Category Archives: Public Information

Benefits of planting trees in our yards and planting strips

By Catherine Clark

The Roseway neighborhood is considered a low tree canopy neighborhood after analysis of street tree inventory data collected by Urban Forestry staff and volunteers in 2015. Although neighbors have planted many trees in the intervening years, we have a lot of open space in parking strips and yards we could fill with more trees. Our street trees are dominated by maples, cherries and plums and the lack of species diversity leaves our urban forest vulnerable to pests and diseases. 

In addition to their aesthetic value, trees provide a lot of measurable benefits to our neighborhood. Mature trees produce enough oxygen per year to support two people, and remove carbon dioxide and other air pollutants from the atmosphere.  Trees are also important in improving our water quality by intercepting stormwater runoff and reducing the flow to sewer systems. Research has shown that mature tree canopies provide social welfare benefits as they are associated with better health outcomes, and increased community engagement.

Why we need more trees

Trees and plants reflect sunlight and also release moisture through evapotranspiration. This helps cool the environment, and trees planted near homes can reduce the use of air conditioning by up to 30%. The shade and cooling reduce energy use and thus lead to a decrease in release of greenhouse gases, and improved air quality. Neighborhoods that lack canopy cover and parks become hotter, and so more dangerous during heat waves. The great majority of Portland’s population is found east of the Willamette River. Tree canopy cover is approximately 20% on our side of the river, and this rate is lower than that found in New York or Los Angeles.  The east side of Portland lacks the parks and natural areas like Forest Park that reduce heat accumulation. Westside neighborhoods have more than twice the tree cover found on the east side. 

Portland State University researchers have been working with government and community organizations to study the relationship between tree cover and heat in the environment. They mapped temperatures throughout Portland and show a correlation between increased heat and lack of trees and presence of impermeable surfaces like roads and buildings. They identified urban heat islands throughout east-side Portland, and particularly in far east Portland neighborhoods with very low tree canopy. Heat-related deaths from the ‘Heat Dome’ this past summer were concentrated in neighborhoods with low tree cover (https://www.npr.org/2020/01/14/795961381/racist-housing-practices-from-the-1930s-linked-to-hotter-neighborhoods-today).

Why we should prioritize planting native trees

Oregon native trees are adapted to local conditions including summer drought, soils and temperatures (https://www.portland.gov/trees/native-and-nuisance-trees/native-tree-list). 

Native trees provide food and shelter for wildlife such as birds and butterflies, and support for local pollinators. Oregon white oak is the only native oak species found in northern Oregon and it provides critical habitat for a number of endangered species. A major food source for nesting birds comes from the over 500 species of caterpillars that can live on oak trees.

We derive the greatest benefit by planting large-form trees such as Oregon white oak, Western red cedar and Douglas-fir. Other large-form native trees include Western hemlock, Ponderosa pine and Red alder.  Vine maple, Cascara and Western crabapple are great trees for smaller spaces. You can find more information about native trees from the Audubon Backyard Habitat Program (https://backyardhabitats.org/) and East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District (EMSWCD) (https://emswcd.org/native-plants/native-plant-benefits/).

We are fortunate in Portland to have local government and non-profit organizations that can help us get trees for our properties and provide relevant information. Portland Urban Forestry has been offering free yard trees to Portlanders for the last few years through the Yard Tree Giveaway (https://www.portland.gov/trees/tree-planting/free-trees). Although all of their trees are spoken for this year, you can sign up for notifications regarding next year’s giveaway. Friends of Trees (friendsoftrees.org), a non-profit, partners with local municipalities to plant street and yard trees for $35 or less. That cost includes the tree, transport to your home, and planting by trained volunteers. Finally, the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services offers a one-time credit on your water, sewer and stormwater bill for a tree planted in your yard through the Treebate program (https://www.portland.gov/bes/grants-incentives/about-treebate). I hope this will inspire you to plant more trees!

SAVE THE DATE: 4-13-21 RNA MEETING WITH PBOT TO DISCUSS THE 70s Greenway: Cully Connector project

This project, on NE 72nd between Sandy and Killingsworth, will provide better access for pedestrians and people biking, and reduce traffic and vehicle speeds on NE 72nd Ave. The project also includes safer crossings at busy intersections. Between NE Killingsworth Street and NE Prescott Street, new sidewalks and bicycle paths will safely connect residents to neighborhood stores, schools, and parks.

Cully Connecter

PBOT project manager, David Backes, will join the April RNA meeting to share a project overview and answer questions about the project.

The presentation will be from 7-7:40 on Zoom and precede the RNA’s general community monthly meeting. Full meeting agenda will be posted by April 6.

