Thank you to everyone who made it to our November 2nd, 2017 meeting with special guest Mayor Ted Wheeler! We were thrilled to have so many of our neighbors join us. We were excited to provide (for the first time!!) simultaneous Spanish translation at this meeting, and will continue to do so at future meetings. Please help us spread the word!
Our first hour was mostly dedicated to hearing Mayor Ted Wheeler speak. Over two months, we sourced questions from the neighborhood. From those questions, five were composed and asked. See below for a short video of our meeting.
Questions and Answers:
1. TRANSPORTATION AND STREET IMPROVEMENTS
Five years ago, Portland began the Out of the Mud Initiative, but Brentwood-Darlington is still literally in the mud with the least amount of paved roads, sidewalks, and curbs in the city. How does the city plan to address these issues while we wait for future improvements, such as the Safe Routes to School grant, that won’t begin for years? In addition to basic street infrastructure, Brentwood-Darlington is also severely underserved with public transit and bicycle infrastructure. How does the city plan to rectify these issues, especially for commuters?
The City is taking a number of steps to improve safety and the state of the roads, sidewalks and bikeways in Brentwood Darlington. As part of the Fixing our Streets program, PBOT will be undertaking safety improvement projects at each of the schools in the neighborhood.
The community outreach for these projects was completed earlier this year and the project lists are being finalized. They will be made public at the end of November and construction will start next year. We will invest over $700,000 in the Cleveland Cluster and over $890,000 in the Franklin Cluster. Schools in both of these clusters are located in Brentwood-Darlington.
Also part of Fixing our Streets is the Montavilla to Springwater Neighborhood Greenway project. This project, which is slated for 2019, will invest over $500,000 in this corridor to make it safer and more inviting for people on bikes and people walking to use this route.
PBOT recognizes how frustrating the issue of unimproved streets is for neighborhoods like Brentwood-Darlington. That is why the bureau will reserve money from the recently passed state transportation funding package to begin to do routine grading and gravel maintenance on the city’s unimproved streets. This includes the streets of Brentwood-Darlington. Such maintenance will help to address some of the most pressing and immediate problems posed by these unimproved streets, including large potholes.
At the same time, the bureau will continue to look for long-term solutions to bringing the city’s unimproved streets up to modern standards. This includes the creation of a Neighborhood Streets Program funded by the Local Infrastructure Transportation Charge. (LTIC) Developing this program includes determining what street standards should be applied in what situations; what public sources of funds could be dedicated to funding neighborhood transportation improvements and what level of private funding is reasonable to expect; and how the City will go about allocating limited funding for these improvements while balancing competing needs.
PBOT and BES are currently working on the Errol Heights Project, which, when completed, will improve seven currently unimproved streets. These streets include: Malden Drive, Tenino Court, Tenino Drive, 48th, 49th, 51st and Nehalem. Currently, the initial designs for the project are nearly complete. They will be introduced at a community open house in December. At this open house, PBOT will also discuss the formation of a property-owner Local Improvement District to fund a portion of the project. PBOT anticipates that the LID could be formed by spring 2018 and construction could then begin in the summer.
2. HOUSING AFFORDABILITY AND SECURITY
What is the city doing to support Brentwood-Darlington homeowners who are at risk of being displaced to be able to stay in their homes? What is the city doing to preserve current affordable housing? Specifically, Brentwood-Darlington is home to existing affordable apartment buildings and several mobile home parks. These offer a potential opportunity to maintain affordable housing, with city support. Will you strongly consider the use of a portion of the Housing Bond to finance this source of affordable housing in B-D?
The home repair loans from income qualified individuals from the general fund are preventing displacement as are the lead remediation and repair, and our ongoing healthy home meetings held usually at Park Rose connecting low and moderate income home owners to resources.
There are existing homeownership/assistance programs – though these are more robust north and east of B-D. But the dollars exist city-wide (though limited) for the exact repairs that homeowners need – especially limited income ones.
We are actively exploring a zoning overlay policy to protect mobile home parks – that should be ready in the next two months. We’re in the process of investing 258 million dollars into permanently affordable housing – this will have a direct impact on helping to ensure neighborhood homes remain affordable to future buyers. It will create 1,300 affordable housing units in Portland in the near term.
Housing Affordability is at the top of my priorities. And the investment of this quarter billion dollars is something we and the Housing Bureau take very seriously. We’re committed to ensuring quality development and preservation of affordable housing across the City.
This effort represents an ambitious start to addressing housing affordability in Portland. It also provides us with an opportunity to build trust with our citizens in the area of fiscal responsibility. We are going to spend their dollars wisely in a way that makes a tangible impact in people’s lives.
