Letter from the LUTC ViceChair: City’s New Code Change Could Be a Game Changer for Neighborhood Associations

By Jonathan Konkol

The city of Portland is divided into 94 neighborhoods. Each, including Eliot, is represented by a volunteer board made up of people who live and/or work in the neighborhood. While neighbors have always organized with each other to gain strength in numbers when dealing with city government and supporting each other, City Hall created an official bureau to provide a mechanism for enfranchising communities. This was the result of a mandate for community involvement in the implementation of the Great Society programs for urban renewal, created in the late 1960s under LBJ. Among other things, these boards have played a key role in shaping local land use policy and implementation of City code.

Fast forward five decades to today and tensions have emerged between the leadership of some of the neighborhood associations and the City’s policy goals. Commissioner Chloe Eudaly’s office, which currently oversees the Office of Civic Life (formerly the Office of Neighborhood Involvement) has asserted that neighborhoods, in general, have become an obstacle to new development, and their boards are insufficiently diverse. Rather than working to improve the situation, they have proposed changes to city code to simply erase neighborhood associations from any official recognition.

The ostensible goal of the changes – increasing the representation of citizens of marginalized communities in civic life – is laudable. It is also true that some neighborhood boards have struggled with a lack of proportional representation. We have struggled with this problem in Eliot. We have also made efforts to diversify our board to truly represent our community and we have committed to an ongoing effort to build and maintain a board that looks like our community.

At this point in our history, our government should require neighborhood association boards to be representative; we wish to continue to have a codified voice in public decision-making, so some quid pro quo is appropriate. Rather than removing the entire system, City Hall can be a partner for change and improvement of neighborhood boards. Official recognition, staff time and funding should be tied to the adoption of standards for inclusivity of neighborhood boards. Boards should look like the communities they serve, and codifying this would achieve the City’s stated goals of inclusion. We can build on what we already have. Grassroots civic involvement has made our city stronger and can continue to do so, provided we work together with a common goal.

In an increasingly alienated and divided society, the antidote to alienation and basis of a healthy society is face-to-face interaction with those around us. This means strengthening and reforming the systems of governance that unite neighbors around the city. Working together with our neighbors, we form bonds that transcend race and class and help us form networks of trust and mutual support. We will need these networks when we face inevitable challenges such as the predicted 9.0+ mega quake by developing teams to organize and implement disaster training and also continue to maintain consistent committees for this and other ongoing issues.

The proposed code changes, which were slated to go before city council in August, have been pushed back to sometime in November. What can you do? Write to the Mayor, Commissioners and the Office of Civic Life to express support for an alternative that improves neighborhoods and strengthens us to do the work of community building.

Perseverance Results in Bright Future and Prestigious Clerkship for Woman of Color Attorney

Lewis & Clark Law School graduate, Vera Warren. Photo Courtesy
Vera Warren

By Shireen Hasan

Vera Warren, an uprising young woman of color, has entered the Portland legal scene in pursuit of becoming an attorney, and it looks like she’s taking the legal profession by storm! Vera grew up in Beaverton, Oregon, and traveled between two homes, with her father living in NE Portland. Vera attended South Ridge High School, and then continued onto Willamette University College, in Salem (undergrad), accomplishing her Psychology major, and Environmental Science minor in four years. She then lived in New York for two years with her aunt. Vera says it was a good experience overall, and she misses it.

After returning to Portland, Vera worked at Portland General Electric (PGE). Fulfillment was not readily achieved in Vera’s life around this time, because clearly, she had another calling; she felt the urgency for social justice and wanted to be educated in areas to ‘make change’. Once consciously awakened to this idea and to bring it into manifestation, Vera decided to pursue the profession in law, to speak out and do something about the injustices that so many people are continually victimized by today. Hence, Vera began school at Lewis & Clark College to study law for four years, and eventually left her job at PGE.

In addition to school, Vera was blessed with, and had the privilege to intern alongside her father, Ernest Warren — a powerful, hotshot attorney (and handsome, I might add), who took his daughter under his wing, teaching her the ropes and exposing her to real-life hands on training, experiences, and opportunities working with clients, cases, judges, other attorneys, and in court-rooms of law that other law students could only dream of! Ernest owns and operates his own practice, located in downtown Portland, Oregon, and has practiced law since 1988. Vera describes working with her father as the best experience. Because he wanted better for her, he pushed her, gave her opportunities, and challenged her. They have a solid foundational relationship built on communication and a good understanding with each other. She admits there were times when Vera felt overwhelmed with school, study, the hands on training, and her dad’s expectations: there were a few snippy moments working together, but all out of love.