To learn more about the project visit https://www.portland.gov/transportation/pbot-projects/construction/70s-greenway-cully-connector

Portland’s Neighborhood Coalitions Release Citywide Covid Resource Guide

Earlier this week, Portlanders across the Metro area opened their mailboxes to find the Covid Resource Guide, a publication put out jointly by Portland’s neighborhood coalitions. Representing a combined effort among these nonprofit organizations, the Resource Guide is a wide-ranging collection of vital information to help Portlanders navigate the fallout of the Covid-19 outbreak.

[Click here to download the Covid Resource Guide]

The information in the Guide is a compendium of existing community resources that are suddenly more necessary than ever. In addition to graphics and instructions on staying safe and healthy during this crisis, it also includes a map of food pantries around Portland and instructions on how to postpone your rent payment, as well as answering simple questions about what is and isn’t allowed during the Governor’s stay-at-home order.

Many of the needs it addresses are lesser-known but just as vital. With domestic violence, mental health crises and addiction struggles on the rise in quarantined households, the Guide also provides listings of social service agencies for anyone who needs that support. “This crisis is not just about the coronavirus,” says Sylvia Bogert, Executive Director of Southwest Neighborhoods Inc (SWNI), the coalition representing Southwest Portland. “It’s how the virus exacerbates problems that already plague our communities: lack of access to food, housing instability, mental health crises and domestic violence. Our goal was to point anyone who needs it to the right organization, hotline or online portal for help with any of the problems that may arise from this situation.” 

Although Portland’s neighborhood coalitions have traditionally supported neighborhood associations, they have evolved over the years to be a one stop resource center for Portlanders, community groups and grassroots organizations looking for tools or guidance to improve their communities and access civic resources.

As the Covid crisis unfolded, the coalition directors collaborated to determine the best way to respond. They realized that the lack of access to quality information about Covid was the common denominator across the city. “We know that all of Portland’s communities have unique needs in normal times, and in this unprecedented public health crisis, we were hearing from community members that vital information just wasn’t reaching them,” says Adam Lyons, Executive Director of Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods (NECN).

Drawing upon their work publishing community newspapers, the coalitions knew that the best way to reach people is through direct mail. Adds Bogert of SWNI, “We have found that even in 2020, the most equitable and effective way of reaching all Portlanders with important information is to produce, publish and mail it straight into their homes.” 

In their goal to reach and impact as many households as possible, the Guide is bilingual in English and Spanish and includes links to other information portals in twelve different languages online. “It’s easy to take for granted that this information is easy to find, but that’s not true for everyone,” says Lyons of NECN. “When you’re in crisis, or speak a different language, or are working long hours as an essential worker, you may not have the means or the time to track this all down. Our goal with this mailer was the same as our mission everyday: to be a resource for all Portlanders to thrive in their own communities. That mission is more important now than it has ever been before.”

For Information Contact Central Northeast Neighbors

Ronda Johnson, Equity Outreach Manager

rondaj@cnncoalition.org  or by phone 503-823-2780

Code Changes Affecting Neighborhood Associations

The following is a letter drafted by the Roseway Neighborhood Association in response to the proposed “Civic Life” code changes originating from the office of Commisioner Eudaly. Here is a link to a PDF copy of the letter. The letter was approved by the board of RNA at the meeting of September 10, 2019.


September 11, 2019

Dear Mayor Wheeler and Members of Portland City Council,

We are writing to express concerns about the Code Change 3.96 proposed by the Office of Community & Civic Life.

We acknowledge the systems of oppression that have shaped Portland’s development and shut many out of decision making, and strongly support expanding civic engagement to address this disparity and elevate the voices of marginalized groups.

We acknowledge the neighborhood system as an essential route to participatory democracy and as the sole form of jurisdictional representation available to Portlanders under our commission form of government. Neighborhood associations must retain their full recognition, privileges and support.

As a Neighborhood Association, we were alarmed as we learned of Civic Life’s process mismanagement during development of revisions to Code 3.96. Civic Life provided no direct notification to neighborhood associations regarding 8 meetings and 3 draft rewrites and allowed only limited neighborhood representation on the code change committee. The bureau has struggled to follow the city’s own Public Involvement Principles. Reporting on public records revealed a troubling internal bias. Taken together, these things discredit the code change process to date and call into question Civic Life’s stated objectives.

Civic Life has advanced through this process a notion that dismantling of the neighborhood system in code is a meaningful step toward inclusion of other groups. Inviting groups to the table does not and should not require this tradeoff. Such a suggestion is unfounded. To date, Civic Life’s substantive plan for explicit inclusion of more community groups remains elusive.

Civic Life must re-orient this effort to acceptable standards and complete its process in no less than 18 months with a higher level of oversight and accountability from city leadership. Until this is accomplished, we ask that you vote NO on 3.96 as written.
Regards,

Roseway Neighborhood Association Board