Welcome to Village Portland @ St. Johns

Village Portland is neighborhood news & actions in Portland, Oregon.

We’re here to bridge the gap between news & civic participation… and to encourage folks get involved with their community and support their neighbors. There are a million voices fighting for your attention, but we want to help you connect with your village, your neighborhood… where your power to connect and make change is the strongest.

We’d love to learn more about your small business and experience in the neighborhood.

Please take our 5-minute Village Portland neighborhood news & services survey for local businesses and organizations here. Thanks!

Sign up at the bottom of this page to get email notifications from Village Portland @ St Johns. We publish a weekly news and events multi-media post to keep up up to date on what’s happening in the neighborhood. You can also follow us on Facebook / Twitter.

Explore your Village with DuckDuckGo, the search company that respects your privacy (at the DuckDuckGo link, for repeated searches leave site:https://villageportlandstjohns.com/ in the search box).

Efforts emerge to support small businesses in the wake of the COVID-19 economic downturn

By ANDREW WILKINS

Local and state officials are working to provide relief for Oregon’s business community— and as of Friday, March 20th the federal Small Business Administration has approved Oregon’s disaster declaration for COVID-19.

For more information, and how to apply go to the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans page here. The Oregon Economic Development Association wrote that there was a two-to-three-week timeline and five days for disbursement on the loans. 

According to its website, the SBA can provide up to $2 million to help “meet financial obligations and operating expenses” that could have been met if the disaster hadn’t occurred. 

SBA EIDL fact sheet

Efforts in Portland

Wheeler said that on Monday, March 16th, he authorized a task force led by his office and Prosper Portland, the City’s economic development agency, to assist small and large employers and their employees struggling with the economic impacts of COVID-19.

In a press conference Tuesday, March 17th, Mayor Ted Wheeler discussed how the City was working to mitigate the downturn’s impact on small businesses in Portland. 

“Every option will be on the table to support the resilience and the recovery of our local economy,” he said. Watch the business-focused part of the Tuesday, March 17th press conference, or read the highlights below. 

Update: On Wednesday, March 25th, Portland announced $1 million for businesses impacted by the COVID-19 economic downturn, the Oregonian reported. The city will prioritize women- and people of color-owned businesses, with some conditions, according to the executive director of Prosper Portland.

The biggest news, however, that came out of that press conference is that the City barred evictions, and is allowing tenants impacted by COVID-19 to delay paying rent during the state of emergency. He also announced that the City’s tenants and borrowers would have a three-month deferral on rent and loan repayments. 

Wheeler said the task force is also partnering with major employers and small businesses, front line communities, labor partners, work force development partners, and foundations. Wheeler also acknowledged cooperation from key City and County partners and Business Oregon

Wheeler said he met with downtown property owners on Tuesday as well.

To help vulnerable businesses, Wheeler said Prosper Portland was immediately making $150,000 in grants available in a partnership with the Jade District Neighborhood Prosperity Network

As home to many Asian-owned business, Wheeler said the Jade District is “amongst the hardest impacted by the economic downturn related to COVID-19”.

Wheeler said with time, he expects resources will be expanded to other areas. 

Grants are being awarded to businesses in the Jade District and Old Town, and immigrant owned businesses and / or API owned small businesses are prioritized. 

The Jade District Steering Committee also added $50,000 to the program. The deadline to apply is 11:59 p.m., March 23rd. Apply to the Jade District-Oldtown COVID-19 Small Business Response Fund here.

***

Wheeler said he is convening partners in the private sector to develop a commercial eviction strategy and other financial relief. He also thanked private landlords who allowed their tenants to defer or forgo payments.

***

For non-profit organizations impacted by the downturn, the Oregon Community Foundation has established the Oregon Community Recovery Grant program. Guidelines are still being formulated, but you can get more information and apply here

***

Also on Tuesday, East Metro Economic Alliance called on small businesses across the state to share with the Governor’s Office how they’ve been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. 

Share a story with Leah Horner (leah.horner@oregon.gov), Brown’s Jobs and Economy Policy Advisor. 

Tina Granzo was helping spread the word about the EMEA campaign on social media. She served on the Montavilla East Tabor Business Association for four years, and knows that a lot of small businesses are suffering.

She wrote that the help will be good, but it needs to come quickly. “… with some businesses, the owners put everything they had (all equity) into their businesses and (as with Bipartisan [Cafe]) did things like pay employees a living wage, taking much less for themselves,” Granzo said. “So, not much of a back-up or safety net (even while waiting for help).”

***

Wheeler said he would be meeting with banks and credit unions on Thursday, March 19th, asking them to make sacrifices because he knows they are sitting on substantial reserves. 

