Police commander’s and city planner’s visit makes for lively Midway meeting

While East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs was the scheduled speaker, Portland Planning Bureau’s District Liaison, Barry Manning, also stopped in. You’ll see what was discussed when you read this article ‚Ķ

Portland Planning Bureau’s District Liaison, Barry Manning came by to share plans for outer East Portland with members of the Midway Business Association, but stayed for a lively discussion about how the area is being developed.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
People who come to the Midway Business Association meetings learn a lot about what is happening in outer SE Portland.

In October, for example, we learned from club president Donna Dionne that the Portland Water Bureau plans to open its second “hydro-park” in outer East Portland at SE 128th Ave. and Center St. — the Gilbert Hydro Park. “The bureau said they’re putting up to $50,000 into improvements at the site,” Dionne told the group. “This includes taking down the fence and putting in park amenities.”

Planning Bureau update
Up next was Barry Manning, Portland Planning Bureau district liaison.

Manning, who has earned a good reputation for being approachable and helpful to folks in outer East Portland, gave attendees an update on his bureau’s activities.

Showing a map, Manning told of a recent “tour” planners took of the area.

“We started at the new East Portland Neighborhood office,” he began. “Then, we looked at auto dealers in the transit zone (E. Burnside St. and 122nd Ave.).

While threading their way across outer East, the busload of planners took note of infill housing and the increasing use of “flag” lots. They rolled down to observe rowhouses and other development in Powellhurst-Gilbert.

“As we looked at development, we noted whether or not it ‘fit in’ to the neighborhood; if it changed the character of the area; and, how it affected the existing infrastructure. Current zoning policy calls for more even more development.”

Bill Dayton, piped up, “I’m concerned that SE 136th Ave., from Division to Powell, is going to become our ‘Rockwood’ ‚Äì packed with nothing but high-density, low-income housing.”

“We don’t have a lot of answers,” explained Manning. “We are addressing issues in this area. It’s true, the Powellhurst area has the majority of the area development taking place. It is seeing a lot of change, and warrants a little more focus. Many new people are moving into this area.”

Public safety concerns about growth
East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs introduced himself, saying he came to the luncheon to “both listen and talk” with people about public safety issues.

“I’m concerned that when I see what looks like a lot of cheap housing being quickly built in a given area,” Crebs said. He added that housing, either for ownership or rental, that isn’t well-built, will turn shabby within a decade. “In ten years, some of these developments will be a mess.”

Frank Ryan commented, “The city talks about providing ‘affordable housing’, but it looks as if we’re building future ghettos of poverty instead.”

Crebs added, “If you build quality housing, it will attract quality people. In public safety, we have deep concerns that this explosive growth of dense housing will create problems. It is great to provide affordable housing. But, poorly-built housing becomes run down quickly. And run-down housing attracts problems.”

Manning responded that they could look into the quality of materials being used. “But, more dense development is a factor in Portland’s housing market,” he added diplomatically.

Neighborhood study underway
A “land inventory” of southeast Portland along SE Division will soon be underway, Manning told the group. “We’re working with Portland State University students, who are taking this on as part of their Planning Analysis and Data Methods class. We’ll look at South Powellhurst and Centennial.”

Then, the students will take a survey to learn area residents’ concerns, travel and shopping behaviors and use of local parks. “The information we learn from this project could lead to changes here,” Manning concluded.

How cops work to keep us safe

East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs listened to the concerns of area business people, including Frank Ryan, NW Senior News, and Carolyn Schell of Midland Library.

“We always have our hands full here,” stated the Commander Crebs. “We respond to the highest number of service calls per officer; and we have the highest rate of self-initiated stops.”

East Precinct is the most active among those across the city, he added, saying they deal with 30% of all reported crime, and investigate the highest number of homicides — “ten this year.”

“We have great officers who really care,” he said. “Because of their hard work and citizens dedicated to increasing safety, overall, crime is down about 22%.”

Crebs told the group about the success their Crime Reduction Unit (CRU) has had in the area.

Part of their strategy is to crack down on pawnshops. “If there’s no place to sell to sell stolen goods, it cuts down crime. We’ve targeted drug users and sellers. We put them out of business because we taking their car, their drugs, and their money.”

How citizens can help
When asked what citizens can do, Crebs responded, “If you have a problem, like dumpster diving, put locks on them. Take the effort to review your lighting — anything that may give a crook a place to hide. Our crime prevention people will evaluate your business, to keep your property safer.”

Next Midway gathering is Nov. 14
Come and learn more about your community! The Midway Business Association meeting runs from 11:45 AM until 1 PM at Bill Dayton’s PIZZA BARON Restaurant on SE 122nd Ave., just south of Division St. For more information, go to www.midwayba.com.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

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