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.

Letter from the Chair – A Call to Action

Hello Neighbors,

Eliot is in the bullseye of diesel particulate pollution. This is due partly to our proximity to I-5 and I-84, but also to MLK, which is a truck route, and the N Williams/N Vancouver corridor. All these roads carry dirty diesel trucks every day. Oregon allows unfiltered diesel trucks on our roads. This is dangerous for us because the National Institute of Health says “the health effects of diesel exhaust emissions… acute effects of diesel exhaust exposure include irritation of the nose and eyes, lung function changes, respiratory changes, headache, fatigue, and nausea. Chronic exposures are associated with cough, sputum production, and lung function decrements.” And… “Continuous exposure to diesel exhaust fumes can cause long term, or chronic, respiratory ill health with symptoms including coughing and feeling breathless. At worst, if people are exposed to diesel engine exhaust fumes regularly and over a long period, there is an increased risk of getting lung cancer.” ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/11401072/

Since Eliot has LONG been affected by diesel AND has tried several times to get legislation or regulation on pollution, long term neighbors wonder what’s different this time.

Well, a few factors have changed. The Oregon Legislature is finally taking up this issue this term. Our neighbors to the east have all converged to focus the legislature’s attention because of new data from the lichen study, PSU scientists, the ODOT I-5 expansion proposal, the Willamette Superfund recent movement toward resolution, the Volkswagen settlement and, yes, opening of Harriett Tubman Middle School. See HB 2007 “The Diesel Bill”.  

(https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B1dBPerjxQcmUHVpZXk1UXFUemsycEFnV3dIZmMwcEpob0dR)

The 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, and also to help local businesses gain access to the $50,000,000 ODOT funds, which are available for small under-represented trucking owners. ENA has created a new committee, eACT, Eliot Advocacy for Clean-air Team. This Team will meet the 2nd or 3rd week of July. If you want to join us contact me at chair at eliotneighborhood dot org

See Environmental Advocacy for Clean-Air Team: Eliot eACT. 

Say Goodbye to 2018 and Welcome to 2019

Change is the only constant in life” (Heraclitus, c. 535 BC – 475 BC)

We are changing, it’s a fact. We always have been changing. Our neighborhood is one of the six fastest-growing neighborhoods in Portland and we continue to evolve demographically as well as architecturally. A quick search on the web will enlighten all our new Eliot residents. (Check out the list of web pages at the end of this letter)

Continue reading Say Goodbye to 2018 and Welcome to 2019

Within and Beyond the Borders of Eliot: Meet Your New Eliot Neighborhood Association Board for 2019

By Sue Stringer

This column usually features businesses, in Eliot and just beyond our neighborhood’s borders to help our residents learn what exciting businesses and opportunities are located in and around our amazing neighborhood. However, in this issue, we focus on the people that make up the Eliot Neighborhood Association Board.

Our Eliot Neighborhood Association board is made up of 12 members this year. Most live in Eliot but some just work in Eliot and live in other neighborhoods. We have included most of them here so you can get to know them better. Also, you can always stop by a neighborhood association meeting and come meet us in person!

Continue reading Within and Beyond the Borders of Eliot: Meet Your New Eliot Neighborhood Association Board for 2019

Get Involved

Patricia Montgomery
Patricia Montgomery

As I look back on this past year I am so pleased that I took the opportunity to become involved with Eliot Neighborhood Association. The new neighbors I met, new businesses, civic leaders, local businesses all in our ever-changing neighborhood. Thirty years living in this neighborhood I always felt change meant being left behind sometimes. You know that feeling that your taxes would force you out, or your new neighbors would be unruly to you- that word they call gentrification. So untrue I found. I realized, you only get left behind or are blind to change if you don’t become part of what is going on. Eliot Neighborhood Association is a good start to becoming involved in your neighborhood, not only does it keep you informed and up to date with what is going on in our neighborhood but allows you to become part of the change.

Continue reading Get Involved

Up Close and Personal: Angela Kremer

Angela Kremer at her Victorian house
Angela Kremer at her Victorian house

“It’s a work in progress,” Angela Kremer says of the interior paint of her home. Like many residents of Eliot she and her husband chose the location in part because of its affordability relative to other close-in Portland neighborhoods. She spotted the three bedroom Victorian house on the corner of Rodney and Hancock in 1998 when she was riding by on her bike. “It needed a lot of work, but I just fell in love with it. It really appealed to me to fix it up and make it something that people could enjoy from the outside.”

Continue reading Up Close and Personal: Angela Kremer