Emerson School Lantern Walk 11/24

We received this note from our neighbors at the Emerson School inviting us to their annual Lantern Walk through the North Park Blocks – Nov 24th / 6PM. See you there!


I’m writing to let you know that one of our annual traditions at Emerson is coming up, and this year we want to invite our neighbors to join us – should anyone want to. We have an annual Lantern Walk once the darkness really settles in. Children make lanterns (this year they are various empty glass jars, decorated and given handles) and after we put candles (electric tea lights…) in them we parade through a few of the Park Blocks and gather in the Davis-Everett block to sing songs (we’ll have little word sheets for those who want them) and celebrate gathering in the darkness to appreciate the season.

Tuesday, Nov. 24, 6pm-7pm, rain or moonshine. Meet outside the school on NW Park Ave between Couch and Davis at 6pm if you want to walk a few Park Blocks with them, or join them in the Davis-Everett Park Block for singing around 6:30pm.

Bring a light source if you can (lantern, glow stick, flashlight, but please no unprotected flames)!

Image credit: Emerson School


New to Facebook “Keep Portland Weird, But Safe”

Keep Portland Weird, But SafeThere’s new Facebook page Keep Portland Weird, But Safe

While this page is not a publication of the North Park Blocks it seems our NPB experience this past summer has inspired it’s launch. In return we would like to publicize the page and share its public statement.

“Keep Portland Weird, But Safe” – Public Statement:
City Policy is Making Portland a Magnet for “Lifestyle Vagrancy,” Lawlessness, and Crime. Give Law Enforcement Necessary Staff and Ordinances to Make Portland Safe Again.

For the last several years, we’ve watched with great frustration as our city has been allowed to become a destination for “lifestyle vagrancy”, increasing drug activity, limitless street camping, aggressive pan-handling, and other illegal and disruptive behavior that directly affects the safety and quality of life of residents Downtown, and city-wide. Sadly, Portland is no longer a place where people can use public spaces without anxiety or fear. Recent efforts to temporarily displace this activity or label it as the bi-product of an “affordable housing” crisis are short-sighted, misleading, and will not resolve the serious public safety issues we face. An appropriately staffed Police force, public education campaign about the dangers of supporting panhandling, and more forceful ordinances are the only solution to this problem.

Compassion that is misdirected helps no one. As a city, we should support efforts to provide housing and social services for those in our community who are legitimately in need. However, masses of street kids, drug-users, and lifestyle vagrants flock here in greater numbers every Summer to take advantage of Portland’s liberal city policies and ordinances. They inundate our woefully understaffed Police force with increasingly brazen and illicit behavior, and extract dollars, services, and compassion from resident populations of the homeless and mentally ill who really need it. These individuals seek out an unsheltered free ride in Portland, and by the Police Bureau’s own account do not want help, housing, or other services.

Some in this debate want to make those who are fed up with the lawless behavior of these unsheltered populations to feel heartless. We are not heartless. Of course there are people here in Portland who need social service and deserve compassion. But as a city, we need distinguish between those who need help, and others who choose this lifestyle, constantly make poor choices, and abuse our good will. We must study and understand these nuanced unsheltered populations if we are to provide support and care for those who legitimately need help and, conversely, send a strong message to those who choose an unsheltered lifestyle that Portland is not the place for them to panhandle and fund their anarchic lifestyle.

The first and foremost duty of elected officials is to provide safety and rule of law for constituents. Our streets and public spaces must be restored as lawful environments so that ALL residents of the City of Portland can enjoy them equally, without fear or concern for their safety.

This opinion is shared by a growing number of vote-wielding Portlanders who are very frustrated with the status quo. We implore the Mayor and City Council to initiate the following practical solutions:

• Properly staff our police force at FBI-recommended levels and pace staffing with population growth

• Commission a study of the nuanced demographics of Portland’s unsheltered populations in order to inform social services and/or law enforcement response

• Drastically increase funding for the “Smart Change, Not Spare Change” campaign to illustrate how supporting panhandlers puts everyone in danger

• Aggressively litigate and enforce sit/lie/stand ordinances and renegotiate PPS contract to clear disruptive camps within 24 hours, not 2 weeks

Keep Portland Weird (But Safe)

PDX mounted police

This past summer the North Park Blocks experienced a dramatic rise in unlawful activity – traveling gangs, aggressive panhandlers, drugs, public sex, off-leash dog attacks. That situation was turned around when City Hall finally took notice and Portland Police stepped up their presence to enforce the law in the park.