“As tenants are unable to pay rent, landlords and build owners would then not be able to pay the mortgage they are due,” Wheeler said at Tuesday’s press conference. He said he’ll ask the banks and credit unions to give them more coverage during this cash crunch. 

Thursday, Wheeler said they would also be convening their two task forces and meeting with the business community on Thursday. 

As of Monday morning, March 23rd, there’s been no update from the mayor or governor on these business-related initiatives.

*** 

A survey of more than 900 Oregon businesses by Built Oregon found that respondents are losing an estimated $4.8 million in sales. See some of the results of the survey below. The survey was first reported by Portland Business Journal; find more details here

When asked for what kind of help they needed, many business owners responded: no-interest loans to cover rent and payroll; emergency working capital loans; and assistance for workers, according to the story.

More calls for action from the Portland business community:

At the federal level, the United States Chamber of Commerce has called for bridge loans for the 68 million American workers that are employed by enterprises with more than 500 employees. 

***

Negotiations over relief measures are moving fast in Washington D.C., and as of Sunday afternoon the Tax Foundation reports:

“… the Senate released an updated version of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The bill builds upon an earlier version of the CARES Act and is intended to be a third round of federal government support in the wake of the coronavirus public health crisis and associated economic fallout, following the $8.3 billion in public health support passed two weeks ago and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.”

The Tax Foundation will provide updates as the happen.

A summary of the March St. Johns Community Association general meeting

By KELLY TADLOCK

The March general meeting of the St. Johns Neighborhood Association covered a lot of ground, including the information on the Willamette River industrial cleanup; a proposed housing development; a historical presentation, and other happenings in St. Johns.

The meeting was held on March 9th. On arrival, the March general meeting agenda, January and February meeting minutes, and budget handouts were all on table.

Rather than signing in, I was asked my name and was recorded by a person at this table.

Mike Vial, SJNA board member, announced that he was facilitating because Chair Marisa Peter could not be present. Vial began by going over ground rules.

Though most neighbors didn’t have a chance to review the six pages of minutes, Vial asked for a motion to approve the minutes. The motion was approved. Soon after, Josh Leslie and Shamus Lynsky noted an error on February minutes.

On the second page of the February minutes there is a note that the proposed bylaws passed. In fact, they did not have the required number of votes to pass the bylaw change in February. And although Vial requested a re-vote at that meeting, the second vote did not pass either.

The amended bylaws the board attempted to pass would have required all “active” members to provide physical addresses.

The minutes indicated the bylaws passed, which the board justified keeping in because they had initially thought it passed. Further down in the minutes it says that the next bylaws vote failed, so in the entire context of the minutes, it’s probably fine, albeit a little confusing.

Joseph Purkey was concerned that two consecutive votes are not allowed, so the second vote should be thrown out. In that case, the first vote is definitely important to have correctly recorded.

Lynsky pointed out that the whole point of minutes is to accurately record votes. In fact, that is the only function of minutes— the rest is just exposition. Several neighbors tried to convince them that it should be amended to correctly record that the first vote failed, but, again, the board said it was fine because it was explained later in the minutes.

Donna Cohen spoke about the new HAWK signal (red light signal activated by pedestrians only) coming to Fessenden Street. She thinks that instruction should specifically be given to children on how to use the new crossings safely.

Mary Margaret and Chris Stubblefield announced that Mayor Ted Wheeler has given a one-year reprieve to closing of the Columbia Pool. This was met with some applause.

An event titled “Riots and Revolutionaries in St. Johns” was announced.

“On March 21, 1910, some 200 residents of St. Johns, Oregon, rioted against the so-called “Hindu” mill workers working and living in town. While this little-known riot lasted two hours, its aftershocks reverberated for years… following the trials, St. Johns became a center of East Indian anti-colonial organizing focused on the overthrow of British rule of India.”

Kennedy School Theater, NE 33rd Ave * Mon, March, 30th; 6 p.m. – doors, 7 p.m. – event * free

Willamette Cove Uplands

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is seeking public input on the proposed cleanup plan to address soil contamination on the Upland portion of the Willamette Cove.

The project’s website is here.

“DEQ is working with the Port of Portland, Metro and others to clean up contamination at this property, a former industrial site in North Portland along the east bank of the Willamette River. The property comprises approximately 27 acres and approximately 3,000 feet of Willamette River shoreline. Located south of the St. Johns Bridge, adjoining or nearby neighborhoods include Cathedral Park, St. Johns, and University Park.”

