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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.

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  • dan February 21, 2014 at 10:47 am

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

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    • GlowBoy February 21, 2014 at 11:32 am

      Thanks for pointing this out, dan. “Different tack” refers to changing directions.

      Tact is what I sometimes lack when labeling linguistic lapses.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) February 21, 2014 at 12:09 pm

      thanks. I’ve changed it to “approach” 😉

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  • kiel johnson
    kiel johnson February 21, 2014 at 10:49 am

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

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    • peejay February 21, 2014 at 11:07 am

      And untold billions in bank bailouts.

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    • Mike W. February 21, 2014 at 12:51 pm

      Utah is giving housing to the homeless and it appears to be cheaper than allowing them to live out on the street. Not only that, but it’s a much more caring and dignified way of treating everyone within the community.

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      • rwl1776 February 21, 2014 at 3:54 pm

        Where’s my free apartment?

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        • Mossby Pomegranate February 21, 2014 at 6:33 pm

          So is the upkeep costs of the *free* home free? Are all the utilities free too?

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        • scott February 24, 2014 at 9:33 am

          Do you need a free apartment? Or do you just want to remain one up from the people that need one by receiving the same thing they receive?

          I would surely love to cut my cost of living, but I am employed at the moment and we are all in this together. It is incredibly childish to say that you want something just to ameliorate your jealousy over someone receiving something they need.

          I also never understand this loop people lay out for themselves:

          “The homeless ruin areas and scare my family, but don’t offer them an opportunity to take them out of the scary place they are destroying. That would make me jealous.”

          If you are unhappy with all aspects and all available solutions, you are not helping at all.

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        • Oliver February 24, 2014 at 9:37 am

          I think we both know that most of the things that are given away (pregnant cats, bald tires and 90% of promotional items) are not worth having for those used to a certain standard of living.

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      • JEFF BERNARDS February 22, 2014 at 5:11 am

        Free bus tickets to Utah?

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        • scott February 24, 2014 at 9:35 am

          Are you actually proposing a bussing plan to help houseless and disadvantaged people and their families find houses and work?

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      • Nathanael February 23, 2014 at 12:40 pm

        Remember, Scrooge said, “Are there no workhouses?”
        He was asking a rhetorical question, but in the US *there aren’t*, generally. We’re actually *crueller than Scrooge*. Give the homeless some housing.

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  • Lee February 21, 2014 at 10:56 am

    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.

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    • spare_wheel February 21, 2014 at 1:04 pm

      how the heck are houseless human beings struggling to survive ruining a bike trail?

      Water pollution in Johnson Creek and the Willamette river,is a REAL problem

      you seem to be implying that houseless individuals are causing pollution. do you have any evidence that supports this statement or are you simply grasping at straws to justify your prejudice? and even if there were a “pollution” problem some porta-potties would be a far cheaper and effective solution than paying city workers to harass the houseless into moving to another location (where the entire process is repeated at a later date).

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      • scott February 21, 2014 at 1:11 pm

        Seriously. When I see comments like Lee has posted here I just cringe. Devoid of any data, filled with prejudice, misplaced fear, and groundless vitriol.

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      • larry February 21, 2014 at 10:10 pm

        Unless they’ve magicked sewage treatment or porta-potties into their camp… they’ve gotta be pooping and pissing somewhere; and when it rains it goes right into the creek.

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        • 9watts February 23, 2014 at 8:37 am

          “they’ve gotta be pooping and pissing somewhere; and when it rains it goes right into the creek.”

          Oh, please!
          That is where our billions of $ spent on sewage treatment infrastructure have been sending the housed folks’ poop any time it rains heavily. So trying to pin that particular sin on the homeless is a little too precious. We’ve got some serious problems here, but some imagined excrement leaking into the Willamette is hardly at the top of the list.

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          • annefi February 23, 2014 at 7:34 pm

            The Big Pipe project corrected that.

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            • 9watts February 23, 2014 at 7:40 pm

              Not quite. All the Big Pipe project did was reduce the frequency of raw sewage spilling into the Willamette. And it cost $1.44B. Just think if we’d spent half of that amount on homelessness here in Portland!

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            • wsbob February 24, 2014 at 12:43 am

              Interesting to consider, if there’d been an ‘either-or’ choice put before Portland voters, whether they would have voted to postpone building the Big Pipe, diverting the money it cost to instead attempt to eliminate the cycle of homelessness.

