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Condo association releases ‘Call for Community Safety Plan and Dialogue’

Posted by on February 1st, 2016 at 4:30 pm

Compassion for all members of our community and a low tolerance for open criminal activity are not contradictory.
— McCormick Pier Condominium Association

The condominium association that closed a public path along the Willamette river last week has issued a statement calling on “transportation advocates” and other interested parties to come together in order to address the “crisis” of citywide homelessness.

The McCormick Pier Condominium Association re-opened public access to the path on Friday after the City of Portland made their presence felt at a large homeless camp adjacent to their property.

Here’s the statement they just released:

Safety, Accessibility, and Community for All in the North Waterfront Park Neighborhood

McCormick Pier Condominium and Business Community Call for Community Safety Plan and Dialogue

Local residents, businesses, bicyclists, pedestrians, and visitors to the neighborhood at the north end of Waterfront Park downtown and the greenway to the north have all seen a dramatic increase in illegal drug use, car break-ins, theft, assaults, and other dangerous activity in and around their neighborhood over the past several months—dangerous and illegal activity that coincides with the announcement from the City that they are re- evaluating their policies for dealing with the homelessness issue citywide. While most of this activity stems from the tent camps underneath the west side of the Steel Bridge, homelessness itself is not the problem—and we are equally concerned that this crisis also affects the innocent local homeless population. The real issue is that while the community waits for new policy directives, the City has backed off from active policing in and around homeless tent camps, allowing criminal and dangerous activity to flourish.

As neighborhood members who have been dedicated to building a strong, vibrant community for decades, we are asking all the stakeholders in our community—from homeless and transportation advocates and business associations to the Mayor’s office, the Parks Department, and City Commissioners—to come together to address this crisis. We cannot wait and allow the situation to worsen due to inattention and inaction.

We are encouraged that Mayor Hales has indicated that he will propose changes to the City’s homelessness policies at a February 8 City Council work session and that his office has announced that they will install a new pilot Day Storage Project in Waterfront Park by the end of the month. We applaud the City’s effort to balance the concerns on all sides. However, these measures by themselves will do little to address the immediate crisis of lack of security for all people in the neighborhood and the safety concerns of those facing illegal and often violent activity in the park, on the greenway north of the park, and around McCormick Pier.

We have attempted to bring our concerns to the City, as requested, only to be told that peppering their offices with numerous complaints is counterproductive. We have reached out to the Portland Police, only to be told that there is little they can do until someone is caught in the midst of a violent felony.

Just a few days ago, five stolen rifles were found by police inside a nearby tent—and one of the two people arrested has been a familiar presence in the McCormick Pier area. We have been gathering stories from our neighbors: the local convenience store owner where shoplifting has become routine; the security guard who was assaulted while on the job; the resident who confronted a thief stealing a package off a neighbor’s porch and was assaulted for his trouble; and the numerous people who have found hypodermic needles on a regular basis on the greenway and in our neighborhood.

We have reached out within the appropriate channels to bring official attention and resources to help our community, with little to show for it except a request to be patient and to alert the City to any serious violent felonies. Believing this approach to be inadequate to safeguard the broad community of greenway users and understanding the temporary inconvenience this would cause for some, we reluctantly took the decisive step of closing the greenway, due to the impossibility of meeting our obligation to provide safe, sound access given the lack of police response and enforcement of obvious safety norms.

The closure of the greenway brought a much-needed spotlight of public attention to the issue, followed by official responses. Friday morning, we re-opened the greenway. Now, while we await new measures from the Mayor’s office to help the homeless population of north Waterfront Park, in the short term, we look to the City to improve the public safety of all with more active and frequent patrolling of Waterfront Park, the greenway, and the McCormick Pier neighborhood and to police the illegal drug usage, the theft and shoplifting, the assaults and break-ins, so that we can continue to provide safe access to the greenway. Longer term, we want to participate in a dialogue with all the neighborhood stakeholders: the commuter and recreational users of the greenway, the residents and local businesses of McCormick Pier, the homeless and their advocates, and City officials, to agree on a common way forward for the community.

