05-23-2018  3:43 pm      •     
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NEWS BRIEFS

Mississippi Avenue Giving Tuesday

On Tuesday, May 22, 10 percent of proceeds from participating Mississippi Ave. businesses will go to SEI ...

Raina Croff to Speak at Architectural Heritage Center

'When the Landmarks are Gone: Older African Americans, Place, and Change in N/NE Portland’ describes SHARP Walking Program ...

Portland Playhouse Presents August Wilson’s ‘Fences’ Through June 10

May 20 performance will include discussion on mental health; June 10 performance will be followed by discussion of fatherhood ...

Peggy Houston-Shivers Presents Benefit Concert for Allen Temple CME

Concert to take place May 20 at Maranatha Church ...

Lawmakers hold hearing to discuss Oregon dairy's downfall

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon lawmakers are asking questions about what went wrong with a large dairy that is facing a lawsuit, regulatory problems and bankruptcy in an effort to find ways to prevent a similar situation in the future.The Senate Interim Committee on Environment and Natural...

Editorials from around Oregon

Selected editorials from Oregon newspapers:_____The Oregonian/OregonLive, May 23, on rebuilding faith in police oversight board:Derek Ashton, an attorney representing former Portland Police Chief Larry O'Dea, didn't mince words in criticizing a committee's recommendation that O'Dea lose his police...

Tanker spills 3,500 gallons of liquid asphalt near Cle Elum

CLE ELUM, Wash. (AP) — Officials say a tanker rolled spilling about 3,500 gallons of liquid asphalt as it was taking an exit off Interstate 90 near Cle Elum.KOMO-TV reports the incident happened Wednesday when the tanker took the exit and went off the shoulder.The Washington State Patrol...

Amazon, Starbucks pledge money to repeal Seattle head tax

SEATTLE (AP) — Amazon, Starbucks, Vulcan and others have pledged more than 0,000 toward repealing Seattle's newly passed tax on large employers.The Seattle City Council on May 14 unanimously passed the so-called head tax that will charge businesses making at least million in gross...

OPINION

Prime Minister Netanyahu Shows Limits of Israel’s Democracy

Bill Fletcher, Jr. on racial politics in Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s uneven treatment of African immigrants ...

Golfing While Black Is Not a Crime

Grandview Golf Club asks five Black women to leave for golfing too slow ...

Discovering the Best of Black America in 2018

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis discusses the DTU Journalism Fellowship & Scholarship Program ...

Will Israel’s Likud Party Ever Respect the Rights of Palestinians?

Bill Fletcher weighs in on the precarious future of the two-state solution between the Israeli government and the Palestinian people ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Video of Bucks guard's arrest in Milwaukee to be released

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Milwaukee police are poised to release body camera footage Wednesday from the officers who used a stun gun on NBA Bucks guard Sterling Brown during a January arrest.The release comes as city officials who've viewed the videos have expressed concern about how officers...

Offshore worker alleges bias in federal lawsuit

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — An African-American offshore oil worker has filed a federal lawsuit saying he was intimidated on the job by a supervisor who drew a picture of him dangling from a high rig structure while surrounded by co-workers in Ku Klux Klan hats.The lawsuit claims the worker was...

Comedian Josh Denny not sorry about N-word tweets

NEW YORK (AP) — Comedian and Food Network host Josh Denny has called his tweets using the N-word and comparing use of "straight white male" to the racial slur as "very incendiary," but he said he's not sorry.The host of "Ginormous Food" appeared on Van Lathan's podcast "The Red Pill" on...

ENTERTAINMENT

Deadliest Catch' star pleads guilty to misdemeanor assault

SEATTLE (AP) — Celebrity crab-boat captain Sig Hansen has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge that he spat on an Uber driver last year in Seattle.The Seattle Times reports (https://bit.ly/2s3scWE) the 52-year-old "Deadliest Catch" star pleaded guilty Wednesday.Under the plea deal, a...

