Category: Community

Portland Street Response Expands to Montavilla

This month, Portland Street Response (PSR) expanded its boundaries beyond the Lents neighborhood. Starting April 1st, PSR teams will offer a non-police response to a larger area that includes the eastern half of Montavilla. With the expanded service area comes a broader service scope that now includes public spaces inside buildings.

The PSR program officially launched in late February with a new approach to specific emergency calls. The program diverts non-violent calls involving people experiencing houselessness or behavioral and mental health issues to specialists equipped to resolve those situations. At launch, the program only addressed incidents occurring outdoors and did not have staff enter buildings. The recent changes permit the teams to enter publicly accessible spaces such as a business, store, or a public lobby. PSR is not responding to calls within a private residence.

Initially, the PSR program used Portland Fire & Rescue’s boundary system called Fire Management Areas (FMA) to assign calls to their team members. Within a month, it became apparent that they missed calls outside the FMA that PSR had the capacity to address. As a test, PSR will switch to using the Portland Police Bureau’s police district areas to determine their response zone. That change has lead to the increased service area that now includes Montavilla from 82nd Ave to I205.

Dispatchers determine what calls are assigned to fire, police, and PSR staff. Requests for assistance with any situation should continue routing through 911 or the non-emergency number at 503-823-3333. However, if you live in the expanded service area, there is a possibility that PSR could handle your call. A potential PSR response will encourage some residents to reporting situations that they may not have before. Many concerns don’t require a police response but instead, need trained specialists to de-escalate a situation.

People interested in following the PSR team’s progress can use a newly created dashboard to view aggregate metrics regarding calls and a heat-map of activity. Expect to see more PSR dispatches in Montavilla soon.

New expanded Portland Street Response area showing eastern Montavilla and the other service areas. That area includes SE Division St. on the north, SE Clatsop St. (roughly) on the south, SE 62th Ave. (roughly) on the west, and Powell Butte along the eastern boundary.

Proposed Budget Cuts Target Fire Station 19

Last December, Mayor Ted Wheeler instructed bureau directors to reduce budgets by five percent for the upcoming fiscal year. Shortfalls in revenue over the previous year require a cutback in City spending. The resulting budget proposal from Portland Fire & Rescue removes services that would impact Fire Station 19 in Montavilla. Although the proposal argues against making those changes, it achieves the Mayor’s cost savings goal.

A proposed service reduction in the 2021-2022 budget would eliminate four Rapid Response Vehicles (RRV). Portland Fire & Rescue added the RRV units to some fire stations several years ago to reduce response time and lessen the need to send out four-person fire engine crews to none-fire emergencies. An RRV is an SUV-style truck containing a two-person team. They dispatch quickly to incidents and often resolve calls without the need for additional firefighting equipment. The program has reduced response time and lowered the operational costs for Portland Fire & Rescue.

Portland has four RRV teams active in the City. Each unit requires 4 to 6.5 Full-time employees to operate. One of those RRV units is attached to Fire Station 19, located on E Burnside Street at NE 73rd. Stations 11, 23, and 31 house the other Portland RRV units. RRV crews at Station 19 responded to 3,129 incidents in 2020. Eliminating the RRV from Montavilla would substantially increase the workload on Engine 19, which is already the third busiest engine in Portland.

Although the RRVs are valued additions to Portland Fire & Rescue’s response team, some services they provide overlap with the new Portland Street Response program. Most services do not overlap, but that new program could replace some of RRV’s services. Portland Street Response is early in its development and does not cover the same area that RRV units currently serve. Consequentially, Portland Fire & Rescue’s Budget Advisory Committee recommends the restoration of RRV funding in the 2021-2022 budget instead of achieving the five-percent budget reduction. Besides keeping the RRVs, this budget promotes expanding the Portland Street Response program to 10 teams from the two already funded. 

The City’s annual budget process often seeks cost reduction opportunities and requires an earnest examination of department spending. The proposed reduction of services meets the Mayor’s target while offering the lowest performance impact possible, but with an expected service degradation. 

In reviewing the Portland Fire & Rescue’s proposal, the City Budget Office (CBO) is not recommending reductions to frontline services provided by RRV units. “RRVs are a relatively costeffective strategy for addressing lower acuity calls and are able to respond more quickly to more serious emergencies while other apparatus are still in route.”

Despite the favorable outlook on the RRV program, the CBO examined a possible reduction in hours that could provide some cost savings while avoiding the program’s shutdown. The CBO report proposes a peak staffing model as an alternative. That would reduce RRV schedules to a 10-hour daily shift, cutting the number of full-time employees needed.

Over the next month, Portland’s budget will receive input from City Council work sessions and community comments. During this time, city leaders will have to balance the budgetary shortfall against the need to provide essential services.