We saw smart policing based on positive and supportive police interaction with citizens.  But increased police presence in the North Park Blocks required pulling scarce police resources from other Portland neighborhoods. Bottom line  – community-focussed policing is labor-intensive and Portland Police is understaffed to provide adequate safety city wide.

Statistics show that Portland Police is understaffed. The FBI national benchmark calls for 2.7 officers per 1000 residents and Portland has only 1.5. More stats here.

sign the petition

Public safety has made Portland one of America’s most livable cities. Our community needs our Police Bureau to take calls for service, investigate crimes, confront gang violence, and proactively engage with the public. Having enough police officers to manage these functions will keep Portland a great place to live.

Portland City Council must increase Police Bureau staffing levels to ensure there are enough police officers to meet the City’s public safety priorities.

The Portland Police Association has started a petition to Mayor Hales and Portland City Council. Send a message to City Council – Read more and sign the Petition.

pdx police stats
Click to enlarge graph

Join Us: “Polish The Pearl” Saturday 10/17/15

Photo of the northwest view from the US Bancorp Tower.
Photo of the northwest view from the US Bancorp Tower.

Join neighbors and friends for a fall neighborhood clean-up of the Pearl District! Volunteers meet at Peet’s Coffee to check in, receive a free cup of coffee, get a street assignment, pick up supplies, and head out into the neighborhood to pick up litter.

After the event, volunteers turn in supplies and stay for a FREE raffle of an Electra Townie bike! The first 50 volunteers to register online receive a free snack from The Fields Bar & Grill. All supplies are provided, such as safety vests, gloves, trash pickers, brooms, trash bags, etc. Just register for the event online, show up, and be prepared to have a fun time!

Check-in starts at 8:30 AM. Teams leave at 9 AM and meet at The Fields Park at 11:30 AM. The event will happen rain or shine – be sure to dress for the weather. Minors under the age of 17 must be accompanied by an adult. Polish the Pearl is a bi-annual event organized by the Pearl District Neighborhood Association (PDNA) Livability and Safety Committee

Image credit: “Pearl District” by Ajbenj at the English language Wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

Portland Community Equality Act: Signature Drive

Times change and so does Portland’s need for a district run city government. Each neighborhood in this beautiful city has its own attributes and challenges and each should have representation by a district representative that lives in each district and can represent the needs of that district. We deserve broader representation and taking the power out of the hands of the few and putting into the hands of the many make for better democracy in the great city.

We are hoping to see Portland Community Equality Act on next November’s ballot. This is our opportunity to bring Portland’s city government into the new millennium. Portland Community Equality Act is gathering signatures. Please help! This is our chance for real change.

Please invite your friends and neighbors to stop by and sign the petition to get direct representation for you on the ballot.

Portland Community Equality Act coming to gather signatures in the North Park Blocks near the Playground this Saturday, 10/3 from 12pm to 1:45 pm. They will also be in the Pearl at the Whole Foods at 2010 NW Couch from 10am to 11:45am as well.

The City of Portland, Oregon was issued a territorial charter in 1851, incorporating 2.1 square miles of forest, stumps and houses. In May 1913, Portland voters narrowly approved a commission form of government.  This outdated and archaic structure remains in place today.

Commission Form of Government 
The City of Portland has the last remaining Commission form of government among large cities in the United States.

The Mayor, four Commissioners and the Auditor comprise the City’s six elected officials.  The Mayor and the Commissioners together make up the City Council. Thus the mayor has no more power that any of the council members.

The commission form of government differs from most other municipal governments in that its members have legislative, administrative and quasi-judicial powers. This is too much power centralized to a small handful of politicians.

Legislative – The City Council meets weekly in the Council Chambers to conduct the City’s legislative business.  The Council adopts the City budget and passes laws, policies and regulations that govern the City. You can clearly see the breakdown in the enforcement of “laws” which prohibit encampments and camping in city parks and the “policy” that has been put in place which directs law enforcement to leave the “campers” alone.

Administrative – The Mayor and Commissioners also serve as administrators of City departments, individually overseeing bureaus and carrying out policies approved by the Council.  The assignment of departments and bureaus is determined by the Mayor and may be changed at his or her discretion.  In the case of the City of Portland, Mayor Charlie Hales heads the Police and Amanda Fritz oversees the parks, instead of having a director of parks whose sole purpose is making those public spaces safe for all of the community.