Dear Representative Earl Blumenauer, Mayor Ted Wheeler, Commissioner Joann Hardesty, Commissioner Mingus Mapps, PBOT Director Warner, Mr. Sziegethy, Ms. Peirce, Mr. Falbo, and other PBOT Capital Projects decision makers:
Enclosed please find a letter signed by more than 30 local residents from the intersection of NE 7th Avenue and NE Tillamook Street. We respectfully request that the City of Portland begin the process now to address the root cause of the dangerous conditions that the Portland Bureau of Transportation has allowed to develop over many decades in our residential neighborhood from excessive traffic volumes and reckless traffic speeds on Lower 7th Avenue.
Also enclosed is a petition signed by nearly 50 pedestrians and cyclists who happened to pass through this intersection during a few short hours on Sunday afternoon. Our neighbor who volunteered his time to undertake this petition effort yesterday received overwhelming support from every person on foot or bicycle who had the time to stop and speak. We believe this provides you with a sampling of the level of support you will see for real efforts to make this stretch of Lower 7th Avenue safer for the entire community.
Finally, we would like to bring to your attention the letter published yesterday by the Eliot Neighborhood Association and recent coverage of this issue by KGW and BikePortland.
The Eliot Neighborhood Association has written a letter to City and PBOT leaders asking for them to maintain a diverter on NE 7th blocking vehicle travel indefinitely. You can sign on to the letter here.
Here is the text of the letter if that is easier to read:
September 18, 2022
United States Representative Earl Blumenauer
Mayor Ted Wheeler
Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty
Director Chris Warner, Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT)
Nick Falbo, Nicole Peirce, Roger Geller, PBOT Staff
RE: Diversion Needed on NE 7th Avenue to reduce traffic volumes for increased safety
Representative, Mayor, Commissioner, Director, and City Employees,
We are writing to you on behalf of the Eliot Neighborhood Association (ENA), which has received numerous complaints from neighbors about the dangerous conditions of NE 7th Avenue, between NE Broadway and NE Fremont. The ENA has written to you in 2018, 2015 and earlier particularly concerned about the continued deterioration of the road from a traffic standpoint. NE 7th has way too many cars for a local street: 6,000 per day by the PBOT’s estimation. It is difficult to walk, bicycle and even at times drive on the street due to the pre-construction level of car traffic. Additionally it is difficult to cross 7th at most intersections when not in a car. NE 7th has been a high-volume cut-through route for years and we were previously excited for the Lloyd to Woodlawn project to put this traffic back where it belongs: on NE Martin Luther King Jr, Blvd (MLK).
We would like to reiterate the need for traffic DIVERSION on NE 7th due to the extremely high volume of traffic that it receives despite being classified as a local street. Now that the Blumenauer Bridge has been built, we are excited that the city is prioritizing bicycle improvements on NE 7th. Our concern is that the current design does not reflect the city’s policies to make NE 7th a truly local street with minimal cut-through traffic. The City is proposing a design that will work with the existing traffic volumes instead of trying to change the traffic volumes to meet the City’s published policy goals as we have repeatedly asked. While we like the additional speed bumps and horizontal deflection that were proposed on Thursday, September 15th after the public meeting on the street on Wednesday, September 14th, we believe that traffic volumes need to be reduced as part of the project, concurrently with this project or at a minimum before NE 7th is reopened. At the Wednesday night meeting, PBOT said that it had no current plans to reduce traffic volumes, but agreed to reopen the dialogue. Our request is that PBOT only reopen NE 7th Avenue to vehicle traffic after traffic diverters blocking North-South through traffic are on the ground.
Prior to the construction fencing, NE 7th Avenue was a well-used de facto bike route despite the high volume of cars on the road. In the pre-construction-fencing configuration, many non-local drivers utilize the street as a way to avoid Martin Luther King Boulevard. These also tend to be the most motivated, hurried, and aggressive drivers who have already decided they are unwilling to tolerate being slowed by the traffic on MLK.
Some of these drivers drive very dangerously including:
ignoring the speed limit,
driving too fast around the intersection planters (sometimes crashing spectacularly),
driving too close to cyclists,
yelling at cyclists and pedestrians,
failing to stop for pedestrians crossing the street,
and running stop signs.
