Massive turnout to oppose BottleDrop on N. Lombard

Nearly 500 people turned out for the St. Johns Neighborhood Association (SJNA) meeting on March 11, either in-person or by Zoom to discuss the Oregon Bottle Recycling Cooperative purchase of the former Dollar Tree store at 7740 N. Lombard for a BottleDrop site.

The in-person portion of the SJNA meeting was held at James John School auditorium to accommodate the 269 residents in attendance. Another 190 joined the meeting via Zoom. An initial motion was made and seconded to oppose the BottleDrop. The floor was then opened for comments from attendees. Most comments were against the project and inspired fervent clapping. Afterwards a vote was called and was overwhelmingly in favor of opposing the BottleDrop.

St. Johns Neighborhood Association meeting March 11, 2024
St. Johns Neighborhood Association meeting on
March 11, 2024, with nearly 300 in-person participants and another 190 joining via Zoom. Photo by Tom Karwaki.

Besides opposition from SJNA, the Cathedral Park Neighborhood Association (CPNA) and University Park Neighborhood Association (UPNA) boards have also taken positions against the BottleDrop siting on N. Lombard. All three neighborhood associations have written letters to City and State leaders in opposition to the plan.

Some comments from the SJNA meeting audience:

  • Small businesses here have been working hard for the City and County to provide more resources to help with challenges we’re already dealing with. With a BottleDrop site, does the city have the resources to help? (James, owner, St. Johns business).
  • Public safety is my #1 concern. We’re concerned about the drug use, drug paraphrenalia, and related issues. The Portland Police Bureau cannot manage what’s going on now (Rob, owner, Grocery Outlet).
  • I live 300 ft away from the site. I contacted folks in the Hazelwood neighborhood where there is a BottleDrop. I asked what it is like. They said there is heavy traffic near the site and lots of litter. They said BottleDrop does not see itself as responsible for anything outside the store. They leave it up to the neighbors to remove litter. (Mike, nearby resident).
  • I’m one block away. My place has been vandalized 7-8 times due to cans. The dollar tree was torched just so homeless people could get the cans (Owner of St. Johns Deli and Grocery).
  • If we’re thinking security can fix the problem, just know it didn’t help at Delta Park. If we require security and have to worry about safety it’s already a neighborhood I don’t want to live in (Becky, resident).
  • There are bad things going on at the Delta Park BottleDrop—and that’s when they are renters. What do you think will happen when they own the building? They give corporate responses to problems. It’s not tangible accountability (Chris, resident).
  • I moved here for it’s walkability. But I won’t feel safe to walk anymore. This is the first thing that people are going to see when they enter St. Johns (Elaine, resident).
  • There are already two nearby alternatives for bottle redemptions in St. Johns. We don’t need more locations to redeem bottles (resident).
  • I live here and have a business here. We need to rethink bottle recycling. It has become a big problem. It has ended up providing money for people to buy drugs (Maribel, owner, St. Johns business).
  • We support SJNA and CPNA that this is an industrial use. We have to make sure there is no cash as this site. It reduces the instant gratification and slavery to drugs (Tom, University Park Neighborhood Association).
  • I’m 20 years here. BottleDrop is an industrial scrap material operation. It’s an industrial exchange of material. That usually happens in places like N. Columbia Blvd. In deciding to grant of variance, the City should keep in mind that St. Johns has done its share for the homeless, with the St. Johns Village, and the RV camping TASS site (John, resident).
  • The owners of BottleDrop, Oregon Beverage Recycling Coop, are a for-profit operation. Other states handle the rcycling and the money that is made could go to help the homeless and deal with the drug problems. The state should run it (resident).

Mike Vial, a resident who has acted as a leader in opposition to the BottleDrop, has said it is in the early process of getting approval from the City Planning Bureau. He encourages residents to contact city planners and OLCC, who must also approve the plan, to express their concerns. Emails can be sent to

To OLCC Commission chair Dennis Doherty, dennis.doherty@oregon.gov.

Bureau of Development Services staff Katie Moore, Katie.Moore@portlandoregon.gov; Kimberly Tallant, Kimberly.Tallant@portlandoregon.gov; and BCS staff Dakotah Thompson, dakotah.thompson@portlandoregon.gov.