United Neighborhoods for Reform issued invitations in mid-March, asking participating neighborhoods to send one or more residents to Demolition/Development Summit IV. Wanting wide public participation, according to steering committee member Al Ellis, “is looking for both neighborhood association board members and concerned neighbors to attend.”
Summit IV is scheduled for Thursday evening April 9, 7-9 p.m. at Bethany Lutheran Church, 4330 N.E. 37th Ave., and is aimed at reviewing progress made at two City Council hearings – one in December 2014, the other in February 2015 – on a resolution presented in testimony to the Council.
In the spring of 2014 at Summit I, small groups of neighborhood activists from around the city met to explore how they might form a grass-roots organization uniting neighborhood associations to persuade Portland’s City Council to address problems associated with what was described as “a growing demolition epidemic.”
While demolition of what Ellis described as “viable, affordable homes – sometimes replaced by one or more expensive structures” continued, neighborhood association leaders and concerned residents from over 25 neighborhoods met in the fall of 2014 for Summit II and Summit III. In these meetings, they resolved to foster building code reforms to stem the “drive-by demolition” tide and established UNR with this mission.
A volunteer committee formed at Summit III drafted the resolution based on participants’ input, and work was completed by November 2014 on a one-page resolution that the committee referred to Portland’s 90+ neighborhood associations for endorsement. Committee members attended as many neighborhood meetings as possible to field questions and concerns, resulting in more than 30 neighborhoods endorsing the resolution and the City Council holding hearings on the issue.