By Jill Riebesehl

The dog days of August are over, but definitely not forgotten. These last few months have seen many who are involved in our neighborhood struggling with a proposal by the city government to write the neighborhoods out of the city code.

Along with many, many other neighborhood associations throughout the city, we are challenged by the proposed code changes to focus on how neighborhoods are and have been uniquely positioned to participate in changes that affect all those who live in our particular geographically designated areas.

This code change proposal – which won’t reach City Council for a vote until November at the earliest – has encouraged us to look back at how HAND has participated in improving our little section of SE Portland and to look ahead on how we can continue to help neighbors in the unique ways that we do: taking up residents’ causes, guiding people in ways to interact with the city, transit and county governments; providing a forum for experts and politicians to explain their positions or share their knowledge; inviting a wide variety of groups  to speak on issues such as greenways, residential infill, low-income housing and more.

People who are involved with the HAND neighborhood (all volunteers) for decades have witnessed and participated in myriad ways with the city. For example, the intense fight long ago to keep Powell Park from being taken over by Fred Meyer; invite Catholic Charities and St. Philip Neri to open neighborhood discussion on low-income housing; cheer on the MAX Orange line, and then push for a train horn quiet zone; push to replace the bike/pedestrian bridge to provide safe crossing for bikes and pedestrian over the train/MAX tracks; participate with constructive suggestions in the city’s various greenway plans. And more.

As our neighborhood faces the future and its inevitable changes, we welcome all new residents, as well as those who live here already. We are eager to listen, share and help in the ways that we can.

We always enjoy meeting you all at our summer ice-cream socials in Piccolo Park and the Division-Clinton parade, and participating with other neighborhoods in issues that don’t have borders. We meet every month on the campus of St. Philip Neri every third Tuesday except December and August. We look forward to seeing you.