Commenting is an important way to make your voice heard in decision-making. Please provide comments on the proposed cleanup plan during Monday, March 2, 2020 through Friday, May 1, 2020. by:

Email: WillCoveUpland@deq.state.or.us
Mail: Erin McDonnell, 700 NE Multnomah St., Suite 600, Portland, OR 97232
At a public meeting, or
Verbally, upon request

Sam Sarich did a 10 minute presentation with another person on his development of 18 units on North Oswego Avenue with no off-street parking and no affordable units. Mike Vial comments that this development is across from his house.

Sam had originally wanted to hold the presentation at the St. Johns Bachelors Club but was unable to do so because the building is not wheelchair accessible. SJNA members asked questions about drug house nearby, rent prices, and issues around parking. Sam says he is thinking of asking $1,600 for a unit.

Next up was Daryl Turner, president of the Portland Police Association. Turner talked about the history of community policing and that there is not enough staffing at present for police to do an adequate job.

He talked about his son who is going into police work— but he advised him not to work in Portland because of the problem with under-staffing. He also talked about the importance of neighborhood associations communicating with the City and express the policing needs in the neighborhood.

On the topic of homelessness, Turners said the problem is that police have too many hats to wear and that they are not equipped to solve all these issues.

After that, was a presentation from Ethan Knight, a candidate for Multnomah County District Attorney. Ethan has many good endorsements and said he grew up on Sauvies Island.

Mike Schmidt was another candidate for Multnomah County DA. He said he was committed to community-based solutions and un-apologetically in favor of harm reduction.

A question and answer period followed. Although I had many questions for these candidates and raised my hand to ask them, I was not called upon by Vial, who was leading the discussion.

I would have asked why there was a disparity in criminal charges against houseless. I also would have asked why those committing crimes against houseless are rarely prosecuted, and if they are they are given very light sentences.

I am grateful to the SJNA board for hosting these candidates. I look forward to hearing from other Multnomah County candidates and hopefully ask questions of them.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:30 p.m.

Editor’s note: We’d like to thank Kelly for writing up her account of the meeting.

This weekend

Oregon officials shut down schools to stop the spread of COVID-19, a respiratory virus commonly called coronovirus.

State health officials urge, “good hand hygiene, covering coughs and staying home if you are sick”. According to the CDC, symptoms can include fever, a cough, and shortness of breath. These symptoms emerge two to 14 days after exposure.

Diagnosis is difficult because the symptoms overlap with other common ailments, health officials say. The cough is usually a dry cough, and a runny nose and sneezing aren’t commonly associated with COVID-19.

Over 400 Oregon doctors are asking State officials for more action and equipment in response to the outbreak. And Gov. Kate Brown is also asking the federal government for more supplies and testing capacity.

If you’re going out, take care, and it’s probably best to double-check if an event is even being held.

***

There’s a new location for the St. Johns Farmers Market. The St. Johns Opportunity FAQ page says it’s due to construction at the plaza, the previous location.

The market opens May 16th!

New Location- Farmers Market.png

FRIDAY, MARCH 13TH

The remaining performances of Roosevelt High School‘s performance of “Bring It On: The Musical” (Fri & Sat), have been cancelled. School officials said refunds would be given.

***

The Fixin’ To is having the second night of their three-night Ides of March Fest with:

Maarquii * Guayaba (Seattle) * Kileo

Fixin’ To, 8218 N Lombard St * 9 pm * $8

SATURDAY, MARCH 14TH

Music fest night II (event):

Saturday, March 14, 9 p.m.

Fixin’ To, 8218 N Lombard St * 9 pm * $8

***

Take care and enjoy your weekend!

This weekend

There was a post a few weeks ago on a Facebook group page. Somebody asked a simple question similar to: “What’s going on this weekend, St. Johns?”

So many people piped up with events, fundraisers, and all sorts of gatherings in the neighborhood. And as you already know, and the Willamette Week just spotlighted, a lot of changes have been happening recently.

Willamette Week reports: A Wave of Commercial Evictions in St. Johns has the Neighborhood on Edge”

There’s no easy answer really, but in times of change it makes sense to value and support what you hold dear.

For a while now, we’ve been pulling together a list of neighborhood happenings in East Portland. Not just events, but opportunities to get involved, opportunities to support. We’re still seeking funding in the neighborhood, and are planning on starting that weekly neighborhood check-in for St. Johns too.

The citywide media does do some flyby reporting occasionally in the neighborhood. Some of it is helpful, but it often is framed to further split divides rather than solve problems. I think there’s a need for more small-scale consistent story telling and reporting, and having a publication and part-time reporter is our long-term goal.

