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Parks bureau works to clear large encampment on Springwater Corridor

Posted by on February 21st, 2014 at 10:34 am

The encampment along the Springwater path has grown considerably. Parks says they’re working on the issue.
(Photo by reader Steve B.)

Over the past several months a large encampment has sprung up along the Springwater Corridor Trail near the Ross Island Bridge. People are living directly adjacent to the popular and busy bicycling path that connects downtown Portland to Sellwood and points beyond. Their tarps, shelters and vehicles (bicycles) are situated between the path and the shore of the Willamette River.

A reader emailed us some photos earlier this week, and said the encampment is “making unsafe conditions” due to broken glass, fires, and lots of garbage and other debris strewn about the area (and into the river).

The area where the camps have been set up is managed by Portland Parks & Recreation. Their spokesman, Mark Ross, says they’re aware of the issue and are working with the Portland Police Bureau and the Multnomah County River Patrol to find a remedy. “We expect to see a positive solution in the area soon,” Ross shared with us via email this morning.

This is not the first time a local agency has had to address people living along the Springwater. This past October, KGW-TV reported on an effort by the PPB and the Oregon Department of Transportation to shut down a camp on the path near SE 92nd and Flavel. In that case, crews picked up 20 tons of garbage and restored habitat damage to Johnson Creek.

In this recent case, Mark Ross said Parks has repeatedly engaged the campers and encouraged them to pack out. He says they “did not initially express a willingness to leave the area with their belongings.” Even though camping in this location is against the law per City Code, Ross said they only use law enforcement as a last resort. Instead, Park Rangers are taking a different approach: “Our efforts include offering to facilitate social services, any needed medical care, education and explanations of the no-camping rules per City Code.”

— Read more news about the Springwater in our archives.

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

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dan
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dan

Different “tack,” right? In the sense of a boat changing directions, not a tactic.

Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)
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kiel johnson

in the US there are 3.5 million homeless people and 18.5 vacant houses

Lee
Guest
Lee

As well as ruining this great bike trail, These homeless camps are colonizing the 20+mile Springwater Corridor multi-use trail and Water pollution in Johnson Creek and the Willamette river,is a REAL problem, as a consequence.

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

When I’m on the river, there are sporadic tents along the banks between the Ross Island Bridge and Oaks Bottom refuge. Those folks keep a low profile, can’t be seen while on the Springwater and don’t trash the place. They don’t create problems, and can be left alone.

But these out-in-the-open built-up camps where people hoard and accumulate rubbish are why we need to selectively enforce the camping ban when necessary. They create tons of trash and they don’t pack it out. These folks are seen with Burley trailers cantilevered with hundreds of cans/bottles – there’s no reason they can’t take their trash to the dumpsters at the Eastside Esplanade near SE Salmon. They are creating sanitary hazards.

BIKELEPTIC
Guest

It’s because the Mayor has made it illegal for these people to exist within the city so they’ve moved out into the woods. But they still have to be able to access amenities. Like food. So the Springwater is the perfect place for the to walk out from buses or Max stations in the evening. There is only 1 year round women’s shelter in town, the other being a transitional housing facility. And 2 for men (one of them costs $5/night) and then 2 transitional housing facilities. The rest are for people of specific needs. (Parolees, DV situations, family shelters etc.) What it comes down to is NOT ENOUGH funding. Except to throw away their stuff. (Including their blankets and clothes by the way. Which now we won’t have enough in our shelters because we’ll be replacing theirs since donations have been scarce this year.)

davemess
Guest
davemess

I think Jonathan nailed it when he mentioned the “clean up” of the very established Johnson Creek camp. I’m guessing a lot of these folks came from there.

Homelessness is always going to be an incredibly hard problem to address. Sadly there are no easy answers.

Christopher Sanderson
Guest

Build ’em homes!

johnny
Guest
johnny

peejay
And untold billions in bank bailouts.
Recommended 2

maybe we should have all the greedy money grubbers from Wall St that put them there in the first place, try and clean up the situation

Andrew Holtz
Guest

There is the big problem of homelessness and then there is the specific problem here. Regarding this specific location, I can understand why some campers moved up from the river’s edge. Here’s helmet cam video I sent Thursday to KGW of the partially flooded camp just south of the Ross Island Bridge: http://yourpics.kgw.com/media/6025293

Glenn
Guest
Glenn

We have an economy with three applicants per crappy job opening. And we have more empty foreclosed houses than homeless people. We don’t like what the homeless are doing on public land. These are signs of massive societal failure.

Just to provide fodder, rather than simply point out the problems, here’s a modest proposal: Offer the homeless the empty houses, and let the banksters twist in the wind. And I think more public restrooms with lockable pay showers and clivus multrums are a magnificent idea.

CaptainKarma
Guest
CaptainKarma

It’s not a problem of homelessness, it’s a problem of unbridled greed and well, nobody wants to hear this….

lil'stink
Guest
lil'stink

Whatever you do, city of Portland, just make sure to not hurt anybody’s feelings or sense of righteousness. That would be much, much worse than the problems created by a homeless camp.

