The City of Gresham is more worried about the potential impacts of illegal camping along a path than they are about the benefits of closing a major gap in the 40-Mile Loop.
After Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis* announced his opposition to the Troutdale to Gresham Master Plan last week, Metro has decided to postpone a scheduled planning meeting for the project and they will not move forward with planning in Gresham. The news was first reported by the Gresham Outlook.
“While I have always been a fan of recreational amenities and I enjoy running regularly on the trail, I cannot in good conscience support this proposal at this point in time,” Bemis shared on his Facebook page last week. “There are far too many chronic issues currently extending along the entire trail alignment.”
“It is a modern tragedy that our unsolved regional issues around housing, homelessness, and public safety threaten the advancement of shared recreational infrastructure, but unfortunately, that’s where we find ourselves.”
— Erik Kvarsten, Gresham City Manager
By “chronic issues” Bemis is referring to the massive tent city that sprung up along the Springwater Corridor path last summer. With the Portland region experiencing a major crisis of housing affordability and a lack of health services for our most vulnerable citizens, the natural areas along the Springwater became home to hundreds of people. The camps grew when Portland Mayor Charlie Hales said he would allow the activity even though it had a major negative impact on the environment and a groundswell of opposition from adjacent neighborhoods and business owners.
Hales’ policy (what a Metro planner referred to as a “horribly failed experiment”) and the resulting situation on the Springwater still weighs heavily on many peoples’ minds. Metro has heard a lot of concern about the issue in their outreach efforts that began in June. As we reported last week, fears of crime and people living along the trail was “by far” the most frequently expressed issue.
It appears the City of Gresham has heard those voices of opposition and now officially agrees with them.
In a letter (PDF) to Metro Chief Operating Officer Martha Bennett (which she received January 12th), Gresham City Manager Erik Kvarsten wrote that he has “substantial concerns” about the project. He said the safety and other issues that sprung up on the Springwater last summer have cost the city over $1 million in maintenance and ongoing police patrols. In contrast to Hales’ handling of the situation in Portland, in February of last year Gresham made headlines for an emergency closure of land around the Springwater to prevent camping. They cited rampant crime and environmental destruction as the reason for their “aggressive” actions.
Here’s more from Kvarsten’s letter to Metro:
“While we greatly value the open space and recreational assets provided by the regional government, and many of our residents access those assets frequently, I have substantial concerns about this project at this time.
As I am sure you are aware, the Portland region has seen substantial issues along the entire Springwater Trail alignment. It is not uncommon to hear people say they won’t use the trail due to safety concerns, or that they heavily encourage their friends and family members to stay off of it. Safety issues in Gresham alone have resulted in the necessity for a regular, daily police presence, a financial investment that now exceeds $1 million…
… It is a modern tragedy that our unsolved regional issues around housing, homelessness, and public safety threaten the advancement of shared recreational infrastructure, but unfortunately, that’s where we find ourselves.”
Kvarsten says Gresham will only return to the planning process once Metro completes a regional “plan of action” that would, “solve the current concerns along the trail and prevent them from occurring on the new infrastructure as well.”
“The trail that’s being planned is going to close a gap in the 40-Mile Loop and it will connect to the Springwater trail, but it is in no way an extension of the Springwater.”
— Dan Moeller, Metro
Asked to respond to Gresham’s decision, a Metro rep said they they initially started this project at the request of the cities of Troutdale and Gresham. But now, since Gresham no longer wants to work on it, they will honor that decision and won’t move forward on that portion of the project. “Whenever Metro engages with the public, it’s important that we’re transparent, making good use of community members’ time and ideas, and providing clarity on next steps,” said Metro communications rep Yuxing Zheng.
Metro Conservation Program Director Dan Moeller has defended the project by pointing out “extensive research” that shows trails “do not in any way generate crime or safety issues.” He also told us last week that people shouldn’t see this project as an extension of the Springwater. “The trail that’s being planned is going to close a gap in the 40-Mile Loop and it will connect to the Springwater trail, but it is in no way an extension of the Springwater.” “In a lot of cases there’s a potential that this trail might even generate some some safety benefits,” he continued. “With people using the trail it adds a lot of eyes and ears on the ground to report safety concerns.”
Gresham’s decision to yank its support at this stage of the process must be frustrating for Moeller and his team. Moeller told us last week that Gresham city officials and public safety agencies had been at the table in the planning process since the beginning to make sure that safety concerns were being adequately addressed. But since the project began public opposition seems to have grown to the point where it became a political liability for Gresham leaders.
Of note is that there are already major regional trails that connect to Gresham via the Springwater Corridor. The Gresham Fairview Trail is very popular and has an alignment that abuts hundreds of homes and businesses — yet it hasn’t attracted the type of crime or environmental damage that people fear with this new project. Actually, I didn’t realize the Gresham Woods closure and damages caused by campers were not on the Springwater. So it appears that Gresham has indeed experienced these issues beyond the Springwater.)
We assume Metro will continue working on the Troutdale portion of the project and will update this story when we confirm that with them. We’ve also reached out to the Gresham City Manager to better understand his decisions but have yet to hear back.
UPDATE, 12:10 pm: Metro confirms they are still moving forward with the Troutdale portion of the project.
UPDATE, 1:15 pm: We have heard back from Gresham City Manager’s office. We asked about the “plan of action” and what it would take to renew their support for the project. Here’s what we heard back from Communications Manager Elizabeth Coffey:
The plan needs to be mutually agreed upon and funded by all partners involved in this project. As that approval would need to come from our City Council, I don’t want to speak for them on the specifics of what they’d like to see. The work to formulate a specific plan will need to be done. However, it’s clear that safety concerns need to be addressed in a clear and transparent way to alleviate our citizen’s concerns.
While Gresham says the plan needs to be mutually funded, Metro has told us in a follow-up that trail safety plans are the responsiblity of the local jurisdiction. “It is up to local jurisdictions who manage trails to coordinate on trail safety plans. Metro manages trails that run through Metro sites, unless they are managed by a partner agency under an intergovernmental agreement. Just as it would be up to the local cities to decide when to move forward on a trail project, it is also up to the cities to decide how they manage their own trails,” said Yuxing Zheng of Metro.
So it appears Gresham and Metro might be in a bit of stalemate.
*Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis: (503) 618-2584, MayorBemis@GreshamOregon.gov
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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What Gresham businesses have shoveled the shove from sidewalks and bike lanes?
Mup trails are amazing. Metro governments blew it with the springwater. People finally reach a breaking point and then act out in other ways. That’s how we got Trump and now no extension.
He has valid points. Revisit this proposal in 5 years.
Yeah, it’s unfortunate, but no one can say his concerns are baseless.
his concerns are baseless…
Why do you say his concerns are baseless? From what we say happen to springwater this summer, they seem well based to me. Did I miss something?
In five years inequality is only going to get worse, forcing more people outdoors.
I was going to say I’m not at all surprised with the Mayor’s position (though without the tent city, do we imagine the response to the planned extension would have been even the slightest bit different?)
“In five years inequality is only going to get worse, forcing more people outdoors”
You are also correct.
Five? I bet it gets a lot worse in four…
Inequality is not what pushes people outside; it’s lack of an adequate safety net.
Lack of an adequate social safety net is an equality issue.
Not at all — that we have super-rich individuals has no bearing on whether our safety net is adequate or not. Unless you blame their existence for our social woes.
Even in a more equal society, a safety net would still be needed.
You’d have a point if not for the fact that so many of the super-rich individuals are hell-bent on destroying those social safety nets that the less fortunate rely so heavily on.
There are also plenty of super-rich individuals doing good works with their money. Call out individuals for their actions, if you want, but stereotyping and blaming a specific demographic group for things you dislike about our country is no better than blaming the homeless for the crime along the Springwater.
Completely agree with you BK. The presumption that “all rich people do XYZ and are conservatives Hell-bent on destroying society” is tiresome.
Just like the assumption no liberals own guns. It’s intellectually lazy to make those stereotypes, but investigating them often runs counter to the preconceived narratives we have.
How is it stereotyping to say that there are some people with lots of power and wealth who are actively working to strip social safety nets from people who need it? This is a fact. What do you think the GOP is doing as we speak? Their goal is to dismantle the ACA, stripping healthcare from millions; defund Planned Parenthood, stripping yet another health care option from people who need it; and privatize everything else they can get their hands on. This is happening and the people making it happen only care about expanding their wealth and power.
This is exactly what they want us to do too. Argue with each other about stereotypes and inequality while they quietly work behind the scenes stripping our country for parts right under our noses.
Your modified statement is fine, but that’s not what you were saying before. Your revised statement is more like “There are some homeless who are criminals and cause problems for their neighbors.”
