Tag: METBA

PBOT Extends On-Street Seating and Public Plazas

At a press conference Monday, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) announced plans to extend two pandemic relief programs and work to make them permanent. PBOT Director Chris Warner joined Transportation Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty to highlight the successes of the Healthy Businesses permits and Portland Public Street Plazas program. The free Healthy Businesses permits will extend through August 31st and then require businesses to pay a fee for parking space seating.

At this week’s event, Neil Mattson spoke about Montavilla’s successful Street Plaza and how both programs supported the neighborhood during difficult times. As president of the Montavilla/East Tabor Business Association, Mattson led the development of the community plaza on SE 79th Avenue. PBOT staff recognized this public gathering space as one of the program’s success stories and welcomed its return this season. Mattson confirmed the plaza’s restorative influence on the area. “It really showed that when we take back the street and we use it as a place for coming together, that it does build community.”

Neil Mattson, president of the Montavilla/East Tabor Business Association

Mattson further explained the essential service provided to the community through PBOT’s free permits for parking lane dining areas. “In Montavilla, we have 24 businesses currently offering outdoor seating. If we hadn’t had the ability to have the Healthy Businesses permits, those businesses, I’m pretty confident [they] would all be gone today.” The success of these fresh-air extensions of restaurants and bars is evident through how they transformed over time. What began as roped-off parking spaces soon grew into three-sided sheds dotting curbs throughout the neighborhood.

When PBOT first rolled out the program, they envisioned umbrellas and tents, not wood structures with corrugated roofs. The sturdy construction that indicates success could conflict with the Healthy Businesses program’s transition into a permanent City amenity. Starting September 1st, all permit holders will need to renew their permits for the program. The renewal process will include a compliance review that will likely require modifications to what businesses have constructed over the last two years.

Dylan Rivera, PBOT’s Public Information Officer, explained how businesses might need to adjust as the Healthy Businesses program matures. “There are people out there, businesses who put tables in the street without even coming to us for a permit, even though the Permit was free,” said Rivera. For those establishments, compliance will start with a permit application and reworking their space within the guidelines.

Other business owners have permits but obstructed the public right-of-way or constructed outdoor seating beyond what is allowed. PBOT has concerns that pedestrians and wheelchairs can not navigate the sidewalk through some seating configurations. Corrections will mostly center on maintaining the required six feet of sidewalk clearance. The more challenging conflicts will arise from overbuilt outdoor seating. “There are people out of compliance right now, and we need to have a conversation with them,” said Rivera.

PBOT will have conversations with permit holders throughout the spring and continue into the summer. The goal is to contain outdoor seating in temporary movable structures. “This summer, we’re hoping to start talking about what are some sensible guidelines to help with vision clearance, especially close to crosswalks and intersections, and what does temporary look like?” Said Rivera. “There’ll be lots of conversations and then warnings.”  

PBOT’s primary concern is for the preservation of safety and to maintain access to public spaces. Much of Portland’s infrastructure runs above the sidewalk or below the street, and utility workers need access along the road within a few days’ notice. Healthy Businesses seating areas must be able to move out of the way within that timeframe. PBOT is taking a soft approach to this transition. As the year moves closer to September, PBOT staff will speak to Healthy Businesses permit holders and provide guidance for the new rules. Dylan Rivera assures business owners that they are not pursuing imidate changes.

Although PBOT intends to make both programs permanent, the continuation of Healthy Businesses permits and the Street Plazas Program are contingent on funding from the Portland City Council. The long-term success of these community-strengthening initiatives is dependent on their inclusion in the City’s 2022-23 budget. Commissioner Hardesty encouraged Portlanders to voice their support for these PBOT programs to her fellow City Council members. Over the next six months, look for the return of Street Plazas and subtle changes to outdoor seating as businesses prepare for compliance requirements.


Disclosure – The author of this article serves on the Montavilla/East Tabor Business Association Board.