Ernest is a leader and has helped pave the way for his daughter, and certainly for other people of color, as well. Vera mentions that her father pulled things out of her that she was not aware that she had the ability to do. In addition, she also feels that she has learned some things about herself and discovering new things that she can do. This is powerful on so many levels, and it sounds like Vera has tapped into her own innate potential.

Recently, in preparation for the Oregon State Bar exam, Vera has stopped working. She studied for four to six hours a day, and took another smaller course to practice. Vera mentioned staying in isolation so that she could put in the time that she needed. Folks wanted Vera to take the time to go out and participate in activities, but she had no time to spend hanging out with family and friends. She found that she had to be really disciplined, and she says that if you do not pass the bar exam the first time, there is a really long wait period for the next opportunity to try it again. Vera has taken the bar exam and is expecting the results from it in the fall of 2019.

To begin with, Vera plans to work in public defense and criminal justice, and says she wants to advocate for the groups who are severely underrepresented. For example, prison inmates, folks with mental health and addiction issues, and people of color, specifically black people because of their higher representation in the inmate population. She wants to make small changes wherever she can as she moves through her journey, not allowing herself to become overwhelmed because the issues are so entrenched and expansive. Her goals are to be able to go into policy to make change, and says that she has to start with smaller goals in steps to help bring them about; maybe becoming a judge later on down the road.

In August 2020, she will start a clerkship in the Court of Appeals, working under a judge to explain laws. She’ll focus on clear communication, with some technical writing, which she enjoys. But working as a public defender before that time is at the top of her agenda.

Her continuing education is inevitable because it is required in order to continue practicing law. Vera feels that being ahead of the competition is amazing — she can share information with other attorneys, and furthermore learn from others.

Vera encourages youth who may be interested in professional law to ‘Go for It’! However, she cautions to be ready to feel uncomfortable because being in this field there may not be a lot of support for people of color, and you would need to find folks who are involved where you can receive the support that you need. This is a community, so even if you do not understand the work, just go for it anyway.

Vera encourages adults who are interested in pursuing a law profession to check out Lewis & Clark College’s evening program, because it even has allowed parents with kids to go through law classes . It’s possible if you can fit it in and can figure it out.

Vera was exposed to many aspects of law, for example, she learned taxes, mortgages, and other topics that she wished that she could spend more time on. Vera adds that you learn how to defend yourself and how to properly do things when you learn about the law, and this information is useful to her through her life.

After all of Vera’s hard work, time, energy, and determination that she has put into her education and doing her best to be the best, she is now able to take some time off and reconnect with friends and especially with family. Very says that spending time with family is very important to her. She is happy to see members of the family that she has not seen in a while. Vera is also happy to be back out in the community and connecting with everyone.

It is very exciting to see this strong, beautiful, intelligent, and down-to-earth young woman of color blazing in the direction of leadership and power. It will be interesting to follow how this unfolds for Vera. We need more young women of color taking their rightful place in society, working for the next generation of leaders at the forefront of justice, fighting for justice, and guiding our youth to do the same. We are cheering for you, Vera. You Go Girl!

LUTC Minutes for August 12

Attendees:
Mark, Brad, Monique, Zach, Phil, Jonathan

Welcomes
Want to add discussion of Rodney letter to meeting

3019 NE MLK. Design hasn’t changed since we last chatted. They applied for Land Use Adjustment. Completed application July 28th and will hear back within 120 days. Then will adjust designs or scrap the project based on results. If all goes well, they hope to break ground Q1 2020.

Rodney letter. Folks were happy with result from the city. With traffic engineer coming to the neighborhood, folks also wanted to let them look into:
1. Rodney greenway. There’s a lot of car traffic and it seems like cars are speeding. Still folks might not feel like biking on it. Is there an opportunity to reassess how well it’s working?
2.The turn lane on NE MLK when driving northbound and turning left onto Morris. The sensor doesn’t seem to work all the time. Noted that multiple folks have noticed having to wait through multiple cycles for it to turn.

Didn’t get to approve the minutes from last time since we didn’t have them.

“That’s No Lady!” It’s a Celebration of Darcelle

Our long time neighbor, Walter Cole, who is also the world’s longest performing drag queen know as Darcelle XV, is being honored two different ways this fall.