Fred
Guest
Fred

Each person out there in the camp has there own story, there own reason for being there. I’m sure each one is complex (drugs, mental illness, lost job, etc.) and requires a complex solution(s) to find them housing. Some won’t even stay in housing or aren’t capable of integrating into housing made available to them. Some don’t want to go into housing even.

No one size fits all solution. And yes, there are pollution and loss of habitat problems associated with the camps. I think they are small in comparison to the many miles roads that contribute polluted runoff to our rivers or the industries that discharge their “treated process” water.

rwl1776
Guest
rwl1776

AGAIN?
http://www.kgw.com/video/featured-videos/ODOT-cops-remove-Springwater-Corridor-homeless-camp-226482951.html

Springwater Corridor homeless camp shut down.
Posted on October 4, 2013 at 9:41 AM
Updated Friday, Oct 4 at 9:58 AM

PORTLAND — Police and ODOT crews worked in concert Thursday to remove nearly 20 tons of garbage and the residents of a homeless camp near Southeast 92nd and Flavel.

There was so much trash tossed into adjacent Johnson Creek that the mess interfered with fish going upstream to spawn. The squatters had torn down trees that aided the restoration of the stream.

ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton told KGW that a chamber pot was routinely dumped into Johnson Creek.

The camp also was adjacent to the popular Springwater Corridor bicycling and walking path.

Crews will finish the cleanup Monday, then begin habitat restoration destroyed by the campers.

TOM
Guest
TOM

I rode SpringWater today from the Foster Floodplane parking to Sellwood. There was LOTS of trash, especially east of 82nd. , but saw NO homeless.

Agree that a dumpster every mile or two certainly could not hurt.

When I saw all the tree removal this last month (92 to 111), I wondered what that was all about ? Was it denying shelter for homeless ? (they still haven’t removed the wood, if anybody burns and needs wood …there it is, just need to section off into rounds)

RW
Guest
RW

3.5 million homeless, 18.5 million empty housing units, billions in bank bailouts, trillions in debt to China so tell me this. . .Hows that rampant Calvinist work ethic worked out for ya?

Talk about not sustainable! enjoy your weekend angry drones

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

Homelessness is a big problem, not just here but in many cities. There is not sufficient housing so people have to camp somewhere, and Portland’s flexible policies make sense.

However, that “somewhere” should not be located so as to interfere with resources valuable to the general public, like one of the few MUPs in the area and one of the few creeks. And those camps should not be allowed to grow in size and number until they become quasi permanent, semi entitled features. We shouldn’t have another Right2Dream developing a perceived claim on the Springwater.

Homeless camps that are small, mobile and discreet are generally left alone. Camps that get large and trashy, crowded and permanent and aggressive, eventually get cleared out. As this one should be.

Jayson
Guest
Jayson

They don’t pick up their shit, they urinate and defecate everywhere, trample the few remaining natural areas left in the city, and spend their few bucks getting high. There are places around the country where housing is literally free, but apparently the quality of life in Oregon is so much better? If they refuse to get help and lessen their drain on society, they should keep on moving folks..

Oh, Word?
Guest
Oh, Word?

I think it’s great. Often there are runners and walkers on the path and some of us fly right past them with no audible and less than a foot of clearance. Maybe this will force them to slow down with the unintentional consequence of showing respect for all users of this MUP.

K S
Guest
K S

I have no problem with these campers. They have chosen a site that is agreeably very beautiful. They stay close to the river for the most part and don’t affect the runners or cyclists. Everything isn’t all Rosey in Portland. It’s too bad the privileged middle to upperclass people that use the Springwater Cooridoor have some unsightly tents to look at. Oh, the humanity.

Alison
Guest

Rode past the encampment pictured above today around 11. Lots of runners, cyclists, walkers with strollers etc using the Springwater. The area of the encampment is dangerous to those users. Garbage, blankets, pieces of wood and a person were on the trail impeding use. This also happened on the bike lane on Madison when people were camping in Terry Schrunk Plaza. For several days people, often waving signs, dogs, sleeping bags, garbage were in the bike lane. The only thing to do on a bike was risk life and limb to take the lane. And right at the site of a recent cyclist fatality.
No way the city or police would allow people to camp or sit in an automobile lane, or strew belongings there. Not for a second. No social workers would be summoned. The police would clear the area in the interest of “public safety”.
But endanger cyclists and pedestrians using a public thoroughfare as designed with those same activities? Let the danger persist? Seems to be just fine with the city of Portland.

JEFF BERNARDS
Guest
JEFF BERNARDS

I’ve currently traveled through 14 countries, I NEVER saw anything close to Portlands homeless problem. I rode my bike through the crisis countries, Portugal, Spain, Greece. I could count the homeless I saw on one hand. It’s time these “homeless” look inside themselves for answers, there are numerous resources to help them help themselves improve there situation. Most refuse and think shitting and dumping garbage in our natural areas is ok.
Solution? I’d be president if I knew. But providing porta-potties and dumpsters only encourages them to remain defiantly homeless.

kvc
Guest
kvc

Homelessness is certainly a problem. It is also the outward symptom of other underlying issues. Every individual has their own story and it is unfair to paint with too broad a brush, but a lot of people who lack permanent housing have serious physical and mental health issues (including the disease of addiction) that render them incapable of simply pulling themselves up by their bootstraps, getting a haircut and finding a job and nice apartment.