Lawyer: Harvey Weinstein targeted by federal prosecutors

WASHINGTON (AP) — Harvey Weinstein's lawyer said in a court filing that federal prosecutors in New York have launched a criminal investigation into the film producer, in addition to a previously disclosed probe by the Manhattan District Attorney.Attorney Benjamin Brafman said in a...

Comedian Josh Denny not sorry about N-word tweets

NEW YORK (AP) — Comedian and Food Network host Josh Denny has called his tweets using the N-word and comparing use of "straight white male" to the racial slur as "very incendiary," but he said he's not sorry.The host of "Ginormous Food" appeared on Van Lathan's podcast "The Red Pill" on...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

BE MINE: Maker of candy hearts, Necco Wafers sold at auction

BOSTON (AP) — The bankrupt 171-year-old candy maker known for its chalky Necco Wafers and those little...

Estimated 7,000 bodies may be buried at former asylum

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Stand or stay out of sight: NFL takes on anthem protesters

ATLANTA (AP) — NFL owners approved a new policy Wednesday aimed at quelling the firestorm over national...

French government orders evacuation of Paris migrant camps

PARIS (AP) — Police are preparing to dismantle makeshift camps holding close to 2,500 migrants in the...

2 patients who fled Ebola ward among the dead in Congo

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Two infected patients who fled from an Ebola treatment center in a Congo city of 1.2...

Summits give aged North Korean spies hope of returning home

GWANGJU, South Korea (AP) — He's spent nearly six decades trapped on enemy soil, surviving 29 years in a...

Church demolition
Arashi Young of The Skanner News

A demolition crew moved to tear down one of the last remaining walls of a 111-year-old church last month in the King neighborhood of Northeast Portland. The front boom of the excavator knocked the wall outside the protective fencing.

Onlookers gasped as the side of the building fell and bounced against the power lines. A YouTube video of the blunder circulated on social media, becoming a flash point for discontent about hazardous demolitions.

A poster mocking construction regulation agencies seen around town and in the Facebook group “Stop Demolishing Portland,” accuses the Bureau of Development Services, the Department of Environmental Quality and the Oregon Health Authority of being negligent overseers of development hazards.

Neighbors are increasingly concerned about the safety of demolitions in their communities and have been asking for more accountability from regulators.

The trouble is – finding the right person to talk to can require multiple calls to multiple government offices.

In the process of writing this story, The Skanner News spoke with six government agencies: the Bureau of Development Services, the Oregon Health Authority, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Portland Police Bureau and the Environmental Protection Agency.  

Dealing with construction hazards is further complicated by regulatory loopholes. One example is lead paint, which is not regulated in full demolitions of residences. Similarly, asbestos has strict disposal standards, but enforcement of those rules depend on voluntary asbestos audits.   

 

Who do you call?

Reporting an unsafe demolition is not a user-friendly process. While government enforcement bureaus offer complaint lines, it can be a trial to determine which agency regulates what hazard.

Michael Liefeld with the enforcement program of the Portland Bureau of Development Services said there is no “one-stop-shop” for citizen complaints. The department enforces state and city building codes through building permits.

Dangers such as the church wall falling down would involve multiple agencies, according to Liefeld. It is “not necessarily” a building code violation according to BDS, but it could be a work safety violation – which would then involve the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Since the wall fell outside of the perimeter and posed a public safety danger, it would be appropriate to call 9-1-1, according to Pete Simpson, Portland Police Bureau public information officer.

Liefeld said even more agencies could be involved. If the roadway was blocked, the Portland Bureau of Transportation would be responsible. Since the wall balanced on the utility lines, the utility company would be involved as well, he said.

 Liefeld acknowledges that it can be confusing to know who is responsible and says that part of his work at the enforcement program is to steer people to the right agency.

 “We get all kinds of inquiries, so if it’s something outside our jurisdiction we can refer people to other city agencies or outside agencies to have their concerns addressed and figure out how to get help on things,” Liefeld said.