Compassion for all members of our community and a low tolerance for open criminal activity are not contradictory. We love our city and we love our neighborhood. McCormick Pier was one of the first developments along the Willamette north of Old Town, with the apartments built in the early 1980s by Bill Naito. Three decades later, we remain committed to providing good housing and good jobs for our community. We are confronting this dangerous situation for the benefit of all members of our community, and we can’t do it alone. While we continue to maintain the greenway and to provide some security, we look to the City to partner with all of us in the neighborhood community to deal with this crisis and improve public safety. The time has come.

McCormick Pier Condominium Association

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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49 Comments
  • Adam H. February 1, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    This is a much better response than closing the path without warning.

    Recommended Thumb up 9

    • Mike Reams February 2, 2016 at 7:42 am

      “We have reached out within the appropriate channels to bring official attention and resources to help our community, with little to show for it except a request to be patient and to alert the City to any serious violent felonies.”

      It sounds like they made several requests and received little to no response. The nature of protest is that you have to do something that gets someone’s attention. Apparently they felt, writing letters and making requests were getting them nowhere.

      Recommended Thumb up 22

    • meh February 2, 2016 at 7:57 am

      It’s okay for the cycling community to hold protests, block traffic using critical mass and illegal diverters, because it draws attention to a safety issue by inconveniencing others.

      But another group does the same thing shutting down a path because of safety issues and it’s the wrong thing to do because it inconveniences cyclists. They should just write polite letters and phone in complaints.

      The same government that you rail against because they are not responsive to your issues is the same government that these folks are dealing with. You deny them the same tools that you yourself approve of.

      Recommended Thumb up 46

      • Todd Hudson February 2, 2016 at 8:16 am

        The North Park blocks got out of control this summer. Hales responded by putting a fence around much of the area.

        I went past the condos last week, and it looks like they were building a guard shack in their parking lot. We are become a libertarian utopia. Now get away from my gate or I’ll call the police, who probably won’t respond.

        Recommended Thumb up 2

        • was carless February 3, 2016 at 8:43 am

          The police have no obligation or legal requirement to keep people safe. They don’t care unless there is a body to scrape off the ground. It seems more and more the ineptitude of our municipal “authorities” is willful and apathy is a codified policy to CYA. Ergo, is up to you to take care of #1.

          Recommended Thumb up 1

      • Adam H. February 2, 2016 at 9:24 am

        You make a good point, however taking a car-free cycle route away and telling people to ride on three-foot door zone bike lanes on a truck-heavy urban arterial is not just an “inconvenience”, it’s simply replacing one safety hazard with another. If we had protected bike lanes on Naito, this would be less of an issue.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

        • Todd Hudson February 2, 2016 at 9:37 am

          You’ve apparerently not ridden this path often. It’s narrow, twists and turns (at one point making a 180 degree turn), and much of it is on a slick wooden boardwalk.

          And please don’t repeat your incessant demand for protected bikeways. At some point you need to realize what a broken record you are.

          Recommended Thumb up 23

          • Adam H. February 2, 2016 at 9:53 am

            Yes, I have ridden the path. I used to ride it every day for 6 months. I much prefer riding on the path than being shoved between parked cars and 40 MPH car and truck traffic. I ride a heavy upright bicycle, so I can’t keep up with traffic on Naito, but I can ride at a walking pace on a shared path.

            Repeating the need for something does not lessen the need for it. I will continue my “incessant demand for protected bikeways” until we have a connected network for families and all ages to safely ride to where they need to go.

            Recommended Thumb up 3

            • was carless February 3, 2016 at 8:46 am

              There is nothing wrong with Naito! I biked on it daily for years, and still use it. It’s perfectly fine as a bike route, and is quite fast and safe. It has always been 10x better than the condo walking path.

              Recommended Thumb up 2

              • Adam H. February 3, 2016 at 10:38 am

                Not everyone is as strong and confidant as you. Most people would not feel comfortable riding in a three foot door zone bike lane next to 40 MPH traffic, and we shouldn’t expect them to be.

