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:

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.