Legislators’ bicycle town hall on Springwater path will focus on camping issues, safety concerns

Posted by on May 5th, 2016 at 10:22 am

Springwater path near Cartlandia 82nd and Harney-1.jpg

The Springwater Corridor near 82nd.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Several Oregon state legislators will host what they’re calling an “interactive bicycle town hall” on May 14th to learn more about conditions on the Springwater Corridor path.

Interactions between path users and people who live in camps adjacent to the path reached a boiling point back in January. Since then there has been a broad community effort to address the issue. In April, local author and nonprofit director Joe Kurmaskie said he would cancel his youth summer bike camps due to concerns over the unruly and dangerous behaviors of some of the Springwater campers.

The issue was back in the headlines again this week when local news stations reported on a major operation by the Portland Police to move people out of the camps and pick up trash and personal belongings.

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Oregon State Representative Jeff Reardon (D-Happy Valley) is leading the bicycle town hall. According to an email sent to his constituents, Reardon will be joined by State Senator Michael Dembrow (D-Portland) and Representatives Barbara Smith Warner (D-Portland), Carla Piluso (D-Gresham), Jessica Vega Pederson (D-Portland), and possibly others.

“We will be exploring the trail to observe the living conditions of the many campers,” Reardon stated in his email. “As we ride along, I hope to learn more about the interactions between those who camp along the trail and those who have homes or businesses near the trail, and those who use it for recreation.”

Everyone is invited on the ride. It will start at 9:00 am at SE Foster and 104th and is scheduled to loop back to the starting point an hour later. Expect comments from the legislators and an opportunity to share your ideas and ask questions.

Here’s more from Reardon:

I know that conditions are very poor for all concerned: campers, local homeowners/renters, business owners, and those who use the area for recreation. I want to hear more from my many friends and neighbors. But here’s the bottom line: I also hope that each of you will help with ideas for solutions. Solutions that will benefit all of us. I’ll gladly ensure your message – and your suggested solutions – are shared with city, county and state officials.

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

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. 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

65 Comments
  • Avatar
    J_R May 5, 2016 at 10:37 am

    I rode the Springwater corridor from Gresham to Sellwood with a group on Monday. (I’ll only ride this path now as part of a group.) The area was a mess with larger piles of trash and more shopping carts than I’ve ever seen before. I also saw at least a couple bikes that had cost their original owners big money.

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      Todd Hudson May 5, 2016 at 11:12 am

      I rode through there last week and saw a Campagnolo road bike, with clip-in pedals, propped against a tent. Someone, somewhere was lamenting their missing bike….

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      • bikeindex
        bikeindex May 5, 2016 at 5:05 pm

        So, when this happens, you can always snap a photo and send them to bryan@bikeindex.org and I’ll try and match it against the owner. Or get at me on twitter, etc. – @stolenbikereg – We’ve already recovered a couple of bikes on the Springwater and other similar locations this way.

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          LCL May 6, 2016 at 2:11 pm

          If police see this, is this not obvious enough to qualify as stolen?

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        Dang May 6, 2016 at 5:06 pm

        Campagnolo never made a frames.
        While I don’t doubt that what you saw was a nice looking road bike with clipped in pedals, it’s not entirely productive to throw around accusations when it’s clear that even you don’t know what you saw.

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          Matt S. May 7, 2016 at 2:26 pm

          A Campagnolo road bike may have been in reference to the groupo on the said road bike. Semantics, but indeed correct if referred in that manner…

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    MaxD May 5, 2016 at 10:50 am

    I realize that some camping may be required while the region figures out more permanent solutions, but why overlook all the crime? Open injections, open containers, stolen bikes, stolen shopping carts, littering. Portland should not turn a blind eye to these things. Allowing a third class of citizenry to be created that is exempt form the protections of the law and exempt from following the law is a grave mistake, and do it it in the name of compassion seems misguided. I would support filling a city-owned parking garage with bunkbeds until this housing emergency can be dealt with. Creating lawless camps invites the homeless by choice/opportunistic criminals and makes it more difficult to connect the people that need and want help to services.