                Recommended Thumb up 0

          • CaptainKarma February 2, 2016 at 1:22 pm

            I endorse his broken record activism after hearing that offhand, trite dismissal of extremely valid concerns of often life and death consequences of trying to ride in Platinum City.

            Recommended Thumb up 5

  • m February 1, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    This letter by itself would never have received the attention from the city that temporarily closing the path received. It takes a lot to get the attention of the Hales administration.

    Recommended Thumb up 54

  • mran1984 February 1, 2016 at 4:56 pm

    Crimes are committed without warning. That stretch leads to nowhere. I commuted through that area for years…you end up on Front no matter how you zero in your vision on it.

    Recommended Thumb up 7

  • Dwaine Dibbly February 1, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    I live in a condo. If my HOA tried something like this, I have no doubt that there would be a lawsuit. I’m surprised that the McCormick Pier HOA didn’t take the potential liability into account before they closed the path. It was a really dumb move that I hope the residents remember when the Board members come up for re-election.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • B. Carfree February 1, 2016 at 6:23 pm

    That was a well-written letter. If we allow an enormous population of people to exist outside of our laws and social norms it should be no surprise that there will appear within that group a noticeable number of predators who are not deterred by laws and social norms.

    The free-ride of the tax revolt days needs to come to an end. If we don’t provide opportunities in the form of jobs, education, housing, drug treatment and just plain hope that doing the right thing will pay off better than doing the wrong thing, then we’re going to see things get worse, a lot worse. Sadly, we should acknowledge that there are some irredeemable characters among the homeless for whom the only solution is some form of institutionalization.

    Recommended Thumb up 24

    • BeavertonRider February 2, 2016 at 10:22 am

      But we already permit such a group to exist – illegal immigrants. And not only do wr permit, but the City of Portland and the surrounding counties have adopted sanctuary status that explicitly rejects federal immigration law.

      Now, within that context, it makes sense that the City refuses to enforce it’s own local ordinances and do something about the homeless.

      Hope this comment gets posted as it provides a context for the City’s lawlessness and negligence.

      Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Reginald February 1, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    The solution to the homeless problem is simple and easy. People should open up their homes to a homeless person each night. Get a thick foam pad, a pillow, and Coleman sleeping bag, plop it on the floor in your house. Tell the homeless person to show up each night 1/2 hour before your bed time (not his). Let them take a shower and brush teeth,etc. Then, everyone hits the sack, lights out. 8 hours later, the homeless person gets up, washes his/her face/goes to the bathroom, then hits the street again.

    I know that all BikePortlanders who care so much for the homeless will demonstrate their superior compassion for humanity with the photo stories that BP will be publishing in the coming days and weeks. We’d all like to see the first story by this time next week.

    Thank you all in advance for demonstrating to the world the high level of compassion that Portlanders, and Portland cyclists in particular, have for their fellow man. May one of you win the Nobel prize for compassion.

    Recommended Thumb up 18

    • Reginald February 1, 2016 at 9:01 pm

      R,
      The idea of people opening up their homes or garages to homeless people could be easily implemented if there was an app to post the availability of your place. Homeless people could either use the app to connect to you or perhaps the homeless shelters could help them connect to you. Shouldn’t be that difficult to implement if someone wanted to do it. Could be a model to rid the nation of much of the homeless problem (at least for the nights).
      R

      Recommended Thumb up 3

      • Paul Z February 1, 2016 at 10:23 pm

        I thought your original post was “sarcasm”, but now you’re sounding serious. I have to wonder how many homeless have “smartphones”.

        Recommended Thumb up 3

        • Spiffy February 2, 2016 at 8:54 am

          most I’ve seen have a phone that’s at least a little smart… they use public outlets and free wifi… I always see them laying next to their tent surfing the web…

          Recommended Thumb up 1

        • pdxtex February 2, 2016 at 10:00 am

          uh, lots actually. cruise waterfront and see how many have laptops too. they hotwired one of the street light down by the burnside bridge and people are always charging their stuff their. rly….

