Category: Community

Countdown to School Changes

Portland Public Schools (PPS) has one year to redraw school boundaries across Southeast Portland. With a new middle school opening and the depreciation of k-8 schools in the district, the countdown to student reorganization is underway. This month, PPS released the first draft proposal for grade configuration changes, boundary adjustments, and program movement.

Under the proposed plans, Harrison Park will convert from teaching K-8 to only accommodating grades 6-8. Students entering grades 6-8 will remain at the school. Harrison Park’s attendance zone will expand into Bridger and Vestal areas, accepting students moving up from those schools. K-5 students at Harrison Park will transfer to Bridger and Vestal. Grade 6-8 students from Bridger and Vestal will move to Harrison Park.

Additionally, Bridger students living north of Woodward Street will now feed into Madison High School if the plan remains as proposed. Many other dual-language based classes will also move around to other schools. However, all these changes are still in the planning phase. The proposal is currently up for discussion and changes.

The Southeast Guiding Coalition Meetings are still underway and will not complete phase one until December 17th of this year. PPS has set up a Google form to solicit comments regarding the proposed changes. That is just one way to provide feedback about their plan to balance student enrollment and programs across the district. PPS has made efforts to be transparent about the process, providing resource materials and videos of the meetings. On October 29th at 6 PM, the Coalition will hold an Open House to interact with the public regarding this process.

Changes regarding school assignments are always complicated and could be challenging as students get back to the classroom from distance learning. These changes are necessary to make way for work that is already in progress and adapt to modifications to k-8 schools. Hopefully, community involvement will lead to positive results as this process continues.


Discloser: The author has a child attending a Portland Public School

New Park Picnic Shelter in 2021

Pre-construction work passed another milestone last week for the new picnic shelter at Montavilla Park. Demolition of the old shelter and wading pool will make way for the updated picnic space.

“Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) staff are making good progress in planning and have secured the needed permits. PP&R will be moving the design forward to be ready for bidding, likely in 2021.” Said Mark Ross, a Media Relations representative with Portland Parks & Recreation.

Issued October 7th, Permit 20-160791 outlines the creation of a “new picnic shelter and expansion of asphalt drive north of structure.” This summer, Portland issued two demolition permits for the old shelter and wading pool. PP&R will not replace the former wading pool.

Budgetary constraints on PP&R could challenge the construction of projects like the new picnic shelter. However, Ross believes that funding will be available for this project when construction starts in 2021. “At that time, we hope for the necessary amount of project funding and staff capacity.”

On the ballot this year is Measure 26-213. It seeks to create a five-year tax levy that would provide PP&R with approximately $48 million each year. Funding from Measure 26-213 taxes would not necessarily pay for this upgrade to Montavilla Park but could ensure that additional citywide cuts do not dramatically affect the PP&R budget. Budget cuts could push this project to a later date.

Outdoor spaces are more important than ever when we look at our long-term recovery from COVID-19. Creating usable, safe spaces in the fresh air will help in the immediate future. Additionally, investing in long term improvements to our parks will secure their viability if economic circumstances cause future budgetary shortfalls. With luck, Montavilla residents will be enjoying a new picnic shelter in the warmer months of 2021.

Old shelter and decommissioned wading pool. Image courtesy of Google Maps

Montavilla News does not endorse individual candidates or ballot measures

METBA Bingo Underway

The Montavilla East Tabor Business Association (METBA) started a nine-week long contest this week. Its goal is to support local businesses by encouraging residents to patronize shops in the area. Dubbed Bingo, this program enters contestants into a weekly drawing for one $100 gift card.

METBA will post a list of business locations on their website for the current contest period. New lists post to the site at the beginning of the week. Participants need to make a purchase or complete a task at four businesses on that list. Emailing proof of participation or purchase to events@metba.org will enter participants in that week’s drawing. Then the gift card is awarded to a selected contestant each week, providing nine chances to win.

Due to its cancellation this year, local businesses missed out on the community exposure they receive from the Montavilla Street Fair. This Bingo event is an opportunity to explore local businesses and provide support during a challenging time. Participants will even have a chance to win something for their efforts. The first week’s activities are already underway, ending this Sunday.

Art on Glisan

Murals are sprouting up along NE Glisan, expanding the character transformation of the street. Shopfronts on Glisan between NE 68th Ave and 82nd Ave have enhanced their appearance over the last few years. The addition of public art on these buildings further drives the artistic reinvention of the street.

Some site developments are incorporating art into the project at the design phase. The new gas station and convenience store on the corner of Glisan and 82nd Ave will feature a tile-mosaic mural when constructed. Other businesses are adding their public art at varying times after opening.

The Pie Spot Mural 6935 NE Glisan

The Pie Spot is the only shopfront in the new Rocket Empire Machine food hall that fronts on NE Glisan. They have added a mural depicting a pink flamingo sitting atop one of their pies.

Green Front Dispensary Mural 6834 NE Glisan

Green Front Dispensary recently completed a mural on the NE 69th side of their building. The work is a creation of Voxx Romana. Its rich reds and shimmering gold color are easily spotted while traveling NE Glisan.