In addition to acting as a major bikeway, NE 7th Avenue is a crossing point for elementary-school children headed east-bound to Irvington School and middle schoolers headed west-bound to Tubman Middle School. Because of an interruption of sight-lines due to street trees and numerous off-set or 3-legged intersections, car drivers make it especially dangerous to walk and bicycle across NE 7th. NE 7th also serves as a gateway for several local preschools to reach Irving Park on walking visits.
Before installation of the construction fencing, dangerous conditions on NE 7th were obvious to PBOT, residents and other road users. We believe that it is paramount that PBOT take steps to ensure that NE 7th becomes a safe neighborhood street. After over 50 years of incremental changes, NE 7th is a street that well exceeds the traffic volume goals for local streets of 1000 cars per day. The construction fencing has brought NE 7th much closer to meeting the City’s goals for the street and we would like to make sure we do not revert to the old condition. Redirecting non-local vehicle trips to use other routes, primarily MLK, provides safety improvements for vulnerable road users within and beyond the local neighborhood. Neighbors and PBOT know this would not be happening without DIVERSION, so we are asking for a jump-start to this planning so that some diversion of cars from NE 7th will be kept at the end of the construction project.
The construction fencing that has been installed for over a week now is a great demonstration of the benefits of reduced traffic on NE 7th. Residents are able to talk to each other more easily, people can cross the street without fear and the few cars that are left are traveling quite slowly as their trips are more local in nature. There is more bicycle traffic on NE 7th than ever before, and it helps people get to the new Blumenauer bridge 13 blocks away. The current conditions are making it hard to access some houses and businesses, but drivers have already adapted to the change in roadway access and many cars are avoiding NE 7th, exactly the goal of our request.
We have been and continue to be very supportive of adding many proposed diverters along 7th along the Eliot and Irvington Neighborhood border. Since the last plan for NE 7th was deemed too controversial, we are proposing to keep the street closed to vehicles until at least one diverter is installed. Split diverters for North- and South-bound vehicle traffic near the project area at NE 7th and Tillamook would also be acceptable. Since we understand that there are some public outreach rules that take time to comply with and that the road is scheduled to be closed for at least 6–8 weeks during construction, we ask that you start this process immediately and/or delay the removal of construction barriers so that when the road is reopened to vehicle traffic, a diverter (pilot or permanent) is in place.
Thank you for your attention to these matters and helping make our neighborhood safer and more comfortable for children and easier for everyone to cross and travel along our streets. I look forward to hearing from you shortly regarding a diverter proposal.
Co-Chair and Land Use Chair, Eliot Neighborhood Association
The Irvington Community Association (ICA), which borders 7th Ave., and has long been concerned about the safety of 7th Ave., particularly in regard to vulnerable users such as cyclists and pedestrians, particularly children, endorses and supports the above letter. We also thank the Eliot Neighborhood Association for bringing this matter to our attention and we too look forward to working with PBOT to come up with a solution which will result in a much safer neighborhood street.
President, Irvington Community Association
Laura and Eric Kading
2157 NE 7th Ave
3911 NE Grand Ave
2124 NE 7th Ave
Peggy and Jay Winchester
2259 NE 7th ave.
Mollie & Eric Hart
NE Tillamook Street
Ari and Michaell Steinberg-Lake
2023 NE 7th Ave
2100 SE Belmont St #404
Jonathan Hinkle and Spencer Alan
NE Tillamook and Rodney
<we are continuing to collect signatures and will send another version in approximately a week with additional signatures>
We are having a hybrid meeting at Cascadia Garlington Center (Masks required, Enter from the parking lot side off of Morris street near MLK, Jr Blvd) and online. We will again be using WebEx this time- see instructions at the bottom.
Agenda (subject to changes):
Welcome and Introductions – 7:00pm-
Treasurer’s Report (Jennifer)
Update on Job Fair #2
Update on VOA/District attorney’s office and the good neighbor agreement with VOA
Eliot News (deadline for content for the fall issue is the day of the meeting, Sept 19th)
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As you may know, the most recent Library Bond included a redesign of the Albina Library at 216 NE Knott St (property extends to Russell St). The Albina Library redesign process has been going on for over a year and their next meeting is September 8th at 6:00pm Zoom meeting (link).