And not every story has to be about a crisis. We covered a clean up on the – last weekend (see story below), and really prefer to focus on what we want to thrive, and encourage more people to get involved. The story reminded me of my time at smaller community newspapers, and that was awesome.

Art and music is crucial too— there’s no better way to bridge the divide and honor beauty and creativity.

Village Portland reports: About 40 St. Johns neighbors attend a cleanup on the Peninsula Crossing Trail

In that effort of community building, we’d like to thank the wonderful folks at The Fixin’ To for hosting our benefit this week. We’d also like to thank Creature Party and everyone who showed up to hang out and dance with us. It was a really great time.

The future of media is uncertain, but we see that as an opportunity. Thank you for reading, and we hope that you continue to offer us feedback and story ideas as we grow. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and we’ve learned the same goes for a publication.

We looked for goings on this weekend, and this was the best thing we found. But you tell us: what’s going on this weekend St. Johns?

Peace & love,
Andrew Wilkins

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 22ND

Live music:

Von Wildenhaur, RLLRBLL, Umatilla Reverb

Von Wildenhaur * RLLRBLL * Umatilla Reverb

The Fixin’ To, 8218 N Lombard St * 9 pm * $5

***

About 40 St. Johns neighbors attend a clean up on the Peninsula Crossing Trail

By ANDREW WILKINS

On the sunny *Sunday* that was February 16th, about 40 folks attended a clean up along the Peninsula Crossing Trail in St. Johns, the event’s organizer said.

*We originally said Saturday

“The motivation for the cleanup was to try to heal some of our divisive issues”, Kelly Tadlock said when asked why she planned the event.

“Though some will never heal some will. It was hopefully an offering to those neighbors who feel no one cares that they are living without basic sanitation, water, and heating amenities.”

“Mostly because we love our houseless community is why people showed up to support”, she said.

Supplies for the clean up were donated by individuals and local businesses. A nice spread of food kept the volunteers’ strength up, and gave an opportunity for the housed and unhoused to get to know each other.

Here are some more photographs from the event, including a few from the new home of the Belmont Goats located next to the trail.

Neighbors focused their Peninsula Crossing Trail clean up on the area between the trail head (bottom of the image) and N Lombard Street.

***

Another hostile meeting for the SJNA at February’s general meeting

By CORY ELIA

Ever since the St. Johns Neighborhood Association board changed hands to several new members who express anti-houseless sentiments their meetings have been writhe with contention for their every decision or attempted change of the status quo.

February’s meeting was the more of the exact same situation. The meeting held at the St. Johns Community Center started promptly at 7 pm. A partial recording of the meeting is provided below. 

Board member Mike Vial addressed the perception that the SJNA had an anti-homeless attitude. “We aren’t trying to be anti-homeless”, he said “we are just trying to address the concerns of neighbors”.

Safety concerns and public safety was one of the first topics of the evening, and several members voiced their concerns about how they feel uncomfortable with the houselessness situation in the area and further attributed most crime in the area to the houseless of St. Johns. Next, SJNA Board Chair Marisa Peters provided a public service announcement about the dangers of human and sex trafficking in the Portland area and suggested members educate themselves further.

Next thing addressed was concerns that members had that only the SJNA board members and not the rest of the community were invited to a meeting with Robert King, senior policy advisor for Mayor Ted Wheeler, about the houseless situation in St. Johns and the board’s concerns about the outreach and harm reduction organization Portland People’s Outreach Project. When asked why community members were excluded Peter responded that the decision was that of King’s and not the SJNA’s. She explained that there will be a follow-up meeting in 30 days.

The next agenda item was a committee report given by member Liza deGlee. The main thing mentioned was that neighbors are still concerned about the area near where PPOP distributes their harm reduction supplies. The SJNA is working to address those issues, they said.

Gloria Luzader, the board’s Safety and Livability chair shared that the next month’s NA meeting would feature this election cycle’s District Attorney candidates, and would take questions from the members and provide answers for the group. 

Land use updates were provided by board member Vial. He mentioned that the NA is currently looking for a Spanish translator and interpreter for future projects so they can be more inclusive to those St. Johns residents whose second language is English. He further mentioned there is a redevelopment of an 18-unit apartment and several projects like the Lombard Multimodal Safety Project and Oregon Department of Transportation‘s I-5 project in the works.

Next Peter took time to announce that the NA is planning several local clean-ups for the area and that they would be held on May 30th and April 25th. There is another clean-up planned by homeless advocates for along the Peninsula Crossing bike trail that was not mentioned by Peter on Sunday, Feb. 16th.

