02-19-2017  8:07 pm      •     


There's a "vibe" on Northeast Alberta Street that wasn't there 10 years ago. It's changing from being a street of vacant buildings and marginal businesses to becoming an avenue of edgier restaurants and boutiques with a population as diverse as its shops.
For 76 percent of the business operators responding to a survey released this month, change is good.
But, while most of those doing business on the street say it is better than five or 10 years ago, some worry that success may force them out, according to the survey, which was conducted by Portland State University sociology students in the university's master's degree program.
"There's a concern among the 'alternative' folks that fancier and fancier restaurants are coming in," said Daniel Monroe Sullivan, associate professor of sociology at PSU. "There are more upscale, expensive places now."
Among African American business owners, there was a feeling that "even if they're not being pushed out, there's a loss of the Black community," Sullivan added. "Maybe they are looking at Last Thursday (a monthly open-gallery event) and the arts thing as Whites taking over the neighborhood."
Sullivan conducted the survey class in May 2005 and taught 11 students how to conduct face-to-face interviews. Of the 126 businesses and organizations identified on Alberta between Northeast 11th and 30th avenues, the students interviewed the operators of 88 businesses for a 92-percent response rate. Each interview lasted 15 minutes.
Sullivan released the survey results this month.
"The best thing is that a lot of people on Alberta Street want to be on Alberta Street," Sullivan said. "There's a certain vibe there — they say, 'We don't want to be another Pearl District.' "
But, he added, communication needs to improve among the businesses and organizations.
"There does seem to be a genuine desire to have diversity and for long-term businesses and organizations to stay on the street," he said. "But without some effective, collective organization that takes action to help them, the street is going to get Whiter, or it's not going to have a heavy African American presence. And it probably will get wealthier as well.
"If they're not communicating, it's going to be harder to preserve any kind of diversity. There will always be some kind of diversity, but it will be less and less," Sullivan added.
Two-thirds those responding to the survey said they liked the addition of more businesses, more new and renovated buildings and more people living in the neighborhood. Others said they felt safer, that crime was less and the area had a better image than five years ago.
But 15 percent of the respondents said rents were becoming too high, and 15 percent also voiced concern about declining diversity. Black respondents "tend to believe that there are more problems on Alberta Street than do Whites, Latinos, multiracial and other races," the survey said.
About 64 percent of African American respondents said that "police not caring" is a problem while 28 percent of other respondents saw it as a concern. Tension between different racial or ethnic groups also was a problem, according to 79 percent of the African American respondents, compared to 45 percent of the respondents of other races.
Those figures were even higher among businesses with mostly African American clientele: 79 percent of those businesses cited the "police not caring" problem, and 89 percent of those business cited tension between different racial or ethnic groups as concerns.
Of those who answered the survey, 69 percent have mostly White customers, while 11 percent have mostly African American clientele.
Other problems receiving high marks as "serious" among all the respondents were:
• Vandalism and graffiti: 42 percent
• Not enough affordable space: 33 percent
• Trash in the streets: 23 percent
• Drug dealing: 20.5 percent
Although Alberta Street is emerging as an arts center in Northeast Portland — the term "Alberta Arts" allegedly was coined by a real estate agent several years ago, according to Sullivan — the "arts factor" is not universally accepted nor appreciated by some on the street. Only half of those answering the survey said the term was accurate; another 27 percent said it was inaccurate and 23 percent didn't offer an opinion.
One African American business manager "strongly disagreed" with the term, and other business owners lamented that the artists who originally inhabited the neighborhood were being priced out of it.
Questions about "Last Thursday" showed that only about 36 percent of the African American respondents were likely to view the monthly evening of art activities and special business offerings positively, while 71 percent of Whites, Latinos or other racial groups approved of it. Only 22 percent of businesses with a mostly African American clientele liked Last Thursdays.
Business ownership also played a factor. While more than 80 percent agreed that Last Thursday is good for their businesses, for the street as a whole and for the neighborhood, a breakdown occurred between building owners and renters. Renters viewed Last Thursday more positively than owners, and those who have operated in the neighborhood for more than 20 years and those who are concerned about being displaced are less likely to appreciate Last Thursday.
Those who do like Last Thursday say the neighborhood has improved dramatically and they are proud of what has been accomplished. They say they see increased sales on Last Thursday and that Alberta Street has become a "destination place" for Portlanders who live outside of the neighborhood.
But others say Last Thursday is too crowded and that it has become a "freak show." Some African American business managers said they didn't see much offered for African Americans to become involved.
The survey offered a few surprises, Sullivan said.
"I expected to see more differences between people who owned their buildings and those who rent them, but, for the most part, that wasn't the case," he said. "I expected to see people who were involved in the arts more enthusiastic about Alberta Street than those who were not involved in the arts, but that wasn't the case either."
Sullivan, who lives in the neighborhood, said he watches the activities in the neighborhood as he sips coffee in one of the street's coffee shops or while he buys groceries in a local market. He said he is concerned about the number of dogs tied up in front of businesses and worries that some people who might otherwise enjoy strolling down the sidewalk along Alberta avoid the street because they fear the dogs.
Otherwise, Sullivan said, he enjoys observing Northeast Alberta Street undergo its transformation.
"Things have changed so much since we took the survey 18 months ago," he said. "I don't think it will stay the same."

Recently Published by The Skanner News

  • Default
  • Title
  • Date
  • Random
  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
    Read More
  • FDR executive order sent 120,000 Japanese immigrants and citizens into camps
    Read More
  • Pruitt's nomination was strongly opposed by environmental groups and hundreds of former EPA employees
    Read More
load morehold SHIFT key to load allload all
Oregon Lottery
Carpentry Professionals
Calendar

PHOTO GALLERY

Reed College Jobs
His Eye is on the Sparrow