Support BikePortland - Journalism that Matters

City Council hears Yoana Molina’s powerful testimony for a safer SE Stark

Posted by on April 11th, 2018 at 1:27 pm

She told them exactly what they needed to hear.

An emergency speed limit reduction for outer Southeast Stark Street was unanimously approved by Portland City Council this morning (see the ordinance here).

The move comes as no surprise, given the priority for traffic safety shown by our current Mayor Ted Wheeler and city commissioners and the commitment to Vision Zero by our Bureau of Transportation. As we reported last week, this action on Stark comes after a spate of deadly collisions and its continued ranking atop PBOT’s “high crash corridor” charts for biking, walking and driving. In addition to lowering the speed limit, PBOT has set aside $10 million for infrastructure upgrades.

During this morning’s hearing, two staff members of the nonprofit community development organization, The Rosewood Initiative, were invited to testify. One of them was Yoana Molina. Molina is the director of operations for the group and has been an active volunteer in the neighoborhood for over 15 years. During her testimony she spoke without notes and her words came straight from the heart.


Here’s what she said

“Thank you for the oppoprtunity to be here and to speak up. I think you need to hear from somebody who lives in that neighborhood. And that’s me.

I want to thank everybody who’s behind this emergency ordinance. With this ordinance you guys give the opportunity to mothers to go back to their sons at home – and for sons to go back to their mothers at home. Five miles maybe it’s not a big deal for everybody; but it makes a huge difference in people’s lives… on the people who live there. [unfortunately the recording skipped for a few seconds]… It’s scandalous I found it safer to drive my car to work just five minutes [away] because I want to go back to my house with my kids [crying]. So I want you guys to keep that in mind [and] put in place this emergency ordinance.

The last time I was corssing 166th… I waited in the middle. And I almost get hit. The car, it touched my clothes and I stopped to check if I was fine. I was scared. But I can bet you the guy who was driving the car was scared too since he stopped like 30 or 40 feet away. Again, five miles, it’s not a big deal, but it will make a huge difference in my life and in the life of everybody who lives in that neighborhood. Thank you.”

You can watch Molina’s testimony below (and rewind the video a few more minutes to see the excellent comments from fellow neighborhood advocate Kem Marks):

We’re lucky to have a City Council that supports traffic safety measures and they all “get it” when it comes to the need to lower speeds. But none of them live beyond 82nd Avenue. And short of living there, they’ll never understand the urgency of these issues unless they continue to hear from people like Ms. Molina.

It’s great to see PBOT taking action on Stark. We wish it didn’t come after so many people had to be hurt and killed and held hostage by the daily traffic violence — but at least something is finally being done.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and

Never miss a story. Sign-up for the daily BP Headlines email.

BikePortland needs your support.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

Leave a Reply

7 Comment threads
35 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
18 Comment authors
BelyndaEric LeifsdadRyansorenJ_R Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of

Until there is some enforcement, it’s not going to change a thing.

I regularly have other motorists “riding my bumper” when I drive the speed limit. When I turn off the major street, they show their displeasure at my having slowed them down by stomping on the accelerator and quickly achieve a speed of 10 mph over the speed limit.

Sorry, but I think the change of speed limit on Stark from 35 to 30 will not alter safety by any measurement. Vison Zero. Ha!

Ken S
Ken S

Maybe, but if people keep driving 40-45mph after the speed limit drops to 30mph, that’s still a $160-220 ticket. That’s not a slap on the wrist.

Perhaps we should also lobby for all roads in the high crash network to be classified as “safety zones” (like much of hwy 26 from sandy to government camp). Double the fines for all driving offenses and use the ticket revenue to fund safer pedestrian facilities.

That would be a one-two punch of disincentivizing bad driving and funding safer street design.


We need enforcement, now. While I applaud efforts by the City and activists to reduce speed limits – as this is certainly part of the solution – without effective punitive action for law-breaking drivers, we will not achieve Vision Zero goals. No threat of real consequences = more tragic and preventable crashes.

Kem Marks
Kem Marks

Thank you Jonathan. To everyone who pointed out the need for enforcement, PBOT is looking at putting speed cameras at 122nd and 148th. Originally it was only 148th but we pointed out the need for more. We are going to push for one closer to 162nd as well. But as I said at the hearing, these are only parts of the solution. Redesigning Stark and other East Portland streets a big part of the solution. If we redesign Stark to 3 vehicle lanes and add protected bike lanes, we will have made this nightmare of a street much safer for all modes.


This means nothing without enforcement. I understand the concern over low income residents being targeted and receiving harsh penalties, but I think there is a way to find compromise rather than take the current approach (near zero enforcement in East Portland). The current approach is leaving people dead on our streets.