I don’t care what “they” want me to do or not to do. You are totally opposed to stereotyping and blaming individuals based on the actions of others in the same group do, yet you are happy to deploy (and even defend) that same bad thinking against others when it suits your purpose.
I think it is wrong in any circumstance.
Are you suggesting that all social safety nets are government-based?
Before the government it should really be (and often is) friends/family/churches/etc. providing some help.
Good point, I had not thought of that. If anything, perhaps our current political situation shows us that we can’t rely on the Feds and should be focusing more on working together on localized options and mutual reliance on the community.
I think safety nets have to be government based — not because the government does a particularly good job (they don’t) but because there needs to be a guaranteed level of service that just has to be there.
5 years? As if Gresham’s Division Street is super great for miles and miles of bike rides?
No, this is classic Republican obstructionism.
He is willingly choosing to ignore evidence and scientific research, in favor of a “feeling”. He is picking out one anecdote (the Springwater) out of the thousands of bike paths that have no problems, and presenting it as representative of bike laths in general. Gresham itself even has many bike paths that are free from campers. The issues need to be addressed as they arise – unilaterally blocking all bike paths for fear of crime is disingenuous.
Since this extension will connect to the Springwater, that is the best place to look for comparison of what to expect.
Also, as a person who lives next to a problematic bike path, I know for a fact that my neighbors and myself don’t bother even calling the cops for most of the crime we experience. When one of the campers tried to break into my home, my son just ran him off and went back to bed without even waking me up. (My son is 6’3″ 210# and a black belt, not a small child). No, we didn’t bother calling it in. Same for most of the thefts and burglaries, depending on what goes missing. That would lead to garbage data that we aren’t being victimized at a higher rate than other neighborhoods that call in small things, but that data, like all data that requires self-reporting, is worthless.
I lived for two years in Goose Hollow near the MUP connecting 18th and 16th/Montgomery. My experience mirrors yours.
The path alongside east-bound Highway 26 by the tunnel is an eyesore right now.
I decided to stop house shopping in Lents because of the Springwater issues last year. When you bike there to look at houses, and have to dial 911 because someone is standing in the middle of the path threatening to kill people, it’s motivation to look elsewhere.
that’s probably why nobody lives in downtown Portland…
Are you kidding me?
It’s much better now. But sorry that happened to you. Last year on the spring water was completely messed up and out of control.
That’s good for Lents residents I guess. I figured the out-of-control situation would go on for years. But I found a nice place in Roseway. No neglected parks or city properties nearby, so no homeless camps. And I’m walking distance from The Lumberyard and Popeye’s Chicken!
It’s good for anyone who rides/walks/runs on the Springwater.
I get stolen cars dumped on my b street because tje bus is one short block away. I do not lobby for cancelling the bus, inconveniencing hundreds of people every day.
yes, it’s connecting to the Springwater, 7 miles from where the camping issues were chronic…
we can’t have nice things if anybody within a certain (10 mile?) radius experiences problems with a similar thing?
This is the same argument that opponents of rail use: the so-called “crime train”.
That’s exactly why Beverly Hills wouldn’t let LA county extend a rail line back down Santa Monica Blvd to get to the beach in Santa Monica. Finally they just had to go around through Culver City.
Coming from an area that built malls on the edge of town, then ran buses to them to provide cheap labor, complaints of this nature are at the same time prejudice and completely accurate.
This fight, among others, would have never happened without bus service:
It was hard to argue against the people who simply didn’t want brown faces in the mall when, time after time, their purported fears were proved correct.
Do you have some reason to think crime in neighborhoods in the vicinity of a MUP is more likely to be reported than in neighborhoods further away?
I understand the decision not report but as a geographer, this type of data would actually be extremely helpful with NIMBY work. For example, comparing area specific urban trails with regional economics, or comparing urban trails with x-urban or rural. The same arguments about crime are presented everywhere and sometimes they are valid and sometimes they are not. It is understood that these types of data do not represent every experience (there is no reporting for “I had a great time on the trail and no issues”) but it would provide information that may say crime or whatever has more to do with other factors than the a recreational paved multi-use path or linear park.
Second, it is awesome that you support such a great resource near where you live. I’m sorry that there are those out there that do not have the basic respect to not take your stuff.
Except in this case the anecdote is quite relevant compared to a bunch of academic studies that took place in other states. I’m all for evidence-based everything, but to pretend like the Springwater debacle didn’t happen is just silly.
The experiences on Springwater and 205 bike paths are indeed likely to be replicated on this new trail. Until an effective way is found to deal with illegal camping, every similar new bike facility will face the same opposition. Illegal campers take over public spaces and make them unusable by others. So why spend money on new public space?
so let’s close all the roads, too. There are as many illegal camps on car streets as on paths. And if you look at how many people are actually hurt or killed… well, all the real action is on car streets. Don’t blame paths for homelessness unless you really believe that streets devoted mostly to cars and trucks are responsible for all the crime and mayhem that happens along them.
No one is blaming paths, that I have read. The just recognizing that in this metro area they have been associated with a lot of illegal activity lately.
Meanwhile, Indianapolis, the home of the now boring and cookie-cutter Indy 500, has a new birth with the new Cultural Trail.
So Mayor Bemis is working on funding affordable housing and homeless shelters then, right?
***Comment deleted: Not sure where you were going with this one highrider, but it wasn’t appropriate at all. – Jonathan***
Blocking a path extension until camping problems are eliminated is like closing roads because of fears they’ll be used for bank robbery getaways. False choice.
True, but other gov’t agencies make serious efforts to keep parks and trails clean of trash and debris. Many people planted many shrubs and trees to clean up the Springwater over many years. However, Gresham has a long history of pathetic planning.
I’ve spent a lot of time riding the Springwater trail during my 10 years of living in Portland. Only recently have I felt unsafe riding the path out to Boring. My use is purely recreational, so I choose daylight hours during the summer to ride and run the trail, but I still feel uneasy through certain parts and I’m not sure if I’ll return this upcoming summer.
I’ve yet to come across a road in Portland where I feel like I don’t want to drive it because of my safety being at risk.
This is the problem with the Springwater: real, recognizable fear of not wanting to use the MUP. I don’t feel this way when driving anywhere in Portland.
I live next to a bike path that has had uncontrolled illegal camping over the past few years which, while less severe than the situation on the Springwater, has had a huge negative impact on my neighborhood. In fact, one week ago we had three houses burglarized, three cars broken into, mail stolen and a pedicab taken (the only source of income for the victim). While that’s more crime than a typical week, it’s not far from the normal range for us since the camps came.
So yeah, I’ve got some sympathy for the residents of Gresham and understand that they want more than the usual soft assurances that all will be well in the end. I’ll add that our population of problematic homeless people got a lot worse when PDX cracked down on the Springwater.
That said, it is sad that this connection is being delayed or perhaps even permanently derailed. I notice that the Gresham officials all refer to this project as recreational. That’s a real messaging problem. Bike paths, particularly those that connect to the suburbs, should be built as and viewed as bike freeways. Like freeways, they may also serve a recreational function, but they are, at their core, transportation infrastructure. I get that no one in Gresham rides a bike, it is at half the pathetic national average and falling, but have they never heard of people using bikes for transportation? Apparently not.
I’ve noticed many more people using the Fanno Creek Trail now that there are less gaps compared to 2009. It feels more safe.
I’ve never heard of a sidewalk referred to as transportation infrastructure, even though they are…
in Gresham any means to get around that isn’t a car is considered recreational…
Thanks put huge bubble around ur city so cars can bouce off of them.
#Wilsonville has same issues..
I hope Mayor Wheeler will defend our natural areas and our recreation areas. Having access to clean, safe, free natural areas and parks and having inviting, safe places to exercise is vitally important to the overall health of a city, especially one that is becoming more dense and more expensive. When these spaces are co-opted for housing, it hurts the whole City, and the lower-income people the most since they have less options for recreation.
Everyone needs a place to sleep, and the City must place an active role in helping create those spaces, but it cannot be in our Parks. This is pretty significant fallout from Mayor Hales’ failed policy. There is growing resentment toward parks, resistance to path extensions, and people are nervous about using the system we have.
We cannot let our greatest civic asset, our parks and natural areas, be pitted against housing the homeless. Parks and Natural Areas should be taken out of consideration as places for camps.
The City can clean up its storage yards (all the Bureaus have them) and set up temporary camps there. City-owned parking garages could be used for temporary shelter.
fearmongering over the houseless on springwater just bit back.
I knew it would. Untill we get housing under control, these rights will occur with every new path.
