Axios Portland

A picture of the Portland skyline with the letters PDX

🐇 It's Friday, March 1. Rabbit Rabbit!

🌧️ Today's weather: Showers. High 44, low 34.

🇯🇲 Sounds Like: "Heads High" by Mr. Vegas

Today's newsletter is 876 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Fentanyl emergency shuts two bottle drops

A panel of nine people including law enforcement officers sit at a table behind media microphones

Members of the task force on Portland's fentanyl emergency address the media. Photo: Joseph Gallivan/Axios

Portland officials announced 30-day suspensions of bottle drops at locations where there has been "acute fentanyl activity," starting Saturday.

Why it matters: Bottle drops enable anyone to claim 10-cent deposits on bottles and cans, but they've become a magnet for the fentanyl trade and users in the city's downtown, officials say.

Driving the news: Law enforcement and county health officials gave an update on the city's 90-day fentanyl emergency, saying police are chasing drug users from one "hotspot" to another in downtown Portland.

State of play: The latest hotspot is the Safeway and Plaid Pantry around SW Jefferson Street and 10th and 11th avenues, which is the site of the two bottle drops, according to Mike Myers, director of the city's Community Safety Division.

By the numbers: Myers said the Portland Fire and Rescue's overdose response team has saved dozens of people from deaths over the past month and distributed at least 1,400 Narcan kits.

  • Additionally, 18 people were placed in a temporary alternative shelter site and are now ready to be moved into permanent housing.
  • Seven drug dealers also were arrested, Myers said.

What they're saying: "We've had more luck getting people into services by targeting specific spots, and building relationships with individuals," said police Sgt. Jerry Cioeta.

The big picture: Jennifer Vines, the former health officer who oversaw Multnomah Country's COVID-19 response, said treatment and housing must go hand in hand, and praised the county's new youth drug prevention campaign.

  • "We need to keep people from using this drug," Vines said.

What we're watching: To tackle the hotspots, Myers said one tactic is to "saturate the area with outreach workers," who then help people into drug treatment or a temporary shelter site and, hopefully, into housing.

  • "This pathway is being built," he said.

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2. 👨🏻‍⚖️ What's happening in the Legislature

A screenshot of the vote count on Oregon House Bill 4002, showing 51 Yea votes and 7 Nays.

A screenshot shows how Oregon House lawmakers voted on HB 4002. Photo: Courtesy of the Oregon State Legislature

Oregon lawmakers have a little over a week to wrap up the short session and bills are moving quickly between both chambers before the March 10 deadline.

Here's what we're watching:

💊 Drug intervention: Legislators in the House passed legislation yesterday that would effectively roll back key components of Measure 110, which voters approved in 2020 and decriminalized illicit drug possession.

  • HB 4002 (and its budget companion bill HB 5204) adds a new class of misdemeanor for possession but encourages people to enter probation-required treatment rather than face jail time. It also invests $211 million in drug treatment clinics, staff training and deflection programs.
  • The bills now head to the Senate floor.

🏡 Housing: The Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Transportation and Economic Development approved $376 million in investments for the Emergency Housing Stability and Production Package, including money to build 1,000 housing units in Albina, a historically Black neighborhood in NE Portland.

  • The package of bills now goes to the full House and Senate for votes.

👾 AI controls: A bill to make Oregon political campaigns disclose the use of audio or imagery generated by artificial intelligence in voter outreach materials — such as a recent robocall impersonating President Biden — passed the Senate on Monday.

  • The measure now heads to the House for consideration.

Ban on book bans and e-bikes

3. Rose City Rundown

Illustration of a beaver peaking from behind two logs shaped like the Axios logo.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

👮🏽 Two Portland police officers tasked with tracking down graffiti artists have learned the styles, habits and collaborators of the city's most prominent taggers. (Willamette Week)

✂️ Ad agency Wieden+Kennedy laid off 20% of its Portland workforce to "align better with our client work." (AdAge)

😔 Vancouver waterfront staple Beaches Restaurant and Bar will close at the end of the year when the owners retire. The restaurant will have had a nearly three-decade run. (The Columbian)

4. What to do in Portland this weekend

A photo of two monster trucks going over jumps in an arena.

Monster Jam returns to Moda Center this weekend. Photo: Paul Glaser/picture alliance via Getty Images

🌸 It's March, which means we are only weeks away from the cherry blossom bloom on the waterfront.

  • Until then, we've put together our top picks for how to bide some of your time.


🦪 The 18th annual Portland Seafood & Wine Festival kicks off at the Expo Center. Over 30 Oregon wineries will be represented, and eats will be available from Hap, We're the Wurst and Charleston Fishing Families. Entry is $16.

🛻 Monster Jam returns to Moda Center this weekend. Watch ultra-souped-up trucks hit jumps and do doughnuts in the dirt-filled arena to the sound of a roaring crowd. Tickets start at $60.


🦉 Learn about predators roaming Oregon's night sky at Owl Fest 2024 hosted by Tryon Creek State Natural Area 10am-4pm. Head out on a guided hike and meet an Eurasian eagle owl named Dmitri. Free.

👃🏼 Design your own custom scent at a hands-on workshop at Kiln, the chic coworking spot off of SE Hawthorne. Dare to call yourself a fragrance mixologist afterward. Entry is $75.

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5. 🧊 1 map to go: Last frost around the corner

Data: Midwestern Regional Climate Center; Map: Rahul Mukherjee/Axios
Data: Midwestern Regional Climate Center; Map: Rahul Mukherjee/Axios

Spring weather is expected soon.

  • In Portland, the final frost of the season — defined as the last 32-degree day — could come as early as tomorrow, according to the Midwestern Regional Climate Center.

Why it matters: Growing seasons are getting longer, up to 2.2 days on the West Coast every decade, Axios' Meira Gebel and Rahul Mukherjee writes.

  • Lengthening growing seasons could allow farmers to diversify crops or have multiple harvests of specific crops.

Yes, but: An extended season could limit the animals and plants in the area and encourage invasive species and weeds.

  • It can also strain irrigation.

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🎀 Meira is looking forward to having a girls night at Love Shack this evening.

🕺 Joseph is seeing Music From The Sole perform "I Didn't Come to Stay" tonight.

This newsletter was edited by Rachel La Corte and copy edited by Steven Patrick and Anjelica Tan.