What UNR does, and why

Portland grassroots group United Neighborhoods for Reform seeks to stem the demolition of viable, affordable housing. Our demolition/development resolution, developed through significant neighbor outreach, gathered endorsements from 43 neighborhood associations citywide. We also regularly take our message to City Hall, starting in December 2014, continuing in 2015 on Feb. 12, June 3 (UNR presenters start at 51:20), Oct. 14 (UNR at 1:07:35), and Nov. 25 (UNR at 1:05); in 2016 on Feb. 17, Nov. 9 and 16, and Dec. 7; in 2017 on May 17; in 2018 on Feb. 1; and many dates since.

"The time is always right to do what is right."
—Martin Luther King Jr.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Hard-won info released, and The O exposes the threat among us

This week United Neighborhoods for Reform sent out its flier for neighbors faced with demolitions including info on how to protect yourself and children from the assumed release of hazardous materials such as lead and asbestos. Neighbors can and should take small steps toward safety for themselves and their families because most demolitions involve uncontrolled release of lead and/or asbestos particles into the air. Read a well-rounded package of reporting from The Oregonian on this important public health and safety issue here:

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A gang of 26 has its work cut out for them; so do tree lovers

Tonight the task force on improved new-construction guidelines meets for the first time, at 6 p.m. in Room 2500A at 1900 S.W. Fourth Ave. For the record, the members of that group and their affiliations:

• Linda Bauer, East Portland Action Plan
• Sarah Cantine, Scott Edwards Architecture
• Alan DeLaTorre, Portland Commission on Disability
• Jim Gorter, Southwest Neighbors, Inc.
• John Hasenberg, Oregon Remodelers Association
• Marshall Johnson, Energy Trust of Oregon
• Emily Kemper, Manufactured Structures Board
• Douglas MacLeod, Homebuilders Association
• Mary Kyle McCurdy, 1000 Friends of Oregon
• Maggie McGann, Habitat for Humanity
• Rod Merrick, Merrick Architecture Planning
• Rick Michaelson, Neighbors West Northwest
• Mike Mitchoff, Premiere Properties
• Michael Molinaro, Southeast Uplift
• Danell Norby, Anti-Displacement PDX
• Douglas Reed, East Portland Neighborhood Office
• Vic Remmers, Everett Homes
• Brandon Spencer-Hartle, Restore Oregon
• Eli Spevak, Orange Splot Construction
• Barbara Strunk, United Neighborhoods for Reform
• Teresa St. Martin, Planning and Sustainability Commission
• Young Sun Song, Immigrant and Refugee Committee Organization
• David Sweet, Central Northeast Neighbors
• Eric Thompson, Homebuilders Association
• Garlynn Woodsong, Northeast Coalition of Neighbors
• Tatiana Xenelis-Mendoza, North Portland Neighborhood Services

The idea for such a task force, formally called the Residential Infill Project Stakeholder Advisory Committee (or the more evocative "RIP SAC" around here), first appeared as an elemental part of the United Neighborhoods for Reform (UNR) resolution, which garnered endorsements from 43 neighborhoods citywide. Needless to say, there are high hopes for the group and its work, even though there is irony that a developer whose style of construction is exactly the kind that's caused the uproar is among those chosen.

We also smiled seeing that the Home Builders Association has twice as many reps as any other body—perhaps a sign that Mayor Hales hasn't quite quit his lobbying job for those heavy hitters. Hopefully they are balanced out by the many solution-seeking, forward-thinking people on the list.

We will follow the process closely to ensure that neighbors and neighborhoods get what they need: responsible development that benefits everyone.

Be a hazmat hero

Even though we continue to keep pressing for meaningful change, most recently through meetings with staff of Mayor Hales and Commissioner Saltzman, UNR members do more than sit in chairs around tables.

Once we finalize our guide for affected neighbors living in the hazardous-materials fallout zone around demolitions, we will enlist activists to distribute it. If you have energy and time for an effort that will protect and promote public health and safety, submit your name, contact info, and neighborhood at top right. We will have a briefing to launch the effort. You could be on the front lines helping save neighbors, especially children, from the irreversible health effects caused by the uncontrolled release of lead and asbestos. Read here for more.

We look forward to launching this proactive, important campaign—and getting to know you!

If the tree code doesn't protect
significant trees such as these,
what does it do?
Growing discontent

The UNR resolution called out tree preservation as a goal for building a better Portland. Most sites where demos occur are cleared of every living thing, and any trees that are planted are tiny compared to what once grew there.

This issue came to a head this week with deforestation occurring in Southeast Portland, where a developer—Everett Custom Homes—has already harvested 100-year-old Douglas firs and now hopes to erase giant sequoias dating to the Civil War.

Scenes from those sites follow. It's not easy to look at, but it's graphic evidence of the work to be done in not only saving affordable, well-built housing but the mature tree canopy that occupies the same lot, pumping out oxygen and giving this city its "green" reputation. It's also evidence that people care enough to rally for our urban forest.

For more on the sequoias and how to get involved, read here.

At 3646 SE Martins St.:


The arborists were turned away Monday, but developer
Vic Remmers vowed to harvest the sequoias this week.
 At 2704 SE 41st Ave.:

Tree sitter Elizabeth Bennett is up there somewhere.

News crew arrives.