          Recommended Thumb up 5

    • meh February 2, 2016 at 7:21 am

      Except this only becomes an issue for BikePortland when it impacts cyclists; stolen bike, blocked MUPS etc. Either you care about the issue as a standalone issue or you care about only because it inconveniences you.

      Because it is BikePortland the issue is only presented in terms of cycling, and the initial response in the comments is always, what a horrible bunch of people for closing the path on us, then give it a few paragraphs and some get into the homeless issue.

      The cycling community can have guerrilla actions, critical mass, unofficial diverts and protests to show how serious they are about safety on the roads, and the whole idea is to inconvenience others to get the point across. Yet a different group uses the same tactics as you profess, inconveniencing you to get the point across about a safety issue and well, that’s not allowed.

      Hypocrisy is a sharp sword and it cuts both ways.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Adam H. February 2, 2016 at 9:28 am

      That sounds nice in theory, however I’m willing to bet the vast majority of people would be uncomfortable inviting a stranger to sleep in their home. Myself included. Personally, I would much rather pay higher taxes and have the state provide homeless shelters as a service to the community.

      Recommended Thumb up 4

    • dwk February 2, 2016 at 1:03 pm

      why is this comment being moderated?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • suicidarida February 1, 2016 at 7:30 pm

    They just kicked 8000+ homeless from California. they are on their way here. Its A crime there to be homeless in California.
    It is cheaper to temporally house them than prosecute nationwide.
    I will send them to the Reginald house.
    Or designated campgrounds like regular citizens

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Paul Z February 1, 2016 at 10:25 pm

      Someone should check with Greyhound and find out how many riders arrive in Portland via a one-way ticket.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Spiffy February 2, 2016 at 8:55 am

      federal law says that it’s no longer a crime to be homeless… so they’re just turning around and going right back to sunny SoCal…

      Recommended Thumb up 1

      • suicidarida February 3, 2016 at 6:22 am

        Federal law also says marijuana etc. Is illegal. Local and state laws overrule.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Paul February 1, 2016 at 8:37 pm

    In reply to an earlier story in BikePortland about homeless campers using public lands someone suggested using parking garages to give them a place to stay. I have a better idea- public golf courses. There is fine camping available at the one across the street from the Mayor’s house.

    Recommended Thumb up 24

    • Reginald February 1, 2016 at 9:02 pm

      Might not work if it’s private property. Have to get owner approval.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • nuovorecord February 1, 2016 at 9:08 pm

        Public golf courses are publicly owned. Because public.

        Recommended Thumb up 7

        • Doug February 2, 2016 at 5:44 am

          There are lots of public golf courses (open to the public) not owned by public inanities, they are privately owned open to the public. Country club courses are private and require a membership to play.

          Most golf courses are privately owned and open to anybody with the greens fees.

          I’m sure the homeless would be just as unwelcome on a golf course as just about everywhere else, so very funny.

          Recommended Thumb up 3

          • meh February 2, 2016 at 8:43 am

            Portland owns the golf courses

            https://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/63560

            Eastmoreland, Heron Lakes – Great Blue, Heron Lakes – Greenback, RedTail, Rose City and Colwood Golf Course.

            Recommended Thumb up 1

          • nuovorecord February 2, 2016 at 10:35 am

            Good point; I should have been more clear and less snarky. I was thinking of the course by Hale’s home, which is Eastmoreland and is indeed municipally owned. But courses like Broadmoor are privately owned and open to the public.

            Recommended Thumb up 2

    • Lester Burnham February 2, 2016 at 7:07 am

      Great. Let’s fill those full of tarps and garbage too. Portland is looking more third-world every day. We’ve gotten more change, but not much hope.

      Recommended Thumb up 3

    • Spiffy February 2, 2016 at 8:56 am

      the problem seems to be zoning that allows all those campers or residents… a parking garage isn’t zoned as housing…

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Spiffy February 2, 2016 at 8:57 am

        the only reason we have Right 2 Dream Too is because the city wouldn’t let the lot owner put food trucks on an unpaved lot… so as a big F U to the city he started letting homeless stay there…

        Recommended Thumb up 6

      • B. Carfree February 2, 2016 at 9:12 am

        And our bike paths are?

