Franklin High School Renovation Raises Controversy

benjiSaturday morning more than 100 staff, teachers, students and community members took part in what was billed as a "Schematic Design Workshop" for the new Franklin High School. Franklin is undergoing a "full modernization" as a result of the $482 million school facilities bond measure approved by voters in 2012.

As it turned out, however, the event was less a workshop than a town hall in which dozens of attendees voiced complaints about the allocation of classroom space under the new design.

At issue was the proposed design's reliance on shared, flexible classroom space, rather than on dedicated classrooms assigned to specific teachers.

In sometimes emotional comments, teachers and students talked about the impacts of moving teachers and teaching materials from room to room, moving desks, and removing materials from walls and blackboards each period, which teachers said would impact instructional time and their ability to build relationships with their students. (more…)

Summit Recap – Building Opportunity in Southeast: Foster’s Small Business Roundtable

By way of follow-up to February 15th's Foster Summit event, we've asked a couple of the attendees to share a summary of topics and ideas from the breakout session they attended. We will publish these, along with the 'butcher paper' notes in the weeks to come.

Mandy Isaacs did all of us a solid by stepping in at the last minute to lead our small business roundtable --thanks again Mands! She's also one of the organizers of Foster Small Business, where she's been helping to launch the Foster Street Card.

Were you were there? What did Mandy miss? Even if you couldn't attend the event, we hope you'll share your take on these important community issues.

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No time was wasted in the small business roundtable at the Foster Summit. Participants came with questions, ideas and announcements ready to go!

We had a great discussion on connecting with property owners of vacant storefronts and rundown buildings. In hopes of encouraging improvements that would appeal to potential new businesses, we could enlighten owners about existing incentives. There was also mention of creating new incentives that are appropriate for our business community.

It's understood that improvements can be costly and time consuming. Connecting building owners to available grants or PDC funding programs for storefront improvements and treescaping could ease this process. There is also a possible opportunity here for the community to form a volunteer labor crew to assist in completing these projects.


Summit Recap – Arts, Culture and Community

By way of follow-up to February 15th's Foster Summit event, we've asked a couple of the attendees to share a summary of topics and ideas from the breakout session they attended. We will publish these, along with the 'butcher paper' notes in the weeks to come. (Sorry, no butcher paper notes for this one.)

Meg McHutchison participated in the discussion on ways to use the arts to create community in the Foster Road area, and she graciously agreed to share her notes on that discussion. Meg is a familiar face in the area, as a board member of both the Foster-Powell neighborhood and Performance Works Northwest, and as one of the prime movers in making the Foster Summit happen. Meg is the Creative Producer at the innovative Northwest design and marketing firm Gigantic Planet.

Were you were there? What did Meg miss? Even if you couldn't attend the event, we hope you'll share your take on these important community issues.

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It was a lively discussion among the participants of the Arts and Culture breakout session.

There are a number of new projects happening along the Foster Corridor and a number of themes that need further exploration and investment from the community.


Upgrading Powell Boulevard


Hot on the heels of the Foster Road streetscape planning is a proposed transit improvement project on another neighborhood main street. Called the Powell/Division Transit and Development Project, the plan aims to identify "robust" transit improvements between Portland and Gresham along a Powell Boulevard/Division Street alignment.

All signs are pointing to this being a relatively small transit upgrade. While theoretically, light rail, dedicated bus lanes and other major changes are on the table for discussion, the project is seeking upgrades "that can be built in five to seven years."  This short time frame indicates that major upgrades involving lane reconfiguration, curb adjustment, or installing rail are extremely unlikely.

Even so, if your vision of a future Powell Blvd involves light rail, parking, protected bike lanes or dedicated bus lanes then this is the time to let them know it.

TONIGHT: Steering committee and community gathering

Feb. 27, 6 to 7:30 p.m., PCC Southeast Center

Get to know the steering committee members and each other by joining us at the first gathering for the Powell-Division project.

There are three main questions to answer:


Initial concepts indicate a route would travel along Powell Boulevard to 82nd, go north to Division and resume eastbound travel from there. But this isn't set in stone. 82nd is a congested, constrained street - would it be easier to travel to Division in the vicinity of I-205? Is it better to shift to Division farther west, around 50th?

Station Areas and Redevelopment

Where should new development go to support these transit upgrades? Are those parking lots along Powell (leftover parcels from the original Mt. Hood Freeway proposal) potential sites for new commercial or mixed use development?

Transit Type

While major transit projects in Portland tend to be Light Rail. The insiders are pointing to Bus Rapid Transit (basically, an upgraded bus line) being the preferred option for the Powell/Division project.

If BRT is selected the degree to which the line gets priority treatments like a dedicated bus lane are to be determined.

 Download the Project Fact Sheet to learn more.