Although these are just a small number of artistic expressions coloring NE Glisan, it is not hard to imagine other businesses on the street adding murals to their locations. These building embellishments not only attract the eye, but it also sets a positive tone for the people who live and shop along this street. 

Duplicate Infill Houses

Under construction at 8014 SE Madison Street, the new three-bedroom house shares the exact layout as another recently completed house in Montavilla. 1328 NE 76th Ave by Wilde Properties completed construction at the beginning of the year. Both houses use the same plan set provided by Thogerson Designs.

The listing for 1328 NE 76th Ave contains some interior images. However, it is likely that Capital Builders LLC, the developer of 8014 SE Madison Street, will use different finishes in this project. Exterior cladding may also utilize other materials and colors.

As with the other house, a single car garage occupies eleven feet of the fifteen-foot wide home. Set back eight feet from the front of the house is the entryway. This setback has the advantage of reducing hallway length from the front door to the rest of the house and provides a covered porch. Inside the front door, a four-foot-wide hallway leads back to the center of the house. Just before reaching the great room is a small 1/2 bath, tucked under the U-shaped stairs. The bathroom is small enough you could wash your hands while seated but has adequate headroom. The Great Room with a gas fireplace is beyond the U-shaped stairs. Above the fireplace are hookups for a wall-mounted TV. The kitchen and dining area occupy the back of the first floor. A sliding glass door leads out to the back yard.

The master bedroom fills the front of the second floor. The ensuite contains a double vanity, separate shower, and soaking tub. Across from the ensuite is a double-wide closet. The ensuite wall and the closet doors form a ten-foot long hallway to the master bedroom door. Having the hallway in the room gives the bedroom an extra level of privacy, even if the door is open.

At the top of the stairs is a shallow linen closet. The hallway stretches down the right side of the building, ending in a full bathroom, taking up the second floor’s right back corner. The left side, of the rear portion of the level, is split between two bedrooms and a laundry room. The Laundry room is between two standard bedrooms and backed against the closets for each bedroom.

Reusing blueprints is not uncommon in this type of construction. Considering that there are few successful designs for a narrow lot, there are bound to be replication and reuse. Having two different builders construct a house from the same plans will be interesting to observe. Each one should put a unique spin on design, highlighting how substantially finishes can change a home’s appearance.

BIKETOWN’s Electric Bike Eastside Expansion

The BIKETOWN bike-share program expanded into Montavilla this month, for the first time making bikes available for riders to rent in the area. With the program’s expansion, Portland is replacing the older bikes that first arrived in 2016. The new bicycles are all new pedal-assist electric bikes. These bikes will help average riders make the long trip downtown and back without an excessive amount of effort.

Previous to this expansion of the program, residents would only see the orange BIKETOWN bikes in Montavilla when someone had taken them out of their designated area. Now they can be seen all over the neighborhood, with a concentration around the Portland Community College campus.

The BIKETOWN website and the new BIKETOWN app (iPhone/Android) shows available bike locations near you. Additionally, thanks to a partnership with the ride-hailing app Lyft, riders can now rent e-bikes through the Lyft app. In addition to Lyft, the program sponsors are Nike, Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), and Kaiser Permanente.

BIKETOWN begins rolling out the expanded service this month, starting with 500 of the new e-bikes. That fleet will grow the to 1,500 e-bikes over the coming weeks. The 1,000 older BIKETOWN bicycles from 2016 are being removed from service as the new e-bikes become available.

The expanded coverage and new pedal-assist electric bikes come at a cost. The program is increasing its fares at all levels, leading some to question the choice of going all-electric. Regardless of its long term pricing effects, this is a growth opportunity for Montavilla’s transportation options.

We live in a bike-friendly city, and BIKETOWN continues to make that mode of transportation more accessible to all rider. The next few weeks will have summer-like weather, making now a great time to try out the new bikes. 

Expanded travel area in orange. Map by Portland Bureau of Transportation.

Read Patricia Sanders’ The bicycle craze comes to Montavilla for a historical look at bicycles in Montavilla.

MNA’s 2020 Online Election

It is election season all over the country with many important positions up for a vote. That includes the often overlooked election for Montavilla’s neighborhood association. Unlike national and other Oregon elected positions, association board members do not appear on the standard mail-in ballot. Historically they are elected through in-person votes at board meetings.

As with neighborhood association meetings throughout Portland, COVID-19 forced most association’s board elections online this year. “All our neighborhoods have done online elections, so [Montavilla is] not the only neighborhood that has or will conduct elections in this manner.” Explained Mireaya Medina, SE Uplift‘s Communications & Small Grants Manager. Many elections have already taken place. “Nearly all 20 [SE] neighborhoods have already completed their 2020-21 Neighborhood Association Elections.”

The Montavilla Neighborhood Association (MNA) can have eleven board member seats. The MNA website lists only eight active members. Montavilla community members wishing to join MNA do not have to run against any current board members. Candidates only need to be willing to participate in meetings and committees. SE Uplift offers resources for new board members. Reading through that information can further define what is required by serving on the board. 