        Recommended Thumb up 6

  • Mike Quiglery February 2, 2016 at 5:36 am

    America is feeling the sting of the have/have not society they created for themselves. And when you factor in a failed education system, drugs, disappearing jobs, rising costs and the fact no one wants to pay for anything anymore, all this “coming together ” blah, blah, blah means nothing.

    Recommended Thumb up 6

  • Steve February 2, 2016 at 8:13 am

    What’s the difference between closing a public path and occupying federal property? I acknowledge that the condo association wasn’t armed, which is a big difference. I wonder what would have happened if someone had cut or forced an opening to exercise their right to the path.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • nuovorecord February 2, 2016 at 10:21 am

      There’s a huge difference. It’s not a publicly owned path. It’s a privately owned path, that the condo association has agreed, via a contract with the city called an “easement”, to allow the public to use, provided certain terms and conditions are upheld and adhered to by all parties concerned.

      I haven’t read the contract, aka easement, so I can only speculate on the details of it. But I’m guessing when the condo association and the city sat down to discuss the terms under which the public could use this privately owned piece of right-of-way, it wasn’t intended to be used the way the homeless population has been using it. Or, in other words, this is likely a breach of the spirit of the contract, if not the letter of it.

      So I fully support the rights of the property owners to call the question in the way they did. I wouldn’t put up with homeless people dumping their trash and carrying on in my front yard. Nor would any of you who are complaining about the path being closed. So why should you expect the condo owners to just accept that behavior? Yes, it sucks that the path is closed – and yes, I have used it frequently – but the city’s response to the homeless crisis has been inadequate, and the situation is only getting worse.

      Recommended Thumb up 13

      • redhippie February 2, 2016 at 10:43 am

        In the past there were really good discussions on extension of the springwater trail to the property occupied by the boat dealer, Portland Spirit and Portland Cement. This example alone in probably enough to wipe out any future progress in getting trail access in the future.

        Folks have to prioritize their goals. Really good bicycle infrastructure providing a low cost service to all or a camp ground for the throw away elements of our society.

        Recommended Thumb up 8

        • Granpa February 2, 2016 at 11:08 am

          You are so right. The Sellwood Gap of the Springwater between upscale Garthwick and south Sellwood will likely resist the connection with all the might of their wealth and political connections. The concern that undesirables will infiltrate their neighborhood is well founded.

          Recommended Thumb up 8

  • spencer February 2, 2016 at 10:13 am

    I just rode through this morning. Unfortunately, this slice of PDX is out of the view of the masses (under a bridge on a bike path), and it still is not garnering the attention it needs. We (as a community) need to provide an alternative to this. That alternative is cheap, clean, and safer than this. We need to provide permanent camp zones and police them, support them, provide services in them. Any less, and this wack-a-mole will continue indefinitely. I’m tired of riding through human feces, the overwhelming smell of urine, and syringes on my way to work. The status quo is failing us.

    Recommended Thumb up 8

    • McCormack Place Resident February 9, 2016 at 6:30 pm

      I agree with this.

      I live at the McCormick Pier Condos, and with my children, commute by bike through the filth under the Steel Bridge for my everyday errands. To say I feel unsafe is quite the understatement.

      The stench alone is untenable. It smells like trampled grass, human and dog feces, halitosis, lanced abscesses, skunk cannabis and caked over dried urine, raw sewage. All the world’s rot, stinking and fermenting in a moist crucible.

      While there were two LEOs (bike cops) trawling the encampment today, I still feel completely dead unsafe on my commute. It is mad: I actually plan my days around when the ghouls are sleeping, so I do not have to encounter any of them sizing up my children and me as we bike through them as fast as we can pedal safely. I must exercise extreme caution, as I fear at any time these dirty people can and will assault me. They are not the passive innocent homeless, or the veterans who can’t find a place. These are the lot who are shooting smack and dealing coke in BROAD daylight. These people have no shame to dress in nothing but underwear. 3 occasions where one of these tent ghouls tracked my movement and aggressively hissed at me. Numerous verbal assaults. Unacceptable.

