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Property owner erects fence around popular Marine Drive bike path access point

Posted by on February 26th, 2020 at 11:55 am

Ramp is now closed to public use. Note the PBOT bikeway signage at the top, which demonstrates how this was a well-used bike route.
(Photos: Stephen Gardiner)

A property owner’s effort to curb crime has resulted in the loss of an access point to the Marine Drive bike path.

“It’s just crazy and the City of Portland won’t do a dang thing about it! They’re making law-abiding citizens fence themselves in.”
— Terry Emmert, property owner

Last week, reader Stephen Gardiner shared news and photos of a new gate and fence around the Blue Heron Landing (a floating home community) parking lot at 2335 North Marine Drive. Gardiner (and many others) would connect to the path on Marine Drive from the Columbia Slough via Historic Vanport and North Force Avenue. It’s a much lower-stress place to access the path than Delta Park and the I-5 interchange near the Expo Center. Gardiner would use a traffic signal at N Force and Marine to get him across the road, then a ramp in the Blue Heron Landing parking lot would get him up onto the path.

But now he can’t access the ramp because there’s a large black iron fence around the lot with “No Trespassing” signs on it.

After a few phone calls I reached the owner of the lot (and floating homes adjacent to it), Terry Emmert of Emmert International. Emmert said he installed the fence to protect tenants’ cars. According to Emmert there’s been about $400,000 to $500,000 of car thefts and damage to property in the past year or so. “A few weeks ago druggies and homeless people smashed the hoods, cut gas tanks,” he shared this morning. “It’s just crazy and the City of Portland won’t do a dang thing about it! They’re making law-abiding citizens fence themselves in.”

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(Metro and PBOT bike maps showing bikeway connection that is now closed)

This isn’t the first time one of Emmert’s properties has intersected with the issues of public access and crime on a popular bike path. In 2012, as owner of the Eastmoreland Racquet Club, Emmert caused an uproar when he closed a popular access point to the Springwater Corridor.

Gate location circled in red.

Emmert’s lot and ramp is shown as a recommended route and path access point on Metro’s Bike There map and the City of Portland’s Citywide Bike Map. And as seen in the lead photo, a PBOT bikeway network sign exists at the top of the ramp. There’s also a beg button on a telephone pole adjacent to the lot (which has now been effectively cut off), which is another sign of the public’s use of this intersection.

Besides the path to the east of this access, the nearest place to easily reach the path is 0.7 miles west at North Portland Road. If you’re able, you can still access the Marine Drive path at Blue Heron Landing, but you’ll have to do a little off-roading and/or hike up a rocky, grassy bank to get there.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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Shimran George
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Shimran George

I understand this is a slippery slope, but not being a lawyer, can someone answer the question as to whether this access falls under a prescriptive easement? Does this apply to government agencies, or is it just among private citizens?

Based on what I understand from this article, I don’t know if this was good practice by PBOT to establish/publicize access points on private property. But I really don’t know much of the context here honestly.

Jason
Guest
Jason

Well, it is a slippery slope now. 😉 Eh, eh?

Alan Kessler
Guest

Happy to talk: ak@alankesslerlaw.com

rick
Guest
rick

Is there an easement? Better yet, will they city actually look into this? A property owner adjacent to SW Coronado Street put a fence and took claim to over 20 feet of unbuilt public right-of-way in order to block access to a trail in SW Portland but the city has done nothing about it since it started several years ago.

David Hampsten
Guest

PBOT keeps a detailed GIS database of all public ingress/egress easements, including those where the city isn’t a party to those easements (for example, UP railroad easements on ODOT land) going back to 1851.

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

Errm.

Whats going on down the street at “Diversified Marine?” Used to be the start of the path, but the current street view shows the hill and path gone with a bunch of construction equipment. Did something go wrong with maps, or did that get torn out?

dachines
Guest
dachines

Psyfalcon, the path is still there.

Al
Guest
Al

Seizing right of way or easement happens all the time. If the owner of the easement, in this case the city?, doesn’t contest this, the easement legally goes away after a number of years as if it never existed in the first place. Rights are only as good as the army of lawyers you can afford to uphold them.

