The fire alarms sounded this evening. Occupants of the building gathered in the courtyard awaiting the arrival of the firemen. Within a few minutes, firemen were on scene checking the building carefully as we waited in the chill and light rain. The alarms continued for quite a while before they were finally turned off. After about one-half hour, firemen announced that it was safe to go back into the building, that no fire was found, and no explanation for the alarms going off was determined.
The last time the fire alarms went off was July 28, 2009. At that time some equipment in the attic got too hot and set off the fire alarm. On that day we also gathered in the courtyard for about 30 minutes, and on that day the outdoor temperature was a record-breaking 106 degrees.
Thirty minutes every few years, whether it is 48 degrees and raining or 106 degrees in the shade, seems reasonable for a fire drill. The system works.
Car2go has hit the streets of Portland. Already spotted on the streets of downtown, car2go is sponsoring a free event this weekend, March 31 and April 1, at Pioneer Courthouse Square. Cars filled the Square, and from the number on display, it seems likely that these tiny white and blue vehicles will soon be a common sight around town.
From their website:
car2go Portland has simple and attractive by-the-minute rates, so you only pay for what you use. At just 35 cents per minute, members enjoy fuel, parking, mileage, insurance, maintenance, cleaning, GPS navigation, 24/7 customer support service and roadside assistance at no extra cost. Your usage is billed daily to your credit card, so you never have to worry about finding cash.
The more you drive, the cheaper it gets. One hour costs a maximum of $12.99, and one day (up to 24 hours) is no more than $65.99.
Two trees have fallen in our neighborhood in the past 10 days. The first, an elm estimated to be 100 years old, fell on March 21st at SW Park Avenue and Jefferson near the Portland Art Museum, just a few blocks from our home. A woman walking along SW Park was knocked to the ground by the falling tree and suffered a fractured clavicle. St. James Lutheran Church sustained damage including some broken stained glass windows while 80 preschool children played unharmed inside.
Photo by KATU news.
A second tree fell today, this one even closer to us. An elm tree again, this one fell at SW Park Avenue and Clay Street just caddy corner to the northwest corner of our building. A parked car was crushed by the tree and an apartment building sustained some broken windows.
Photo by KOIN news.
Arborists have cited coincidence for the two fallen trees. In the first case, root fungus was deemed to be the cause, and in the second the recent heavy rains saturating the trees has been cited as the cause.
Somebody posted one page from a multipage newsletter belonging to the American Plaza Towers Condominium on the bulletin board in our lobby today. American Plaza Towers is nearby on SW First Avenue. Their complex is composed of three tall towers and includes lots of amenities like swimming pools, onsite management, onsite security, guest parking and much more. Many units have wonderful panoramic views of the West Hills and other areas of Portland. Although they are farther from the downtown core, they are on the streetcar line, and the city’s core shopping district is still available.
The one page that was pinned to our bulletin board was headed “Faulty Towers.” This apparently is a regular newsletter feature and lists all reported problems at American Plaza Towers and how those problems were addressed. Presumably it was the person who pinned the page that highlighted some “concerning” reports and then wrote across the bottom “and you thought we had problems!!!” Frankly, considering the size of the American Plaza Towers population, those highlighted incidents seemed few and rather trivial.
That page and its comment prompted me to learn more. A little googling found an old 12-page American Plaza Tower newsletter from September 2008 which I read in its entirety. From there, I also found an extensive website as well as an affiliated realtor’s website, all of which included condo documents, board news, events and on and on.
From their website, American Plaza Towers Condominium Association is planning for their upcoming annual meeting. This is treated as an event worthy of planning and publicity. They have a nominating committee that handles the elections to the board. They recommend that candidates for a board position meet the following three simple requirements:
- lived at AP for at least 1 year in a primary residence,
- served on committees and shown leadership and communication skills
- committed to the time necessary to serve.
From a marketability standpoint, American Plaza Towers is our competition. Some of the things they do could be implemented here and would serve to improve livability while boosting marketability. We could learn from their newsletter and their website. Those two things alone do more for marketability than all the decorating we can pay for!
