Matt Cleinman for trespassing
in Waterfront Park.
– Larger version (90kb jpg) –
At 4:30 am this morning, a Portland Police officer issued a Portland man a notice of exclusion and warning for trespassing because he was riding his bicycle through Waterfront Park while the park was closed.
Matt Cleinman, a 25-year old resident of Northwest Portland was biking home from work when he came upon a Portland Police Officer who he says was “rousing homeless folks” under the Burnside Bridge. Cleinman, who told us he is very concerned about “criminalizing homelessness” says he then stopped his bike to ask the officer what was going on.
“I very politely asked the officer, ‘Do you mind me asking what’s happening?’ He told me the park was closed and these people were trespassing. Then, before I could respond, he added, ‘And so are you, do you have any ID?”
At that point, Cleinman says the officer began writing him up a warning and exclusion that says he is prohibited from entering the park for 30 days. If Cleinman disobeys the warning, he could be arrested for trespassing.
Cleinman tells us he asked the police officer if the park being closed (it is officially closed from midnight to 5:00 am) meant that the trail was also closed. “Yes” the officer told him.
Cleinman is now confused about whether or not the officer was right.
The issue comes down to whether or not Waterfront Park is considered a transportation corridor. If it is, the pathway cannot be closed and the police officer in this case is wrong. We have dealt with a similar issue on the Springwater Corridor and Eastbank Esplanade. Both of those facilities are officially recognized as transportation corridors because they were paid for by federal transportation funds. As such, they must remain open 24 hours a day.
In December of 2008 City of Gresham officials decided to close the Springwater at night, but later changed their stance after the FHWA pressured them to reverse the decision. Now, the park around the pathway is closed at night, but the path itself remains legally open for transportation use. (In other words, as long as you’re actively passing through, you’re O.K., but once you start loitering, it’s trespassing.)
Cleinman plans to appeal the exclusion.
Portland Parks PIO Beth Sorensen says Waterfront Park is not officially considered a transportation corridor. It was not funding through federal transportation funds. Therefore, the pathway technically closes to everyone between midnight at 5:00am.
Here’s full statement from Sorensen:
“You both [Sarah Mirk from the Portland Mercury and I] inquired about the rules regarding the paved path along the riverwall in Waterfront Park, specifically whether or not that path is an official transportation corridor.
The answer is no, that route was not funded with federal dollars and is not a designated transportation corridor. Therefore, the park closure hours, 12:01 a.m. to 5 a.m., apply. There are viable alternatives for both cyclists and pedestrians along SW Naito Parkway, including a sidewalk and bike paths.
This is not a rule we actively enforce, unless there is an incident involved. Typically, PP&R rangers, PPB and PPI would respond to specific incidents which occur in parks, including Waterfront Park. Not knowing the specifics about this incident, I would recommend you call Mary Wheat at PPB [Portland Police Bureau].”
In the case of Matt Cleinman, his appeal will likely come down to whether or not the police officer feels Cleinman’s questioning and inquiries qualify as an “incident”.
We asked Parks PIO Sorensen about how people are supposed to access the Steel Bridge lower deck path if Waterfront Park is illegal (Sorensen has said that Parks is not “impeding anyone” by closing the trail at night because there are bike lanes and sidewalks on Naito that can be used as alternate routes).
Sorensen was interested to learn about the Steel Bridge issue and said she could do some checking to see whether or not Parks could make a specific transportation easement across the Park so people could access the lower deck of the bridge.