Proposals for citywide supervised camps and a drone testing facility were discussed

By MARGO CRAIG

A plan to have a transitional housing camp in every neighborhood, street racing, and a proposal to test drones in the neigborhood was discussed at the St. Johns Neighborhood Association August meeting held online on Aug. 31st.

Verizon wants to use the Peninsula Iron Works building on N. Bradford St. and an empty riverside lot north of Cathedral Park, (between Green Anchors and the Toyota lot), to test using cell phone towers to fly drones, said Matt Stein, who owns a business nearby.

The proposal is open for public comment on the city planners website (I couldn’t find it but I have an email out to the SJNA.)

One concern is the potential impact on the local raptors, including the peregrine falcons living under the bridge. The project would involve constructing a two-way street between the train tracks and the lot, Stein said.

The lot, which is owned by the Port Authority, has been vacant since 2007, said Stein, owner of Green Anchors, an eco-industrial park.

“[Verizon has] a lot of horsepower behind this. If the neighborhood is interested in having a say on this, it’s better to do it sooner,” Stein said.

Fatal street racing, little response

A double fatal motorcycle crash in St. Johns last Friday marked the 28th traffic fatality in Portland this year.

KOIN reports: 2 killed in motorcycle crash in St. Johns

Responding officers said the motorcycle driver struck a pedestrian at very high speeds, and appeared to be part of an illegal speed racing event nearby.

Street racing has been an ongoing issue in North Portland. SJNA chair Mike Vial said he discussed the ongoing drag racing issue with the Commander of the Portland Police Bureau North Precinct. “The short answer is PPB is probably not going to do anything for us right now,” Vial said. “They seem to have bigger priorities.”

Several people proposed advocating for speed radar cameras on Columbia Blvd. One attendee wondered whether opening the Portland International Raceway could help divert street racing activities. Donna Cohen offered to form a group to look into the matter further.

Vial said he will write a statement for members of the community to send to the Portland Bureau of Transportation, the Mayor’s Office, and the Port Authority.

Neighborhood associations’ plan to propose sanctioned transitional housing camps

Portland’s neighborhood associations are planning to vote on whether to suggest that the City impose stricter regulations on camping and also establish sanctioned camps in each neighborhood, Vial said. The proposal would divert some money to short term solutions, and away from constructing affordable housing.

The proposed sanctioned camps would include some level of supervision, services, and volunteer support coordinated between the neighborhood associations and the Joint Office of Homeless Services.

Vial gave an update on the progress of the statement. 

Several NA chairs had retracted their support in an earlier meeting between the neighborhood association chairs. Other than minor changes, the current draft will be voted on next month, Vial said.

The proposal says camps “where illegal activity is documented” would be cleared. One attendee asked if that meant “everyone at the camp would be cleared if one person breaks the law?”

Vial said he would ask the group for clarification. 

The statement will be voted on in September’s neighborhood association meeting.

Miscellaneous musings

The $92 million bond to modernize Roosevelt High School did not provide as many STEM facilities as promised. Donna Cohen announced the School Board decided that the gap would not be addressed until 2024. “It’s unconscionable. It just flies in the face of everything they say about racial equality,” Cohen said.

In light of recent thefts and vandalism, Liz Smith, the president of St. Johns Boosters, the neighborhood’s business association, announced plans to survey the community about hiring private security. Smith said community patrols is also a possible solution. People interested in participating in the community patrols can email Smith at info@stjohnsboosters.org.

The date and agenda for next month’s SJNA meeting have not been determined yet, but may feature Multnomah County elections candidates.

The St. Johns Food Share is having a fundraising sidewalk sale this weekend, Sept. 5th and 6th from 9 p.m. – 3 p.m.

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