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Springwater path update: Neighborhood meetings, a community walk, and the City’s stance

Posted by on January 22nd, 2016 at 11:00 am

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(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

We’re continuing to track the concerns about people who live outside along the Springwater path, the conditions of the path, and the safety of people who ride bikes on it.

Our two recent stories on the subject — one about concerns from path users and the current state of law enforcement response to them, and the other that shared the perspectives of the homeless residents themselves — has sparked a big discussion.

This issue obviously goes way beyond bicycling. We’re covering it because it impacts conditions on properties managed by the Portland Parks & Recreation and Bureau of Transportation that have transportation corridors running through them (like the Springwater, Waterfront Park, and the Greeley path).

Here are a few updates:

Neighborhoods are stepping up to address the issues

– Terry Dublinski-Milton, a member of the Southeast Uplift Neighborhood Coalition action committee has been actively working on this. He tells us SEUL, which represents 19 southeast Portland neighborhoods, is “taking the lead.” They’re working with houseless community advocates to find a long-term solution so that people who cannot find shelter have a more sustainable and safe place to live. Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood Association Chair Eric Wikoff confirmed with us that he’s working with the SE Uplift Executive Committee to address the issues as well. Wikoff said the topic will be discussed at their upcoming meeting on February 4th.

Lents Active Watch is a neighborhood group that formed last spring to, “begin patrols and take a more involved step into the Lents neighborhood.” They have an event planned this Sunday (1/24) dubbed “Walking the Walk” where they plan to get out on the Springwater path in the area around SE 82nd and Harney to “explore the neighborhood and get to know your neighbors.” Show up Sunday at 4:00 pm at Cartlandia (8145 SE 82nd) to join in. Come for the walk, stay for the food!

City of Portland statements on camping near the Springwater path

To help clarify the city’s position on the issue (that may be different than what you think), below are two statements. The first comes from the Parks Bureau (they manage the Springwater), the second comes from Mayor Charlie Hales’ office:

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mohawk craig

“Mohawk Craig” is a vet who lives in a tent adjacent to the Springwater near SE 82nd and Harney.
(Photo: M. Anderson/BikePortland)

Portland Parks (emphases mine)

Portland Parks & Recreation is aware of campsites off the Springwater Trail, including in the area you mention. It is indeed a challenge; a lot of folks have expressed concerns, fears and frustrations, and we are working with the Mayor’s Office on a more sustainable solution. Please know we are bidden to follow the Mayor’s Office’s direction on this issue (see below).

As you likely already know, the City Council has enacted a State of Emergency around homelessness last year. In addition, the City of Portland changed the policy regarding campsite clean-ups. This new policy reflects an equitable set of best practices to address the homeless challenge in Portland in a humane and safe way, while at the same time allowing the City to take appropriate action when the situation calls for it. The Parks bureau is complying with the City’s new policy which generally permits low impact camping on city property, but gross misuse of public space is not tolerated. Let me add that this policy does not apply to emerging criminal behavior. All crimes in progress should be reported to police. Furthermore, we ask residents to report campsite observations to the city’s campsite coordination program called One Point of Contact, at http://www.portlandoregon.gov/campsites.

Each location is assessed by the Mayor’s Office and can include removal of camps at city parks. You can also report any non-emergency issues including camping to parks at 503-823-1637. We have about 4 to 8 rangers on daily duty during winter months. They do respond to calls for services, prioritize them, and take action as appropriate. Under the new policy on camping, they cannot remove camps until an approval from the Mayor’s office is received. What helps secure this approval is your campsite reports to the One Point of Contact program, at http://www.portlandoregon.gov/campsites.

Mayor’s Office:

Recently the City of Portland changed our policy regarding campsite clean-ups. This new policy reflects an equitable set of best practices to address the homeless challenge in Portland in a humane and safe way, while at the same time allowing the City to take appropriate action when the situation calls for it.