The effects of the Occupy Portland protest movement and its demands for political and economic change remain unknown to date. The effects on just one park, Chapman Square, are evident now, six months later, as the park continues to undergo restoration.
A man was standing near the entry gate to our building as we approached. He seemed out of place. Most striking was how he seemed to intentionally avoid eye contact. He was tall and thin and somewhat disheveled, his hair was in disarray and greasy-looking. He stood awkwardly, looking about yet looking nowhere. We proceeded in our normal fashion, swiped our access card, and passed through the secure gate and on into the building. This man moved immediately into place behind us and followed us into the building. We went to the staircase and observed that he walked through the lobby, perhaps to the elevator, relieved that he did not follow us further.
That was a week or so ago. We had not seen him again and did not give him any more thought, until today.
As we entered the lobby from the stairwell today, this stranger emerged from the elevator. He was wearing the same clothes he had worn at our previous encounter. Again he avoided eye contact as he went over to the bulletin board. Our backs were to him as we went through our mail but we were aware of his presence. Glancing back over my shoulder, I could see he was watching us as he pretended to be looking at the bulletin board. We did not dally.
The membership has been instructed to confront anyone trying to enter our building without access key/card by gently denying such access. Especially n this case, I would not dare! Then again, perhaps the stranger lives here!
The new secure bike room has been completed. The room is in a quiet corner of the garage, unmarked for security purposes. It has been decided that rent is $60 per year, nonrefundable. There are 15 spaces. Notices were posted declaring the availability of rental spaces.
We were told that there was great demand for these private storage spots and that filling the room would be no problem at all. In fact, a lottery was designed to ensure fairness in renting the units on a first-come first-serve basis. The bicycle committee had conducted a study that reportedly revealed great interest. Storage space has been a problem with the existing overcrowded bike room. Policy had even been implemented by our board overriding bylaws to permit storage of bicycles on balconies.
After several weeks of active recruitment to rent out those premium spaces, it seems only nine spots have been claimed. Forty percent of the newly created space remains available.
At last night’s meeting, it was decided that bike policy permitting bicycle storage on balconies would be no more. Policy deleted. Warning letters will soon go out to owners in violation of bylaws.
Initially there was talk of additional bike storage space being made available in the Clay Street garage. It was crucial that such space be made available, we were told, and that it would be made available to all without fees or restrictions. Location had been decided, design had been discussed, and costs had been determined (considerably less costly than its private storage room counterpart). A reliable source recently stated that the board was not going forth with this plan.
Apparently not all of the board members have been updated. At last night’s board meeting, one board member suggested the board should wait on the above action until the additional “free” bicycle storage space is available. In usual fashion, he was simply ignored.
So much ado about bikes. One can only wonder why.
A reader suggested I tweet board meetings. It has been done before – not here, not now, not by me. It probably goes on all the time. Had I done so at last night’s meeting of the board of directors, tweets would have looked something like this:
Blog post coming soon!
Director Park was home to a brass band this afternoon. I can only imagine the weight of a tuba having never held one. These tubas danced to the music as if they were made of gold foil. The lively music filled the air for blocks around. Quite the performance.
All owners of property within the City of Portland were sent a mailer announcing an upcoming public hearing regarding a proposed Education Urban Renewal Area (EDURA) project. According to a map of the proposed expansion of the education district (see map below), our condo would be included in the EDURA. According to the Portland Development Commission, “The district is projected to provide up to $169 million for investment in educational facilities, business accelerators, affordable housing, and private development.”
A public hearing will be held:
Information is available at the website of the Portland Development Commission at
Our HOA welcomes the Emergency Tooth Doctor. Dr. Thomas Pham, DMD, is preparing to open his third location, this one in our building. His practice will be located in the commercial unit next to the 7-Eleven. The unit is now undergoing remodeling with opening planned for August.
Dr. Pham boasts emergency tooth care with same day service. His website reports office hours seven days a week with hours available to 9 p.m. on most nights.