              The Big Pipe cost a lot of money, and while city waste-water operators have yet to be able to use the pipe to completely eliminate all CSO’s (combined sewage overflows), it’s been reported that the pipe has enabled operators to reduce overflows by a major amount:


              As commendable as efforts to address homelessness or ‘houselessness’ are, to do this, postponing investment in equipment necessary to attend to city sewage overflow, probably wouldn’t have been a good idea.

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              • 9watts February 24, 2014 at 6:54 am

                Perhaps. I only made the comparison because some folks here were getting all hot and bothered about some miniscule (imagined) sewage from those who get nothing while conveniently ignoring the vastly larger quantities of sewage from the rest of us housed folk, which we quite consciously allow to be sent into the same river *after* spending some real money on ‘fixing’ this problem. You know, the old – “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” bit.

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        • Joe Walsh-Lone Vet February 23, 2014 at 5:44 pm

          If the City would help, how about yes they need porta-potties so work with the group and set some up. How about making sure people who want get to take showers. How about setting up some way to store their stuff so they can move around like the rest of us. The answer is the City does not give a shit and will not come up with any answers to problems.

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        • scott February 24, 2014 at 11:33 am

          Even a camp 1000 strong would be hard pressed to create an amount of sewage waste that is even comparable to what the rest of the city plants into the Willamette/world.

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          • JRB February 25, 2014 at 1:51 pm

            Not even close to being accurate. Learn a little a bit about how sewage treatment works. The environmental impact from the raw sewage of 1000 people is much greater than that of the treated effluent from the modern sewage treatment plants which serve the city’s housed population of over 600,000. This is not to say that the city or our society has handled homelessness justly or compassionately.

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            • 9watts February 25, 2014 at 1:54 pm

              “the treated effluent from the modern sewage treatment plants which serve the city’s housed population of over 600,000.”

              We’re not talking about treated effluent, JRB. We’re talking about CSO events when the Big Pipe can’t handle the volume, and the shit overflows into the Willamette.

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            • scott February 25, 2014 at 3:10 pm

              Suggested reading?

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      • My Magic Hat February 22, 2014 at 8:20 am

        If these camps aren’t a problem, show us a week’s worth of GoPro footage from your nightly outings on springwater corridor.

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        • scott February 24, 2014 at 11:34 am

          Buy me a GoPro.

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      • wb February 22, 2014 at 11:04 am

        spare_wheel, you must be in denial. Quit flailing and admit this is a problem. It’s the first step.

        “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.”

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      • lyle w. February 22, 2014 at 1:44 pm

        Look, I think we can all be mature enough to simultaneously sympathize with the conditions homeless people deal with on a daily basis and collectively hope and work towards solutions for a better existence for them, and then also consciously acknowledge what a disaster they’re creating basically from Oaks bottom all the way to OMSI. I rode it yesterday, and it is BAD… like really bad. There is no set of circumstances where we should be okay with, or feel justified in accepting, mountains and mountains of trash strewn everywhere, human waste everywhere, tarps and rotting blankets and stuff turned upside down and torn across trees and floating around in the water.

        Open your eyes the next time you ride it, or actually stop and check out what they’re doing, and you’d probably come to a different conclusion. Drug addiction, mental illness, the gamut, whatever it is, is causing these people to completely, abjectly not care at all about the pollution and litter they’re creating by choice, and everybody has to deal with the consequences as a result of those terrible decisions.

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        • 9watts February 23, 2014 at 8:41 am

          “causing these people to completely, abjectly not care at all about the pollution and litter they’re creating by choice, and everybody has to deal with the consequences as a result of those terrible decisions.”

          …getting back to transportation, your sentence is I think an even better summary of automobility, and the repercussions it has for all of us, not to mention the completely different scale: pollution of air, water, and soil, ruined landscapes, noise, trash, carnage. And all because of selfish choices.
          Glass houses?

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          • Spiffy February 24, 2014 at 8:12 am

            I’d like to see a chart comparing the pollution of homeless to the pollution of motor vehicles in Portland…

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        • scott February 25, 2014 at 2:07 pm

          As a society whole, what are we like 30 years and some change away from dumping directly into waterways? Green living is a super new concept in the scope of American society. When was the first time you heard ‘carbon footprint’? like 15 years ago at the most?

          Everyone is acting like these campers are horrific throwbacks and we are beings of pure light just because we have houses.