Triangle Productions is producing a musical called, “Darcelle: That’s No Lady” performed by Kevin Loomis (as seen at OSF, on Broadway, Frasier, and The Practice) at PSU’s Lincoln Hall through October 5. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased at trianglepro.org.

Oregon Historical Society (OHS) has an exhibit of some of Darcelle’s costumes which Walter made and embellished as well as some interesting information about each of them. The exhibit runs through November 3. OHS is located at 1200 SW Park and entry is free to Multnomah County residents with ID. Also, check out a partial 1979 interview between Margie Boulé and Walter Cole/ Darcelle on You Tube. Plus, for information on Walter Cole’s life check out the past Eliot News article, “Just Call Me Darcelle

Reminder: General Meeting and Board Elections Tonight

Monday, October 21 6:30 PM

St. Philip the Deacon Church

120 NE Knott St

Meet your neighbors, learn about local issues, have input into decisions that may affect you, and vote for board members. At the meeting, you can also learn more about joining the board or a neighborhood committee.

Agenda

  1. 6:30 Greet neighbors (15 min)
  2. 6:45 Approve minutes (5 min)
  3. 6:50 Clean Air Presentation, questions and invitation to our Clean Air Committee (40 min)
  4. 7:30 Annual report from the Chair (5 min)
  5. 7:35 Election intro by both Co-chairs (20 min)
  6. 7:55 Election-Anjala Ehelebe from NECN to conduct the election with paper ballots.
  7. Eat while ballots are counted

Letter from the Chair: Call to Action

As we return from summer vacations or hanging out in the park, beach or backyard, to the routines of our lives and responsibilities, I want to focus on the appalling condition of the air we breathe here in Portland, and more specifically in Eliot.

You’ll read in Greg Bouchet’s article, on the cover page of this issue, that Eliot is in the bullseye of diesel pollution. We breathe air with significantly higher concentrations of diesel particulates than 99% of other communities in America. Not a good statistic and very bad for our health. In fact, this is potentially life-threatening. “Diesel exhaust is 100 times more toxic than gasoline engine exhaust,” according to a 2008 study in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. “Diesel exhaust is 80%-95% ultra-fine particles of carbon ‘soot’ with cancer-causing chemical riders that evade our natural defenses, reach the lungs, pass into the blood-stream, and circulate to our vital organs including the heart and brain.”

This past August, Oregon’s Legislature passed HB 2007 to limit the diesel particulates emitted from diesel engines, but not until 2029. Do we want to continue to breathe this bad air for another 10 years, while the polluters figure out how to comply? Or more realistically, until the economic impact is lessened by the attrition of dirty diesel trucks and construction engines?

The Volkswagen settlement money ($50,000,000) and the money from the Legislature (also millions of dollars) are available to businesses NOW for filtering these dirty engines. Why can’t the cleanup begin NOW?

Eliot Neighborhood Association is joining local neighborhood and advocacy group efforts to take action. For this effort, we need committed people of any skill level. We are looking for residents or anyone working in Eliot. Our Board needs you to help us form a strong, inclusive, passionate team to advocate for stronger, sooner regulations. Also we need to help local businesses gain access to the $50,000,000 ODOT, which is available for small under-represented trucking owners. Eliot Neighborhood Association has created a new committee, eACT, Eliot Advocacy for Clean-air Team. If you want to join us contact me at chair@eliotneighborhood.org

Eliot Neighborhood Association’s Eliot Advocacy for Clean Air Team, eACT, needs YOU!

The Eliot Neighborhood Association general meeting on October 21 will host Portland Clean Air. Come hear more about this problem, weigh in with your thoughts and find out how you can help make the air we breathe cleaner and less dangerous.

Also, at the October meeting, we will hold the annual elections of board members for the 2020 term. We hope to see you there and that you consider signing up to help with eACT or becoming a board member or simply get involved with other neighborhood association activities and events.