3. CRIME / NEIGHBORHOOD SAFETY
Our community has currently reached a state of desperation over the alarming frequency of property crimes, theft, burglaries, vehicle break-ins, assaults, and a recent drive by shooting on 67th and Duke. Additionally, illegal chop shops and drug houses often go unchecked far too long. A group of our concerned citizens has felt the urgency to form its own Neighborhood Watch that goes beyond the city’s model of focusing on just one or two streets. This group’s intention is proactive and solution-focused. For several months now, they have been taking direct action, by walking our streets and parks, directly addressing people engaged in illegal activities (e.g., drug use close to our schools and in our parks, dumping raw sewage from RV’s into our streets), and strongly encouraging lawful behavior. They are determined to take back our green spaces and parks which are no longer family-friendly. Tonight we are asking for your help with initiating a conversation with PPB that will be accountable to the situation we are facing in B-D. Can we count on you to make this commitment, Mayor Wheeler?
(The Mayor passed out a document including crime statistics for Brentwood-Darlington for 2015/2016 and 2016/2017. Commander Bryan Parman (PPB, East Precinct) attended and spoke regarding the shooting and statistics as well.)
Preliminary information suggests the shooting at SE 67th Ave and SE Duke St, likely occurred between known persons, was the result of the negligent discharge of a firearm, and was not a drive-by shooting. They are having conversations regarding staffing levels with the DA, PPB, and Sheriff to address the concerns at hand and find a solution.
BDNA Note: Sgt. Randy Teig, Portland Police Bureau, East Precinct Neighborhood Response Team will be at the December 7th meeting!
4. BUDGET EQUITY
Brentwood Darlington homeowners pay some of the highest property taxes in the city yet receive very little support and infrastructure funds — for improvements to our parks and streets, plus addressing the fact that B-D has the least number of sidewalks in the entire city. Specifically, we are seeking clear information about the allocation of funds by district, and your support to ensure that SE Portland / B-D are receiving our equitable share. What is your plan to address these inequities in 2018?
Brentwood-Darlington does not pay some of the highest property taxes on a dollar basis. They do have some of the highest effective rates, however because their real market values haven’t grown as fast as others around the City, so their Measure 47/50 caps are closer to their real market values than other neighborhoods.
As a general matter, there is no single source to pull specific geographies of specific capital projects. Mapping budgets is a challenge and most cities don’t do it. Portland started doing it seven years ago and has some pretty robust information online
In the Southeast Uplift Neighborhood Program (the neighborhood coalition geography), the FY 2016-17 budget had the highest proportion of capital work being performed by PBOT – $26.1 million of the total $123.73 million PBOT capital program.
But there are a lot of challenges tying benefits to geography.
Where projects are located doesn’t necessarily tie to who benefits. For example, all Portlanders benefit from the Combined Sewer Overflow project, but the residents of the neighborhood through which the Big Pipe runs wouldn’t consider that project a specific benefit to them.
Closer to home and more relevant, for example, there are a number of capital improvements occurring at the Mt Scott Community Center (HVAC improvements, roof replacement). While not in B-D, this community center serves the neighborhood. These aren’t exciting projects, but they are necessary investments to make sure that this vital facility continues to serve the community.
We also map service area. And Southeast is one of the best served parts of the City with regard to Parks when measured by the percent of households within a ½ mile of a park or natural area (87%). Most of our investments in new parks are going to be in those areas that are historically underserved – East Portland, for example has only 61% of households within a ½ mile. But we are committed to taking care of what we’ve got.
There are big things happening in B-D. Last December, Commissioner Fritz announced the designation of $5.3 million in funding towards transforming Errol Heights Park into the hybrid natural area and developed park envisioned in the 2005 park Master Plan.
BDNA Note: Commissioner Fritz will be attending our April 5th meeting!
5. URBAN PLANNING AND INFRASTRUCTURE
We’ve had numerous active neighbors propose ideas, PSU Urban Planning graduate students selected Brentwood-Darlington as the Portland neighborhood in need of the most focus, and yet we’ve seen no action, besides forthcoming greenways, from the city. How can the City of Portland help our community make our suggestions and ideas for neighborhood improvement more of a reality? What is the number one thing we could do to get city council’s attention and get these improvements done?
As a sponsor of the East Portland Action Plan, I have seen the value that community driven strategic planning can have. It helps City Council and others better understand your priorities. It helps build consensus and commitment in the community that is critical for follow-through. It helps the community and the city make better decisions together. And, critically, that includes weigh the trade-offs that come with these decisions. Such as, making places better and making sure existing residents are not pushed out by prices.
I understand that PSU Urban Planning graduates, working with you, recommended a “Complete Neighborhood” strategy for Brentwood-Darlington. This matches the recommendations of our new Comprehensive Plan. There is a great deal of opportunity here to succeed at this. It would benefit your community and the city as a whole by giving more households access to the benefits offered by complete urban neighborhoods.
So what if Brentwood-Darlington created an action plan like communities have done in East Portland and Cully Concordia?
Both of those had city support. Both originated in the community. Both produced on going community ownership of the plans which is key to the follow-through you seek. Communities getting organized to see these plans through is one of the most lasting results.
Other notes from this meeting:
- Lane Middle School PTA is doing a Can and Bottle Drive
- The Woodstock Library is hosting two excellent events:
- Catherine McMullen of Multnomah County Elections came and brought voter registration materials in multiple languages.
Please note, these are not official meeting minutes. Photo and video credit: Derek Covey, Board Member