          If the trash is really making you nuts, then propose a type of legislation to get dumpsters at regular intervals on the trails and some type of loo near by the dumpster.

          Just because you cant see it after the garbage truck takes it away doesn’t mean you don’t make waste.

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    • scott February 21, 2014 at 1:14 pm

      You don’t need to be afraid.

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      • CaptainKarma February 21, 2014 at 2:13 pm

        What the people are afraid about is that they know deep down that all it would take is one big medical bill and their own life of cards w9uld come tumbling down… Three paychecks lost and they too would be sleeping in their cars getting woken up by Portland’s finest. People are scared but they don’t dare admit it to themselves. Easier to lash out at “them”.

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        • lyle w. February 22, 2014 at 1:48 pm

          Would you be okay with a camp setting up outside your house and in a week dealing with feces, rotting blankets, broken down (and most likely stolen bike parts) everywhere, soggy cardboard bonding to the cement and curb, bonfire remnants, piles of metal recyclables, etc etc… everywhere? And if you are really honestly answering that you would be okay with it, why then does everybody else have to deal with it? SOMEONE has to deal with it… this littering and destruction of property is not happening in a vacuum, no pun intended.

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          • scott February 25, 2014 at 1:57 pm

            Would you be ok with someone pretending like they have American or religious values being upset that someone who is less fortunate than they being forced to make due? Is it ok with you to forget that humans make trash and excrement simply because in your small sphere it is disappeared by what infrastructure your life has you plugged into? Are you fine with people making assumptions about you and how you acquired your proprty based on a visual assessment?

            Look lyle w., unless I am way off base about the type of people who read this site than you are like me. A working stiff. If you can charter a jet to fly off to your own private island than please read no further. Working stiffs are separated from these people you detest by only a few shoestrings. This is America and despite all the harping we hear about entitlement services and handouts from the government, those do very little to keep you off the streets. We also have not much in the way to contribute to those who have mental health issues and so, get over it.

            When you can jet off to your own island or thousand acre ranch, then you will be able to afford to keep this out of sight. Until then, all you do is pay for indoor plumbing and trash service so that you and everyone else doesn’t have to see the waste you create by being a human. You are separated from the campers by a bill you can afford, totaling a few hundred dollars a year.

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      • q`Tzal February 21, 2014 at 2:14 pm

        And yet telling people “don’t be afraid” doesn’t make it so.

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      • Mossby Pomegranate February 21, 2014 at 6:35 pm

        Cool…ya got some extra space at your place for some homeless folks to setup camp?

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        • scott February 26, 2014 at 10:10 am

          They are not on private property.

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    • Jeff February 22, 2014 at 1:11 pm

      While I disagree with the tone of this comment, the pollution thing has some grounding in fact. The camp a little further down the path than the one pictured which was right on the banks of the river (less noticeable from the Springwater itself) was recently completely flooded. There were probably at least 5 tents and a pretty considerable amount of garbage floating around for a few days which has now presumably washed further into the river. There’s one camp near the picnic tables that seems to be very conscientious about their trash and everything but these others are much more brazen about it. I think they moved from the overpass at Grand and Division, and they left that place a abject ***word deleted by moderator- please watch your language Jeff*** mess when they broke camp.

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  • Todd Hudson February 21, 2014 at 11:03 am

    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.

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    • Granpa February 21, 2014 at 11:20 am

      They would still be down on the river shore if the water level had not come up. We all know where the crap and piss. The inability of PP&R and the police (and public health, and DEQ) to address this issue gives valid ammo to NIMBYs who don’t want trails near their properties. Like Tod said, campers can have a very light footprint and this bunch does not.

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      • Todd Hudson February 21, 2014 at 11:43 am

        DEQ and public health can’t do much in terms of enforcement. The problem is that city hall, instead of trying to solve homelessness with a carrot and a stick, uses a carrot and a carrot. As a result, Portland is a mecca for transients from all over and a homeless dumping ground for other states.

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        • Granpa February 21, 2014 at 12:35 pm

          DEQ can fine in painful denominations.

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          • JV February 21, 2014 at 12:47 pm

            And the houseless really have enough currency in those denominations? I don’t think fines will be an effective deterrent to camping, when one lacks income to begin with. A vicious cycle indeed.

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            • Granpa February 21, 2014 at 12:58 pm

              The property owner, Metro and the entity responsible for upkeep and maintenance, Portland Parks and Recreation would be responsible. Fines would be a great deterrent to allowing the degradation of the public space and the environment.