You can see the slides they presented last Monday at the ENA Board meeting below.
On Tuesday, August 2, the Eliot Neighborhood association, the Vancouver Avenue First Baptist Church and Cascadia Behavioral Health held a resource and job fair in Dawson Park. The event was supported by a grant from the City of Portland Office of Civic Life. Eleven employers including Amazon, Dave’s Killer Bread and Legacy were there in addition to resources such as WorkSource, Voc Rehab and Free Geek, who were distributing free laptops. Cascadia provided hygiene kits and the church distrusted food boxes as well as fresh grilled sausages. It was a very successful event, bringing the community together to meet the needs of the people in the neighborhood. We also held a raffle for 10 $25 Fred Meyer gift cards.
We will have another fair on Tuesday September 6 from 10-12.
Safety Summit (Saturday, 8/6) food request – $850 to serve food for the day (Pat)
Motion passed unanimously
Jesse Rawlins from Commissioner Jayapal’s office spoke about their investment in community safety efforts and desire to coordinate with ENA and the neighbors working on the Safety Summit regarding improvements we can make to the neighborhood (sort of a safety and livability collaborative)
No defined perspective, but rather trying to see how they can support our existing efforts
Jesse has been working with Cassie to understand the issues in Eliot
He’s happy to attend any and all ENA meetings, and arrange meetings with any interested individuals. His email address is email@example.com.
Agree on letter to Stop & Go regarding Safety Assessment
Motion passed unanimously
Agree on letter to neighborhood landowners around Dawson Park/Stanton Street
To: Portland Parks, Arc-En-Ciel Montessori, Legacy Emanuel Hospital, Immaculate Heart Catholic Church, Stop & Go, Friends of the Children
Will amend to add Jesse’s information
Will be posted on the website
Will amend the letter to be published in the paper
Motion passed unanimously
Volunteers of America – discuss proposed changes to Good Neighbor Agreement and letter to the District Attorney
The changes would allow individuals with recent stranger to stranger convictions to live at this facility
At ENA’s last meeting, it was noted that the facility will be under capacity unless we approve the new criteria, and that’s inaccurate
Our neighborhood has grave safety concerns already. We need to ask the District Attorney for to delay decision by three to six months to engage with us regarding our concerns
Three specific asks:
Extend gun violence intervention to all areas of Eliot
Bring LEAD or PATH programs to Eliot
Motion to send letter: Patricia
Motion passed unanimously
Get Eliot NA a post office box
We don’t have an official address for bills, etc
We can have mail go to NECN (Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods)
If we get a PO Box, someone would need to check it regularly
Request for a PO Box was withdrawn
Job fair planning is coming along. It’s planned for August 2nd from 10 to 12.
Finance update from Jennifer:
Our balance: $5,587.64
Eliot News (call for articles for next issue)
LUTC update – no meeting this month
Public Comment (5 min)
Cassie Muillenburg interested in joining the board
Registering to Walk /Run as Individuals or Teams Go to mlkdreamrun.org and press the Register button. The 5k= $35, The 10K is $45 and the 15K is $55. You also get $5 off per registration fee if you sign up as a team of 10 or more. Save on registration as prices go up in August.
Donate Financial Support To donate, log onto mlkdreamrun.org and press the donate button located on the front page.
Volunteer The event is seeking 200 Soul District volunteers to help with a variety of duties pre-race, day-of- race, and post-race. This is an awesome team building opportunity for any business group or family. To register to volunteer, go to mlkdreamrun.org and click the Volunteer tab at the top of the page and follow the prompts. You can also reach the volunteer coordinator, Christina Lane, @ volunteers@MLKDreamRun.org or call 503-820-9115.