Summit Recap – Foster’s Built Environment: Streets, Sidewalks and Beyond

By way of follow-up to February 15th's Foster Summit event, we've asked a couple of the attendees to share a summary of topics and ideas from the breakout session they attended. We will publish these, along with the 'butcher paper' notes in the weeks to come.

Today we've asked Mike Caputo, who facilitated our discussion of transportation infrastructure, to contribute his thoughts on the discussion that took place. Mike is a founder of the innovative company What Would You Like to See?, which uses crowdsourcing to bring the public into the process of creating the next generation of our built environment.

Were you were there? What did Mike miss? Even if you couldn't attend the event, we hope you'll share your take on these important community issues.

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fostersummit_348The built environment is something that impacts us all in a myriad of ways. Buildings, streets, and sidewalks do not change often – careful consideration should go into their creation, because they will impact an area for decades or more.

In the Foster-Powell, Lents and Mt. Scott-Arleta areas, pedestrians, motorists, and bicyclists all have a number of issues that the community is trying to address together. These are issues that have accumulated over a long period of time; and though they will take time and energy to address, the communities involved are prepared to roll up their proverbial sleeves and take action to improve their surroundings.


Book Reading Tonight: From Animal House to Our House



Seeing as we are neighborhoods full of old houses and renovations, tonight's book reading is sure to resonate with our neighbors.  

February 24th 6:30 pm at Holgate Library  

Award-winning writer and DIY expert Ron Tanner will offer a comic monologue about his funny, heart-warming book From Animal House to Our House: A Love Story. Combining romance with history and humor, Tanner tells the true story of how he and his wife bought condemned property -- a wrecked former frat house -- and restored it to its original Victorian splendor. They knew nothing about fixing up houses when they started. Tanner's talk includes an impressive slide show.

See the event listing at the Holgate Library website

Foster United is always looking to expand our efforts to cover the events and goings on in the Foster neighborhoods. We'd love to reinstitute our events calendar, but we need help. If you're the kind of person that likes to stay in the know and would like to join our team please contact us at

This Week: Get Your Green On!

smokestackWhat's more important than passing on a healthier planet to our kids and their kids? This week there are two pretty easy ways to help do just that.

Neighbors for Clean Air has looked at state data and found that right here in Portland there are 17 cancer-causing toxics that exceed health based standards from 10 up to 800 times.

The group has been working with local communities, state regulators and elected officials to reduce the toxic emissions that impact the health of every Portlander every day.

Tonight, Neighbors for Clean Air is hosting a public meeting to talk about real, practical ways that people at the neighborhood level can identify polluters and get them to reduce the toxics they're putting into our air.

That meeting takes place tonight, at the SE Uplift office, 3534 SE Main, from 6 to 7:30 pm.

Closer to home, the Foster-Powell Community Garden is putting out a call for help this weekend.

The garden is getting a shipment of native plants on Saturday, and they need help building the retaining wall and dirt hill where the new plants will go.

Their "Fill the Hill" work party event happens Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm. Organizers say they'd LOVE to see some new neighbors come out to help --and as an extra incentive they say that this weekend's volunteers will get to the front of the line when garden beds become available this spring.

The Community Garden is located at the southwest corner of 62nd and Powell. For more info, email them at


Mount Tabor’s Maple Entrance: Neighbors Ask for Long-Delayed Southern Park Access

tabor_2Mount Tabor Park is indisputably one of Portland’s crown jewels, a stunning ancient volcanic cone that’s home to some of the most beautiful forest, wildlife and views the city has to offer.

Initially proposed by the famous Olmstead Brothers, the pioneering designers of many of the nation’s great parks, Mt. Tabor is one of the most popular parks in the city.

Beginning as a Water Bureau facility –which it still is, in part –the park was designed by one of Portland’s first Parks directors, the landscape architect Emanuel Tillman Mische, in 1929. Mische began his career with the Olmsteads before coming to Oregon, where he was part of the team that created Crater Lake National Park, among many other iconic northwest parks.

Within Portland Parks and Recreation’s designation system, Mt. Tabor is a “metropolitan park,” meaning it is intended to serve the citizens of the entire city. And residents to the west, north and east have easy access to its charms.

Those to the south, not so much.

But it wasn’t supposed to be that way. Mische’s original park plan included the “Maple Entrance,” a major park entryway from the south at Division and 64th Avenue. (more…)

The Best of Lents

LPDCIn case you missed it, the most recent Willamette Week featured a scathing review of the PDC’s performance in Lents when it comes to the success of urban renewal efforts. In “Razed and Confused,” they explored a list of failure after failure of misplaced priorities, what they call the “Cockroach Plaza”, and half-baked, half-executed ideas. The article is eye opening to the challenges of the last 15 years.

But in their effort to slam the PDC, I worry that they’ve inadvertently included Lents itself in the line of fire. In truth, there is a lot of good happening in Lents, and almost all of it was left out of the WWEEK narrative. The following list is meant to highlight some of the great things that have happened in Lents.