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          • Todd Hudson February 21, 2014 at 1:14 pm

            DEQ can fine someone whose property is polluting another property or water body with a sewer pipe or something like that. But they can’t fine a person defecating into the river. That’s called “offensive littering” and it’s up to the PPB to enforce that.

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        • spare_wheel February 21, 2014 at 1:05 pm

          the beatings will continue until morale improves.

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        • redhippie February 21, 2014 at 4:11 pm

          Who is DEQ going to hold directly accountable? The City might be indirectly accountable when in-stream bacteria concentrations are not met and the they have to be that much more stringent with sewage and storm water treatment. This is already costing us Billions (a la Big Pipe) so there is an indirect communal cost we (those of us who own or rent housing) will all bear.

          The direct impact is the increased health risks from the Willamette slough to those who kayak, boat, ski and swim in that area. It would be interesting to ask the Willamette River Keep to monitor along that stretch and see the WQ data.

          Living in St. Johns there is also a large homeless contingent along the future alignment of the North Portland Green-way, so this is a regional issue that needs to be addressed.

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  • BIKELEPTIC February 21, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    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.)

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    • q`Tzal February 21, 2014 at 2:43 pm

      Why doesn’t PP&R put dumpsters close to this area? There are any number of really good places to put either a full sized dumpster or many smaller containers too small for mattresses and furniture at the north terminus of the Springwater Trail.

      Nothing other than a complete overhaul of the way Portland treats the houseless/homeless will stop them from camping here.
      Once we accept this simple fact we can go about mitigating costs.

      Trash all over the place? Provide a place for it to go.

      Public urination/defecation? Provide restroom facilities. Most parks have them, the lack of public bathrooms is keeping houseless/homeless people away so put a dang bathroom in.
      On the bathroom thing: why for such a high use park facility do we accept that there are no bathrooms? The interstate highways have rest areas with parking and public rest rooms. Most other parks that aren’t just a trail have bathrooms and running water. If there is as much disproportionate use of the Springwater Trail versus all other PP&R parks why are there not bathrooms and water fountains every mile or so?

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      • freemarketmarx February 21, 2014 at 4:50 pm

        Re: the bathrooms in parks. I don’t know that your assessment of the situation is entirely true. There are certainly SOME parks in Portland with cleaned, well-maintained restroom facilities. But I’ve been to an awful lot of Portland parks with restroom facilities that are either shuttered entirely, or are almost too gross and poorly maintained to seriously contemplate using (like at Irving Park, and that’s in a rich neighborhood.) Enough of them that I’m not sure I’d even characterize MOST Portland parks as having acceptable bathrooms.

        Hell, there are lots of places where we clearly had genuinely nice bathroom buildings once upon a time (like at the top of Mount Tabor) that have since been closed, I suspect because of some combination of 1) Inadequate funds to maintain them, and 2) The unfortunate minority of vandals and just plain jerks that lack the civic decency to not turn them into disaster zones.

        I guess I’m just saying, it’s really easy to say “plop some bathrooms here!” but the problem’s clearly a lot more complicated than that. Which I think kind of sums up our relation to the homeless issue in Portland in general right now. I think on balance Portland has a problem with too much process and too much hand-wringing, but on the homelessness front, at least, I almost feel like we could use more. The two sides have really calcified and dug in their heels and I think it’s become a pretty toxin conversation all-around.

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        • q`Tzal February 22, 2014 at 10:28 pm

          The problem is that whether you put bathrooms there or not people are urinating and defecating there. You can either ignore it and there is 100% chance it is a public health hazard or you can put in bathrooms that chance is less than 100%.
          Either way cleaning is involved but the latter option comes with running water already installed and hard surfaces that can be sanitized with harsh chemicals.

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      • annefi February 23, 2014 at 7:45 pm

        Have you seen the size of the trucks that service the porta-johns at construction sites? How do you expect porta-johns along the bike paths to be serviced?

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        • Alan 1.0 February 24, 2014 at 1:06 am

          a bike trailer can haul a honey bucket

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        • A.K. February 25, 2014 at 10:43 am

          I’ve seen fire engines and ambulances go down the springwater as far as the open green spaces past the Ross Island bridge.

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    • A.K. February 25, 2014 at 10:42 am

      “NOT ENOUGH funding.”