Montavilla’s New Public Plaza

Starting today, a small portion of SE 79th Ave north of SE Stark Street is transforming into a Public Plaza. Montavilla East Tabor Business Association (METBA) will create the car-free gathering space as part of the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s (PBOT) Safe Streets Initiative. The program designates safe outdoor areas in neighborhoods across Portland, connecting communities and supporting economic recovery.

The Plaza will open to the public starting this weekend and remain accessible through Labor Day, September 6th. METBA plans to host several entertainment events in the space over the next few months. When not used for events, outdoor furniture in the Plaza will be available for spontaneous community use. The permit for the Plaza lasts through October, allowing a potential expanded season for events if residents express interest.

Unlike the Parking Plazas used by businesses along local streets, this temporary installation will block traffic flow through SE 79th Ave. METBA coordinated this project with local businesses and homeowners ahead of the closure. Although adjacent establishments support this new Public Plaza, patrons of those nearby businesses are not the only ones able to use this space. Similar to a public park, it is a family-friendly location for everyone to eat and gather. However, the PBOT permit prohibits the consumption of alcohol within this Plaza. Drinking outdoors will remain limited to licensed Parking Plazas.

Funds for live entertainment in the Plaza come from Travel Oregon. Earlier this year, they distributed grant money towards activities in Oregon that would increase tourism. METBA is currently developing an entertainment schedule consisting of daytime entertainment that won’t disrupt nearby business activities. Live music performances will play a significant role in programming for this Plaza, creating paying work for musicians.

Today volunteers are painting the road mural ahead of the outdoor furniture delivery tomorrow. An assortment of picnic tables, bistro tables, and Adirondack chairs will fill the street. By Saturday, crews will have completed the setup and have the space ready for public use. Keep an eye on METBA‘s website and social media accounts for information about Plaza events. Send questions or comments to Montavilla.Biz@gmail.com.

METBA District Clean Up

Yesterday, volunteers cleaned litter from SE Stark Street and NE Glisan Street as part of a Montavilla and East Tabor Business Association (METBA) event. Half of the group began work at 9:00 AM, starting on Stark Street by I205 and working towards Montavilla Town. The second crew started an hour later at the Fred Meyer Grocery Store and moved east along NE Glisan, ending at 82nd Ave. Over twenty-five business owners and community members participated in the three-hour-long clean-up effort.

METBA received sponsorship for the event from Montavilla Sewing Centers and coordination support from the Montavilla Neighborhood Association. Participants received complimentary pizza provided by Flying Pie Pizzeria after the event. The group removed two dozen bags worth of trash from Montavilla streets in a community effort to revitalize the area. METBA plans to host future clean-up events in the coming month. Businesses interested in assisting with future events can reach METBA at montavilla.biz@gmail.com or through their website.


Disclosure: The author of this article serves on the NMA Board and participated in this event.

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.

Montavilla Street Fair 2020 Canceled

This years Montavilla Street Fair has been canceled in response to COVID-19. The annual event was set to occur on July 26th and would have been on SE Stark street, as it has for many years. The event is hosted by the Montavilla East Tabor Business Association (METBA). METBA President, Pete Dills, announced the cancelation at the June 16th association meetup.

The decision to cancel this years fair was driven by many factors. Concern for everyones health was the primary reason. Beyond that concern, the States reopening guidelines would also prohibit any event like the street fair. In past years the event has attracted thousands of visitors. Any social distancing plan would be complicated and hard to monitor. “I do not know how we would ‘police’ something like that,” said Dills.

Logistics alone were not the only reason to cancel this years fair. METBA Board member, Carmen Wilson, added that the issues were also financial. The Permits for closing Stark street, from 76th Ave to 82nd Ave, is a large cost to METBA. They would be unlikely to recoup that cost through in donations this year. Instead, METBA wishes to use the funds they have to support local businesses in other ways.