From my perspective as a housed Lents resident, there was fear mongering, but there were also real negative experiences. Bike and stroller theft went way up. Our natural areas were trampled, trashed, and filled with needles. The path was houseless residents’ living room, so although I never felt unsafe, it was definitely uncomfortable to use the path. (Note: I am male, and the majority of housed females felt unsafe, I’d guess). I’m not aware of any assaults or violent crime towards housed residents in Lents (though there was the one egregious case in Gresham). Overall, I’d say Greshamites’ fears of negative impacts are more justified than not, CONDITIONAL on a large, long-tenured houseless camp on the new trail (which seems unlikely).
Lots of homeless sleep under freeway exchanges and overpasses. I guess we need to remove those also. Crime nearby freeway exchanges is probably elevated, so think of the neighbors.
Yep, think of the stickup men and serial killers who have used the Interstate highway system to get away and commit repeat crimes. How far does Mayor Bemis want to take his concern with infrastructure facilitating crime?
Probably just will focus on things under his jurisdiction. I doubt highways are.
The problem with the “criminals use highways” argument is that the criminals aren’t primarily victimizing those who live adjacent to the highways.
I had never seen so many fences blocking underpass access before I moved here…
we spend a lot of money making it unwelcoming to sleep outside in the city…
If you mean removing access to the under-areas of the exchanges where people can’t sleep, then you’re probably walking down a line of reasonable policy.
Write Charlie Hales a thank-you note for giving figurative ammo to folks opposed to MUPs. Or don’t, since he sailed away on his yacht.
Look at the photos on the http://nospringwatertrailextension.com/ website and you can’t blame those people for their sentiments.
Once the project is approved, his leverage disappears. Negotiating additional resources for legitimate safety concerns as part of any approval process seems like sound, reasonable political maneuvering to me.
Good thing there’s no crime near roads. More roads!
Yes but I won’t be surprised if Troutdale follows Gresham once they get wind of what has happened.
People drive their cars up Mt. Tabor to steal from other cars. Let’s close those car-paths.
There is more crime by far in neighborhoods near high traffic volume streets and freeways, because criminals use them as get away roads. Let’s close all those freeways and high traffic volume streets! And don’t build new ones, they encourage crime!
It’s like saying people use the Springwater to burglarize nearby residents and then use the MUP for the escape route. However the argument is that they’re not escaping, but camping out amidst a group of law abiding, harmless citizens.
Where did you hear that?
I have a hard time believing that Gresham has spent $1 million on maintenance and enforcement in the Springwater Corridor, especially enforcement.
For a few years, I rode the Springwater Corridor to work in Gresham and until homeless camps made me fear for my safety, I rode on it recreationally. During that time I NEVER saw any police presence.
A random patrol by a motorcycle cop for an hour twice a week would cost less than $10000 per year even with fringe benefits and overhead.
As for maintenance, we rather expect to have some expenditures for tennis courts, playgrounds, and dog parks, for example. Having to spend some money to maintain multi-use paths shouldn’t come as a complete surprise.
I admit that in an earlier article about this project I questioned whether we should be spending time and money planning if we didn’t have a plan for and commitment for maintenance and enforcement. However, rather than cancelling the planning for the project, I’d hoped the result would be a recognition that they needed to up the enforcement commitment.
I can’t address your number except to say you should probably double it because police do that sort of thing in pairs.
An occasional random patrol won’t solve the problem. When the patrolling officer observes an illegal camp, he can’t snap his fingers and make it go away. There will have to be more officers, social and health workers, posting, clean up crews, hazmat, tagging and storage of the stuff, etc. Then a month later, it has to be done all over again. That’s expensive.
That’s assuming the camps needs to be removed. Why not just regulate them, check in on them, have some kind of presence to ensure there isn’t any drama?
Because Portland has deemed the environment surrounding the Springwater as nature. We don’t want our nature in Portland trampled.
There’s plenty of concrete for people to safely sleep on in a regulated, city supported fashion.
And not have it be directly on one of the biggest most important bike routes/paths in the city.
Maybe the police should set up a temporary occupied stations in the midst of the camps so they can protect residents from the predators who lurk among them.
there are also far too many chronic issues currently extending along the entire transportation network…
is he going to oppose building and maintaining these deadly streets?
these are streets that are already built and killing people, not an unbuilt facility with theoretical issues…
how many people have been killed by campers on the Springwater?
Don’t forget, this argument is not about cars and roads or bikes and paths. It’s about large encampments in area’s where there’s not supposed to be any.
“prevent them from occurring on the new infrastructure as well”
no trail you could possibly build will prevent people from sleeping on it…
even with Vision Zero we’re not naive enough to think we’ll actually reach zero…
“it became a political liability”
oh, that makes sense… can’t make things better for lots of people if a few are whining about it…
what’s a bit hilarious is that this decision is based on fear of the type of people we joke about being from Gresham…
Gresham has long been the red-headed step-child of Portland and we mock it and its people in the same way they’re characterizing the houseless…
Gresham is the reason we don’t go to the Rose Festival anymore.
If another trail was proposed in much of south SE and East Portland, you would likely see the exact same response. Might also see it in other areas of Portland. This issue (problems on the Springwater) was a big deal for many of us last year, and people are still upset and concerned.
I for one find it really disingenuous for people who don’t live next to these problems to be casting stones on those who have and do.
Someone needs to talk to Beaverton..
I ride daily on a part of Fanno Creek trail. A trail that parallels train tracks and a freeway on one side and probably the lowest income Beaverton Neighborhood on the other and it is a very nice and very clean.
I actually like downtown Gresham. Nice little main street with some good bars and restaurants, easily accessible via MAX. Though I will not be spending my money at the Mayor’s restaurant, Boccelli’s.
I mourn the loss of Main Street Grocery. I remember how exciting and fancy it seemed when the only option there previous was the M&M. The M&M prevailed, though!
I completely understand Gresham’s position. Might be interesting to get the perspective of residents of Lents.
I esp. appreciate B. Carfree’s thoughts here.
p.s..I actually AM a redheaded stepchild and I’m from Gresham! Sniffle…sob… Can’t get no respect…
p.s. again…I confess we did have a trash pile with a rusted-out Impala in our driveway and a crick in our backyard.
OMG! If we ever meet I will buy you an Irish whiskey.
Hah! 🙂 Jameson. Neat.
Tyrconnell is a really good affordable Irish whiskey too. And Redbreast 12 is amazing.
This makes me sad.
It has taken decades of studies to demonstrate that trails are not crime hotspots. And convince NIMBY homeowners and cities that multiuse recreational paths will be an asset to their community.
Now that difficult-to-establish relationship of trust has been badly compromised by policy change that allowed camping in parks.
If we want to see an expansion of our parks and trail system, existing links need to be managed in a way that is safe for users and reassuring to adjacent landowners that new park lands will be managed in a way that does not detract from their land resale value or their ability to use parkland in a manner consistent with their citys’ parks plans.
Excellent point and well stated!
Part of the problem is we think of these trails as parks instead of transportation corridors.
Stephen — why is that a problem?
It’s much easier to get people and governments excited about building a park that doubles as a transportation corridor than just something that’s just for transportation.
And its easier to get people excited about walking or bicycling for transportation when they get to enjoy a park while they do it.
I’m curious as to your thoughts (& I haven’t read the 90 other comments, so apologies if you’ve already stated them).
Because parks are seen as optional, critical transportation links are not.
I do think it’s generally bad practice to build critical transportation corridors on secluded bike paths through the woods which are dark at night. The primary reason for the springwater being the location of the largest houseless camp has everything to do with its remoteness and lack of access points. It’s why I advocate for protected bike lanes on major corridors instead. More eyes on the street invites better behavior by all.
“I do think it’s generally bad practice to build critical transportation corridors on secluded bike paths through the woods which are dark at night.
Blaming the victims for riding at night?
No, I am blaming the planners who decided that it was a good idea to build cycling infrastructure through a dark, secluded, wooded area without streetlamps. I would never place the blame on sometime who decided to use sub-standard cycling facilities, only the people who designed it.
Why isn’t it ok to have bike trails through secluded wooded areas? The planners aren’t the ones who made the Springwater dangerous.
Less eyes on the street, for one.
Maybe you’re right… I’d hate to meet a planner in a secluded area without a crowd to provide protection against my baser instincts.
So you are the one blaming the homeless for the conditions on the Springwater?
What a hypocrite…..
No idea how you are coming to that conclusion. Stating the reasons that the Springwater was attractive to people living outside does not constitute blame. And it also does not mean I don’t have understanding why people were living there. I for one would not use any wooded bike path at night, regardless of who was living there. It’s just not a good idea to build a cycling network that relies on wooded unlit bike paths. Protected bike lanes on well-lit and well-travelled streets are far better.
Very good point here.
It was a different Portland when they built it. I used to ride the Springwater at all hours–even before it was paved. It was really wonderful, at one time. And for many many years.
“Because parks are seen as optional, critical transportation links are not.”