The unfinished business section of the agenda was the longest of the agenda points for the meeting. Vial led that part and the first thing mentioned was the attempted bylaw changes. Previously SJNA tried to change the membership requirement for individuals to provide a physical address. This change was completely dropped once Vial was shown by research from Village Portland that the laws had changed. The new wording for that was actually “contact information” which can simply include an email address. This was found acceptable by advocates who felt the group was trying to silence the houseless residents of St. Johns voices. 

The other changes made to the bylaw redrafting we minor and mostly grammatical in nature, according to Vial. There were several other bylaw changes that were questioned by attendees like TJ Parker, a concerned resident who believes the SJNA is being overly aggressive and rushing the bylaw changes. One of the major issues voiced by Parker and other members was that there was no requirement for board members to attend all meetings including general assembly, monthly, and board meetings. The grievance process for board members and the way it was structured was also mentioned as being a concern for members. 

The bylaw changes have been a major issue for the SJNA for several months and the revisions have been highly contended while the group has attempted to pass them. Due to several members feeling the bylaw changes were being rushed by the NA, it was rejected due to the inability to get at least two-thirds of the voting member’s approval.

There were several tense moments during this portion of the meeting including board member * Rachel Day getting frustrated with those opposing the changes and yelling “get a life” at one of them and Safety and Livability board member Luzader getting up from her seat and walking over to get into Parker’s face to yell at him. This incident was concluded after an attempt by Peter to get Luzader to sit back down. Afterward, Luzader walked by this journalist while asking Vial “can I just kill him?”

* Editor’s note: We regret that there was a mis-attribution in the original version.

“The groups attempts to pass little changes within their bylaws is highly troubling” stated Parker. Others in attendance further went on to express that Luzader behavior was not acceptable as a member of the NA and that she should be removed.

This part of the meeting was concluded after Vial called for a revote and it was rejected again for lacking to get a majority voting approval. Vial later stated on Facebook that any further attempts to change the bylaws will not go forward and the whole process will be dropped besides the changes to the ‘address’ requirement as to reflect the new law of only “contact information” being needed.

Editor’s note: Based on feedback from Donna Cohen, we retooled / struck through some editorializing language in the reporting and included a direct quote from Cohen. We also added how to learn more about the STEM advocacy work at Roosevelt High School.

The final agenda point for the evening was an update on the attempt to get proper facilities at Roosevelt High School for STEM programs made by Donna Cohen beginning @ about 57:15. She again overlooked the attempts to have arts included alongside science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. When asked why her response was, “they have a strong enough arts program, they don’t need help”.

This reporter asked about a movement to include the arts with STEM.

The point behind attempting to include arts is to increase advocacy for these programs, advocates contend. Cohen seemed to be unable to grasp that concept.

Cohen responded: “The thing to know is that Roosevelt has a full arts program. They don’t have a full STEM program. That’s why we have to focus on that.”

She added that when the school’s remodel was done, they had arts advocates participating. But when they remodeled the STEM work space, she said it was neglected.

A bond is going to fund a new building at Roosevelt, and Cohen said they are looking for more advocates to make sure proper STEM work space is allocated in it. Find out more about the effort here, or reach Cohen here.

After running over their allotted time by several minutes the NA meeting was adjourned.

***

Cory Elia is a journalist, photographer, videographer, documentary director & producer, radio personality & podcaster. His journalistic focus is on politics, protest, and poverty.

Contact Cory:

Facebook: Cory Elia
Twitter: @therealcoryelia

St. Johns Neighborhood Association January general meeting

By CORY ELIA & ANDREW WILKINS

About 100 people attended the St. Johns Neighborhood Association January general meeting. On the agenda was a presentation from a group that runs a syringe exchange as well as proposed changes to the organization’s bylaws.

Video & audio by Cory Elia

@ 8:40Robert King, policy advisor to Mayor Ted Wheeler and former Portland Police Bureau North Precinct Commander, gives a presentation about public safety.

@ 27:20 – The Portland People’s Outreach Project gave a presentation about their work in the neighborhood. One of the neighbors who use their services spoke as well as neighbors who opposed the program.

Questions from neighbors interrupted their presentation, and you see them resume at the beginning of the video.

@ 1:04:30 – The board’s discussion of the bylaws begins. The board said they plan to vote on the bylaw revisions next meeting. We examined the issue closely, including some concerns neighbors have about the new SJNA’s stance on services here.

The next SJNA general meetings will be held on Monday, February 10 from 7 pm – 8:30 pm at the St. Johns Community Center, 8427 N. Central St.

***

General meetings take place on the 2nd Monday of each month, go here for specific dates.