By Midge Pierce
The faces of the SE Uplift board are younger, more diverse, more representative of advocacy coalitions and less likely to be homeowners than boards past.
In a sweeping landslide, secret ballots cast for the executive board last month replaced Eastmoreland’s Robert McCullough with community cycling activists Terry Dublinski-Milton and Reuben Deumling.
Afterwards, Dublinski-Milton, longtime advocate for safe transit and improved bike routes through SE, expressed enthusiasm that coalitions like Portland Tenants United and those whose voices have not been heard before are a growing part of the membership.
“This is a big change for community organizing. It’s important that all views are represented. We have a history of groups being under-represented in neighborhood associations.”
Affordability, houselessness, equality and livability are among the pressing issues the new chairs plan to prioritize.
“Being a co-chair with Reuben allows work on several issues at once,” said Dublinsky-Milton adding that he would like to lobby PBOT for significant transportation improvements on Powell to include light rail once it is under City control.
New Executive Director Molly Mayo says last spring’s recruitment to bring diversity to the board means that SEUL, long considered the voice of neighborhood associations, will now be well-rounded.
Representatives from nonprofits such as Impact NW, Village Coalition, Raphael House and business representatives from Foster-Powell and the Main Street Alliance of Oregon add perspective to issues of potential conflict.
SEUL informs, addresses, provides grants and fiscal sponsorship for neighborhoods and often makes recommendations to the City about critical issues.
At a recent SEUL Landuse meeting a number of topics were discussed ranging from construction notifications (notices to renters are not a requirement), to issues of whether view shed preservation requirements should be updated to the upcoming draft release of the City’s Residential Infill Proposal.
Citizens shared information on upcoming projects such as a 200-plus building planned for the “Eagles Lodge” site at Hawthorne Blvd. and SE 50th; potential development of the 7 Dees property on Powell with a 900-unit storage shed; and the transfer of the “YMCA” building at 60th and Stark to the housing authority for affordable home development.
An observer issued a plea for more and better access in newbuilds for Portland residents of all ages and abilities.
Reminding the board that it needs to be faithful to SEUL’s mission, Dublinsky-Milton said, “We need to find how to work together to find solutions to problems.”
Outgoing President McCullough, who remains on the board, agrees. “We are more effective working together.”
Recognizing shared concerns about affordable housing, both McCullough and longtime member and unsuccessful candidate for chair Scott Vala called for thoughtful planning that results in careful growth.
“If we think we’re going to solve the affordability crisis by listening to the homebuilders lobby, we will not be effective…affordability is not on their agenda.”