Good point. But, I don’t think the city of Gresham really thought this was a critical transportation link. We can’t even get the city of Portland to build new bike infrastructure as if it was a critical transportation link. But, suburban cities do value parks. I’m thinking the “the 40 mile loop is a great linear park” is an easier sell for Gresham than the “40 miles loop is a critical transportation link” aspect.
Adam H wrote
“I do think it’s generally bad practice to build critical transportation corridors on secluded bike paths through the woods which are dark at night.”
I think it’s a good idea, myself. And, they can be lit pretty easily.
For most transportation use, it’s between 7am and 6pm, which is light during the months of the year that are good for biking and walking.
And paths through the woods, for me, are far preferable than protected cycletracks on roads. They’re quiet, they’re pretty, they’re relaxing instead of stressful, and I don’t need to breath car exhaust.
Helsinki Finland has its primary bicycle routes from suburbs to downtown on paths through the woods. I rode on a bunch of them and thought it was fabulous. Minneapolis/St. Paul, particularly the suburbs, also do a great job on this.
For the health of a city, I don’t think parks are optional. And as far as critical transportation links, one may argue that the MUP from Boring to Portland may not see enough bike commuters to consider it “critical.” However, I find it vital and consider it critical because I value a system of interconnected paths throughout the city.
And, to clarify my original statement —
* decades, not only of study, but of careful facility management of multiuse trails. By cities, metro regions, and states.
* and the policy shift to allow camping wasn’t in and of itself a dealbreaker. If campers weren’t breaking other laws like — leaving trash, harassing other park users, and damaging park vegetation it might have been different. It wasn’t so much camping itself, but letting the whole area become lawless to the detriment of all users.
Concerned citizens and government officials put in years and years of effort into generating effective park policies. If those policies are just paper and not something that park users can expect to be upheld, it’s going to be difficult to get support for new parks…
Best of luck to Gresham, Troutdale, and Metro in getting the 40 Mile Loop gaps filled within the next couple years.
IMO, allowing the camping pretty much guarantees the illegal behavior. While not all people who are homeless are criminally inclined, there is a selection for people who have trouble staying within society’s norms among urban homeless. Where do they draw the line? We just had our second homicide in less than a year in a city-sanctioned homeless car-camp in a park in Eugene, in a city that until recently averaged one homicide per year.
Some campers will be people who simply can’t make it and we should be ashamed as a society that we don’t find a way to get them housed. Too many others are people who prefer to give society at large the middle finger, in my experience. And my experience is not trivial. My neighborhood of about 5000 people consists of 20% homeless.
This is a smart move. Hales proved we don’t know how to manage these paths.
That’s a nice spot, but there are issues everywhere. Take your kid around the corner to Montavilla Park sometime and have fun explaining the needles, the intimidating homeless folks crossing through the playground, the shopping carts piled underneath the cover by the picnic tables. My kids asked to go to what they like to call “the noodle park” (fun park equipment) a couple months back, and that was our last experience anyways. Having since moved to Gresham, I’m still in love with Portland, but a lot of the folks that have been here a while don’t see it the same; they imagine Portland through the lens that I’ve just described.
I suspect it is the combination of these perceptions, coupled with the issues seen on the Springwater, that give rise to Mayor Bemis’s current resistance. The pushback does not stem solely from the Springwater itself.
Intended as a response to Todd Hudson’s comment about moving to Roseway instead of Lents…
Glenhaven Park is near us Rosewaiians, which is quite nice. Since it’s a PPS park, it’ll probably stay nice. Sad that Montavilla Park became what you described…it makes you wonder who decided which parks get to stay nice and which are allowed to go to the dogs. Rocky Butte is a little over a mile away; the areas along the highway are getting bad. But the park at the top is always fantastic. Crime don’t climb!
As for Adam’s response below….another attempt by him to pick a slapfight with people. As he does here every single day.
Sorry, but I find the comment “my kids had to see a houseless person” to be incredibly offensive.
“have fun explaining the needles, the intimidating homeless folks”
Quite a bit different than “houseless person”, don’t you think?
Actually you mainly just post cliches…..
God forbid our kids have to witness the results of our neoliberal capitalist society and have to see people of different social strata from our own.
A 4-5 year old kid in Lents had a needle stick playing on their park’s playground. Now he has to be on anti-virals for four months and their entire family is terrified. But continue on with your agenda.
OMG, that’s one of my great fears. Hepatitis C can stay active in a used needle for months, and treatment is anything but cheap. I routinely clean up the used syringes at nearby playgrounds, but kids often run away from the play structures and no one can check all that space.
I hope the child comes out of this okay. That’s one of those experiences that can be really damaging.
Majorly traumatic for the parents as well!
Used needles in a park is obviously a huge issue. Perhaps we need more needle drop boxes or more Parks employees to clean up?
…or to actively and vigorously discourage people shooting up and dropping needles in parks, using policing and enforcement? Seriously–enabling does NOT work. Ask any addict.
How is providing a safe place to dispose of needles “enabling”? The alternative is that they dump them on the ground. In more progressive counties like the Netherlands — where heroine is still illegal — they provide used needle drop boxes and needle exchange programs. It’s not enabling to acknowledge that people will still shoot up regardless of what the law says, so you might as well make it safer to do so.
If you know you can shoot up in a public park, ‘properly’ dispose of your needles (because most addicts are neat and thoughtful that way) or a park employee will cheerfully clean up after you, how much more attractive is it to go shoot up in a public park? Or on a public trail? The tacit message, whether you like it or not, is: Welcome! Come shoot up here! That’s enabling.
Communities can set standards and discourage antisocial and destructive uses of public spaces. It’s actually what we used to do here, in Portland. As for now, because of the shameful lack of oversight and enforcement in our public spaces and the consequent mess, we can all pick up the needles when we see them. I hope that kid in Lents is ok.
yeah…ask the addicts who live healthy and well-integrated lives in genuine democracies (and at far less cost to society).
Are addicts the best source of research and best-practice methods?
No, of course they’re not. But I was addressing someone (Adam) whose perspective on these matters (I assume, from reading) is weighted toward the opinion of addicts and campers. For what it’s worth, people who treat addicts also say enabling = no good.
And Soren–please tell me more about these healthy drug addicts.
Because those extra dumpsters they placed along the Springwater really solved the problem? You can’t have an expectation that high folks, many with mental illnesses to begin with are going to use them.
I can’t imagine sharps containers being all that useful. People with substance use disorder are often in fear of being caught, and walking up to a sharps container sort of puts a big red flag on their back.
I know you mean well, Adam H. Just a few years ago I was suggesting the same thing in my neighborhood (where a team of us routinely clean up hundreds of used syringes per week). The problem is it just doesn’t work. In fact, the places where the sharps containers were placed ended up being syringe hot-spots. Sadly, even though we have free syringes/needles available (and delivered, no less) the sharps boxes were often broken open and the contents scattered throughout the park.
Also, now that fentanyl (and likely carfentanil) has hit the street, I’m regularly picking up the dropped syringe from under a bench that still has the addict layed out on it. They are sometimes out cold before they even get the needle out; it falls out when their arm drops down.
Do you think the sharps container caused higher usage? Or just moved it closer to a sharps container?
We have some sharps containers near some of the hotspots, fwiw.
It’s all such a farce. It’s delusional to expect that people shooting up on a public property in open defiance of irate neighbors, the law and other park/path users will suddenly develop manners and a social conscience and walk their used needles over to the proper disposal receptacle when they’re done and (in some cases, as you relate) are ambulatory again. And it’s not, ultimately, compassionate, in the greater sense of that word.
Thanks, you and your neighbors, B. Carfree, for committing to regularly pick up all those needles. Yeesh. What a mess. 🙁
I found a needle and a bag which probably contained some kind of drug in my apartment complex area. There was a trash dumpster three feet away. I don’t think people shoot-up and immediately think about where they can dispose their needles properly. I believe responsible needle disposal occurs during moments of sobriety. Yes, we need proper needle disposal drop spots, but to get people to use them when they’re intoxicated is another story…
Throwing sharps (esp. biohazard sharps) in with regular trash is not a good idea. If you have to at least put it in a puncture-proof container like a metal can. Our sanitation works don’t deserve the risk of getting stuck either.
I didn’t think of that, you’re right. The individual loaded on drugs most likely worked through that type of logic and consciously chose to leave the needle on the ground, uncapped so that someone like me would come along and dispose of it properly. I ended up putting it in a pop can and crushing it and then throwing it away.
Sounds like you did think of that. Thanks for doing the right thing.
While I appreciate your compassionate zeal, Adam, there are a number of bad, sketchy dudes high out of their minds and extremely erratic ’round here, now. You can feel sorry for them, sure, and you can donate time or money or materials to shelters and services…but not be a nitwit about your safety, or your child’s safety.