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      David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC May 5, 2016 at 11:14 am

      I wonder, how long do you think it will be before the homeless start camping along “Better Naito”, like they do the Springwater?

      I like your parking garage suggestion, it hits PBOT where it hurts, in the wallet. Parking revenue is the most flexible funding they have, and up until now, they haven’t really had to deal with the homeless issue, since most of the paths are either Portland Parks (Springwater & McCall/Esplanade) or ODOT (205, 84).

      However, I suspect the homeless camping along the Springwater are a different group from the downtown bunch, using social services from nearby Clackamas County, Gresham, or East Portland, and wouldn’t be interested in migrating to downtown.

      With over 10,000 homeless, you have several major migrating herds to deal with. Good luck!

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        Chris I May 5, 2016 at 12:21 pm

        Maybe we can use the convention center instead. PBOT already has funding issues…

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        Adam May 6, 2016 at 1:05 pm

        They already ARE camping on Naito. Under both the Steel AND Broadway Bridges.

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    David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC May 5, 2016 at 10:51 am

    Given that Sunday Parkways is the next day, I expect the police will do a partial sweep of the homeless in the area on the previous week.

    Lobbying legislators is useful for transportation funding, and not just on ODOT facilities. We got state funds for 136th, for example. I hope and encourage bike activists from across Portland to attend and lobby. Expect to see several Council and Mayoral candidates, along with senior staff from ODOT, PBOT, Parks, and staffers/aids to various elected officials. Plus Greg Raisman, of course! (Say “hi” to him for me.)

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      Oliver May 5, 2016 at 11:09 am

      I agree.

      They swept 3-400 campers out of there yesterday, I expect the reaction by the time the pols get out there will be “why all the fuss?”

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        Oliver May 5, 2016 at 11:10 am

        Sorry, didn’t get down to Spiffy’s comment before I posted.

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    Pete May 5, 2016 at 10:55 am

    It might benefit them to video record the event, maybe? In case something notable happens?

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    Maxadders May 5, 2016 at 11:04 am

    Time for Hales to resign. Seeing our beloved natural resources and transportation corridors destroyed by garbage, needles and human waste is a disgrace.

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      Lester Burnham May 5, 2016 at 12:08 pm

      Preaching to the choir my friend. Actually makes me miss the Sam Adams years.

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    B. Carfree May 5, 2016 at 11:05 am

    I guess the folks who use the trail for transportation don’t count, at least in Jeff Reardon’s book.

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    Spiffy May 5, 2016 at 11:06 am

    so they cleaned out hundreds of campers this week, and next week they’re riding it to see how bad it is? they did that in the wrong order… also, a large group of nicely dressed people won’t get anywhere near the same reaction from the campers as a lone rider…

    they needed to send a female cop down that stretch last week at night…

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    Dave May 5, 2016 at 11:19 am

    Please, if you’re not willing to have the state control housing costs by force and to fund mental health care and drug rehab 100%, stop complaining about homeless people. What do you want to do–kill ’em all? Housing needs to be made affordable by whatever means are necessary. Mental health and addiction issues need to be cared for even if the people needing the care can’t pay for it. Either people matter or they don’t, God damn it!

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      pdxtex May 5, 2016 at 1:00 pm

      whatever happened to personal responsibility?? falling on hard times is one thing, but getting addicted to recreational drugs is a personal choice. I don’t feel sorry for junkies living under bridges and trashing their own lives.

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        Matt S. May 5, 2016 at 1:51 pm

        I consider drug addiction a mental illness—Of course it started off as choice, but this type of choice has serious ramifications. Drug use often takes a hold of someone and quickly spirals out of control. Usually, a druggie under the influence can’t just make the change. Too many variables. An outside force has to available for help. Furthermore, it’s short sided to think that just by providing the resources, that this is going to be enough to break the cycle of poverty and substance abuse.

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          esther2 May 8, 2016 at 6:16 pm

          addiction may be an illness. throwing trash on the ground until our parks look like trash dumps, stealing bikes, is not. Its a lifestyle choice, and a poor one at that. These people have chosen to live outside the law.