      Things disappear from my porch if left out. Always. Packages go missing. Anything that isn’t bolted down is taken from my bike. Always. There is no secure bike parking here. Sure, our association closes the gates at night and a security guard trawls the area for riff raff, but it doesn’t matter. Things go missing regardless. There is no security here. South London isn’t even this bad.

      You may think I am mad — blimey, I think I am absolutely mad — because I spend $3250/mo in rent here at McCormack Pier Condos to enjoy the same views as the squatting drug dealer. I am furious. I was placed here by my employer and don’t have the option, time, nor financial steadiness to move.

      I try to stiffen my lip and wait until my contract is over to leave and never return. I don’t live in Portland full time, but many months of the year. The hip place on television is a myth. Real Portland, especially in non-tourist winter season, is a place where the police look asunder while filthy behaviors are allowed to grow, flourish. Disgusting.

      The fact that the police department does nothing to clean this area disgusts me. Especially when there are halfway houses and projects in Old Town mere blocks away that can house these criminals.

      You Americans have ridiculous priorities. What’s the worst that could happen when you rid the streets of its filth? I don’t think a community of ITINERANTS is what the Portlandia Dream had in mind when they harp poetic about their grand communities. They say this is the USA’s best city, but in my lengthy tenure here, I fail to see it.

      DO SOMETHING, PORTLAND.

      Citizens: continue to file your complaints with the city and PD. People think others are filing complaints when they aren’t. Form here: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/27447

      You may also phone the Portland Non-Emergency police line to lodge your complaints: 503-823-3333

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  • redhippie February 2, 2016 at 10:40 am

    Got to see the clean up starting in the morning. It looked a lot better by the evening. and by the next day there were already new, even larger tents going in. Awesome.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

    • Eric H February 2, 2016 at 11:46 am

      Wow, gentrification comes to the homeless camps. We really are becoming Portlandia.

      Recommended Thumb up 9

    • McCormack Place Resident February 9, 2016 at 6:33 pm

      I noticed the very same thing!

      I was starstruck with optimism, seeing this new movement, romantically thinking the encampment would be cleaned up.

      But, like any infection, if you do not administer a terminal dose of antibiotic, the threat learns from the attack and grows back stronger.

      This is what I observed in this corridor this past week.

      Thank you webmaster, for allowing open discussion about this topic.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • wsbob February 10, 2016 at 9:48 am

    Related but not directly related to camp issues on the waterfront path near McCormick pier:

    Just got this second hand story yesterday from someone I work regularly for. He goes to the L A Fitness gym down there, 10th or 11th, I think. Just a few days ago, one of his fellow gym mates, a younger, small Asian woman, approached the I-405 underpass, riding her bike on her route to the gym. On a path through the area under the underpass, I suppose…I don’t know the area well, didn’t ask. Lots of tents under there he says. Again, I’ve not been there to see the situation.

    At some point on the path, a number of people locked arms, refused to allow her to pass until she gave them money. Said she didn’t have money because she was just going to the gym. So a woman from the crowd came forward, socked her in the eye, leaving a big bruise, and took her bike. Others came forward and beat her more, but not so much that she couldn’t walk away. Story is, they told her she can’t pass through that area without giving them money.

    Guy I know says she said she went to the police, but since individual campers can be very hard to identify and track down, and she apparently didn’t have a clear description, they had to explain they couldn’t do much to help her.

    I think the person I work for is on the level, but I couldn’t say for sure how factual the story is. He was vague on the number of tents there. Maybe someone else has heard the story and can confirm.

    A few days ago, I browsed over the mayors policy on camping in the city. The city deciding to so freely allow camping on city sidewalks, with the exception of tents not being allowed, doesn’t seem like a wise decision. The bigger area camp under the 405 sounds like it’s becoming a place where non-campers can’t even walk through without fear of threat from campers.

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