      More funding is not a means to an end. Look at Haiti. BILLIONS spent, nothing done.

      “more funding more funding!” is a copout. It will only make the problem worse because people will continue to come here for services.

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  • davemess February 21, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    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.

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    • Nathanael February 23, 2014 at 12:45 pm

      Here’s the thing — people ACT like homelessness is “always going to be a really hard problem to address”. But it isn’t.

      Homelessness skyrocketed when Reagan closed the mental institutions and dumped everyone in them onto the streets. This was not a coincidence.

      There is always going to be a small hard core of people who prefer to be homeless — but it’s a tiny number and not a big problem. For the rest, we have two groups:
      (1) Those who simply have no money. Give them apartments.
      (2) Those who cannot be in regular apartments in a civilized fashion, due to mental illness or drug abuse. We used to have mental institutions for those people.

      This is not hard to address. This is *easy* to address. It requires that the state and federal governments spend quite a lot of money, though.

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      • davemess February 24, 2014 at 11:39 am

        I think you’re discounting that every city has differences in their homeless populations. Portland seems to get a higher percentage of “homeless by choice” folks than many other cities (esp. in the summer).
        Thus government intervention will not automatically “help” this category of folks.

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      • davemess February 25, 2014 at 7:59 am

        You do understand that what you are proposing questions a lot of the fabric/foundations that this country is built on (the old “personal responsibility” mantra). So while you clearly agree with this proposal, there are MANY who would not (I don’t think I know how I feel about it either way). “Thus it IS a really hard problem to address” as the political to do what you say is tepid at best. Portland is already known as a “destination” for homeless, what do you think would happen if word got out that we were giving away free apartments?

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        • 9watts February 25, 2014 at 8:19 am

          “what do you think would happen if word got out that we were giving away free apartments?”

          Lars Larson’s head would explode.

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  • Christopher Sanderson February 21, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Build ’em homes!

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    • JV February 21, 2014 at 12:58 pm

      Or even better – let them build homes themselves, commensurate with the style of living they would like. Some of these individuals would likely be perfectly happy in a “tiny house” or caravan. Providing materials for them to build more permanent, but mobile structures would be far cheaper than all these other so-called solutions. Really we need to make it easier to permit what would effectively be organized as mobile home campgrounds.

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      • Granpa February 21, 2014 at 1:49 pm

        (sarc) Sure, let them build permanent dwellings and cute little cottages right there on the river shore. Great views and running water! They could burrow into the banks and make a little “Shire” hobbit town. They are disadvantaged, so they will not need permits, zoning, utilities or building codes and we can just turn our public parks over to them. Rugged individualists seismic structures R-Factor insulation. Great Idea! (sarc off)

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      • Christopher Sanderson February 21, 2014 at 3:02 pm


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  • johnny February 21, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    And untold billions in bank bailouts.
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    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

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  • Andrew Holtz February 21, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    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:

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    • rainbike February 21, 2014 at 1:44 pm

      That should be sufficient to satisfy the data requirement that others here have said is missing.

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    • Spiffy February 24, 2014 at 8:23 am

      I saw that (and the camp in this story) during the MMR…

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  • Glenn February 21, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    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.

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    • Nathanael February 23, 2014 at 12:47 pm

      The city would have to have the guts to seize the houses by eminent domain. When other cities have tried to do this, the criminal banker syndicates have threatened them, bribed city council members, etc. — as a result, very few places have done it.

      You should anyway, obviously. Knuckling under to blackmail from criminal bankers is a bad idea.

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    • davemess February 25, 2014 at 8:04 am

      I’m honestly curious how this would work. There is a problem with “squatters” in abandoned homes in parts of Portland. People complain that they tend to be VERY messy and generally disruptive to the surrounding neighbors (some bring drug deals to the area, or a variety of stolen merchandise). I think you have a little bit of a rosy picture that giving them houses will automatically make them blend in with the surrounding social fabric and neighborhood normalcies. Sure some would adjust all right, but we’ve had a few squatter houses in our neighborhood that became a bit of a problem (and that’s saying a lot, as I live in a pretty low income, and somewhat dilapidated neighborhood).

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  • CaptainKarma February 21, 2014 at 2:18 pm

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

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  • lil'stink February 21, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    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.

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  • Fred February 21, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    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.

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  • rwl1776 February 21, 2014 at 3:52 pm


    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.