Our mayor is not seeking reelection. Twenty-three people have tossed their hats in the ring to fill the vacancy. It is a rather interesting group vying for the position. Among the candidates are two individuals with criminal records: Tre Arrow, an environmentalist activist, who pled guilty in 2008 to two charges of arson and just recently was arrested on charges of domestic violence, and Cameron Whitten, age 20, a leader in the theoretically leaderless Occupy Portland movement who has been arrested numerous times for his activities in connection with the movement. Portland city code allows residents with criminal records to run for the office of Mayor.
Other candidates include two community college students, a manager of a Red Robin restaurant, several candidates linked to cashiering, management, or ownership of convenience stores, a “single, disabled homemaker,” and a taxi driver, among others. There appears to be a few candidates in the mix with at least some political background or relevant experience. We can hope that Portland does not show its “weird” side on election day.
My growing collection of unwanted paper products needed a place to be. Being a responsible citizen, I opted to bite the bullet and bring it to the recycle bins in the garage. I was not pleased to have to go to the new location, but did so anyway. To my surprise, the recycle containers for paper and plastic were moved again. Now they were back in their original place. Gentle readers, not for even an instant did I think that my opinions expressed here effected a result. Rather I knew explanation was available somewhere.
A little investigation revealed that the cans were not supposed to have been moved. Someone had moved all of the paper and plastic collection bins to the new location without authorization. According to a reliable source, the second location is limited common area earmarked for other purposes. I was also informed that collecting paper in that second area presents a fire hazard.
Although plans for a caged area for bicycle storage in the current recycle area had been discussed in detail by the board of directors at a meeting several months ago and such plans might have explained the relocation of recycle receptacles, it seems such plans have since been abandoned.
And so the recycle containers continue to be moved. There are about 8 or 10, each on wheels. They have all been moved from here to there and back again between the two locations, and apparently more than once each way, as a battle continues. Neither side knows the identity of the other. Why the cans are being moved remains a mystery.
To make way for more bicycles, the recycle area has been moved! The recycle containers for plastic and paper are now located further inside the Clay Street garage, away from the collection sites for cardboard and glass, now in a dark area, without benefit of overhead lighting.
Our board of directors has demonstrated their view of lighting in and around our building over and over again as unnecessary. They have exchanged bright fluorescent lighting over unit entry doors with diminished harsh lighting, eliminated more than 50% of the stairwell lighting, and now have moved a well trafficked recycle area into darkness.
I went to deposit my recycle trash today and discovered the move to darkness. I shudder to think what lurks in a dark area of a dank garage where garbage is collected. Sadly, I will no longer be recycling.
Miner's hat? Flashlights? Candles? Bring your own lighting.
I am not a window expert. I open windows, I close windows, I decorate windows. I prefer aluminum framework and casings to wood to keep maintenance to a minimum. Only once have we replaced a window in any of our homes; we found the bullet hole in a kitchen window to be unappealing.
When we first moved to this unit, I had a discussion with a board member, one who no longer serves, about windows. I expressed my surprise at how drafty the windows are in our unit. He told me then that once I install drapes and other window cover-ups, we would not have those drafts. There was no hint that replacing windows would be an answer (or even an option).
A few years later, unit owners began installing sound-proofing windows. First one unit owner requested approval from the board, then another. Not long after that, the board sanctioned one window company for window replacements, and so began a steady trickle of owners replacing windows.
Then the building committee recommended that all common area windows be replaced. “It’s a funded item,” the building committee reported, ensuring no argument. We were told that some windows needed replacement now (I did not quite catch the reason) and others would follow, so it was recommended that all common area windows be replaced now. I believe the number is 22 or 24.
I do not know what determines the need to replace a window. I have not heard of any broken, cracked, warped, misshapen, misaligned, or corroded windows or parts. I have heard only of minor leaks or drafts – the stuff I was told just a few years ago simply needed some fabric decoration. Nevertheless, today and tomorrow (and every bone in my body hopes we are done tomorrow) all of the common area windows throughout the building are being replaced.
It is wintertime. It is cold and rainy and windy outdoors. With all these windows being replaced, it is cold indoors, too – bone-chilling cold! Could we not have waited for spring?