It’s not wrong or selfish to expect our parks to be usable and clean. We are paying for them–to the tune of $$$$$$$$$$ over the years. I and mine–bleeding heart liberals–voted no for the very first time (in our lifetimes of “yes”es ) on the last Metro measure, for the same reasons Gresham’s voting no on the spur trail. It made us incredibly sad but we’re sick of seeing millions spent on parks and greenspaces go down the drain, of not feeling comfortable or wanting to use our parks anymore. The lack of stewardship and oversight seems–to us–to be the new paradigm. We don’t want to throw any more money at that until things change.
I grew up w/ addicts and I’m sure they’d appreciate your compassion and benefit of the doubt. But I suspect many might also consider you (begging your pardon) a soft touch and a chump. It’s wise to be smart, and even a little skeptical, when exercising compassion…esp. with your kids in tow.
And there’s a big role lack of enforcement has played in the deterioration and illegal settling of Portland’s public spaces, too. It’s not just changing economics.
Rachel, I get the frustration factor loud and clear. I’m also pissed that our city’s few public spaces are being held hostage by a few people.
But what do you propose? Enforcement leads to the criminal justice system which is nothing but a beaurucratic formality when you have nothing left to lose. Why doesn’t it make more sense to break the cycle though treatment or at least harm reduction?
Hi Kittens. Enforcement can work hand-in-hand with treatment, can’t it? I think short-term incarceration is important too, though, as a sobering tool for addicts committing crimes to see there are consequences to their actions–and by actions, I mean the destruction of property, threatening of residents, theft, etc.
That’s the dilemma I deal with—how do you get people high on drugs—sober and off the street without short term incarceration? Few people voluntarily admit themselves for drug therapy.
The problem has been drug offenders are seen as criminal’s and not mentally ill. Once the penal system wakes up to this (and I believe it is), maybe things will get better.
Adam, I’m fine with my kids seeing people of different social strata than our own. My kids attend a school with a highly transient, 60% spanish speaking community and a great school ranking of 1 of 10 (bad). We embrace our differences and try to contribute our time, presence, and efforts, as opposed to abandoning a struggling community and buying into a neighborhood that can afford the same luxuries as ourselves. I understand the passion behind your criticism, but it is not informed. A question might help clarify more than a judgement.
Montavilla was a park that we used to frequent, but most recently we were greeted with used needles, non-parent adults cutting directly through the playground to where the carts were camped, and a couple of dudes obviously cracked out with one of them at one point pulling out his **** and urinating in the presence of 3 young girls. Do these individuals have a right to exist and share space? Of course, but the gist of it is this: 1) I am a Dad. 2) I have daughters 3) The playground DID NOT FEEL SAFE.
Ultimately all I was trying to communicate is that it is not necessarily houselessness, but the seedy side of homelessness (needles, strung out folks on playgrounds), that taints the perception of Portland in the eyes of many of the people that I’ve met here. Combine that with the negative attention that the Springwater has gotten due to similar perceptions and I believe that is what lies at the base of the Mayor’s decision to back out of the 40 Mile Trail.
For the record, I don’t agree with him and I want to see it happen. If there are individuals on the trail that need help, they would have needed help wherever they were if the trail weren’t built. By avoiding its construction, we merely push the problem out of visibility and into someone else’s yard, but that problem still exists and it has a human being’s name attached to it. Root cause is in order…
You see so much from a bike, cars not so much its a for of natural selection.. haha
why not just improve the Gresham-Fairview trail, and extend it all the way to the Marine Drive portion…?
If Gresham is going to back out of this trail, they absolutely need to finish Gresham/Fairview. They have about 1 mile to go! So ridiculous.
Why is Adam H not being moderated?
Please tell me which comment should be moderated and I will take a look.
Adam H comments are half the reason I still come here after 8 years. Too many others are beginning to sound like the Oregonian commenters.
His speech may not warrant moderation, but his many posts per day out number the blog’s owner’s and his opinions have changed the character of this site. I used to post a couple times a week and read the columns daily, now it is a strident self righteous drum beat promoting the rights of the homeless. the blog should be renamed “homeless Portland” just to call it like it is.
and i have found your comments to be occasionally intolerant. imo, the comments on bike portland have become so awful that the best thing to do would be to shut them down.
“the comments on bike portland have become so awful that the best thing to do would be to shut them down.”
Says one of the top 2 or 3 most frequent commenters on this site.
You can’t make it up…….
this coming from the guy who
I often wonder if Adam H is longtime unemployed?
He seems to have a LOT of time on his hands, day in, day out.
I too do not read BP as ofen either anymore, because of his constant, neverending posting.
I think it’s very unkind of you to publicly shame someone for expressing their opinions. Are you so insecure in your own that you cannot handle people disagreeing with you? Though I haven’t been a frequent commenter, I have been reading this blog enough to know it isn’t a “safe space” where you can count on everyone agreeing and congratulating you for your point of view. That’s one of the things I like best about it.
Personally, I enjoy reading Adam’s comments. I certainly disagree with a lot of them, but he raises interesting points and perhaps shows us a different point of view than we would consider on our own. Knowing different points of view can only make you a better, more informed citizen.
This is not a public shaming. It’s an expression of an opinion that many, many readers of this site share. Not once have I heard anyone advocate for silencing Adam. [edited personal attack -t]
Ok, so the Mossby apparently wants him moderated. I stand corrected.
Hey man I used to feel like you do but then I installed this browser extension that makes reading blog comments optional. Highly recommended.
I think the difference is, i *don’t* enjoy reading his comments. Not so much because of quality or opinions, but purely because of the over the top quantity.
I have to wade through 25 of his comments below pretty much any given article, in order to read anyone else’s. It just gets tiring.
His picture is right next to his comments. If you don’t enjoy how many comments he writes, just keep an eye out for the picture and know those are the ones to skip.
“I think it’s very unkind of you to publicly shame someone for expressing their opinions”
Adam publicly called me a racist, because right after the high school girl was killed crossing Hawthorne, I correctly predicted the national origin of the perpetrator, correctly predicted what the perpetrator was doing in Portland, and correctly predicted that the perpetrator’s embassy would make bail for the perpetuator. (The only prediction I got wrong was that the perpetrator would flee the country after making bail.)
Adam publicly shames people for expressing their opinions on this board considerably more than anyone else does.
you were moderated by jonathan maus. you were called out for being a racist.
“you were moderated by jonathan maus. you were called out for being a racist.”
Adam H. explicitly called me a racist in response to that post.
That fact that I was absolutely correct about the background of the perpetrator was irrelevant, apparently.
I have to defend Adam H in this case. I seldom agree with him on anything, but many of us have telecommute jobs or otherwise flexible employment situations that make it possible to frequent BP and the good work that Maus does.
This is an enjoyable site to come to and I don’t begrudge anyone for wanting to visit here frequently to engage in dialogue and disagreement.
Plus, Adam is a financial supporter of BP. More than I can say about myself. Maybe we should all think about making a financial contribution…
I can’t believe I’m defending Adam — particularly since I believe his brand of advocacy contributes to a vibe that discourages productive discussions. I would go so far to say I think his attitudes undermine cycling in general and cyclists’ efforts to be treated as legitimate road users. But I’m sure many who agree with him would say the same of me. Fair enough.
I have been encouraged by a greater spectrum of opinion expressed here over the past two months. This thread is an example — there is open divergence with real discussion and that’s a good thing.
Having said all that, I think that the connection between many discussions (and especially posts) here and cycling is tenuous at best . Choosing a great mode of transport/recreation should not imply one subscribe to any ideology, so I prefer issues to be decoupled even if the community generally supports certain views.
I don’t know how the blog software works, but truly cycling articles/posts could be separated from ones that are primarily about something else such as social justice, I wouldn’t cry.
Kyle, I find that you are open to different views without suggesting other people are wrong – just that they have different views. I don’t get the same impression from Mr. Herstein.
I find that Hello, Kitty is usually right on the mark, and I agree with almost everything they say.
I mostly disagree with the point of view of Adam H. and also of yourself. Like you, if I understood correctly, I also feel that this blog is enriched by both of your outlooks (and those of so many others). At least I feel enriched by reading Adam’s and your opinions and reasoning, especially when they differ from my own.
Also, while the homelessness/social justice thing should be a separate topic, the lead article here points to how it affects cycling in urban/suburban areas. If we can’t get bike paths built because of homeless people camping on existing bike paths, that is certainly a topic worthy of our attention.
Down in Eugene, many of our former cyclists have gone back to cars (fact). I believe a key cause is that many pinch-points on our best bike paths have been taken over by homeless people for camping, shelter and out-of-sight drinking/drugs (opinion).
Well said, B.
I would love to see a gopro talk show with kyle and adam on a circe morpheus tandem http://www.circecycles.com/products/morpheus/
This does me a real pleasing. I want for to see to see this. Can we do a kickstarter?
