Back to school: A run-down of Woodstock health hazards

maskIt’s a sad situation for any neighborhood, but it’s not unique: Back-to-school time throughout Portland now means assessing the risks to your child’s health. Here’s a run-down of the factors in play for Woodstock Elementary and Lewis Elementary, the two public schools within the Woodstock neighborhood boundary. At many of the links below, you’ll see paths to learn about schools outside the neighborhood.

Parents: If you have late-breaking or close-up facts not seen here, please add them in your comments below.

Lead in water

As you may already know, concerns about lead poisoning center on ingestion rather than skin contact. Drinking fountains are shut down across the district, but faucets for washing hands are still working. Make sure younger kids understand not to drink from the working faucets.

With kids drinking bottled water for now, the risk of further lead ingestion is low. However, the recent past is another matter: Test results on record for Lewis and Woodstock show plenty of instances in which fountains, faucets and spigots tested above the EPA action threshold for lead and copper.

Lead in paint

While the likelihood of kids ingesting paint chips or paint dust is low compared to tainted water, lead paint is still cause for concern. Willamette Week has reported that Woodstock School was flagged with the district’s second-highest maintenance priority for deteriorating paint conditions on outdoor wood siding. Lewis does not appear on the list that WW released — but the district’s rather dubiously named Healthy Schools Update includes Lewis (and Woodstock) on a list of schools for which it “hired four certified lead paint contractors to abate or encapsulate a large number of critical district needs this summer.”


Radon is a gas that occurs with the natural decay of radium in the soil. If present, it can build up in ground-floor rooms that lack ventilation. It’s linked to occurrences of lung cancer. In a new round of testing that began in spring 2016, nearly one in every eight rooms tested for radon were above the EPA’s initial action threshold. However, neither Woodstock nor Lewis has been tested yet. Their readings were low in a previous round of tests during the 2001-02 school year.

Outdoor air

Things don’t seem to have changed appreciably since our previous post on Woodstock neighborhood air. Known hotspots for heavy metals are not present at Woodstock or Lewis schools, but are not far away. Precision Castparts, the suspected source of the hotspots, either already has installed or soon will install new filters — so things may be looking up a bit.

Speeding traffic

On SE Steele near Woodstock School, recent observation by a WNA board member suggests that 60 to 70 percent of people driving through the school zone are speeding. In such conditions, even striped crosswalk markings are no guarantee of safety. Approach crossings with all senses keenly attuned. And please: In a motor vehicle, slow down to below the maximum legal speed of 20 mph during school-zone hours — moreover, test your knowledge of Oregon crosswalk law, including the fact that every intersection is a crosswalk whether marked or not.

Lewis School may be less likely to see speeders who divert from Woodstock Boulevard’s increasing bustle. But Lewis parents, please add your own observations in comments below.

Where to get lead testing

If your child has already been drinking PPS water for years, you may be concerned about lead levels. Check with your doctor about whether to get lead testing. If you decide to go for it, consider Multnomah County’s free lead testing clinic on September 10, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Sellwood-Moreland Library.

PPS has stated that you can also order home screening kits from ZRT labs through September 9. Call 1-866-600-1636 or 503-466-2445 Monday through Friday between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. — or order via email at



Woodstock survey results: Traffic, theft, bias and acceptance

challengesThe results of this summers’ neighborhood survey are in; thanks to all who participated. You can delve into the graphs and responses as time allows — but here’s a quick sketch.

Background and acknowledged bias: The survey was online and was promoted here, on Facebook and on NextDoor, in the neighborhood association’s monthly email newsletter (subscribe) and at events including the Movie in the Park. Thus it has an inherent bias toward people who have a high level of online access and comfort. Also, the nearly 300 respondents predominately are homeowners living within the Woodstock boundary.

The good news: By an overwhelming margin, respondents reported a feeling of belonging within the neighborhood. By a clear margin, respondents reported perceiving the neighborhood as “well kept and attractive.”

The bad news: Property theft began the survey with only minor perception among respondents as a challenge warranting immediate attention — but it eventually outdistanced every other concern except its close relative, “complications of homelessness, including sanitation and security.” In getting around the neighborhood,”potholes and unimproved roads” was the predictable leading concern. But it was closely challenged by two somewhat contradictory concerns: the heavy volume of motor traffic and the high speed of motor traffic. Also high up in the mix was a lack of markings at crosswalks. (Remember: Under Oregon law, every intersection is a crosswalk whether marked or not.)

