Road Maintenance and Safety Funding

In my article in the August Sunnyside Neighborhood News, I proposed a plan of action for the SNA in coming months.  At our August meetings, Land Use and Transportation on August 10th, and the General and Board meetings on August 14th, a substantial allotment of time will be spent on the topic of road maintenance and safety funding.

This is a complex topic and there was not enough space available in the newsletter to explain the position I am asking the SNA board to take.  In this post (and perhaps a few others to come) I will go into the details and provide supporting resources and information for those who want to learn more.

First, for some background.  In 2013 the City of Portland was awarded a grant entitled Parking Analysis and Tool Kit for Neighborhood Centers and Corridors from ODOT to conduct a study to “identify parking strategies and transportation demand management approaches applicable to mixed use multimodal places” (https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/64623).  In short, the city is making plans to provide neighborhoods with more permitting options, and likely the placement of meters on more commercial corridors.  I think this is a good opportunity, as curbside and publicly owned parking lots are a valuable and finite resource. The historic decision to provide most curbside parking for free has had profound effects on how our cities have grown and how livable, walkable, and sustainable our communities are. I will address this in more detail in my next posting.

Concurrently, as we are all aware, Commissioner Novick and Mayor Hales have conducted a controversial campaign to raise revenue for street maintenance and safety through a street fee.  This is a hot topic and I am not asking the SNA to take a position on whether the approach or  amount desired is appropriate.  I do believe that the city is being rather unimaginative in the sources of funding it is considering which is why I am asking the SNA to endorse a statement in the spirit of the following:

Given that:

  • Commissioner Novick, Mayor Hales, and PBOT have presented a need to increase funding for road maintenance and safety up to an additional $50 million dollars a year.
  • It is politically unlikely that the entirety of this amount will be raised through savings gained by cuts to existing programs.
  • The city is likely to levy some variety of fee or tax on the citizens and businesses of Portland to raise some or all of this desired revenue.
  • The city is likely to use the results of the Parking Analysis and Tool Kit for Neighborhood Centers and Corridors project to develop and implement programs which will generate additional revenue for PBOT via parking meters and permit programs.
  • Parking fees are a fair and sustainable mechanism for funding street safety and maintenance as they are a reasonable proxy for actual usage, rather than an estimate, and they capture revenue from out of town businesses and visitors.

The Sunnyside Neighborhood Association requests the following:

  • Revenues from future expansions of parking management programs* be earmarked for street maintenance and safety.
  • Potential parking revenue should be estimated and included in the discussions currently taking place regarding the structuring of any fees and taxes to raise desired street maintenance funds.
  • Any fees or taxes levied on Portland residences and businesses should be reduced proportionally as revenue from these parking management programs becomes available.

* including but not limited to permit programs, meters on commercial corridors, performance pricing of metered spaces, and fees or taxes on private parking lots.

I recognize that this might be seen as a big step for the neighborhood to take, however, I am specifically  not advocating at this time for any particular action regarding parking to be taken. My intention is to compel the city to signal its intentions on the generation of additional revenues from parking. If the city does implement these programs, it is important to ensure that the revenue isn’t simply thrown into the general fund, but is used to reduce any financial burdens we will experience as a result of the proposed street fee.

I want to hear from you.  Please comment here or email me at tony@sunnysideneighborhood.com  I will bring this conversation to our neighborhood nextdoor.com site and our facebook page.  I have initiated a conversation with our neighborhood business associations as well in the hopes that they might support a similar proposal.  Please keep your eye out for more information on this topic.

Neighborhood Elections – Thursday May 8th

What are your favorite things about our neighborhood?

Maybe you’re thinking of the Sunnyside Piazza street art, the neighborhood cleanup, all that bike parking on Belmont, the hundreds of freshly planted street trees, or the awesome Belmont Street Fair.  Your Sunnyside Neighborhood Association plays a part, sometimes big and sometimes small, in all of these things and many more.

This week we’ll celebrate another year of working to maintain a thriving, safe, and truly amazing neighborhood.  Join your neighbors, share a beverage, and talk about your ideas for Sunnyside, find out what we’ve been working on, and learn how we can work together in the coming year.

Help us as a neighbor* by joining us on May 8th at 7:00 p.m. and  voting in our new leadership. Even if you haven’t been to a meeting before we feel that it is important to involve as many neighbors as possible in the selection of our board members.  Not only will you play an important role in our elections, you’ll also be privy to insider information; getting the scoop on what’s happening in the neighborhood and across the city.

If you’re the hands on type, consider making a commitment to get involved in one of our many committees.  From helping with the newsletter to advising the city on land use decisions to keeping an eye on the (thankfully) small amount of crime in Sunnyside, there is a place (of varying time commitments) for everyone.

If you have ever spent time volunteering, you know that it takes all kinds of hard working and dedicated people to make things happen. Projects don’t complete themselves, issues don’t advocate for themselves, art doesn’t magically appear—people are the driving force. The same is true for our neighborhood,  only in this case neighbors must be the driving force!

*Neighboring isn’t just for residents; if you work or own property in Sunnyside we consider you a neighbor, too!

