Andres Moreno, drums.
Links: Artist pageFacebook eventwatch this show! Limited in-person tickets available here

Five Minute Fast Stop on Stark

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) posted a new sign on SE Stark Street near 81st Ave this week. The purple and white parking indicator is part of a new pilot project by the city to offer permanent five-minute free parking zones for quick drop-offs and pickups. Similar to the new Slow Streets planters, this is a pandemic-inspired program adopted into continual use.

These short-term parking spaces began as part of PBOT’s successful Healthy Businesses program to support businesses amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Starting this month, PBOT is piloting these five-minute zones in five locations throughout the city with the intention to deploy them citywide. A motorist can park in these spaces to accomplish any task that takes five minutes or less. City staff envisions these spaces supporting local businesses by allowing customers to pick up take-out food or provide delivery drivers a reliable place to park during their rounds. Taxi, Uber, or Lyft vehicles could also use these spaces to cut down on double parking and pickup confusion.

Image courtesy of PBOT

The four other 5 Minute Fast Stop pilot locations are on Mississippi Street, NW 23rd Avenue, SE Division Street, and SW Harvey Milk Street. PBOT offers a map featuring the five locations on the program’s website. That page will update if the program expands to more places. With the new signs now posted, PBOT intends to study the performance of these pilot locations to make sure they are working as intended. As part of the evaluation process, PBOT will survey community members, businesses, private for-hire drivers, and other gig economy workers about their experience with these short-term parking spaces.

Montavilla is part of a small group of locations in this pilot project. Residents now have a unique opportunity to participate in a test that could reshape parking throughout Portland. On your next visit to Montavilla Town for a short visit, consider parking in the new space and then provide feedback to PBOT about your experience when the survey becomes available.


Glisan EV Chargers Near Completion

Electrify America recently installed four Electric Vehicle (EV) recharge spaces in Fred Meyer’s parking lot as part of their nationwide network. Electricians have nearly completed the work required to electrify the new charging stations at 6615 NE Glisan Street. At the current pace of construction, chargers should become available for use this month or soon after.

This project includes landscaper shrubbery to conceal the equipment area that feeds power to the customer accessible equipment. A barrier around the utility zone will use 8 foot high Trex fencing, shielding the large equipment bank from view and protecting people from the high-voltage equipment.

Future EV customers will pay between $0.31 per kWh and $0.43 per kWh when this location opens. The four spaces are reserved for people charging their vehicles, and turnover on the space will be encouraged. Ten minutes after a charging session completes, an idle fee of $0.40 per minute is added to the customer’s bill. 

Completing this project should encourage more visitors to the area, building on the already increased foot traffic seen on NE Glisan. EV customers have hours of free time during the charge session and look to local businesses to fill that gap in their schedule. Expect to see vehicles charging at one of these spaces soon.

July 1st – Crews installed electrical conduit
July 25th – Crews completed underground work and resurfaced the parking lot
July 25th – Electrical pad surrounded by new landscaping and posts are placed for fencing
August 2nd – Electricians wire chargers