As has been widely reported, the City Council has enacted a State of Emergency around Housing and Homelessness because we lack sufficient indoor space – whether temporary shelter or permanent affordable housing – to house our approximately 2,000 homeless people living on our streets. The City has prioritized the funding and building of more bed spaces, but in the meantime the City is managing public space in a realistic, balanced manner and is generally permitting very low impact camping. However, criminal activity and gross misuse of public space continues to not be tolerated.

If you send in some info on a camping situation we can document it, and it will be reviewed and prioritized with other campsites already under review. reportpdx@portlandoregon.gov

It’s worth noting that a reader saw a visible increase in police and ranger presence after he rode the path yesterday.

This is an important issue and I know there are many passionate voices with different perspectives on how to best to address it. I hope we can have a respectful and productive dialogue so that BikePortland readers can be a part of the solution.

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

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Mark M
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Mark M

After receiving and reading the new laws passed by Gov Brown from the PPD officers, basically saying they cannot do anything (see the officers response in the original article on BP)

This at least gives a glimmer of light in that iron clad wall of policy that PPD is hiding behind.

“gross misuse of public space continues to not be tolerated.”

I’d say Portland Parks & Rec has the clear go ahead from the Mayors office to “clean up” and remove those campers on Spring Water at 82nd (both east and west side of 82nd)
They are very clearly “misusing” public space;

-Defacing public property = graffiti on the path, walls, fences.
-public defecation on the path
-dumping on public land
– destroying (in large areas) natural vegetation
-littering (at an astronomical rate) Abandoned shopping carts full of garbage, junk, bike parts, trash bags, food bags and glass all liter the Spring water path.

Ok Portland Parks & Rec you put it writing now act on your word.

Chris Anderson
Guest

Street lights along the path would make a big difference. It’s a key commute route, and oncoming traffic in the dawn and dusk hours can come up fast. I’m surprised there aren’t more collisions reported.

Champs
Guest
Champs

Pfft, I’ve seen park rangers deliberately turn the other way when they encounter public drinking on the Springwater.

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

“The Parks bureau is complying with the City’s new policy which generally permits low impact camping on city property, but gross misuse of public space is not tolerated.”

Amanda Fritz owes me a new B-S meter. Mine just maxed out and exploded.

Terry D-M
Guest
Terry D-M

From my discussions with the long term houseless residents who have been there for years with low impact, the increase in disruptive behavior occurred not long after last summer’s sweeps at the waterfront. That correlates well in timing with my increase in uneasiness and visably aggressive experiences on the corridor.

Kick a disruptive influence from a highly visible location to tourists….it will then move. In this case to a neighborhood that has been dealing with systemic poverty for generations. Is anyone surprised?

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

I put this on the previous thread very late in the “conversation” It was in response to photos of garbage stuck in riparian vegetation over the flowing water of Johnson Creek.

The efforts of Johnson Creek Watershed Council to recreate a natural setting around Johnson Creek could do more than create flood control and enhance fish and bird habitat. Areas that function, look, sound and smell like natural areas are a balm for the spirit. Persons of little income (or no income) can get soul renewing recreation by being in such a place. The sound of splashing water in a shady riverbend on a hot day can transport a person away from their daily concerns. To cycle through such a place would be renewing in a brief, concise passage.

The campers who are trashing the commons are not just making a place ugly and counteracting habitat restoration, they are eliminating low cost, high value recreation. They are taking something of value from people who have NOT given up on being part of society. They are taking something away from working people who may have few high value recreation options.

It is a complex problem, but although the campers may be societal victims, they in turn, are victimizing people who are playing by the rules.