The question is whether citizens could contest the blockage of an easement on the city’s behalf.

David Hampsten
Guest

In this particular case, I’d first complain to PBOT, then the City Fire Department, then afterwards you might point out to the owner’s fire insurance agent that the fire department no longer has easy access to the properties, if the fire department doesn’t beat you to it. The threat of vast increases to premiums should resolve the issue much more quickly.

Greg Haun
Guest
Greg Haun

The easternmost gravel section of the parking lot and the land east of it is owned by Metro. Sounds like we need to cut our own path up the levy and move the sign. https://www.portlandmaps.com/detail/property/LEVY-CODE-710/R323497_did/
Can’t imagine the public would have a prescriptive easement case when there is a public way just feet from the path in dispute.

Jason H
Guest
Jason H

Yes, that property seems the best option for the city to construct a new ramp if there is no public right of way or the city can’t enforce it where it’s been fenced. The only thing that may slow that down is I believe alteration of a levy requires FEMA approval.

David Hampsten
Guest

Minor technical correction: Not FEMA, but US Army Corps of Engineers has veto powers over levees and any paths alongside streams and rivers – anything that might affect the flow of water in a flood.

Steve Hash
Guest
Steve Hash

I get Emmert’s frustration, but I’m hard pressed to see how this will help. Those community members that have, for one reason or another, chosen a houseless and/or drug addicted lifestyle that requires theft to sustain, will simply work around it. In North Portland, if it’s in view’ it’s fair game for the taking.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

$400,000 to $500,000 in car thefts and damage. Sounds like a wise move if you are a houseboat owner in the Marina would be get a bike for transportation then just roll the bike aboard and lock it up. The costs of being a car owner are growing by the day, between, gas, tires, insurance, parking costs, parking fines, maintenance and license fees the only way to stay solvent in todays world is to be a cyclist. No wonder car sales are crashing all over the world.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
middle of the road guy
Guest
middle of the road guy

Just like the failing New York Times.

eric
Guest
eric

Terry Emmert is a local tycoon that owns a ton real estate, especially in Clackamas. He has a reputation of being….hmm….abrasive would be a good way to put it. He does not hesitate to bring in lawyers and make life a huge pain in the ass for anyone going against him. He has a reputation.

But this is private property, so better find a new access point to the trail, like the grass hill right next to the fence.

Pat Lowell
Guest
Pat Lowell

What happened to the access point at NE 33rd? You used to be able to park in the gravel lot but now it’s all blocked off.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

And perhaps…the City/County may have vacated the ROW too…it does happen. [Though I would have expected the BP readers to have heard about such a public process if such occurred and pushed back then.]

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

Kind of interesting most comments are about how the rich guy put up a fence to to protect the property…but nary a comment on the keeping anarchy in the form of the homeless horde.

Congrats. Level 5 ignore of what the real problem. I’ll check in next year to see when the homeless horde literally start busting down doors of homes since they know nothing will be done.

Toby Keith
Guest
Toby Keith

Portland has essentially made the homeless a protected class. They can pretty much do whatever they want.

Jamie
Guest
Jamie

Toby, there is a homeless crisis in every city, in every county, rural or urban, in every state of this country.

Every one. Places where the problems are worse: those with thriving economies. Places with high rent. Places where one has less of a chance of dying of exposure when sleeping rough. Places where being indigent has not been criminalized.

The Portland city government has had as big a hand creating the homeless crisis here as they did the ones in Raleigh NC, Dallas TX, Los Angeles CA, Anchorage AK, Las Vegas NV, Seattle Wa, Roseburg, Medford, Springfield, or Coos Bay.

Toby Keith
Guest
Toby Keith

Jamie, I don’t disagree with you. However letting people convert public sidewalks, parks, and MUPs into their campgrounds is a pretty lame form of “compassion”. And the city ignoring outright vagrancy and criminal activity while allowing it to thrive isn’t doing the rest of us any favors either. You are right, we have the same problems as many other cities. I guess Portland isn’t so special after all.

billyjo
Guest
billyjo

unfortunately, you cannot say anything bad about those that find themselves without a house. We can’t even call them homeless anymore. Gotta be all touchy feely. Can’t arrest them for stealing, doing drugs…… they’re saints.