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  • TOM February 21, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    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)

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  • RW February 21, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    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

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  • John Liu
    John Liu February 21, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    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.

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    • Nathanael February 23, 2014 at 12:48 pm

      There is plenty of housing. What’s missing is two things:
      (1) mental institutions for those who can’t live unsupervised
      (2) money for the rest of the homeless population

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  • Jayson February 21, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    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..

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    • spare_wheel February 22, 2014 at 9:15 pm


      where housing is literally free

      pure fantasy.

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  • Oh, Word? February 21, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    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.

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  • K S February 22, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    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.

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  • Alison February 22, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    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.

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    • 9watts February 23, 2014 at 8:58 am

      “The area of the encampment is dangerous to those users.”

      Really? How?
      I agree with everyone who says that being without a house is a huge social problem in this country especially, but the cumulative anger in some of these comments directed at homeless folks along the river to me is completely misplaced.
      Litter? This is a 1960s view of what the big problems are. We’ve got a lot bigger fish to fry these days than getting worked up about some tarps and soggy cardboard. If you think this is unsightly (I mean dangerous), what are you going to do when the rest of the country moves here because climate change has made their lives miserable or impossible where they live now (Phoenix, the coasts, not to mention Bangladesh, Pacific islands, etc.)? Get a grip, people.

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      • Alison February 24, 2014 at 10:58 am

        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. This is a forum on cycling and my comments have nothing to do with the social status of those encroaching on a right of way. The encroachment itself is dangerous. Like most people I know I support any and all approaches to improving the plight of the homeless and mentally ill. That was not the focus of my comments.

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        • scott February 26, 2014 at 10:16 am

          You should learn to ride within your ability.

          It will be much easier to change yourself and how you approach situations that could result in harm than it will be to change society.

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  • JEFF BERNARDS February 22, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    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.

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    • Nathanael February 23, 2014 at 12:50 pm

      The problem comes from your city, state, and federal government. that’s why you don’t see it in other countries.

      In other countries, those people too poor to rent an apartment are given one by the government.

      In other countries, those people too mentally ill to stay in an apartment even if they can afford one — get put in mental institutions.

      Reagan defunded the mental institutions and threw the residents out on the streets. Hence, our homeless problem in the US.

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    • Nathanael February 23, 2014 at 12:51 pm

      To make another point, someone above actually listed the total count of homeless shelters in Portland — 3, one of which costs money.

      There are not resources for these people, and that’s the problem.

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      • Anne February 23, 2014 at 4:49 pm

        This is the key. I defy anyone to find enough space in shelters to accommodate the people on the streets. Linking people to resources means handing out a paper with a few names of some shelters and housing advocacy and mental health services. There are NO shelters that will allow couples or pets. The waiting lists at many of them are long and it can take YEARS to get into long term shelter or housing. Some of the shelters are only for youth. Mental health services and addiction treatment–another long wait.

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  • kvc February 22, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    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.

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  • TOM February 22, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    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.

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    • q`Tzal February 22, 2014 at 11:00 pm

      Universal FREE mental health care would go a long way towards solving problems like war scarred vets, schizophrenia, domestic abuse and potentially head off mass shooting killers from ever getting to the point of planning.

      But the mental cause of the problems is invisible; we see only its tertiary effects (mass killings, homelessness,) and point ignorantly at what we think are causes (inability to hold a job, PTSD, wierd, different) when in fact they too are effects of the root cause: mental illness.

      1,000 years ago the most damage an average “crazy person” could reasonably cause on a rampage was controlled by metal swords and knives.
      500 years ago handheld firearms were common but slow to reload.
      100 years ago rapid repeating firearms were becoming common as was dynamite.
      43 years ago brought the 1st edition of a rather dangerous “cookbook” spreading technical know how to make of high power explosives.

      In the last couple of decades of the Internet we’ve seen exponential sharing of knowledge, information, experience, plans and an amazing availability of raw materials. Our increasingly interdependent society is susceptible to perturbation by increasingly smaller forces. What used to take nations and armies can now be done by few or even a single person properly motivated and disconnected from reality.
      There is no police force that can stop this or search everyone required. The NSA is incapable on any level of dealing with the magnitude of the task of monitoring everyone’s private lives.

      If we proactively approach this as a mental health problem we can kick the foundation out from underneath the house of fear and stop crime by curing the motivation for crime.