People interested in commenting on the budget will have an opportunity on Wednesday, May 5th, from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Sign-up before 4:00 pm on May 4th to contribute your comments at the Mayor’s Proposed Budget Hearing. There are also several dates before May 5th to listen and comment on budget matters. See the Budget Events website for details.

Hundreds Gather at Harrison Park to End Asian Hate

UPDATE – The event completed with an estimated one thousand participants. The Oregonian offers details from the March 26th gathering.


Hundreds of Portlanders have gathered at Harrison Park to speak out against violence targeting Asian people and Asian-owned businesses. Crowds began arriving before 4 PM and continue to flood the streets surrounding the public park located at 1931 SE 84th Ave. Notices for the gathering indicate Portland’s Asian community are the organizers of the event.

Local roads and street-side parking are nearing capacity. People wishing to join the even should prepare for a moderate walk to the park from where they leave their vehicle. The event will continue into the evening hours.

Crowds gathering

Riverview Bank Closing Branch

The Montavilla branch of Riverview Community Bank will close permanently on May 20th. Having commissioned the building in 2003, Riverview owns the property and has not announced plans to sell the location. This closure is the third bank to leave Montavilla within a year. Both US Bank and Chase Bank closed their Glisan Street branches.

The Riverview Montavilla branch, located at 9415 SE Stark Street, is near the I205 off-ramp and Multi-Use path. After May 20th, the bank’s members can use the Gateway branch, located 1.6 miles away at 10401 NE Halsey Street. Only one other bank exists within Montavilla’s boundary, Bank of the West, at the corner of SE 82nd Ave and Division Street. As the banking world continues to evolve, physical locations are in decline. However, the lack of banking services within the area will likely impact small businesses that rely on teller services.

New Max Platform at Gateway Station

Last week, planners submitted Design Review request 21-022957 for upgrades at Gateway Transit Center. TriMet will construct a new station platform for the Max Red Line as part of the A Better Red project. The new platform will serve trains traveling from the Portland International Airport towards Portland’s City Center.

Aside from faster travel times for Red Line passengers, this project will bring improvements to the area. The new Max track over the Freeway will include a pedestrian and bicycle bridge to the Gateway Green park. The new platform will be two blocks away from the other stops at the station, requiring a connecting sidewalk along the back edge to the Park and Ride property. With improved lighting, increased activity, and fencing, the security at that parking lot could improve.

Pedestrian and bicycle bridge to the Gateway Green

Construction will begin this year and run through 2023. This transit project should be an exciting upgrade to local infrastructure with improved access to an isolated bike park. A more detailed timeline will take shape later this year as construction permits are submitted.

Looking from current Max platforms towards new Red Line stop

Renderings courtesy of TriMet

Large Cleanup on 82nd and Glisan

Last Saturday morning, 53 volunteers gathered in Montavilla Park to collect litter in the neighborhood. SOLVE and Detrash Portland coordinated the event with local support from the MNA Clean Team. Crews walked along NE 82nd Ave and NE Glisan street, filling 63 bags of trash.

By the end of the event, an estimated 750 pounds of trash piled-up at the park, waiting to be hauled away. Residents of Montavilla and volunteers from all over the city participated. With the success of this event, plans for future SOLVE cleanups along 82nd Ave are underway. Those cleanups will occur with the support of the 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association and the Montavilla Neighborhood Association. Interested volunteers should watch the SOLVE events page for those cleanups and others like them happening throughout Portland. 


Disclosure: The author of this article serves on the NMA Board

Affordable Housing Survey

This week Metro published a survey seeking input on the affordable housing planned for NE 74th Ave and NE Glisan Street. The development will create up to 150 new apartments for people with 30-60% area median income. The survey is part of early engagement focused on supporting future tenant’s wellbeing and neighborhood benefit.

This project’s design phase is months away and scheduled for after developer selection occurs. For the purposes of this survey, participants need to imagine the development in its general form. The development is a multilevel apartment complex containing 120 to 150 units and on-site parking. Residences offer a mix of floor-plans supporting one or two adults and some larger households.

The questions in this survey do not relate to any design aspects of the site. Instead, it focuses on four primary areas of early project planning. Each section of the survey looks at draft value statements related to outdoor spaces, ground floor uses, services and programming, and future engagement to be done by the developer. Metro staff will work with the stakeholder group to create a clear vision statement based on this survey’s results. The developer awarded the project will have responded to the final value statement as part of their larger proposal.

Metro is looking to hear from specific groups in the survey process. Primarily they would like responses from people with similar experiences to those who will live in this new building, including people who have been houseless or lived in low-income housing. Black, Indigenous, and other people of color from around Portland are encouraged to participate in the process. Additionally, neighbors who live, work, or own a business near the site can submit responses.