But this is still America, and we do get to vote. Unless it’s a vote to #$#%% them, count me out.

Jason
Guest
Jason

Facebook is two doors down.

drs
Guest
drs

Homelessness, crime, and crimes related to people who are living without homes are massive issues. Emmert’s fence won’t contribute one iota to solving any issue regarding homelessness. It won’t even curb access of vandals to his property, either, if they can just get in through the Marine Drive trail.

All this is doing is making it harder for people to get onto a popular, major regional trail that provides transportation and recreation for thousands of people.

Ben
Guest
Ben

This is the same guy who closed off all pedestrian access to the former Fred Meyer on 82nd and Foster. Dude has a bad case of car-head.

middle of the road guy
Guest
middle of the road guy

Why do you assume the presumed motivation in the first case is the same as the one above?

Jason
Guest
Jason

It’s just going to lead to a desire path.

Jason
Guest
Jason

Johnathan, assuming Terry is being forthright with the details and there was an event “a few weeks ago druggies and homeless people smashed the hoods, cut gas tanks”, wouldn’t this have been on the news? This doesn’t pass the sniff test for me. I’m not trying to pit you against Terry, but if you know of a news story that I missed, can you bring it forward? Or anyone for that matter. It doesn’t really matter, but if it can’t be substantiated then I have grounds to question the honesty of his story. I mean, a cool half mil in car damages would be news worthy.

drs
Guest
drs

Thank you. I’m sure it would have been front page news. Stories that involve crime and homelessness or crime and minorities drive massive amounts of clicks on Oregonlive. Emmert is full of ****

Jason
Guest
Jason

It would seem that Emmert missed a very public opportunity to galvanize anti-homelessness ideology. Assuming he’s being transparent with the facts. I suspect he just put up the fence because he didn’t want his tenants harassed, which is reasonable. But telling a huge lie that half million dollars in car theft / damage occurred in the last year is not endearing.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I’m curious what evidence you have for your claim that Emmert is telling a “huge lie”. That seems like a strong accusation to make about someone, so I imagine your evidence is pretty compelling.

Jason
Guest
Jason

I don’t , but I never said he did. I think you inferred that. To say, “telling a lie is not endearing” is not the same as “he told a huge lie”.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I’m sorry — in this context it’s impossible (for me, at least) to read it any other way.

Jason
Guest
Jason

I can see how it is ambiguous.

Jason
Guest
Jason

But I’m definitely suggesting he hasn’t been honest.

drs
Guest
drs

Do you believe that Terry Emmert would allow major acts of vandalism to occur at one of his properties without making sure that it was publicized in the local media?

Do you believe that beat reporters at Oregonlive or other local media outlets would refrain from reporting an incident that resulted in upwards of half a million dollars in property damage?

Emmert is asserting that these things have happened without pointing to specific evidence or or specific incidents other than a single claim of damage to the hoods and gas tanks of an unspecified number of cars. It sounds like he is at the very least grossly exaggerating the impacts to private property stored at the lot. If you don’t believe that a gross exaggeration is the equivalent of a ‘huge lie,’ so be it. But it certainly doesn’t sound like Emmert is being entirely truthful or forthcoming.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

A “gross exaggeration” is not the same as a “big lie”; but either way, the fact that you didn’t read about a series of incidents in the Oregonian is a pretty flimsy basis for claiming they didn’t happen.

Regardless — whether he’s faithfully reporting the facts, exaggerating, or telling a big lie hardly matters; it appears he fenced his own property, and that’s his right. If he did it legally, his motives are incidental. If he did it illegally, it doesn’t matter what his motives were.

Jason
Guest
Jason

It would be a gross exaggeration if something happened but it wasn’t up to the level of what he describes. It would be a big lie if he fabricated the whole story. So, we just don’t know.