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    • Nathanael February 23, 2014 at 12:53 pm

      “Many will NOT seek help from anything that even smells like an organized agency, especially the government.”

      Maybe if the help is really hands-off? As in, “here’s your apartment stipend”.

      I can certainly understand Vietnam vets not trusting the government!!!

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      • q`Tzal February 24, 2014 at 12:26 pm

        Collectivism wrapped in capitalism:
        Everyone gets either a stipend for housing or a Blade Runner/5th Element sized micro-apartment. Universal free food subsidies (eliminate farm subsidies), health care and education up through a 4 year degree.
        Then eliminate minimum wage; technically no one needs a job if their basic needs are met. If a person feels they must have a glittery new whatever or that they are better than everyone else then they can go out and get a job at real market value and prove it. Other than robust environmental and worker protections a lot of business regulation could go away. Let them fall upon each other like sharks in a feeding frenzy; the only reason to protect businesses is to ensure people aren’t suddenly homeless and starving.

        I’ve worked out lots of little details on this cr@ckhead idea if mine and lots of problems but I can’t be sure it would be worse than what we have now.

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        • Alan 1.0 February 24, 2014 at 12:50 pm

          see Communitas, particularly Goodman, if you haven’t already

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        • davemess February 25, 2014 at 8:08 am

          I’m failing to see the “capitalism” parts.

          I”m assuming you know that most countries that have “free” college/university educations have pretty stringent testing to ensure that only qualified candidates move on to university (many also move into trades, etc.). They’re not simply giving a free college education to whoever wants it.

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  • Catherine Feta Cheese February 23, 2014 at 11:44 am

    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.

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  • TOM February 24, 2014 at 8:26 am

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

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  • TOM February 24, 2014 at 9:22 am

    Well now, that’s a little funny KATU ,

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


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

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  • Joe February 24, 2014 at 10:23 am

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

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  • TOM February 24, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    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.

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    • spare_wheel March 7, 2014 at 6:13 pm

      could not agree more. i have far more trouble with non-resident trail users than the resident trail users.

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  • Joe February 25, 2014 at 9:19 am

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

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  • TOM February 25, 2014 at 10:20 am

    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?

    “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.

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    • PdxPhoenix March 6, 2014 at 8:56 pm

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

      Really, you realize that those “unfortunate people” are camping where it is ILLEGAL to camp, being a nuisance, & creating a hazard for ALL those who use that path. Would you have such “compassion” for others committing some other type of crime?

      Cue the hate email.: You know why Portland has such a high number of homeless people? Because of the services that cater to the homeless – It draws them to Portland. If there weren’t all the aid agencies, they’d go elsewhere.

      One of the things I’ve realized over the years: some people do not realize they need help, some people may realize it but do not want help, I do not have the skill set required to help some people, and, sadly, I am not able to help some people.

      I think arresting them should have been the FIRST option.

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      • Outraged June 20, 2014 at 5:53 pm

        The authorities cleaned up the homeless camp site on the east side of SE 92nd which caused even more homeless to move to the west side of 92nd along Johnson Creek. What do you think this does to your property value for the taxpaying residents along this creek? Would you feel safe letting your children play in your yard with homeless people living very close by, often just a few steps? You don’t dare leave a home uninhabited for any length of time. Your house will be stripped of anything of value including sinks, wall heaters, toilets as we have seen in this area. They sometimes simply make a major mess, entering by breaking a window and then staying as long as no one forces them out. You don’t dare leave anything of any value or anything useable to the homeless out in your yard or it will be gone. A few of our neighbors have been brave enough to follow the trails starting at 92nd going west and have actually found items which were stolen from them. How would you like these homeless people crossing your property to get to and from their camp? Some of these homeless are harmless. Some of these homeless are dangerous especially if confronted. The homeless, combined with a large amount of assisted living housing in this area cause it to be unsafe to walk alone, worse at night. I am unable to take the healthy walks that I could years ago and my health suffers from it. Many of you who have commented obviously do not live with the problem. I do have empathy for the homeless who want a home to live in, not for those to choose to live homeless. Allowing them to congregate along Johnson Creek is not the answer for the homeless and is totally unfair to the homeowners. And, yes, all kinds of debris ends up in the creek due to these homeless squaters: tin cans, bottles, clothing, shopping carts, needles, etc. The homeowners in this neighborhood should receive a good amount of empathy too. I see no effort by the city to improve this situation…out of sight, out of mind.

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