WOULD SUPPORT KICKSTARTER. what if yall just went on the sprocket podcast? #shamelessplug
Bike commuting is socially-just because of the accessibility and low barriers of entry. Thus, when we discuss bicycling infrastructure, it’s natural for the conversation to tangent off in other areas of discussion that involve a more holistic approach to the topic.
Personal is political and political is personal.
Oh, everyone stick around. Though I can pretty much guarantee I’ll be at odds with Adam H and soren much of the time… 😉 Shockingly we do agree on some things.
I’m glad BikePortland isn’t as echo chambery as many mistakenly think it is. We get plenty of that in Portland already.
Anyway–in the event of any serious disagreement, I’m certain I could beat any of you in HORSE.
Good! It’s nice to hear someone with compassion. I’m much more offended with people who essentially think that people who live on the street should be swept up and thrown in jail, or just shuffled off somewhere else.
The city’s concerns are reasonable unfortunately. As a female after using the path back from the late 80’s all the time without any concerns I have stopped using it entirely for my own safety. Great loss. Wonder why spend money on something that isn’t safe anymore for most people & especially women?
Similar experience here, Barbara.
Thanks for that Charlie Hales!! Your legacy of terrible homeless policies lives on, long after you left office.
Yep this is 100% Hales fault. Still can’t believe how stupid and shortsided he was in letting the spring water get so out of control.
I think it was an experiment worth trying, but went on way too long as it became obvious that it was a bad solution.
I wonder if this was a strategic move on Hales part? Think about it, homelessness and affordability is a serious topic in Portland right now and partly because of the visible signs of poverty living on our streets. Portland just passed a major spending bill to prop up affordable housing, we passed the inclusionary zoning, more shelters are opening, and developers are under pressure to build more affordable housing.
Hales created a situation so dire that the city and its citizens can no longer ignore it. I think it’s brilliant. Career ending, yes, but Hales’ ineffective policy of “do nothing” may have be more influential than any of us could have ever imagined…
Except he did it at the expense of lower income neighborhoods. If it was done equitably, you might have a stronger argument.
Yes, but an argument indeed…
Hales screwed over the taxpayers of the city.
There were chop shops on the trail days after the last sweep and we did nothing about it.
The bleeding hearts of Portland deserve nothing as long as they’re willing to let everything they have bought and paid for get trashed by people willing to contribute nothing to the town but their garbage and excrement.
I’m genuinely surprised at the anger on this thread. And that some are shaming Adam h for having a contrarian viewpoint. So what if he has a different opinion than you. I don’t agree with him often but as long as he’s being respectful, what’s the big deal?
Maybe that’s the problem.
I don’t know. I usually just scan the comments here and have the notifications disabled to lessen my inclination to enter into comment battles. 🙂
The saddest thing about Bike Portland comment section is, once this issue comes up people invariably get on and talk a lot of resentment and hatred for the houseless population. And then if someone defends the houseless people as human beings and not zombies, they get attacked.
It happens every time the issue of a bike path comes up. Like clockwork.
I don’t get the lack of compassion, it must come of not having any experience working with or understanding for these people.
I don’t like crime, I’m not down with unsafe bike trails, i don’t want syringes in parks, but then again I don’t hate these people.
It just completely beyond me that folks who post to this forum aren’t more into constructive solutions to the root problems, rather than this creepy anger at Portland’s indigent population.
They must be in denial that they aren’t any different than the people who live in those camps. They just have more privilege, luck, and money.
The saddest thing about Bike Portland comment section is, once this issue comes up people invariably get on and characterize those who disagree with them as compassionless. Wanting clean and safe parks, paths and trails does not = “hating the homeless” and is not incompatible with sympathy and concern and actual action for people in dire straits. Disliking criminal and antisocial, destructive behavior that wreaks havoc with a community does not mean you “hate the homeless.”
You and I can have no idea what the other is actually doing for people in need.
Well stated Rachel. And it’s okay to have compassion for oneself also.
Just because others have it worse does not mean we still can’t act to better things for ourselves. It’s not necessarily at the expense of those worse off. Not do I believe that just because others have it worse (fora myriad of reasons) that we must sacrifice everything until things are equalized. They never will be.
Well said! It is certainly possible to simultaneously want clean parks while also defending the houseless population. The problem is that I rarely see people doing the latter.
This article was entirely about Gresham not wanting to build a bike path because they recognized that the homeless population was an issue right now (something that people on the entire spectrum of the issue seem to agree on), and the path would likely cause problems for neighbors of the new path.
I do find it quite disingenuous that most of the same people who are criticizing others for not being compassionate to the homeless are rarely compassionate, understanding, or even willing to recognize the feelings, opinions, or thoughts of those who have been directly impacted by what happened on the springwater. They just get dismissed as “NIMBY” (one of the most lazy cliche labels) or “uncompassionate”.
And I pointed out how absurd their opposition is since the Springwater is just a single anecdote out of thousands of bike paths without houseless people living on it. I also take offense to the housed exercising their privilege upon the unhoused. The former has the voice to complain and get their way; the latter does not. I do not believe that one class has the right to impose their will upon another class.
Except you are continually exercising your inner SE Portland privilege, and the fact that you don’t have to live adjacent to these paths (and thus in lower income neighborhoods). Let’s face it that these problems have also had an equity issue that many in the inner neighborhoods (who don’t have to deal with them daily) seem to conveniently forget.
I am a bit confused. Is the homeless community advocating for the path to be built? If not, I don’t see where the idea that the “housed” are getting their way over the “unhoused” comes from. And how is this situation an example of one class imposing their will on another?
When homeless people have taken over a MUP like the Springwater to the extent that other people are intimidated to use it, or have been actively threatened / assaulted on it, isn’t that also an example of one class imposing their will on another class?
At a higher perspective, isn’t one group of people imposing their will on another group democracy in action?
It’s also possible to view these as separate issues. Wanting clean parks doesn’t make one anti-homeless – but it is acknowledging that the homeless contribute to the situation. Nobody is saying they’re all bad.
“people invariably get on and talk a lot of resentment and hatred for the houseless population.”
I want you to point out One statement here that does that.
I think the issue is discussed pretty rational here.
This is a bicycling website. The people who post here are advocates for cycling. You can be an advocate for the homeless, but this is not a homeless advocate website and there is a conflict between the two, like it or not.
I do not disagree with the homeless or houseless advocates here like Adam H all that much on the issue (I think most people who comment here think there is a problem and that it needs to be addressed.) I think what the city has done is disgraceful but the issue ON This site is about cycling and cycling access and the homeless camps are a problem.
BTW, You did not offer ONE solution….
All I want is people to express compassion for those less fortunate than themselves. It’s admirable to be concerned for people living outside, but we mustn’t put compassion aside the second it affects us as cycling advocates. That is why I have a problem with the comments on this issue here. We can’t simply treat the houseless and drug-addicted as garbage to be swept up whenever they get in the way. We must come to a solution that helps these people while simultaneously ensuring viable public spaces. The two should not be in conflict. In the mean time, I prefer to treat people with dignity that are forced to live in parks and bike paths over having quality cycling trails. Many people here would rather prefer the latter.
Show me the comments where people here want to sweep away the homeless like garbage.
Your problem is a holier than thou attitude and you should check yourself.
I personally think that people here are compassionate and would like real solutions.
Your dismissal of peoples concerns is the problem or you just like to feel like you are making some kind of difference by commenting on a bike website about this problem.
You are making no difference.
BTW, you and a few others need to stop acting like you just interrupted a Klan meeting or something. This website has some fairly thoughtful internet discussions.
The problem is that sacrificing the Springwater in Lents for around nine months did not result in dignified accommodations for the houseless folks camping there. While the stability of not being swept for a while seems to have been helpful for a few houseless communities, there were countervailing downsides. Many lost their belongings in floods. Others were victimized by the small percentage of violent folks among them. None got the level of access to services and opportunity that many houseless folks had in their camps close to downtown before those were swept in the spring. The Springwater camp was not a shining example, it was a problem pushed from our wealthy downtown to a poor neighborhood.
I’m all for having citizens with more give something up if it helps those with less – but if we’re talking about having citizens near the bottom give up stuff to not really help those at the very bottom, that doesn’t seem like a good deal to me. Real solutions will involving upsetting the rich and powerful of Portland – taxes, repurposing parking garages or golf courses, etc. Fighting over which poor people have to get screwed to help other poor people is sadly resemblent of bike advocates and pedestrian advocates fighting for insufficient funding. Fight the oppressive system, not the fellow downtrodden.
I will admit that the Springwater situation was not ideal for all parties involved, including the people living on the path. If we are going to allow camping, then I’d prefer to have smaller camps in each neighborhood with services such as water, sewage, and garbage pickup.