Becoming a candidate for the board is relatively straight forward. It starts at the next MNA meeting, scheduled for October 12th. Candidates will self-nominate and speak about their areas of interest for community development. This weekend Louise Hoff, MNA Chair, will post notices around Montavilla encouraging participation in the October meeting. Even if you are not interested in assisting in the MNA, attend this meeting to support issues you care about in the community. It will be held on zoom, and people can signup to receive a link at the MNA website. Chairperson Hoff explained that after people speak at the October meeting, “the Board will vote on a roster and SE Uplift will create a ballot which will be available online” at the website montavillapdx.org.

Voting will open at the beginning of November, with the results announced at the November 9th MNA meeting. Outside the historically large turnout in 2017, participation in the MNA elections does not see large turnouts. However, with meetings and the election now held online, this is an easy year to participate. 

Our Not so Fresh Fresh-air

The smoke has mostly cleared out of the air in Montavilla, but it is not entirely safe to breathe. Greg Bourget, with Portland Clean Air, attended the September 14th Montavilla Neighborhood Association (MNA) meeting to deliver that message. Portland Clean Air is seeking MNA participation with the organization.

Bourget attended the meeting to inform the MNA board of hazardous air quality issues in the area and ask that an MNA representative be made available to coordinate with Portland Clean Air. Thirty-nine other Portland Neighborhood Associations have appointed a liaison to work with the project, according to Bourget. The primary purpose of this formal communication channel is to keep Montavilla residents informed.

“Currently Multnomah is ranked by the EPA in the worst 1.3% of counties in the US for diesel particulate, the worst airborne carcinogen according to State of California risk assessments.” Explained Bourget. He went on by referencing The State of California’s report on diesel particulate. It says that “Diesel engine emissions are believed to be responsible for about 70% of California’s estimated known cancer risk attributable to toxic air contaminants.” 

Montavilla residents should take particular concern, according to Bourget. “Montavilla is unusually affected by diesel particulate, even by Portland standards, due to proximity to I-84 and I-205.”

Beyond sharing information, Bourget hopes Montavilla will help apply pressure to the leading polluters in the area. “Four Associations have written five negotiation letters to some of the most dangerous industrial air polluters in Portland. Montavilla’s endorsement of these letters is requested. Montavilla might consider participating in the negotiation with unfiltered diesel fleets, considering your [neighborhood’s] exposure.”

The MNA agreed to give this matter further consideration and find a willing representative to work with Portland Clean Air. Board members expressed a desire to have Greg Bourget back at a future date to further present information.

Portland Clean Air will release two reports in the coming days to help the community take proactive steps towards cleaner air. One will focus on effective home air filtration. The other report will address air quality monitoring. By educating the public and assisting residents in measuring their environment, Bourget wants people to become more involved. “We invite residents to learn more and consider helping with a campaign focused on the largest Portland area [polluter,] unfiltered diesel fleets.”

Air quality has been on everyone’s mind these last few weeks due to the dangerous wildfire smoke. Portland Clean Air hopes now is an excellent time to have you think about the unseen dangers in the air that exist year-round. Additional research into Portland Clean Air’s information is needed. However, the project hopes to get Portlanders investigating the issues and ultimately supporting some pollution reform.

Mosaic’s Artist Considered

Board members reviewed the works of artist Hector H Hernandez at the September 14th Montavilla Neighborhood Association (MNA) meeting. Hernandez is the preferred candidate to create Montavilla’s newest piece of public art. MNA is working with Jacksons Food Stores to create a tile-mosaic as part of the new gas station and store at 515 NE 82nd Ave.

The mosaic will be part of a new Pedestrian Plaza at the southeast corner of the property. It will face the intersection of NE Glisan Street and 82nd Ave and create a barrier between the gas station and the plaza area. The task of finding an artist from the community, and working with Jacksons Food Stores to commission the project, is the responsibility of board member Adam Wilson. Wilson sought community input at previous MNA meetings and searched within the Portland art community. Hernandez became the preferred candidate, based on the project requirements and his portfolio. 

The initial specification for the project calls for a four-foot by forty-foot mosaic. Jacksons Food Stores is willing to commit $10,000 towards the artwork. However, that may be insufficient for the size of the project. The artist estimates the costs closer to $20,000. MNA board members reviewed Hernandez’s work at the meeting and expressed a desire to find a solution to the funding gap.

Hector H Hernandez’s work includes many public murals in Oregon. Consequently, Hernandez has experience in creating artwork with direction from neighborhood associations and private businesses. In an email interview with Montavilla News, Hernandez described his approach to this type of project. Through a process of investigation and communication, Hernandez seeks to “creating an emblematic piece of artwork that will enhance the neighborhood aspirations and dreams.”

This piece of public art will last many years on a marquee corner, and its selection will comment on the neighborhood. As the selection process moves forward, there should be more public opportunities to view the design options. Follow the MNA Facebook for updates on this project and to share your opinions.


Cover Image courtesy of Hector H Hernandez