Unless our society decides to provide a meaningful level of assistance for these individuals, there will be a continuing homeless problem. And I would say that the “homeless problem” is felt most heavily by those who do not have homes, not by the rest of us for whom the biggest part of the problem is that it gives us feelings of guilt because we know that we, as a society, should be doing more to help those who are in need.

Yes, the large encampment and tons of garbage needed to be addressed. But simply paying to have the trash removed and the people pushed somewhere, anywhere else that is out of our sight will do nothing to prevent it from simply occurring somewhere else. These people have to live somewhere. They have to put their belongings, garbage and waste somewhere and, if a suitable location is not available, that place will be somewhere that none of us wants, such as alongside the river bank or popular trails.

TOM
Guest
TOM

I’m a VietNam vet who has done OKAY. Have stopped and talked to the homeless along SpringWater occasionally , many of them are also vets. They’ll trust and talk to me.

I don’t buy into blaming all your problems on your service time or the government in general , but many of them do . Many will NOT seek help from anything that even smells like an organized agency, especially the government.

I understand where their distrust is coming from (I distrust the gov’t too) , but many would rather sleep outside that in an organized shelter.

When I worked at the VA , they do an “Operation Stand-down” weekend once a year at an abandoned site in southern Washington , and provide free medical & dental care for any Vet that shows up – NO ID/Names required. They often have over 800 come out of the forest for this event.

And then they melt back away into the woods when it’s done ….. It’s shameful that they are honored one day a year and forgotten for the other 364.

Catherine Feta Cheese
Guest
Catherine Feta Cheese

I commute that Springwater section mornings and after dark, rain or shine. The 2 or 3 older men (maybe Vets) who camped on the bluff were neat, well-organized and friendly. I always liked their being there as guardians of the park space. They left in January — I hope they’ve found another nice place to be free nomads. The beach campers down below were there since summer. Seemed like a younger resourceful group. I rarely saw anyone down there or lights or fires at night. Thought it might have been abandoned in the bad weather. I was surprised that when the flooding happened nobody salvaged their good quality tents. Until a few weeks ago there would sometimes be one or two people sleeping alongside the trail under the Ross Island Bridge. Then a couple of people set up carts & chairs there and it grew substantially during very bad weather to the array of carts etc. in the picture. When I ride past people sleeping there at night I dim my light to not disturb them, as a basic courtesy.

TOM
Guest
TOM

Rangers tell homeless to leave Eastbank Esplanade
By Dan Cassuto, KATU News Published: Feb 23, 2014 at 6:08 PM PST

http://www.katu.com/news/local/Bikers-complain-of-homeless-harassment-at-the-Eastbank-Esplanade-246795291.html

TOM
Guest
TOM

Well now, that’s a little funny KATU ,

if you look at the actual URL that I posted above , it contains:

“news/local/Bikers-complain-of-homeless-harassment-at-the-Eastbank-Esplanade”

but if you read the story, there is NOTHING like that in the text… bikers – homeless harassment ? I didn’t see it.

Joe
Guest
Joe

not an eazy life understand that bridge or anywhere being homeless its just sad 🙁

TOM
Guest
TOM

Alison
It is dangerous on a narrow multiuse trail to have people and debris blocking the roadway. Whoever the people are and whatever the debris. Does not matter. I have alreadys sustained a wrist fracture on the esplanade related to the mix of oblivious pedestrians making erratic moves in the presence of bicycles.

I ride SpringWater a couple of times a week. The homeless have never endangered me and if you greet them or just even smile , usually you’ll get the same in return. (not really responding to Alison, only to the thread topic)

The biggest obstacles that I encounter are: 1) dog walkers who either let the dog run free or let out too much leash and completely block the MUP. 2) peds/joggers coming down the wrong side 3) groups of peds taking the entire width 4) bikers coming towards me 2 or 3 abreast …forcing me all the way to the right line. 5) … (just the other day) IDIOT cyclists … I was overtaking a couple of peds in my lane/direction , I call my pass and some A-hole nearly hits me from behind at a high overtake speed , passing me, never slowing or calling his pass.

And those are 5ish reasons that I’d rather ride on a weekday or in the rain. Weekends/good weather are the pits on SW.

Joe
Guest
Joe

joggers are crazy these days have had them running at me head on i’m like ohh this is not going to be good.

TOM
Guest
TOM

give me a break !! The stupid PDX TV stations will try to sensationalize almost anything and blow it out of proportion for more viewers/page hits.

Are homeless taking over Springwater Corridor Trail?
http://www.kgw.com/news/homeless-camps-springwater-trail-mess-cleanup-246978631.html

“But some who regularly run and bike along the trail said Monday that the transients pose a threat and they want the area cleaned up one way or the other”

IMHO , some SpringWater MUP users need to step outside their little bubbles and have some empathy for the less fortunate.