Sponsor Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 503-841-5032
Register as a vendor Promote your product and business by tabling at the Saturday and or Sunday festivities. To register as a vendor go to mlkdreamrun.org and click Vendor Registration or use this link here Vendor Form 2022
Job Fair featuring these expected employers is happening in Eliot at Dawson Park 10-12am Tueaday: Volunteers of America, OHSU Dental Clinic, Randstad Staffing, John Deere, ServiceMaster, The Rebuilding Center, Cascadia Behavioral Health, Marquis Care Center, UR Billing Solutions, UPS, Express Employment and possibly others. More information
Job Fair featuring these expected employers is happening in Eliot at Dawson Park: Volunteers of America, OHSU Dental Clinic, Randstad Staffing, John Deere, ServiceMaster, The Rebuilding Center, Cascadia Behavioral Health, Marquis Care Center, UR Billing Solutions, UPS, Express Employment and possibly others
Block Parties in Eliot: Sat Aug 6th & Sun Aug 7th 2-5pm
Submitted by Laura Schuchardt, APPROVED at the July board meeting
Welcome and Introductions – 7:02pm
Volunteers of America – change to Good Neighbor Agreement and discussion
VOA has a Men’s residential center on MLK and they’ve been in the neighborhood for a long time. Part of the agreement of them entering the neighborhood was that there would be a screening committee from ENA. That agreement has not been revisited in quite a while.
Hoping to amend the screening so that VOA could work with STEP and accept people under their criteria
Current criteria states that stranger to stranger crimes can only be a year or more in the past, which would be modified under STEP
The courts have a new program that’s been very successful at improving the reoffend rate, and part of that is getting into residential programs like VOA is offering. The people that this program is targeting have more recent violent incidents.
Proposed compromise: ENA will screen everyone who comes in through STEP for six months to get a sense of who’s coming in. Have a touch base every few months to see how things are going – enhanced screening period to ensure everything’s going smoothly.
Per Allan, the facility typically serves 200-250 people per year
70% successfully graduate from the program, 30% fail
There’s a much greater incentive for the people who would be newly eligible to succeed, because they’re facing more jail time
Allan to set up an informational session with Greg Stone (email@example.com) at VOA for all interested parties to learn more about the proposed changes
This matter will be revisited in ENA’s July meeting
Job Fair [Jennifer]
Shireen and Eric’s idea, too
Asking the board to be a sponsor – just goodwill, not money
The board approved
Cascadia (Jennifer’s employer) would be actively involved
Cassie mentioned we should see if VOA can get involved
Good to have training programs and apprenticeships represented
ex. Free Geek will be coming
Also good to have wraparound services present
Jennifer plans to have other resources present
Julie Allen is in HR and could put us in touch with her employer
Spending money to try to reduce violence
We haven’t won any of the grants we’ve applied for, but we have some money in our coffers; do we want to use it?
How can we use it to support causes in our neighborhood?
Allan thinks we should spend what we have
Jimmy is worried about spending what we have when there’s lots of money out there to be had
All are invited to bring ideas to the board
Discussion of in-person meetings vs online. Do we want to switch back?
Options are Cascadia (possible to have hybrid meetings) or the church (just in person)
The board agreed that they wanted to have a hybrid meeting at Cascadia
Eliot News (call for articles for next issue)
Recent issue just came out
Albina One update – proposing six story building, and are working to make it affordable housing (residential with community space)
Andrew is concerned that no one is going to address the public safety issues in Eliot
Not gun safety, not poverty
These are things that are controllable
Store should be held accountable
Pat asked if we sent the letter out to the store
No, Andrew’s letter was rejected by the ENA board
Elliott and Steffanie had a letter, but Andrew did not approve
Several board members thought we were going to send a letter to multiple businesses and organizations in the neighborhood inviting them to attend ENA meetings
This did not end up happening
Allan thinks we need to send a strong letter, include the police, neighboring organizations and businesses
Cassie knows someone at the Community Safety Program safety assessment (free professional advice from the city)
We could ask them for recommendations
It was suggested that ENA could help pay to implement their suggestions as a show of good faith
Cassie to email Allan
Approve Minutes from past meetings
March – amended to strike a detail deemed irrelevant to the Women’s First section
Shireen proposed, Allan seconded
April – amended to remove email addresses of community members and to remove a point regarding a topic that was dropped from the meeting
Passed as amended
May – amended to clarify parties responsible for suggesting the job fair
Passed as amended
Shireen brought back up the idea of buying a computer