It’s been a busy month for your Board so let me take a moment to get you caught up with what your Directors have been up to.
Homelessness & Toxic Air
At the General Membership Meeting on March 8th, speakers addressed the latest events connected with the Mayor’s Homeless Plan and provided an update on Toxic Air issues. Adam Lyons, Associate Director- Neighborhoods Program and Manager- Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods, spoke to both issues. Officer Anthony Zoeller with the Portland Police Bureau’s North Precinct (and a regular attendee) gave additional perspective to the Homeless Issue.
In order to address some immediate needs , the Mayor has been active in coming up with solutions for the Homeless issue with little input from the community. However, Lyons has been very active in championing alternative solutions with a focus on neighborhood input. We expect to be hearing more from Adam regarding strategies for ensuring that the neighborhood is represented. As of this writing, no final decision has been made regarding locations of City-owned property selected for “camps”or for final policies to manage these sites. If you have a desire to get involved with this process, please let me know. I will make sure you are connected to the appropriate party.
What I know for sure is that communication within City Hall is inadequate.You can make the request, but you never know if anyone is really listening at the other end.Importantly, there appears to be a lack of understanding priorities.
St. Johns shelter challenges
Take for instance the red tape and bureaucratic morass the St. Johns Neighborhood Shelter has been experiencing. It is apparent that City Staff is looking only at codes and regulations, not the human condition. Why else would the City not allow a variance for a 5- foot-wide sidewalk but insists on a 6-foot-wide sidewalk at the rear of the property that is rarely used. Why is the City imposing permitting fees and other charges that make shelters too expensive to build when homeless mothers and children remain on the street? Get your priorities straight, Planning Department and those Commissioners who have their hands on the steering wheel!What we should remember is that many of these “Homeless”people had homes in our neighborhood but were not as fortunate as the rest of us who survived the economic meltdown created by Wall Street.
Toxic air potential in Concordia
Toxic air in Southeast and North Portland should not be seen as some other neighborhood’s issues when the likelihood of the Concordia Neighborhood hearing about its own bad air is pretty high. Given our proximity to the Columbia Industrial Corridor, we should not be surprised to learn that we face a similar situation. Adam Lyons identified straight answers and real transparency with the Department of Environmental Quality as being the biggest obstacles in confronting the issues. He believes that once there is some real communication from DEQ and related agencies, we will learn how deep this problem really is. We will be providing additional information as it is uncovered and will keep you posted. Please keep an eye open for news; and, if you are growing your own veggies, make sure you are cleaning them thoroughly before putting them on a plate.
Use it or lose it: Other items of importance
While this newspaper has gone through a major upgrade in professional journalism, it sits on very brittle ground. We now have a temporary volunteer Editor through June of this year. If we do not find a replacement, we will see the end of our neighborhood newspaper, i.e., the lights go out. Same can be said for our Board of Directors. Many are now in the last 6 months of their tenure with no new volunteers in sight. We need to hear from those of you who are willing to step up to the plate for all of us. We did get a Board Member to volunteer as Vice-Chair (Chris Lopez). Chris has been extremely active in our community, and we welcome his assistance in moving us forward. We are still down two Board Members, and I certainly see an under-representation of women. Use it or lose it, isn’t that the way the saying goes and never so true as today. We need to keep this paper going to make your wishes known. The alternative is to let someone in an office downtown or an unknown in government position make our decisions for us.
Thanks for listening in; let’s make this neighborhood great by YOU becoming a force of one.
Isaac Quintero, Chairman CNA