          There are plenty of homeless that have fallen thru the cracks due to alcoholism, mental illness, poor luck. They are entirely different from those that live on the Springwater, away from public services.

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        Gary B May 5, 2016 at 3:44 pm

        Addiction is a personal choice? This is groundbreaking psychological research. I’ll ask the addicts when they chose to become addicted.

        Or perhaps you mean they chose to use at some point, and then became addicted? Well, yes, that’s likely true. But most of us aren’t ready to condemn their lives as unworthy because of a poor choice that led to a mental illness. Some of us can actually apply even more thought and realize that in many cases their “falling on hard times” led to their addiction.

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          esther2 May 8, 2016 at 6:17 pm

          Addiction is not a personal choice but how you live with it is.

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        Dan May 5, 2016 at 8:17 pm

        Whatever happened to compassion for other humans who are in a hard place?

        There are plenty of non-homeless people who are also addicted to recreational drugs. Consider that drug addiction is a biological pathology in some people. Also consider that when your existence sucks, being sober is awful.

        People need a helping hand, not a boot in the ass. Even people who are beyond saving deserve the dignity of not dying of their disease outside and alone.

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      rachel b May 5, 2016 at 3:34 pm

      City of Portland taxpayers have spent $850 million to combat homelessness and to provide affordable housing in the past 10 years. And we’re poised to spend millions and millions more in the next year. I’d say that qualifies us as trying and caring and willing. Everybody here has a right to be fed up at this point. Compassion wars are pointless.

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        LCL May 6, 2016 at 2:17 pm

        This is national problem. Taxpayers of few western cities cannot be responsible for such a disproportionate amount. In the real world, budgets and compassion have limits.

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    Craig Gifen May 5, 2016 at 11:40 am

    By the time they finish having meetings about having meetings, get a task plan to committee, have a group hug+cry, and finally get the place cleaned up….the I-205 path should be enough of a chaotic mess that they can start all over again and deal with that one.

    I biked the I-205 path from Powell to Washington a couple days ago:
    – There is a huge amount of toilet paper and human shit on and next to the path between Burnside and Glisan
    – The shaded corridor just south of Burnside was impassable. I had to get off and walk through about ten people, shopping cats, and a dog all sitting on the path. “Excuse me” didn’t really work so I had to just kind of barge through.
    – Did I mention trash? There is a lot of trash.

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    daisy May 5, 2016 at 11:40 am

    Curious as to why you didn’t mention the woman assaulted while fixing her flat on the Springwater in March. If the Springwater was trashy and people hassled you verbally, that’d be one thing. But violent assaults like this are what keeps me off there.

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    Ted Timmons (Contributor) May 5, 2016 at 11:48 am

    technically there’s no 104th at Foster. That *is* where Springwater crosses Foster, though.

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    soren May 5, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    we need to build housing and fund services, not fritter away millions of dollars on ineffective and vindictive whack-a-mole sweeps.

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      Lester Burnham May 5, 2016 at 12:09 pm

      You really think we can throw enough money at people who are intent on destroying their lives?

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      pdxtex May 5, 2016 at 1:05 pm

      we need to conduct a census of people on the street. check ids and give bus tickets to anybody not from Oregon. its not our responsibility to fix the mess outsiders brought with them.

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. May 5, 2016 at 1:08 pm

        Welcome to BikePortland, Mr. Trump!

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          pdxtex May 5, 2016 at 1:17 pm

          im as centrist as they come but really, at what point does a city become the steward of every single person that crosses the county line. cities are not a social agency, they are a utility. they should fix roads, provide police and fire protection and provide children with an education.

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          • Adam H.
            Adam H. May 5, 2016 at 1:23 pm

            At some point, I do agree with you, but “round them all up and kick them out” is not a valid solution. Perhaps if the feds provided better resources for homeless people, we wouldn’t have as many problems. At the very least, these issues should me managed at the state level, with funds dedicated for health services and temporary housing.

