By Jill Riebesel

Officer Leo Yee, who often takes time out from his police duties to give us a rundown on reported crimes and tips on how to avoid being victimized, was unable to join us in November because officers’ assignments were changed so that demonstrations downtown and Lloyd district were covered.

We did have a visit from Teri Poppino, crime prevention coordinator from the city’s Office of Neighborhood Involvement. She said her department is affected by election fallout as many of us are. New concerns are being added to the usual burglaries, car thefts and assaults in the form of newly-reported personal safety concerns from minorities.

She demonstrated how to come to the rescue of a person being verbally assaulted by redirecting his/her attention to oneself, while leaving offender ignored. She also explained the safety pins people are wearing on shirts and lapels as a symbol of support and solidarity. The pins are a sign to folks who may be feeling intimidated that the wearer is supportive and, it is hoped, willing to step in and help. We were told this symbol was used by supporters of those at risk during WWII, when it was worn inside the lapel and shown surreptitiously. Today we wear it boldly.

Tri-Met and Metro staff have made multiple visits to the HAND board to explain and update the plans for the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) plan for Division Street that is gaining speed  after several years’ work.  Gone now, is the extension out to Mount Hood Community College.  There is hope at TriMet that changes by Union Pacific RR in the timing of movement of trains at Brooklyn Yards would minimize delays at crossing, allowing the 60-foot-long articulated buses use the Tillicum Bridge rather than the Hawthorne. Service could begin in 2021.

After much discussion, the HAND board in November sent a formal response to Tri-Met saying it could not support the BRT. The concerns included a sense that the expensive project is too shortsighted in scope; that the plan as it stands with the reduction in bus stops and route change would discourage HAND neighborhood use. The plan does not adequately address long delays at the west end of Division due to freight traffic and bottlenecks downtown. Although the goal is to speed the commute, the concern is that it won’t meet that goal as currently planned.

Over two board meetings, we heard details of a quickly developing plan to encourage infill and create new rules for development. The Residential Infill Project (RIP)  was initiated by the city to deal with a lack of affordable housing for middle-income residents. It would superimpose new residential zoning over existing lots, allowing more dwellings on residential lots and within residences.

The board submitted a letter, hastened by a looming deadline for the RIP, with several suggestions and concerns, concluding that the one-size-fits-all proposal would likely not work for our neighborhood and the Inner Ring of all close-in eastside neighborhoods; that it would provide opportunities for investors who have no incentives to maintain or enhance the neighborhood for the long term; and that it would be too much too soon in the face of the unpredictable future.

In another letter, the board is asking the city and the Bureau of Transportation to mark crosswalks at bus stops on SE 26th Ave. between Powell and Clinton and reduce the speed limit to 25 mph on SE 11th and 12th avenues where there are many residences.

Representatives from the Central Eastside Industrial District (CEID) talked about their organization, its history and plans for the future. CEID emphasized the cooperative relationship between their district and ours, as well as Buckman and Kerns which also overlap the CEID. The three neighborhoods and the Central Eastside Industrial Council have worked to address mutual issues and problems in ways that are acceptable to all.

In October the city’s Bureau of Environmental Services reported on the Taggart Outfall Repair Project, which is part of the combined sewer system.  At six points in our neighborhood, the work, although mostly  underground, will affect traffic – road closures and pedestrian and cycling detours. The project won’t  begin until next summer.