New Sunnyside Board Member – Elena Heller

By Elena Heller

A dental hygienist by trade and lover of great neighborhoods, my name is Elena Heller and I have lived in Sunnyside since July 2013. Recent imports from Fayetteville, Arkansas, my husband and I took a huge journey to move to the beautiful Pacific Northwest. I am green to the area but believe that I understand what is necessary in creating and maintaining an uplifting and inspiring neighborhood.

On the weekends you will often find me out hiking a trail or exploring our city by bicycle. Most likely I will be seen cycling or walking to work in order to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle. Walking and cycling also help me to see the quirky, fun, and unique characteristics that Sunnyside has to offer, including items we might improve upon. As part of my tenure with the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association, I hope to support efforts that contribute to community health and wellness.

A neighborhood is cohesive when you take time to get to know your neighbors. We can unite and speak as a group to alleviate problems, help prevent crimes with our eyes on the street, and become a strong community that everyone enjoys and in which everyone feels safe. Sunnyside is a hub for many amiable gatherings with the vibrant homes, unique businesses, and beautiful intersections that we have to offer. I look forward to meeting and learning more from each of you so that we may continuously progress as a community and be one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Portland.

Two Sides To A Story: Portland Public Schools’ Labor Negotiations

At the last general meeting, the SNA hosted representatives from Portland Public Schools and from the Portland Association of Teachers.  We asked both parties to submit articles to the SNA Newsletter for those who were not in attendance.   While the SNA board did not choose to take a position on this issue, it is an important issue that affects our community.

School Board Member Speaks on Teacher Contract

By Robb Cowie, Department of Community Involvement and Community Affairs, Portland Public Schools

The Sunnyside Neighborhood Association board asked Portland Public Schools (PPS) board member Tom Koehler to speak at the October SNA meeting about the school district’s current negotiations with the Portland Association of Teachers (PAT). Tom told the board that PPS’s goal is to reach an agreement with PAT that is in the best interests of students and fair and supportive of teachers.

PPS and PAT have been negotiating a new contract for teachers for more than six months. Now a state mediator has joined the talks.

Portland’s teacher contract is important to families and neighbors because it sets the rules for how schools operate. In the current talks, the school board’s priorities are to make it easier for PPS schools to hire and retain the best teachers for our students.

PPS has also offered to add three instructional days to the school year for students, and to increase or maintain planning time for all teachers. In addition, the school district is offering salary increases each year over the proposed 4-year contract. Tom expressed optimism that a deal could be reached with a negotiated settlement.

Tom appreciated the opportunity to share the school board’s views with Sunnyside neighbors and is happy to keep the neighborhood association up to date on school issues.

Portland School Board Out of Touch with What’s Happening in our Schools

By Portland Association of Teachers

Portland teachers have been in contract negotiations with the Portland school district since last spring. In September, the school board unilaterally called for mediation. At the first mediation session on October 14, teachers offered a reduction in their salary proposal and other items saving the district millions of dollars. The board did not offer any new proposal or respond in any substantive way to the teachers’ proposal.

Teachers have made it clear from the beginning of this contract bargain that their priority isn’t salary. In fact, Superintendent Carol Smith acknowledged on OPB on September 15 that teachers and the school board are not far apart on salary.

The school board thinks “getting aggressive” with teachers is the answer to the problems facing our schools. The board and the superintendent are creating a false crisis that will hurt kids. They have the money but they are using it to pay more than $1 million a year to high-priced consultants and attorneys for advice during the contract bargain.

The school board wants to eliminate the only protection teachers and students have against adding more work to the day and more students to classrooms. This would result in eliminating any caps on student loads in high schools. Teachers want to maintain the current provisions that result in reasonable workload so that teachers can teach each student.

The board’s actions don’t represent Portland values. They’re following the lead of Yvonne Deckard, their $15,000-a-month taxpayer-funded consultant and bullying teachers, forcing teachers down the road to accepting an unacceptable or strike. For more information, visit the Portland Association of Teachers website at http://www.pdxteachers.org or the community website at http://www.teachersandparentstogether.com.

Trees to Enjoy in Winter

By Gregg S. Everhart, Landscape Architect, Sunnyside Street Tree Team Member

Winter is a great time to observe and plant trees. Although we often love trees for their flowers, those don’t last long compared to the (seemingly) endless winter. The Sunnyside Street Tree Team (S2T2) has a new list of recommended street trees based on the 2012 inventory. Using the lists of recommended trees will result in a more diverse, healthy, and interesting urban forest.

Listed below is a selection of trees that have evergreen foliage, a particularly graceful overall form, interesting branching structure, colored twigs or buds, and/or unusual bark. Recommended lists of trees, with links to information on each tree, can be found under the S2T2 tab at http://sunnysideneighborhood.wordpress.com/trees/ The website also includes a list of trees at Sunnyside addresses so you can look for them on neighborhood walks. If we resolve some technical issues, there will also be a tour map. Names shown below in bold are trees that are infrequent on Sunnyside streets. Enjoy!