Also of note: Happily, motor-vehicle parking ranked low as a concern despite initial worries expressed on Facebook and NextDoor that the coming of New Seasons would cause parking troubles. Also, respondents ranked paper posters and fliers as a better way to reach them than this website — but Facebook, NextDoor and the email newsletter still led the way. Perhaps the most encouraging observation for the long term is that respondents retain an affinity for the big picture. They ranked “affordable housing and smart planning” as the top concern for the long term, presumably due to its connection with the more immediate challenges of homelessness.

How the Woodstock Neighborhood Association will use the results

That remains to be seen and will be shaped over time at WNA meetings. Want to take part? Come to the Woodstock Community Center, 5905 SE 43rd Ave., at 7 p.m. on the First Wednesday of each month. (That’s September 7 this month.)




Coming soon: New food, drink and more

As seen this past month on Facebook, things are happening in Woodstock: New places to eat and drink will open soon or soonish, and several marijuana-related businesses appear to be in the works. For details, click the yellow icons on this handy map — or just read the paragraphs below it.

But before you do: Remember that you have a voice in “what’s next” in Woodstock: Make time to attend the Land Use Committee meetings, third Wednesday each month. Read More»

Land Use Committee Breaks New Ground Starting July 20

Land Use Committee meeting
Weds., July 20, 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Woodstock Community Center
5905 SE 43rd Ave.

Things are changing quickly in and near the Woodstock neighborhood, so the Woodstock Neighborhood Association’s Land Use Committee (LUC) is following suit. Starting this month, meetings are to be more organized and efficient. Four 15-minute segments plus spillover time will help keep things moving along.

The LUC’s first task will be to build and prioritize a list of crucial topics to track, most likely including unimproved streets, infill housing, slowing down traffic on Woodstock and/or Steele, and more. Want a hand in shaping the future of the neighborhood? Come to the LUC meeting this and every month.


Infill Project Affects Woodstock; Comment by August 15

GenHousePic_1_tThe Residential Infill Project* is a set of proposals to alter residential housing over a large area of Portland, including Woodstock. It’s a mixed bag of good and bad news for both developers and residents. It could lead to more houses being demolished and replaced, but may also encourage more dwellings of a smaller scale in square feet and/or price. The proposals will affect our quality of life — so it’s up to all Woodstockians to inform themselves and add insightful comments to the process before the August 15 deadline. Read More»

Toxic air: A Woodstock-specific update

Click the map image to see it larger.

As you’ve probably heard, the U.S. Forest Service measured Portland moss samples in 2013 and found some locations with high levels of toxic elements. More details released earlier in June indicate that two locations within the Woodstock neighborhood boundary are among the top eight for nickel and cadmium — but they have not been characterized by the DEQ as within the top tier of four locations with the most discouraging results. Read More»

WNA Wants You! Board Nominations Due May 4

Screenshot 2016-04-03 at 11.10.52 PMLend a little of your time and energy to Woodstock, and help make a great place to live even greater. Nominate yourself or a friend for one of the following WNA Board positions by May 4.

  • Chair
  • Co-Chair, Land Use Committee
  • Chair, Friends of the Woodstock Community Center
  • Financial Manager, Friends of the Woodstock Community Center
  • Web Administrator
  • Chair, Events Committee
  • Area Representative

The Woodstock Neighborhood Association’s annual board election is just around the corner, and we are looking for a few good candidates. We have rather big shoes to fill, in that Terry Griffiths and Lonnie Port are both stepping down after many dedicated years of service as chairpersons of the Land Use Committee and Friends of the Woodstock Community Center, respectively.

We welcome people with new ideas and vision to join our volunteer team. Anyone who is nominated or nominates themselves should possess a strong interest and preferably some experience that matches the board opening — but mentoring is available, so don’t be shy if you’re a little green but want to gain valuable experience. Neighborhood Associations are a great place to learn and practice leadership skills within a supportive community. There are also openings for “neighborhood rep” in different sections of the neighborhood.

For more info, contact WNA Chair Becky Luening at