Category: Community

BIKETOWN’s Free Ride Program

Last week, BIKETOWN announced an expansion to their discounted membership program for low-income riders. Called BIKETOWN for All, the program now offers free 60-minute rides and expands to include some college students with a free membership or subsidized rides. These changes should dramatically increase access to the electric assist bike-share for all Portland State University (PSU) students, people living on low incomes, and college students on financial aid.

Portland hosts a variety of colleges and universities, with students housed throughout the city. Most public transportation routes serve those schools. However, some students still need additional mobility options that will not burden their limited budgets. Now, students who receive federal financial aid will qualify for a free BIKETOWN membership. Additionally, PSU students not eligible for BIKETOWN for All will be eligible for a ride credit to cover up to $20 a month of casual user fees.

Previously the BIKETOWN for All program was limited to people using recognizes assistance programs, including the Oregon Trail card (SNAP), Oregon Health Plan, or affordable housing. Starting on September 16th, the program will now recognize Federal Student Aid as a qualifying determination for eligibility. However, only when received by students attending school on a Portland campus.

With the expanded eligibility, every BIKETOWN for All member will receive additional discounts. BIKETOWN now waives the $5 monthly membership fee and offers an unlimited number of 60-minute rides a month. Riders incur a $0.05 per minute charge after the first hour of the bike rental. Before this week’s changes, the per-minute change began instantly. The discounted program continues to offer free bike unlocks and $20 in ride credits every month.

Although these changes will make many trips free, a BIKETOWN for All members ridding less than an hour could still generate charges. Bikes not parked at a BIKETOWN station will generate a $1 fee, except in the East Portland SuperHub Zone east of 72nd Avenue. Additionally, bikes parked outside the 32 square mile service area would receive a $5 out-of-service-area fee.

Portlanders who qualify can sign up at BIKETOWNforAll.com. College students will upload a digital copy of their FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) award letter. PSU students should sign up at the PSU BIKETOWN website. These changes are a significant expansion to the program that recognizes the financial struggle some college students endure and makes the BIKETOWN for All program practical for low-income riders. Expect to see more Portland residents using these bikes as people discover the updated subsidy program that creates an affordable and valuable tool to get around the city.

Metro Councilor Bob Stacey Resigns

Last Thursday, one of Portland’s representatives on the Metro Council announced his resignation. Effective October 15th, Metro Councilor Bob Stacey will step down from the position he has held since 2012. Not long after first being elected to the Council, Stacey was diagnosed with meningioma, which causes tumors to grow in and around the skull. Although his prognosis continues to be favorable, treatments for the tumors have begun to impact his ability to work full-time.

Bob Stacey represents Oregon Metro District 6, mainly covering Southeast and southwest Portland. Metro serves more than 1.5 million people in Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties. The agency’s boundary encompasses Portland and 23 other cities. They provide region-wide planning and coordination to manage growth, infrastructure, and development issues across jurisdictional boundaries.

Bob Stacey’s work with Metro touched many points within Montavilla. However, most residents will associate his local efforts with the TBN redevelopment project at 432 NE 74th Ave. Metro’s Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) program acquired this site for residential development in 2019. The 1.65-acre property will become low-income housing within a few years featuring commercial use on the ground floor. It will be a transformative project for that section of NE Glisan, bringing an active residential density to the street and removing a block-wide parking lot. As seen in other areas of Portland, constructing socially active street-side projects increases safety and prosperity along those roads.

Councilor Stacey won reelection in 2020 for a four-year term. The Metro Council has until January 13th to appoint Stacey’s successor. According to the Metro Charter, that appointed person will serve until an election for the remainder of the term is held at the next primary or general election. This next election cycle, candidates will run for the remaining two years of the Metro District 6 Council seat.

Bob Stacey’s contributions to Oregon predate his work with Metro and will likely continue for many years after he vacates his elected position. Colleagues of Stacey were quick to celebrate his career up to this point and thank him for his decades of service. “Bob is a titan of Oregon’s land conservation movement,” said Metro Council President Lynn Peterson. “His service and vision are obvious in all corners of our state, and his wisdom and nearly 50 years of experience is going to be missed on the council.”


Images in this article are provided by Oregon Metro

Two Vehicle Crash on 78th And Burnside

UPDATE – 3:35 All roads are clear of large debris and open to traffic again.

E Burnside Street is closed at 78th Ave after a two-vehicle crash. At 2:45 PM, a car and pickup collided in the intersection, flipping the truck and its two passengers completely over. The truck landed upright on SE 78th Ave, where it caught fire. Portland Fire & Rescue responded by 2:53 PM, extinguishing the fire and providing medical aid to the injured.

All people involved in the crash were able to walk away from the accident. Expect traffic delays on E Burnside Street and 78th Ave while crews clear the crash debris and tow the disabled vehicles.

Letter of Thanks from Family of Mel and Errol

This summer, Montavilla said goodby to Mel Hafsos, a beloved member of the community. His death profoundly impacted neighbors and the many customers of Taylor Court Grocery. As the pandemic continued to prevent large memorial services, people instead took to decorating his place of business with messages of appreciation for his contributions and support for Mel’s partner Errol Carlson. In recognition of the public’s admiration for Mel, his family wrote a letter to the community and asked Montavilla News to share it below.


Letter to the Community:

On behalf of the family of Mel Hafsos and Errol Carlson I would like to thank this community for the many years of love and support you have shown to Mel and Errol and Taylor Court Grocery.

As Mel’s youngest Sister, I speak for our whole family and Mel and Errol as well. Mel Hafsos and Errol Carlson owned and operated Taylor Court Grocery on SE 80th Avenue for 25 years. During those many years they rarely took days off or time away from the store. The community and neighbors became their family. They took joy in all the births, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, move in days and so many other memorable events the neighborhood celebrated. They loved the children who visited the store for that “after school” treat or the cold soda or ice cream in the summer months.