Real advocates for “houseless people” would like them in houses.
***portion of this comment deleted. please be nice dwk. Thanks – Jonathan.***
That’s funny, considering so many people in Portland seem to be against building more housing yet will also complain about the houseless people. Can’t have it both ways. I argue for more housing — including affordable housing — and that does not have to be mutually exclusive with arguing for services for people living outside. It’s simply not realistic to argue for putting every houseless person in a house tomorrow, so in the mean time, we should make life better for people who are living outside.
A lot of the reason we have so many homeless in Portland and the west coast in general is because we are tolerant and for the most part do more than elsewhere.
Your constant criticism of Portland is so tiresome…..
The absence of criticism is complacency. I will never allow myself to ignore the injustices I see around me. I am sorry if that annoys you but justice is never easy or easily accepted by those in power.
I guess my comment about being holier than thou went right over your head…..
Is it “holier than thou” to want equal rights and equal protection for all, regardless of their social status? I don’t know if you were paying attention to the most recent presidential election, but I can guarantee you that our incoming head of state does not give a flying fsck about human rights. Someone needs to stand up for the most vulnerable in our community. Will you?
“considering so many people in Portland seem to be against building more housing”
Maybe you missed this:
Housing bond isn’t riling NIMBY as much as RIP is.
But Ted, this discussion is about affordable housing and homelessness. RIP is likely not going to do much for low income residents (and I say this as someone that wrote a letter of support for it).
RIP is designed to help housing affordability.
It’s argued that RIP is designed to help affordability (with trickle down), but the evidence of that the city presented is shaky at best, and that’s a pretty hotly debated topic still.
New construction is rarely, if ever, affordable. The best way to preserve affordability is to preserve existing housing, which the RIP does not do.
Hello, Kitty – I think your view there is based on an assumption that the units that are affordable now (at market rate) will continue to be affordable. If supply and demand continue to get further out of whack, even existing, smaller, lower-quality units will continue to get more and more expensive. The residential infill project and other regulatory changes aimed at creating more units are trying to keep supply closer to in check to demand.
(Note: I think the Residential Infill Project is a small improvement at best – but just pushing back against the idea that replacing one moderately expensive unit with two or four more expensive units is a net loss for affordability. If you just count the affordability figures I noted, it is a net loss – but if you count the market-wide impacts too, I’m almost certain that it’s a net gain. No, I don’t believe the assertion that Hello, Kitty has shared in the past that building one additional unit in the Portland metro area means one additional household will move to the Portland metro area. While I think there is some effect in that direction, I think it’s not nearly that strong. There are real barriers to moving from metropolitan area to another for cheaper housing for most people.)
Good points Alex. I think it’s important to remember what RIP actually covers, and it doesn’t cover bigger multi-unit buildings that would trigger inclusionary zoning. It’s duplexes, triplexes and ADUs in mostly middle to upper income areas of portland (not east Portland) that are still not going to cater to lower income residents. It might have some effect through trickle down, but it is likely not going to be a huge boon for low income housing that will substantially reduce homelessness.
And again, I say this as someone who supported it.
That’s a sober assessment, unlike the wild promises made by some proponents.
@Alex Reedin: Who knows what the future will bring? What I do know is that I have seen several instances of a household renting rooms c. $500 being torn down and replaced with expensive new housing, either for sale (in the $700-900K range) or rent at what I assume to be market rates. I know that new housing is very expensive.
I also know that older housing, especially shared houses, are much cheaper than anything new. I know that this remains true today, even as housing prices have continued to rise. I know that most new ADUs are used as Airbnb type short-term rentals. Nothing in the RIP will change these dynamics.
If the RIP contained incentives or barriers to reduce the demolition of affordable housing, if it contained incentives to put ADUs onto the long-term rental market, if it did not simply provide incentives for developers to tear down existing housing and build new stock (which they’ll only do if profitable), I would support it.
If the RIP focused on increasing density in areas that would benefit from it — that is areas that have few commercial amenities because of low population, areas where increasing density would spur much needed infrastructure investments — I would support it.
Instead, the RIP seeks to try to solve the region’s housing shortage by trying to fit more people into already dense and built-out neighborhoods, areas that already enjoy the benefits of density, areas where land and housing are more expensive, and where developers will therefore build yet more costly housing.
The RIP has some good ideas, but it is a highly flawed proposal that, in total, will do nothing to reduce the cost of housing, and may even have the opposite effect, reducing economic diversity in the inner neighborhoods, creating a bonanza for developers and investors, and will leave large parts of Portland out of the economic benefits of increasing density.
Hello, Kitty – I’m not sure we’ll ever see eye to eye on this issue. Our inner single-family neighborhoods are not dense. They should be more dense for a myriad of reasons. RIP allows this, slightly, a little bit.
RIP is mostly irrelevant to the question of infill in outer neighborhoods. It’ll make the economics work out a little bit better on the margin, but the #1 barrier to increased infill in East Portland is the systematic governmental neglect, leading to less demand by people who can afford to live elsewhere. You can tell walking around Lents that the way our City and regional bodies work, they pay less attention here. Complaint-based enforcement and maintenance do not work as well in a neighborhood with people with less free time, and more stress from finances and life situations, who don’t feel as involved or heard by government. There are potholes in my neighborhood on greenways larger than ANY pothole I have EVER seen west of 60th. The payphone at the MAX was completely vandalized and destroyed and has been left that way for a while. A gigantic homeless camp largely adjoining people’s homes on the Springwater was allowed to exist for 9 months. None of this is true in HAND or Buckman or any inner neighborhood – the homeless were mostly confined to the commercial and industrial areas there. We don’t have a single transit line that reliably gets to downtown in less than an hour, both because of the lack of investment in non-freeway rail means rail goes the long way around, and because inner neighborhoods would revolt if a dedicated bus lane were seriously considered which would remove a precious auto travel lane or parking lane.
Honestly, I care more about keeping *somewhere* in the metro area stay affordable (both housing and transportation) than I do about keeping inner neighborhoods economically diverse. If RIP increases supply, and reduces prices a little at the metro area level, I think that’s worth reduced economic diversity in a few neighborhoods in inner Portland (not sure it will actually reduce economic diversity in those neighborhoods, but it does seem plausible). I would love to have both, but the anti-density politics of Portland and especially the suburbs mean that even having the first is going to be very difficult. The RIP will do a little to help. Not much, but a little.
>>> RIP is mostly irrelevant to the question of infill in outer neighborhoods. <<<
We agree on this, at least, and for me, this is one of the glaring flaws in the RIP. One of the best ways to get better infrastructure and commercial services in an area is to increase the density, which will increase demand for services, which will lead to improvements.
Do we disagree with the notion that the RIP will decrease prices or substantially increase long-term rental supply without reforming how we manage the supply of short-term rentals? I'm not sure… in your closing statement, it sounds like you agree with me that the RIP will not be effective at its stated goal of keeping Portland housing affordable.
The irony of your post is that you seem to offer a tacit admission that increasing density leads to decreased affordability. Would you welcome increased density in your neighborhood (along with the infrastructure and commercial services that would follow)? Do you think that would have a positive effect on housing prices near you?
Let’s remember an oft-forgotten fact – East Portland is already almost as dense as the inner eastside in terms of number of people per square mile. What it’s not nearly as dense in is money – which supports commercial establishments. So, be careful when saying where could “use” more density. East Portland could use more money – a better balance of incomes, to be able to support more local businesses. More density with more poverty and insufficient infrastructure investment, like we got for the past two decades, makes things worse.
I think denser infill generally causes two things: 1) an increase in average housing prices in the immediate neighborhood – sometimes only because it tends to replace lower-value properties with higher ones, but often because it “improves the neighborhood” in the minds of higher-income folks searching for housing by removing visible signs of the existence of low incomes.
2) a LARGER decrease in housing prices at the metro area level. Not larger on a per-unit basis, but larger on a total basis: (change in housing price per unit) times (number of units affected).
I care more about (2) than (1). I would hate to live in a Portland metro area where no poor or lower-middle-class people can afford to live anywhere (like, increasingly, the Bay Area). I don’t think government-designated Affordable Housing or Workforce Housing can possibly come close to meeting the need without huge positive changes in federal funding which are not forthcoming.
Because of this, I think creating vastly increased market-rate housing supply is the most feasible way to keep at least some places in the Portland metro area reasonably affordable. We also don’t have the money to go ahead and fix all the infrastructure problems in East Portland in the extreme short term, add jobs nearby, and vastly improve transit here – which would all be necessary in order to make large continued increases in density here a good idea. The inner neighborhoods which already have good sidewalks, good transit, and good bikeways are the most logical places to increase housing supply NOW given our realities. The RIP proposal is just the tiniest little step in that direction and disproportionately wealthy, comfortable, well-served-by-government inner Portlanders are opposing even that. The classism of this city just drives me nuts.