Dills presented a few ideas of how METBA could help local businesses, instead of hosting the street fair. One idea, would try to replicate the business exposer from participating in the fair. The structure of the program would spread out participation over a month, to allow for COVID-19 related restrictions. Currently it’s referred to as “Montavilla Passport.” The Passport would be a mobile-device friendly why to interact with or patronize local businesses. This may be though in person visits or no-contact ways of interacting.

Dills’ other idea, had METBA creating a neighborhood scavenger hunt. Both ideas have the goal to help the residents know “what businesses are open and provide opportunities for the Montavilla community to support their local business district in fun and unique ways.” Wrote Dills in an email to Montavilla News.

METBA is seeking advice and feedback from the community about what can replace the Montavilla Street Fair this year. You are invited to email montavilla.biz@gmail.com with your ideas and thoughts on what METBA should do. Local businesses need extra support this year and now is the best time to start work on how the community can band together.

Businesses Plan for a Safe Opening

On June 2nd, Montavilla East Tabor Business Association (METBA) held the second of four online business-owner meetups. During the evenings conversation, business owners and community members discussed how they plan to reopen. The presenter reviewed Oregon’s Statewide Guidance with attendees. Each participant then outlined what they are doing, or will do, as part of opening to the public.

Safety for staff and customers was the overwhelming theme surrounding reopening procedures. Each business had their own method for exceeding the minimum standards set-out in the Statewide Guidance. In those documents, masks for staff are required but optional for customers. However many business owners at the meetup said they are requiring masks for everyone who enters their business, customers included. This is to insure workplace safety for their staff and the safety of other customers.

While many business owners in Montavilla have an idea of how to safely open, some are not comfortable with opening yet. Two people, one representing a Montavilla church and the other who’s an owner of a co-working space, said they are keeping their spaces closed for the foreseeable future. For some businesses there is just not a safe way have face to face contact but they are developing online and outdoor options.

Pete Dills, METBA President, summarized the meetup in a few key ideas. The number one thing is to keep staff and customers safe. Keep businesses viable. Keep employees employed. Continue to offer products and services to Montavilla residents.

Dills went on to offer a message to the patrons of Montavilla, “Be patient with us.” For all the business owners, they are trying to figure out how this will work. There is no one procedure for all businesses and the processes will need to change as the situation changes. For questions about what stores are open, METBA encourages you to check their COVID-19 resource page.


METBA business owner meetups are Tuesdays from 7-8pm.  If you are a Montavilla or East Tabor business owner, you are encouraged to participate. Pleaser register to join the last two meetups. Participation is free and open to all business owners.

Businesses Band Together

Last night the Montavilla East Tabor Business Association (METBA) held the first in a series of online business owner meetups. METBA has held many in person meetups, however this is the first time taking it online. What has traditionally been a social gathering, these meetups have taken on a more serious tone. All the subjects for these events, are around keeping your business sustainable in the midst of a pandemic.

Over ten Montavilla business owners attended the May 26th Zoom event. The topic was focused on paying rent and working with your landlord during the shutdown. Many participants shared their own experiences, and sought advice from others.

During the evenings conversation, the group identified the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) as needing its own hour of conversation. It is probable that PPP will become the topic of week 4.

There are still three more events scheduled. If you are a Montavilla or East Tabor business owner, you are encouraged to participate. Pleaser register to join one, or all, of the remaining meetups. Participation is free and open to all businesse owners. Meetups are Tuesdays from 7-8pm.

WEEK 1: May 26th  – Landlord communications (already occured)
WEEK 2: June 2nd  – Re-opening your business safely – current guidelines
WEEK 3: June 9th – Networking during COVID – Supporting one another’s biz
WEEK 4: June 16th – Topic TBA (Proposed: Paycheck Protection Program)

Everyone knows that the remainder of 2020 will be challenging to business owners all over the world. By banding together, our local businesses have much better chance of surviving this economic challenge.