I often visited and sometimes worked in the store during the years I lived in Beaverton. It was very evident the members of the community were woven in Mel and Errol’s lives. I loved attending the summer Block Party when hundreds turned out for the parade and festivities. The annual Halloween Event was one of a kind.

Mel passed away on June 18, 2021 after a brief illness. Mel grew up in a family of 8 children. We had 4 girls and 4 boys. He was probably the hardest worker of us all. He began at a young age in the orchards of our farming community near Yakima, Wa. Up until the day Mel left us, he had that mental list of one more shelf to stock, product to search for, or customer to take care of. We know now, Mel can check all those items off his “to do” list.

Upon Mel’s death, our family witnessed a huge outpouring of support and love for Mel and Errol. We want to THANK YOU ALL FROM THE BOTTOM OF OUR HEARTS. We understand they were loved by so many…we want you to know they loved everyone back. Thank you for those expressions of support and love during this difficult time of losing our brother. It is appreciated more than we can say.

Errol is still living in the community, just a few blocks from what he knew as home…in the community where he belongs.

Warmest thank you,
The family of Mel Hafsos & Errol Carlson—Owner/Operators of Taylor Court Grocery
Diane Dufault (Sister to Mel)


New Bike-Share Stations Arrive

Yesterday, crews from BIKETOWN installed new bike-share stations on SE 81st Ave just south of E Burnside Street. Its construction follows another recently built unit on NE Glisan Street west of 80th Ave. When completed, the 81st Ave location will house docks for up to six e-bikes available to rent through the BIKETOWN mobile app.

Last June, a survey conducted by BIKETOWN gathered community input on where to place new electric bicycle (e-bike) docks as part of the program’s East Portland expansion. A few months later, that survey data and other factors are guiding the placement of these stations. The BIKETOWN bike finder map currently shows the new station on SE 81st Ave as available for use. However, no bikes are listed there, and the stand is missing the vertical sign that displays user instructions. This bike-share location is near Walgreens Pharmacy on the road behind Hong Phat. The station’s proximity to the number 20 and 72 TriMet bus lines should reduce excessive walking for riders not directly on the bus route.

Station on NE Glisan Street showing user instructions.

Several blocks north from the uncompleted station, BIKETOWN staff finished an identical installation on NE Glisan Street. Crews completed this location last week, and it is fully operational. Workers placed the docks on the sidewalk in front of Glisan Dental, away from traffic. The SE 81st Ave docks sit in the road’s parking lane, relying on white traffic delineator posts to protect the parked bikes.

Station on NE Glisan Street.

BIKETOWN docking stations are simple installations that securely hold locked bikes. They do not provide any charging for e-bikes. Instead, BIKETOWN offers these locations as a reliable place for customers to find and return bikes. Throughout the week, staff redistributes bikes to these locations after collecting units left in remote areas. Each e-bike has a removable battery pack that employees can replace before putting them back out for use.

BIKETOWN van used for redistribution.

Since the expansion of the BIKETOWN network in late 2020, sightings of the iconic orange bikes throughout Montavilla and greater East Portland have increased. Often they are found secured to signposts and fences. The installation of more bike docking stations will transform the scattering of transportation options into a reliable network of mobility devices. Their new consistent location gives residents the confidence to bridge the transportation gap for short trips without a personal vehicle. Businesses near the docks should also see a boost in visitors, as patrons can expect to find a bike ready for them when they head home. Look for these docks next time you plan a short trip around Montavilla and see if an e-bike can enhance your mobility.

Station on SE 81st Ave partially completed.

Correction – fixed typo of store name Hong Phat

Neighborhood Elections Oct 11th

The Montavilla Neighborhood Association (MNA) will hold Board Member elections at their October 11th meeting, starting at 6:30 PM. Candidates for the open positions will announce their intentions to run later this month at the September 13th meeting. Those announcements will follow a general vote of members on whether to accept amendments to the MNA Bylaws that will change how term limits are applied.

With many existing board members not running for reelection this year, the MNA seeks new directors for six open positions. Having a significant number of seats available, MNA sees this as an opportunity to shape the Board more equitably and with a broader perspective. All eligible members are encouraged to run for the open positions. However, this is the best time for people from historically underrepresented groups to add their experience to MNA leadership.

Interested parties can email mna-email@montavillapdx.org for more information on the process. Additionally, all candidates are welcome to self-nominate at the September 13th general meeting held online via Zoom. Participation in neighborhood associations helps drive positive change within the community and makes Portland’s government work for its citizens.

Ahead of these elections, MNA Members will vote on changing the organization’s Bylaws. The two amendments received their first public reading at the July 12th meeting. Those changes focus on term limits and try to align the Bylaws with current standards and Oregon law. The first change is in removing a three-year term limit on general membership. Most neighborhood associations do not have membership term limits but instead, rely on eligibility requirements. Removing the membership term limit from Section 6 of Article IV in the Bylaws will allow MNA to fall back to the existing requirements for membership detailed in the previous five sections of Article IV.

The second amendment to the Bylaws adds term limits for board members. MNA Board members serve two-year terms. This amendment caps each Board member at two successive terms and then requires a minimum of one year off before running again.

Portland has faced a challenging few years. Regardless the MNA has worked to improve the neighborhood and help those in need whenever possible. Participation in this group is a necessary part of maintaining the health and function of an urban community. Look for opportunities to participate at montavillapdx.org/mna-calendar.


UPDATE – Removed text and link related to Oregon law over term limits.

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

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.

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.