Jason
Guest
Jason

This is critical thinking, at it’s best.

was carless
Guest
was carless

Because he tells the same old sob story when he closed access to the Eastmoreland Racquet club and pedestrian access to the 82nd Fred Meyer.

SOMEHOW, every other business in the city has been able to operate without putting a locked fence around their parking lot to prevent pedestrians from accessing it!

Hell, parked my car daily FOR THREE YEARS in the Central Eastside where there are 10x as many homeless. My car was never broken into, nor did I ever see it happen. And I parked next to a homeless campsite.

Ted g
Guest
Ted g

I The gate blocks access to the parking lot and the path that home owners use to get to their houseboats. I am not sure how anyone would see the ramp as an access point to bike path.

Much ado about nothing…

Jason
Guest
Jason

The parking lot is right off Marine Drive and previously you could cut through the lot, up the ramp to the path. Now the property that contains the parking lot and the ramp is enclosed in fence, you cannot traverse from Marine Drive to the path via the ramp any longer. You may be envisioning the ramp between the path and the docks.

Ted g
Guest
Ted g

Yup. I know exactly where it is…it’s a private ramp meant for homeowners. It is not meant to be an access point to the path. The path may be used by many and I am sure accessed at either end and not by this ramp as it is steep and practically unrideable.

Jason
Guest
Jason

Hehh.. unridable is only a state of mind.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

Which was totally reasonable given that the previous tenant of that building (Fred Meyer) closed that location because of rampant shoplifting.

Opus the Poet
Guest

Not trying to be snarky, but couldn’t PBoT Block his parking lot since he has blocked access to public RoW? I’m thinking a moat on the lot side and a wall next to the street or between the sidewalk and the lot. I don’t recall any laws guaranteeing street access for parking lots that block access to other public RoW.

james t
Guest
james t

I’m thankful that the path/shortcut across the guy’s property was there for long. It was cool of him to allow it over the years. Life goes on.

Mike Untz
Guest
Mike Untz

How exactly does one cut a gas tank? I just did a cursory Google search for those words and most all of the results ask how to do so non-explosively so I gather it’s a difficult process.

I would imagine a bunch of exploded cars along the waterfront would be a big news story, right?

Bryan Watkins
Guest
Bryan Watkins

I’ve lived at Blue Heron Landing for over 3 years now. First question, why are your rights to a more convenient access point on private property greater than my rights as a tenant? The comment about having to “off road” is greatly exaggerated also. Just 10 feet to the right of the gate you will find a gentle slope up the levy that is mowed and pretty dry in the summer time. Winter might be an issue for mud but I’m sure Emmert would put in a gravel path, which would be a cheap and reasonable compromise. To those of you claiming the gate will do zero good I can promise you that it has reduced crime. We still have minor break ins but what it prevents is someone driving a truck through and doing mass break ins or vandalism. Recently seven cars had windows smashed so they could pop the hoods and remove the batteries by cutting them out with cable cutters so you had to replace the terminals and the battery. Sometimes multiple cars will have their gas tanks drilled throughout the year. If you have a truck or SUV with the clearance under the car then you can count on your tank getting drilled numerous times in a year. Sure, the gate isn’t a perfect system but at least it has stopped mass damage and reduced crime to whatever one person can do who sneaks in on foot. Even if the gate made zero difference for crime it would still give us the benefit of keeping bikers from parking there. Despite having numerous signs warning against illegal parking, many of you bikers would take up all our spots on a nice day. Most of us have had to park at the Max station then walk 10 minutes home at some point just because you think you have a right to our spots. Sorry, but all I’ve seen from the biking community is disrespect towards us who live there. The only point I will concede is that the claim of 400-500k in damage doesn’t sound right unless there’s something I don’t know about. All the neighbors keep each other informed about break ins and the cost. I think an average of 5k a month in damage would be a reasonable estimate.

Alicia
Guest
Alicia

I live here with two Children. They don’t feel safe. I’m so sorry the gate inconveniences you so much but our safety is more important to me than you getting earth on your shoes. What if your bike got stolen and I came and clipped the lock on your garage and your bike got stolen again? Think of someone other than yourself. Just go up the hill for Christ’s sake and shit the fuck up.