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          • Adam H.
            Adam H. May 5, 2016 at 1:25 pm

            And by the way “providing children with an education” is a social service.

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              pdxtex May 5, 2016 at 3:20 pm

              i guess its complimentary but cities playing the role of health provider is what I was going for. its a complex issue. I just don’t think the city of Portland, or any city for that matter has an obligation to provide rehabilitation services for anybody who lands here from afar, or near for that matter. I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. ride safe.

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            Matt S. May 5, 2016 at 1:53 pm

            At one point in time, none of these services were provided by the city…

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    kittens May 5, 2016 at 12:50 pm

    Total bleeding heart liberal here and yet still livid when I see what a mess they make out of our shared spaces.

    Seeing as the all-knowing, omnipotent, free market has failed to serve us here in Portland, I think it is past time the state and the city step in and mandate housing people can actually afford.

    It’s called inclusionary zoning.

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      J_R May 5, 2016 at 2:20 pm

      Bleeding heart liberal here, too, but inclusionary zoning simply means that to provide below market living opportunities for some, the price for others must be raised to make up the loss. Or alternatively, provide a subsidy to the owner/developer.

      If you think developers/landlords make exorbitant profits you should either become one and develop/rent at what you think is fair or become a stockholder in a developer/landlord. There are plenty of publicly-traded companies or exchange traded funds that you can invest in with your IRA.

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        soren May 8, 2016 at 9:07 am

        “the price for others must be raised to make up the loss.”

        1. you provide no evidence for this claim.

        2. you assume that the market rate in expensive cities like portland is close to the cost of development.

        3. only a fraction of units are typically bmr.

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        Ted Timmons (Contributor) May 8, 2016 at 10:10 am

        Apropos:

        Unable to redistribute wealth through taxes—because states restrict cities’ ability to tax and because the bulk of American wealth lies beyond city limits—they have come to pursue this goal about the only way they can: by forcing those who can afford new housing, on a building by building basis, to subsidize it for those who cannot.

        http://www.thenation.com/article/the-case-for-public-housing/

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    SE May 5, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    clean it up and then inspect to see how bad it is ? Is that a joke ?

    I rode through that 83rd & Springwater area last Monday … there was a 40ish y.o. woman zig-zagging down the trail singing/muttering loudly to herself … in my UNprofessional opinion, she was either stoned or drunk (?).

    I waited for her to zig to the right and passed on her left. Behind me I hear “You snuck up on me … F*ck You … I’m gonna kill you”

    Seems obvious that some “campers” need services in addition to housing. 🙁

    Pushing them off to a different area seems a cheap, non-productive solution. Charlie never fails to fail , it’s the easiest thing to do. -CSNY

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    Tom May 5, 2016 at 1:12 pm

    Does the waterway currently meet state or other quality standards? What entity is responsible for enforcing water quality for this waterway? I could not find the the specific water quality data. Certainly a case could be made that dumping say 20 to 30 tons of fecal material near the river bank each year should violate existing water quality regulations if the water does not meet regulatory standards. I wonder if the local residents are aware that they could pursue an environmental regulation lawsuit approach to force the governing body into action to stop the pollution.

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      JRB May 6, 2016 at 1:20 pm

      Really, you expect DEQ to solve Portland’s homeless problem? It isn’t given the resources to effectively police industrial polluters, nor is it a criminal enforcement agency. It’s only enforcement tool is monetary fines. How much of a deterrent is that going to be with homeless folks.

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      JRB May 6, 2016 at 1:22 pm

      Also you can’t bring a citizen suit against the city of Portland for homeless people crapping next to Johnson Creek.

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      Barry E May 7, 2016 at 4:03 pm

      Agree pollution by human fecal matter along local rivers such as Johnson Creek, the Willamette, etc. is a serious issue that isn’t being talked about enough. In addition to cycling we often go kayaking on local rivers and have seen numerous homeless camps along the river banks. Not to mention the “transient boaters” that are tied up at various docks around town. I suspect many of these resident boaters are dumping waste in the rivers. As I recall Portlanders spent around a billion dollars for the “Big Pipe” project in order to improve water quality in the Willamette. Almost seems like a waste of money now.