 

Carcinogenic loopholes

Lead paint and asbestos are often considered as similar construction dangers, but the two substances are regulated by two different agencies.

The Oregon Health Authority is responsible for lead paint; asbestos is regulated by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

Asbestos is required to be abated -- which means wetting, bagging and dumping it at a disposal site certified to receive asbestos waste.

DEQ requires all commercial, industrial and residential homes with more than four units to have a survey done to determine if there is asbestos present, said Audrey O’Brien, program manager at Oregon DEQ.

Single-dwelling homes do not require an asbestos survey, although DEQ recommends they be done. This leaves a loophole where people are required to abate asbestos if present, but they aren’t required to actually check for it.

The lead paint rules followed by the Oregon Health Authority and the Construction Contractors Board stem from EPA rules. The enforcement of proper lead paint disposal is outlined in the EPA’s Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) Rule. This policy covers the types of housing likely to have lead, contractor certification requirements and the creation of a lead-safe workplace.

According to the EPA, the RRP rule does not cover demolitions, only renovations. If one half of a building was being torn down, the lead-safe rules would apply. But if the entire building was demolished, the RRP rules would not.

OSHA requires the demolition crews that work around lead paint and asbestos be protected from harm, but those protections do not carry over to neighbors.

Ben Maynard, an environmental health specialist with OHA, said lead paint dust is still a health hazard even in a demolition.

“The exemption from the rule is a problem,” Maynard said. “It's under-regulated and agencies are working on this issue.”

Most recently, Oregon Senate Bill 705 was supposed to direct OHA to complete a study and report on the demolition of residential structures that may contain lead-based paint and asbestos. In a later version of the bill, OHA’s responsibility and lead paint requirements were dropped.

The new legislation empowers the Environmental Quality Commission to require contractors to perform asbestos surveys on homes prior to demolition.

 

Filing a complaint

As agencies, BDS, OHA, DEQ, OSHA, operate through a “complaint-driven process.” They do not go out looking for construction violations, but rely on complaints to be filed before starting an investigation.

When calling in a complaint, it is helpful to have information such as the address and a description of the work being done. It is also useful to have pictures of the code violations and to call in the complaints as soon as one sees them.

Liefeld said it is important for people to call if they have questions or concerns. BDS also lists the kinds of code violations they enforce on their website.

“There's no harm in calling the city, its free, we enjoy calls, we're here to serve, we don't know what's going on until people who call us and let us know what's going on or what concerns they see out there,” he said.

 

VIOLATION OF BUILDING CODES: The Bureau of Development Services is concerned with unpermitted work and compliance of the city and state building codes. To report code violations to BDS:

  • Use the online reporting form or Call 503-823-CODE (2633)
  • Visit Site Services staff in person at 1900 SW 4th Ave. Suite 5000, Portland OR 97201. Ask for Site Services staff at 5th floor reception between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
  • Send a letter to Site Services, 1900 SW 4th Ave. Suite 5000, Portland OR 97201

ASBESTOS: The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality regulates asbestos issues. To file a complaint with DEQ:

LEAD PAINT: The Oregon Health Authority is responsible for lead-based paint rules around renovation, repair and painting -- they do not regulate lead-based paint in demolitions. If you have a concern with renovation and lead paint, contact the Construction Contractor Board if the crew is licensed by the CCB:

  • Construction Contractor Board Web: www.oregon.gov/CCB
  • Phone: CCB Customer Service Unit at 503-378-4621

If you are worried about lead-based paint exposure from renovations by people who are not licensed by the CCB, contact the Oregon Health Authority:

  • Phone: Lead-Based Paint Program at 971-673-0440 or the toll free Leadline at 1-800-368-5060
  • E-mail: lead.program@state.or.us

WORKER SAFETY CONCERNS: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is charged with the enforcement of safety and health legislation in the workplace. To report a workplace hazard:

PUBLIC SAFETY CONCERNS: If the construction hazard poses an immediate public safety hazard, call 9-1-1

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