Support Portland Clean Air and Breathe Easier in the Future

By Greg Bourget

Diesel particulate is the worst airborne carcinogen according to State of California risk assessments. In Portland it comes primarily from industrial unfiltered trucks making in-city deliveries. Currently Portland is ranked in the worst 1.3% of counties in the nation for airborne diesel particulate according to the most recent EPA three-year assessment. Airborne diesel particulate affects the Eliot Neighborhood more than most Portland neighborhoods. California banned unfiltered diesel trucks statewide and by 2015 there were virtually none left. Diesel particulate filters remove 90% of diesel particulate emissions. In contrast, three-quarters of the trucks in the three-county Portland area have no filter according to ODOT and DMV records. The in-city stretch of I5, including the part that runs through Eliot neighborhood, has the 24-hour highest truck counts in Portland according to ODOT monitoring studies.

DEQ reported diesel-powered vehicles are only 6% of Oregon vehicles on the road yet emit 60 – 70% of all particulate emissions from all on-road vehicles combined. The State of California reported that currently diesel particulate is still “responsible for about 70% of California’s estimated known cancer risk attributable to toxic air contaminants.” DEQ reported in 2015 that diesel exhaust causes lung and bladder cancer, certain heart attacks and other blood clotting diseases, coronary artery disease, malignant childhood brain tumors, decreased cognitive functioning, increased incidence of Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), acute bronchitis, and asthma. A study by Bishop et al. found diesel particulate causes dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Immediate symptoms include eye and throat irritation, coughing and phlegm, swollen airway, bronchial irritation, nausea, headache, lightheadedness, and fatigue.

Portland Clean Air believes negotiation with unfiltered trucking companies is the solution. The Oregon diesel bill HB 2007 which passed June 30, 2019, was gutted by industry. It allows a ten-year phase-out. California did a seven-year phase-out starting nine years ago! Numerous loopholes allow trucking companies to avoid even that deadline. The Oregon legislature accepts unlimited corporate campaign donations. This is illegal in 45 states. Since we can’t count on the Oregon Legislature, neighbors have been directly negotiating with industrial polluters instead. Since the
Bullseye scandal, eight Portland area industries have installed a smokestack scrubber at a cost of $70 K to $20 M due solely to
negotiations with neighbors.

Judging by model year, XPO Logistics has 8,604 unfiltered trucks – by far the largest unfiltered truck fleet in the Portland area. XPO Logistics, Consolidated Freightways, and USF Reddaway combined have 12,036 unfiltered trucks – more than TriMet and the next largest 24 unfiltered Portland area fleets combined. As the state of Oregon barely regulates them, I think they require a response from us, their neighbors.

Portland Clean Air is working with 41 Portland Neighborhood Association boards, the North East Coalition of Neighborhoods, and 24 Portland-area churches and synagogues to address this airborne diesel particulate through negotiation with unfiltered industrial truck fleets. We are also looking at companies who contract with these unfiltered fleets.

Portland Clean Air appreciates the Eliot Neighborhood Association (ENA) who has taken a leadership role to address this with us. ENA has formed a committee to take action. If you have questions about how you can help with this committee, or about monitoring, home air filters, or any other questions, please contact me at greg@portlandcleanair.org or for more information go to portlandcleanair.org/ diesel.

Come hear a presentation by Portland Clean Air at the Eliot
Neighborhood Association general assembly meeting on Monday, October 21 at 6:30pm at St Philip the Deacon Church, 120 NE Knott St (the corner of Knott and Rodney).

Letter from the Editor

Wow, there’s so much to report on for this issue we barely had room! I have to be brief, but a couple things of note. First, air quality in Eliot is a serious issue and a common theme in a lot of our articles. Check out the causes, the ways to help prevent pollution and how you can help.

Also, don’t forget our board elections are coming up this month, October 21, at our general assembly meeting . Our neighborhood grew by almost 400 addresses in the last year to a total of 3382 business and residences so welcome to Eliot and join us because we’d love to have some new faces, ideas, and people passionate to keep Eliot a great place to live.

Lastly, we spotlight some special people, businesses and events so be sure to read this fall issue cover to cover.

LUTC Agenda for October 14th, 2019

Land Use and Transportation Committee

7:00-8:30 pm

Location: 120 NE Knott St

  1. 7:00 Open meeting, Welcome guests, Introductions (5)
  2. 7:05 Discuss agenda and accept any additions (5)
  3. 7:10 Earthquake Tech expansion plans (20) 
  4. 7:30 Discuss upcoming projects and if we want to get involved (50)
    1. Residential Infill Project, Better Housing by Design, and Anti-Displacement measures
    2. Lloyd-to-Woodlawn greenway and Safer 7th improvements.
    3. Broadway Toyota’s proposed parking structure
  5. 8:20 Approve Minutes (10)