This building will supply a substantial number of homes to low-income residents. However, Metro would like it to become an asset to the neighborhood. If you are the type of participant Metro is seeking for this survey, they ask that you complete the online form by March 1st, 2021. Metro’s affordable housing website will publish results a few weeks after the survey closes.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/M9FS3ZW

Glisan Street Church Fenced In

UPDATE – Metal picket fence material now sits behind the church awaiting insulation. Unlike other styles used on the property, this project will not use a chain-link fence. That design choice will likely improve the outward appearance of the barrier. The pending winter storm may delay further work until next week.


Original article posted February 10th, 2021.

Yesterday, crews began installing a new fence and several gates around the Portland City Blessing Church on NE Glisan. The expanded fence line will wrap around the full front entrance and close-off the parking lot. Much of the new barrier runs along the property line on NE 78th Ave.

Located at 450 NE 78th Ave, the church occupies a corner lot with parking access on NE Glisan Street and NE 78th Ave. The new fence joins an existing gate and six-foot-tall galvanized chain-link fence installed along NE Glisan. Based on post mounting holes, a swing-door gate in front of the ADA will be the primary entrance. A potential of two roll-door gates could provide occasional access to the main steps and parking lot entrance.

Barriers along sidewalks are controversial. Fences protect the property from the passive intruder and discourage the uninvited. However, it can be unfriendly to others using the street. It signals some hostility to the public realm on a building’s frontage and makes the sidewalk more challenging to navigate. Hopefully, the new fence will employ an attractive design and complement the building without detracting from the communal spaces.

New Cart for Erica’s Soul Food

Erica’s Soul Food has moved into a new food cart just one year after opening. Located at 803 SE 82nd Ave, work is underway preparing the new eatery for an expected Wednesday reopening. The upgraded facilities will enhance kitchen operations and customer service for the young business, driving further growth.

The owner and chef of Erica’s Soul Food, Erica Montgomery, has been patiently waiting for the new cart’s arrival. The delivery date slipped several times, creating a longer than expected closure for the business. Ultimately the wait will be worth it when the popular takeout location reopens. Erica’s needed larger space and modern equipment to serve the increasing number of customers. “I’ll have bigger, new equipment that will make cooking easier,” explained Montgomery. The expanded kitchen capacity will facilitate an expanded menu and added specials.

Beyond streamlined food prep, the new cart has separate windows for ordering and pickup. The divided customer interactions, along with a new contactless payment system, will better facilitate COVID-19 precautions. Additionally, new exterior lighting on the cart will improve customer comfort during nighttime hours.

Obtaining a new cart required some community support. Part of the downpayment for the cart came from a GoFundMe campaign that secured two-thirds of its goal. A donation from the Portland Trailblazers added the final funding that Erica’s needed to place an order with the custom cart builder. “I couldn’t have done it without the help of my community,” acknowledged Montgomery when reflecting on the support received.

Now the rush is on to move into the new cart and restock all the supplies. Montgomery cautioned that the 10th is only a tentative opening date. However, she is eager to reopen and get back to cooking for her many loyal customers. Keep an eye on Erica’s Instagram account for updates.

Original cart

Presentations at Next MNA Meeting

Next Monday, three groups will present information on projects that are shaping Montavilla’s future. Representatives from the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT)African Youth & Community Organization (AYCO), and Metro will discuss their plans at the February 8th Montavilla Neighborhood Associations (MNA) meeting. Attendees will learn how they can participate in the process and hear details regarding the neighborhood improvements.

The meeting will begin at 6:30 PM via Zoom. Event registration is found at the MNA website or directly through this link

The first presenters are sharing plans for an improved NE Halsey street, from 68th to 92nd Ave. Nicole Peirce, Capital Project Manager for PBOT, will present information regarding safer intersections and better access for non-motorists. Joining Peirce is the project manager for the 70s Bikeway project. Both projects cross through Montavilla and will vastly improve universal mobility in the area.

Jamal Dar, Executive Director for AYCO, will share information about his group’s mission to offer support services and youth mentoring for the African immigrant and refugee community. This organization serves a growing population of people with East Africa origins in their recently opened center on NE 74th Ave.

Metro representatives Choya Renata and Patrick McLaughlin will present information regarding proposed low-income housing at the former TBN Site. Two years from now, Montavilla will gain 120 to 150 new households on NE Glisan Street. In a partnership between Metro and the Portland Housing Bureau (PHB), the former Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) site will transform into affordable housing. Metro will present their community outreach process at the meeting and further outline the project’s scope.


Disclosure: The author of this article serves on the NMA Board