Portland, OR

Tuesday in Portland: PPB to announce return of traffic division, local wineries consider suing Pacific Power & more

Emily Scarvie

Photo by(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

(PORTLAND, Ore.) Hello Portlanders! It's Tuesday, May 9 - Here's your daily round up of all the news happening in the City of Roses.

1. PPB to announce return of traffic division after years of staffing issues

On Tuesday, the Portland Police Bureau is set to announce the return of its traffic division and discuss what this will mean for motorists in Portland. The division has been understaffed for years.

PPB Chief Chuck Lovell will make the announcement at a 1 p.m. press conference with other members of the traffic division and answer questions.

When Sgt. Ty Engstrom joined the traffic division in 2008, there were 35 motorcycles and about 10-12 cars permanently assigned to the division. In November 2022, Engstrom said it was just him and one other officer. He said the traffic division, made up of the Major Crash Team and the Traffic Investigation Unit, only had four investigators.

PPB said there were 31 pedestrian deaths last year, a 70-year high. There were also 66 traffic fatalities recorded in 2022.

2. Heavy rain, flooding leaves 14 SW Portland homes damaged

Heavy rain on Monday caused flooding in a southwest Portland neighborhood, damaging more than a dozen homes. Some saw debris in lawns and driveways, while others had crawl spaces and basements fill with water. Some streets resembled streams as water rushed downhill through the neighborhood.

According to Portland Fire & Rescue, a ruptured culvert, which is designed to channel water away from homes, is to blame for the flooding.

“The side wall of this culvert was affected by the increased water runoff from the spring rain and now we’re having water flowing through people’s homes,” Rick Graves, spokesperson for PF&R, said. “The water is just finding its low point and it’s continuing through. Unfortunately, some of these homes are located right in the pathway of the water.”

At least 14 homes in the area of Southwest 63rd and Dickinson Street were damaged, from minor issues to flooding. Graves said so far no one has been displaced and Water Bureau vacuum trucks are helping divert water.

3. Local wineries looking into suing Pacific Power after 2020 wildfires

Following the devastating wildfires that tore through Oregon over Labor Day weekend in 2020, Pacific Power could be facing even more lawsuits from those affected. Willamette Valley Vineyards, Elk Grove Vineyards and Samuel Robert Winery are all looking into filling a lawsuit against Pacific Power over the money they lost that year.

Smoke from the fires forced many wineries to dump out their harvest, as the smoke tainted the flavor of the grapes. Robert Julian, an attorney with BakerHostetler who’s looking into taking on the case, says the power company was negligent when it came to protecting vineyards from the fires.

Pacific Power is currently in the middle of a trial between a group of 17 plaintiffs who are suing the company for nearly $2 billion, claiming the company’s power lines sparked the fires that destroyed their property.

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