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    pdxtex May 5, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    I don’t think the concept of a county poor farm is so far fetched. we can provide housing all we want but what about treatment and continued job training?? getting someone off the street is fine and dandy but lots of these folks are the walking wounded. at least put them to work and have them become able bodied and minded adults while doing something worthwhile during their rehabilitation. grow vegetables, fix potholes…they need to take some responsibility for their condition too.

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      Dave May 5, 2016 at 1:46 pm

      CCC anyone?

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    Champs May 5, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    The downtown Rose Festival sweeps are coming soon, too—where will they send people then?

    Let’s stop kidding ourselves that the timing is coincidental and that the only problem is money. City Hall ALWAYS finds the resources when it needs to save face. Imagine leadership that could find motivation to get things done for the rest of us.

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    Paul H. May 5, 2016 at 2:28 pm

    I used to ride out to the I-205 path and use it to commute home a couple times a month. It was admittedly a recreational addition to my commute. I don’t even think about that route any more. All the trash and verbal hassling along both Springwater and I-205 just aren’t worth it.

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    pdxtex May 5, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    I don’t ride much past flavel these days. what are they saying to trail users or doing. are cyclist accosted often?

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    Matt S. May 6, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    I wonder if the city could invest into landscape features that deter people from camping in popular spots, i.e., large boulders, water features, rock gardens, trees, etc.. I think it could even happen under bridges. Install larger rocks into the concrete—of course be ADA compliant, but just narrow enough to accommodate, but not large enough for a tent. Maybe, just maybe, if no one has a place to camp they may be forced to access services and help or leave the area.

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      Ted Timmons (Contributor) May 6, 2016 at 1:35 pm

      They did the “big boulders” thing under I-5.
      http://kval.com/news/local/odot-rolls-in-boulders-in-hopes-of-keeping-homeless-campers-away

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      pdxtex May 6, 2016 at 2:39 pm

      somebody at city hall had the foresight to do that at the new Saturday market pavilion. its covered but also has a built in water feature that’s turned on when the market isn’t going. the riprap method was used over by the PacifiCorp substation by moody under the max trestle too. think homeless people have a hard time in Portland? this is taken directly from the city of san diego police website…

      •Avoid confrontations and maintain a safe distance. Use caution is dealing with them.
      •Do not offer food or money. It may encourage more panhandling. If you are inclined to help the homeless, it is better to contribute to local charities, missions, food banks or social service organizations that assist the needy.
      •Do not permit anyone to camp or loiter on your property.
      •Do not allow anyone to store shopping carts, bedding or other personal belongings on your property.
      •Restrict access to sidewalk overhangs, alcoves, or other areas protected from inclement weather.
      •Lock or remove handles from water spigots.
      •Keep trash dumpsters locked when not being filled or emptied.
      •Secure outside storage sheds or containers.
      •Lock or turn off exterior power outlets.
      •Lock gates after hours.
      •Install motion-activated exterior lighting after hours.
      •Trim landscaping to eliminate hiding places.
      – See more at: https://www.sandiego.gov/police/services/prevention/tips/homeless#sthash.CC3ge7Su.dpuf

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        suicidarida May 7, 2016 at 7:32 am

        I carry bear spray when alone on the trail. For cougars of course.Lol.
        With quick draw holster. just in case.

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          suicidarida May 7, 2016 at 7:47 am

          I ride by several campers blocking the trail.
          Several with weapons and golf clubs etc.
          1 swing and it could be fatal.
          Go around.

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            Barry E May 7, 2016 at 3:49 pm

            While riding on the Springwater recently we’ve also noticed some scary looking homeless guys carrying golf clubs or other potential weapons along the trail. Most of the homeless campers appear pretty non-threatening but in this case it made us very nervous when passing by.