Spiffy
Subscriber

“We’re continuing to track the concerns about people who live outside along the Springwater path and the safety of people who ride bikes on it.”

it’s not the people living outside along the path that worry people, it’s the aggressive and unstable people frequenting the path and making trouble that we’re concerned about…

I don’t remember anybody stating that they had problems with people that they knew were living there… I think victims were assuming the perps lived there, like the article is assuming…

dwk
Guest
dwk

A civilized society does not sanction people living outside because they are too poor for permanent housing.
This is third world kind of stuff. Shiny new condos and towers with people living in shanties around them. We should be embarrassed….
Find some D*mn wearhouses or something. Find out who these people are, what they need to get functioning, stop acting like you are compassionate by giving human beings a patch of ground to legally pitch a tent on.
This problem seems to be growing daily here. Hales, Novack, Fritz, etc. should just all be fired immediately for there total negligence…

Racer X
Guest
Racer X

As for the “City’s new policy which generally permits low impact camping on city property”…my reading of this statement (and the intent of the council) would this now allow houseless individuals to “park” a tent in an on street parking space or off street parking structure stall as long as they pulled a permit or paid for the space?

dan
Guest
dan

Adam H.
Difference there is that’s a law designed to keep people safe. But yes, I want to live in a society where people question unjust laws and work towards fairness for all groups, not just the ones the ruling class “approves” of.Recommended 1

That’s exactly what Ammon Bundy and his crew are saying.

Paul
Guest
Paul

My mom used to say something was “on the fritz” when it wasn’t working properly. Hello? Amanda? Are you there?

BeavertonRider
Guest
BeavertonRider

“Under the new policy on camping, they cannot remove camps until an approval from the Mayor’s office is received.”

Then these camps are the mayor’s fault. That he will not approve that they be removed demonstrates a lack of commitment to public safety. Which doubles down on his City’s police Department’s inability to manage the bike theft problem.

This mayor is being negligent…

SE
Guest
SE

davemess
Wow, in 5 years in the area, I’ve never seen a ranger on the springwater (seen a couple on the 205 path).Recommended 4

I also had never seen any Ranger, until yesterday. There were a couple on the Flavel to 92nd section.

Rode the AOT again today, but only from 122nd to 92nd. On the stretch from 205 to 92nd there were 2 CoP cars, a city pickup with an equipment trailer and a dump truck. They had one of those mini “ditch witch” tracked things moving soggy trash to the dump truck.
On my return trip the DW was gone and the dumper was full. and they’d only cleaned up 1 site.

At this rate, the soggy trash MAY be gone by Summer ?

dan
Guest
dan

I’m starting to think that homelessness should be addressed at the federal level. The root causes need to be addressed at the national level, not the municipal level, and federal levels of funding might be needed to provide housing to all who need it. Of course, another huge federal bureaucracy would not be thrifty or efficient…

Dwaine Dibbly
Guest
Dwaine Dibbly

I’m reluctant to post this, but for anyone interested:

http://www.clackamas.us/sheriff/chlfaqs.html

SE
Guest
SE

BeavertonRider
“Under the new policy on camping, they cannot remove camps until an approval from the Mayor’s office is received.”Then these camps are the mayor’s fault. That he will not approve that they be removed demonstrates a lack of commitment to public safety. Which doubles down on his City’s police Department’s inability to manage the bike theft problem.This mayor is being negligent…Recommended 8

I don’t know why, but the city emails me Charlies newsletter.

He is currently in Washington DC , telling other mayors about his success dealing with the homeless.

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

The solution is legally quite easy. Transfer the land adjacent to a private non profit who will manage the land under contract. Therefore the cops can boot the squatters. If they encroach the path, they can be cited as well. Solved. You are welcome.

George Dorn
Guest
George Dorn

It’s well-established at this point that the cheapest way to deal with homelessness is to provide homes for the homeless. The faster we do this, the faster this problem goes away.

Katie Taylor
Guest
Katie Taylor

It’s weird – this is yet another one of those situations where you really see how the rights of the individual have come to trump the greater good over the past 30 years or so. Letting people break the law by seizing public property for their personal use is a terrible idea and can only lead to more people doing it in more egregious ways. It doesn’t matter how tragic their circumstances are or how civil they are in the way they go about it. At some point, you have to put a stop to it, even if you haven’t managed to secure millions of dollars in public funding to give everyone a tiny house or an apartment and access to mental health and addiction services. It’s a public health issue.