Link between building housing and lower housing prices:
(My 1) and 2) items about denser infill being for denser infill in “nice” areas, which are well-served enough by government services to absorb the infill relatively well, not to cramming more units onto unpaved streets with insufficient transit, like this godforsaken excuse for urban planning on SE Schiller just west of SE 122nd: https://goo.gl/maps/ystJLYNQ5FG2 )
I also care more about (2) than (1), and I think the equation you described would hold if not for the influx of new residents.
With so many people arriving, there is no downward pressure to generate effect (2). You could argue that regardless of in-migration you’ll get some moderation of prices compared to what would happen otherwise, but I believe that the only check on the number of people coming here is housing prices; as long as prices are (much) lower here than in other west coast cities, people will come and drive prices up to whatever equilibrium they are headed for. The only difference more units will make is how many people it takes to reach that equilibrium.
Mine is a somewhat pessimistic view — it suggests we are headed for more expensive housing regardless of what we do.
The reason people in the inner core (generally) oppose RIP is not because they don’t like poor people (there are many people of modest means in the inner areas, many of them long-term residents), it’s because many do not want to see their neighborhoods torn up and replaced with the crap that is being built today. I have have been working on community issues for over 20 years, and I have never once, in any public or private conversation, heard someone complain about redevelopment because of “poor people” or other class-based reasons. On the contrary — I’ve had scores of conversations about how to keep the neighborhoods affordable and accessible to people with low and moderate incomes.
So while we can differ on the effects of policy, please don’t paint me or my neighbors as wanting an economic monoculture. That is simply false.
None of the recent development in inner Portland has done anything to help diversify our neighborhoods, and has probably done nothing to keep yours affordable.
It is interesting that on Schiller, the mud starts where the density ends.
If anyone is still reading this, and is interested in a visual depiction of density in Portland, this is as good a view as I’ve found:
I think your belief that all additional housing units will be filled (on net) by wealthy migrants is the root of our differences.
I also think that it’s amazing how one’s fear of damage to something one holds dear influences beliefs about factual matters on topics that seem completely unrelated. People who fear having their car-mobility taken away conveniently disproportionately disbelieve anthropogenic climate change. People who fear disruptive change to their comfortable inner-Portland neighborhoods conveniently disproportionately disbelieve that increased density in inner Portland would have a net positive impact on affordability in the Portland area.
I really have no idea whether that effect influences you, but I’m darn well sure that it influences the political discussion at large. No, I won’t bring it up when discussing it with an inner Portland who I think might actually change their mind, but I am absolutely convinced that it impacts the discussion, and powerfully. Cognitive dissonance is a strong effect.
>>> I think your belief that all additional housing units will be filled (on net) by wealthy migrants is the root of our differences. <<<
So I'd ask who (on balance) has moved into all those thousands of new units we've built in Portland over the past 5 years? Is it long-term residents escaping expensive housing, or relatively well-to-do, largely professional transplants who can afford $1400 a month for a studio?
I don't have data, but I do have a lot of observations.
And what the heck will happen when those residents decide to start a family? Where will all those people go?
I think that map is actually somewhat misleading, because of the difference in density patterns. East Portland’s density is more concentrated in a smaller set of block groups that are quite dense. It’s like how electoral maps are misleading because dense areas get relatively little visual real estate.
I think this one is better though it’s definitely uglier:
It shows the higher density areas of the east side as roughly a cross pattern centered on Chavez and Hawthorne, extending north to Hollywood, south to Brentwood-Darlington, west to downtown, and east all the way to Rockwood.
(Quick quiz: which is denser? the greater Rockwood area or the greater Foster-Powell area? Apparently, it’s the greater Rockwood area. The rest of East Portland isn’t all that dense though.)
I think the zipatlas map is more misleading… it aggregates data into larger chunks (zip codes), letting one spot of high density (literally) color a much larger area than does the Oregonian map, which is census tract based. The reason the Oregonian map makes density look scarce in East Portland is because, geographically speaking, it is.
Sometimes geography can distort data (like in voting maps, where the metric is people), but in this case, where the metric is people/sq ft, I don’t think it does. Area is already normalized.
Nonetheless, the Oregonian map does contain some surprises, such as the high concentration of people out near Rockwood that I was unaware of.
Re: that spot on Schiller – that pavement that you see is a long driveway accessing a relatively dense set of new dwellings. The only way that any motor vehicles from those dwellings can go anywhere is by driving on unpaved Schiller. So, the creation of that pavement and those dwellings had a net negative impact for the conditions for people walking, biking, and driving along Schiller by creating increased wear on Schiller. Density in the wrong spot has bad enough negative local impacts to not be worth the improvement to affordability at the metro area level.
RE: Schiller – We must be looking at different places; I was looking at all the units that start on the paved section of Schiller and continue to 122nd. The pavement looks about the same age as the housing, so I’m guessing the street was paved when the units were built.
But sometimes you have to admit they ARE the problem. Compassion doesn’t mean letting people run roughshod over everyone else. Even the down and out still need to be good members of society, as best they can. Compassion can also mean holding people to common societal standards instead of enabling anti-social behavior because you feel bad for them.
If it tied in with Mt Hood Community College, it would become a significant asset to the transportation system.
It does not need to have a greenspace around it.
Gresham needs to see biking as transportation – not recreation. They did add the section from City Hall west to Ruby Station but who knows about it. Then there is no decent/safe way to get from Ruby Station westward since Burnside doesn’t have a bike lane between Ruby and Stark.
While I agree with folks that say bike paths in Portland are a good thing, I also share concerns with those that are against this project altogether. More specifically, I have experienced fear during several bike rides along the portion of the trail the runs from OMSI toward Milwaukie. One particular day along the Springwater I was alone and completely changed my plans for the ride when two shady looking Drifters in plaid shirts were sauntering in my direction. They were muttering to each other and seemingly anticipating my approach. I had an epiphany: Was there a diabolical plan underway to do something horrible to a random passerby? Well, I thought so, and I turned toward home and pedaled as fast as I could in the opposite direction.You see, I wanted to live; those men look dangerous; they could kill me.
I disagree with Metro Conservation Program Director Dan Moeller’s comment that the project is in “no way an extension of the Springwater.” More specifically, look at a map and draw a line along the trail route and it is clear to see that the project does in fact represent an extension of the Springwater.
” I have compassion for the homeless, but there is a real problem with substance abuse and its connection to the homeless population. Unfortunately, folks that are on drugs, or have damaged their brains from years of drug use, are unpredictable and potentially dangerous. For example, a man stepped in front of me as I was on the way somewhere and asked for some change. When I didn’t give it to him he became instantaneously enraged. In addition, I have had several unpleasant experiences with mentally ill, homeless people in our city. On another occasion I was nearly attacked by a shirtless, schizophrenic man that chased me for several blocks and bellowed repeatedly to “show me your face.” It was horrifying, made no sense and ruined my evening. Therefore, because of my personal experience, I have come to the realization that it is not always safe to take a stroll around town. You see, the homeless are unpredictable. Still, I have hope that good fortune will be with me, and that a solution to the problem of homeless related intrusion will be found. I agree with the comment made by Gresham City Manager, Erik Kyarsten. Two bells up for the City Manger”
A sad situation. In the 10 plus years of riding it, I’d never worried about being victimized. After riding on it last summer, I decided it was not longer safe.
I can’t blame Gresham citizens for their concerns. It’s valid. It’s too bad Portland can’t be more creative helping the less fortunate/homeless in our community. We all lose when our government can’t properly address or handle community problems. I guess we need to stop electing bureaucrats and start electing more people like Chloe to city government. Perhaps we can gain some creativity from the new perspectives of citizens who don’t look at politics as a career.
I know no one will read this, but Metro is just trying to force this down people’s throats. Ask yourself, would you want this in your front yard? Answer no, then you have a responsibility to vote no. Their proposal has no purpose other than to use Metro’s already corrupt intentions are just about leeching federal grants where they can (http://www.ti.org/Libertymetro.html). Plus it’s more money they keep saying they don’t have, but apparently you’re ok with wasting more. Lastly, the trail had issues even before the homeless exploded onto it. Those reasons alone are valid reasons for a ‘no’. My kids’ safety, neighborhood security, and many other reasons are legit reasons. His responses in this article are just prepared political responses to try and hide their intentions.
You know what I don’t want in my front yard? Speeding cars. Pollution. Dangerous pedestrian crossings. Hostile drivers.
I’ve got all of those in my front yard. I’d love to trade them for a bike path.
Heck yes! (It is back yard, not front.) Every study I’ve seen shows bike paths increase adjacent property values, plus I’d have a bike path out my back door.