NO OVERHEAD POWER TRANSMISSION LINES

  • 2.5-3’ planting strip: Cornelian Cherry Dogwood, Seven Son Flower Tree, Fragrant Snowbell, Snowcone Japanese Snowbell
  • 2.5-3.5’ planting strip: Crape Myrtle, Chinese Pistache, Amur maackiai, Golden Glory Cornelian Cherry Dogwood, Japanese Snowbell
  • 3-5.5’ planting strip: Cascara, Vanessa Persian Ironwood, Pink Chimes Japanese Snowbell, Japanese Stewartia, Tall (or Orangebark) Stewartia
  • 4-5.5’ planting strip: American Hophornbeam
  • 4-8.5’ or larger planting strips: Heritage River Birch, Columnar European Hornbeam
  • 6’ or larger planting strip: Sourwood, Rivers Purple Beech, Bald Cypress, Frontier Elm, Turkish Filbert, Hackberry, Sunburst Honeylocust, European Hornbeam, Espresso Kentucky Coffee Tree, Burr Oak, Swamp White Oak, Dawn Redwood, Green Vase Zelkova, Village Green Zelkova

 OVERHEAD POWER TRANSMISSION LINES (look for ceramic insulators)

  • 3-5.5’ planting strip: Chinese Pistache; American Hornbeam; Persian Ironwood; City Sprite Zelkova
  • 4-5.5’ planting strip: June Snow Giant Dogwood; Forest Green (or Hungarian) Oak; Moonglow Magnolia
  • 4’ or larger planting strip: Crape Myrtle; American Hornbeam; Chinese Dogwood; Chinese Fringetree; Edith Bogue Southern Magnolia
  • 6’ or larger planting strip: American Hophornbeam
  • 8.5’ or larger planting strip: Sourwood

Pesticide-Free Parks—Safe for Kids and 4-Legged Companions

By Michael Wade

What strange smells propel our faithful 4-legged friends along the paths we walk? There are many we don’t even know are there, among them the sweet odors of pesticides and herbicides. While not usually harmful after they have been applied and dried, when encountered in an active state these substances are linked to a variety of ailments in dogs and should be avoided.

Better yet, don’t use pesticides at all. That is the objective of a contingent of Portlanders in several pesticide-free parks in the city. The Pesticide-Free Parks program, begun several years ago, officially covers five parks. At these parks, under an agreement with the city, citizens weed and mulch for a couple of hours each month to make application of pesticides and herbicides unnecessary. If you walk your dog in Sewallcrest, Lair Hill, Arbor Lodge, Midland, or Hillside parks, your dog is pesticide free (at least while in the park).

The Pesticide-Free Parks volunteers are always looking for help and to expand their reach into other parks. If you would like to connect with them, write to pdxpesticidefreeparks@gmail.com or to Steve Pixley of the City of Portland’s Volunteer Services at Steve.Pixley@portlandoregon.gov.

Come on out, meet some great people, and help them make your park Pesticide Free!

Emergency Preparedness Committee and NET Need Stuff

By Lee Greer, SNA Emergency Preparedness Committee Co-Chair

This month, instead of a preparedness tip, we have a request. The SNA Emergency Preparedness Committee, together with the Sunnyside Neighborhood Emergency Team, now has a space to store supplies and equipment to use to help our neighbors in an emergency. Now we need supplies and equipment to put in it. Before we look for monetary donations or other funding sources, we are asking Sunnyside residents what kinds of things you can share with us.

Here are some of the things we can use:

  • Bungee cords to secure the lids of totes that have already been donate
  • Storage shelves
  • First aid supplies (Do you have some bandaging material or other supplies left over from a past surgery or illness?)
  • Clean 5-gallon buckets and lids for them (these are good for many things, including hauling water and use as toilets)
  • Things with wheels that we can use to move things to the staging area: (hand trucks, dollies, garden carts)
  • Water containers of a size easy to move when filled
  • Hand tools, especially pry bars
  • Tarps
  • A canopy
  • A large tent
  • Clipboards
  • Nylon cord or rope
  • And, of course, that all-purpose essential, duct tape (masking tape, too)

Check your garage or basement to see if you have anything you’re not using that you think we might use. If you’re not sure, check with us. You can bring things to a meeting. SNA next meets on November 14 at 7 p.m. at Southeast Uplift, 3534 SE Main Street. The Emergency Preparedness Committee meets on November 18 at 7 p.m. at the Hawthorne Fred Meyer in the deli seating area. Or fill out the form below and we’ll arrange a drop-off or pick-up. Thanks!

Neighborhood Visioning

What are your dreams for Sunnyside?

On October 17th your neighborhood association will host a “neighborhood visioning” event at the Mazama Mountaineering Center, located at 417 SE 43rd.

From 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. we are inviting ALL Sunnyside neighbors to come and share their ideas for our community.   A lively discussion will be facilitated by Ashe Urban from Southeast Uplift, who has coordinated several successful events of this type in other neighborhoods.

There will be food and drink and socializing and we hope to leave the event with a sense of purpose for the coming year and with some excitement and commitments to make these ideas happen!

October 17th from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Mazama Mountaineering Center on SE 43rd and SE Stark.  See you there!