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          suicidarida May 7, 2016 at 8:44 am

          more than enough for 1 bear

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          pdxtex May 7, 2016 at 10:31 am

          “maintain a safe distance…..” it sounds like they are describing a wildlife safari or dog safety. dont look them in the eyes, fight back if possible….har…yeah, i haven’t really encountered any homeless folks that were directly belligerent towards me but ive witnessed encounters gone wrong. i saw some preppy kid being chased by some urban tent dwellar underneath the hawthorne bridge a few years ago. geico caveman junior whizzed a rock at the preppy kid and it buzzed my head! yeah, i dont take night rides around omsi any more.

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    MaxD May 6, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    Our office adopted and maintained a stormwater facility, but we haven’t been able to keep it up for about a year because people are camping there. Last year my daughter and I participated in the neighborhood cleanup and had a great time picking up litter and pulling Ivy out of trees. This year, there were too many camps. My neighbors won’t let their kids go to the Park anymore because of open drug use, and drunk people acting violent and abusive. Bikeportland comments section is filled with stories no longer using the Springwater, the 205 trail, the Esplanade, etc because they are being occupied by drug addicts, drunks, and thieves. People may need an emergency place to sleep, but people should not be allowed to sleep anywhere. People sleeping outdoors should not be exempt from all rules and laws. It is illegal to have open containers in public, it is illegal to possess meth/heroine, stealing a shopping cart is illegal, possessing a stolen bike is a crime. If Portland wants to acknowledge that homelessness is a crisis, then HOUSE them! The City owns multiple parking garages that serve only the convenience of our citizens. Take them over temporarily, fill them with bunk beds and porta-potties and patrol them: no drugs, no guns, no stolen property. Then patrol our public openspaces and keep them safe and clean. Spend real money to do this.

    There is a lot of angst about how quickly Portland is changing and evolving. I think that is well-founded and that we need be careful and intentional about how we welcome and integrate new residents. A lot of people’s angst is focused on demolitions, but I think that is misplaced. Architectural heritage character and heritage is very important, but I believe the most important interactions in a city happen outside of buildings. What makes Portland great is how we interact with each other and with our City. Having our public spaces, our civic traditions and our collective participation taken away is a huge threat to Portland’s essence. Newcomers are not seeing people out taking care of the City, our openspaces are hostile, and our streets are more crowded. Instead of a laidback, welcoming community, they see people frazzled by negative interactions and worn out by facing crime, filth, litter and destruction every day. The policies of our City that tolerate crime, destruction of public property and dangerous behavior must be changed immediately. The myriad actions, traditions, programs and participation that creates community- that makes Portland great- is being threatened. A few years of being unable to participate may be enough to dismantle these things forever. The essence of Portland has been built over many years by thousands of people contributing in many little ways. That is a fragile and hugely valuable thing, and that is what is most threatened by our policy of neglect.

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    SE May 6, 2016 at 5:42 pm

    I just got home from riding The AOT out to 122nd. Yup , it looks much better around 82nd, but it seems like many of the campers just got pushed out further East.
    Could hear lots of loud talking out of the bushes between 92 & 96 . Many around Lambert just moved further in off the trail.

    don’t get me wrong, it was an improvement …but still wouldn’t ride through there after dark.

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    SE May 9, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/northwest/seattle-watches-as-portland-tries-setting-rules-for-homeless-sleeping-in-the-streets/

    One big sweep occurred in early May along the Springwater Corridor, a 21.5-mile park greenway used by bikers and joggers that — despite the continued ban on park camping — had scattered enclaves of tents that sheltered more than 400 people.

    In late April, the area was posted with notices that warned of an upcoming sweep to take down the tents and other structures and remove any leftover property. Among the soon-to-be-evicted campers, there was a mix of resignation and anger as they contemplated another move.

    A campsite occupied by Constance Gardipe and her husband, Matthew, had a barbecue, folding chairs, a cooler, shopping carts and other gear to help them survive outside. They planned to move to a more secluded area.

    “We want respect. We’re not trying to cause trouble,” said Constance Gardipe. “You wouldn’t pick up your home. Why do we have to pick up ours and leave? It’s not right.”

    Maybe because it’s an illegal campsite on govt property ? respect ?? oh my.

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