An 18-year old man was treated by police then rushed to the hospital last week after being stabbed while walking on the I-205 multi-use path south of Portland.
According to the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, Tommy Smith was walking on the path where it goes under Highway 224 (about 3.7 miles south of the Springwater Corridor) when he had an interaction with another man, 50-year-old Cain Newcomb. “Initial interviews revealed the victim had asked suspect for a cigarette. This question appeared to make the suspect upset. An argument ensued, and the suspect stabbed the victim,” the Sheriff’s Office wrote in a statement. Smith was stabbed in the chest.
Another person prevented Newcomb from escaping until police arrived.
Police arrested Newcomb for assault and unlawful use of a weapon. The Sheriff’s Office said he is “well-known” to authorities and has numerous prior arrests. His bail was set at $250,000 and he remains behind bars as of Wednesday morning.
This incident underscores widespread concerns about the condition and safety of paths throughout the region. We have heard from many people that they will no longer ride on paths like the 205 and Springwater due to fears of assault or other interactions.
Earlier this week someone posted to the BikePortland Forums that they’d just moved nearby the I-205 path. “Our family loves to bike and it is convenient to be so close,” they wrote, “… But today I [heard about the stabbing] which happened along a stretch of path my 15 year-old son has taken.”
A few months ago a reader named Barbara L. contacted us to ask if she should begin carrying personal protection such as a stun-gun when she rides on the 205 path. “As a woman who has felt comfortable for 40 years bicycling extensively in the area, it’s a surprising thought,” Barbara wrote.
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Out of any of the mayoral candidates, has any offered any sort of CONCRETE plan for addressing the houseless we have on our thoroughfares as a CHRONIC and PERSISTENT problem? I really do understand that this is a complicated issue, you can’t just criminalize it out of existence, but you can’t permit it either. I just rode all the way up the 205 path to bike to a dentists appt, and I’ve simply never seen anything like this before. It’s approaching Brazilian favela in its permanency.
No solution is possible without prioritizing a right to shelter over the right to make profits from land, and no one could get elected by saying anything about that. I predict that replies will bear me out.
That’s a great sentiment, but what does this mean on a practical level for someone who, say, owns a rental property?
Affordable housing just isn’t affordable to build.
That’s why we should stop demolishing it.
When basically every piece of land in the city is already developed, how do we add housing for our new residents without first tearing something down?
We’ve been adding small rental units in residential zones for years (though we squander those by allowing them be let as short-term rentals), and we’ve been building larger residential buildings in commercial districts basically forever.
It is very likely that there will be a huge surplus in office space in the coming years, so that also provides opportunities for building new units, as do dying malls and the Gateway area.
What we so not seem to be able to do is build more lower-priced rentals, so replacing the ones we have with homes for the affluent (which aren’t in particularly short supply) seems short sighted.
And, at risk of sounding like 9watts, it may not be sustainable to expect growth to continue towards infinity.
True. Last I checked, perhaps 5 years ago, cost of all permits needed to build a single family dwelling in Washington County were around $30,000. Asinine.
So, who do you expect to pay the costs associated with increasing the capacity of sewers, water, streets, sidewalks, schools and parks? The current residents (through taxes)? Or the new residents (through development fees)? Who do you expect to pay the costs of inspections for the house being built?
The fee structure and methodology for calculating systems development charges (SDC) must be published and public hearings must be conducted before they are adopted. Have you read any of the SDC documents or attended any of the meetings?
In addition to the $30K in permits, once you get the home built, and are paying your mortgage, expect to pay somewhere around $300/month in taxes. Then add in utilities, home owners insurance, maintenance, repairs, etc.
Why limit it to just land?
The 33rd Ave bike lanes North and South bound between Columbia and Marine Dr. are currently just as bad as the 205 path.
It’s bad, but at least there is a viable option on 33rd: taking the lane. I-205 is scary because you have no options if you get in a tight situation. I never know what to expect when I approach these underpasses.
That’s what we had been doing until my wife and I were almost creamed by a car from behind going 60+ MPH while taking the lane on 33rd. Missed us by mere inches. This is while on our way to work at 5am. We’ve been full time cycling commuters for over 10 years and are avoiding it now in its current condition. That said, I agree with you that there are not other options available to you on the 205 path.
I agree, that is not okay. I’ve only ridden through mid-day, and I imagine it is 100x scarier in the dark.
I actually just got back from a loop along NE 33rd, Marine Drive, I-205, and the camps have absolutely exploded in the past few months. I was barely able to use the bike lane on 33rd, and I-205 was nearly impassable in several sections. Something definitely needs to be done, even if it is just cleaning up the garbage blocking the ROW.
There is a plan! The plan is to integrate homeless camps into our communities and neighborhoods using underused church properties. Current plan, for Hazelnut Grove at least, is to relocate their encampments from the wealthy Overlook neighborhood into the heart of the St Johns neighborhood. The St Johns Church, which doesn’t pay taxes, will receive piles of our tax dollars to place Hazelnut Grove on a field across the street from their church on Richmond St. Next to homes, businesses, schools, and the public library. Oregon State law has also been modified to legalize substandard building codes to be used for permanent houseless structures. These camps aren’t going away, they’re actually getting integrated into our poorer communities.
I would love to see this idea come to fruition. It seems to have been in the planning stages for quite some time now, and has so much potential. Will it be effective in eliminating issues on pathways without a policy that requires people to use them? Assuming there is space, of course. I wonder how many will continue to exist as is, without the need to conform to rules and guidelines set forth in the legitimized camps.
So, something like a slum. Got it.
A slum? Have you visited the Kenton Women’s Village, amongst others? Please do, then come back educated and let us know.
Seems like it is just opening up space in the old homeless camps and there will now be upscale homeless camps and trashy ones.
Until a critical mass of voters is willing to support increased taxes to pay for a huge uptick in spending both for housing support and mental health and drug treatment, the problem will probably continue to get worse.
I am willing to do my part, and have communicated that to my representatives. I hope others will do the same.
A lot of folks tend to view being homeless as a moral failure on behalf of the homeless person (and/or substance abuser). They are far less likely to help due to their distinction of someone being a victim of their own decisions as compared to external forces.
The kicker is, we could solve this without paying any higher taxes: Just different resource allocation from the federal government. There’s more than enough money already there, or certainly the ability to create the money as needed.
Now trying to pay for those solutions locally, yeah, that’s going to be quite an expensive tax bill…
Either way, HK is right. Bug your reps.
I completely agree on the need for a national solution. It would not be cheap but could be leveraged with other programs to provide more value.
That solution could be multi-tiered – start with a basic housing plan (not elegant but suitable), a basic national healthcare plan, reinstatement of the Civilian Conservation Corp, etc. Like a 2 year process to get people out of homelessness give them addiction treatment (if necessary) and health care, teach some skills to be productive, and hopefully get them back into society again as functional members.
If this was done on a local level, perhaps it could be accomplished with block grants which leveraged existing state programs. Of course it will cost money, but that money is often already there but not working with any kind of vertical integration.
H,K said: “I am willing to do my part, and have communicated that to my representatives. I hope others will do the same.”
Voters sure are letting the local politicians know they want higher taxes in the PDX Metro area. Rarely does a bond measure that will increase property taxes fail – almost all of them pass. Apparently there are far more renters than property owners, or else this would not be true.
That, or maybe Portland has a population that wants more services/amenities, understands that there are some problems that government is best poised to solve, and knows that you don’t get something for nothing.
Our public spaces have been relinquished to campers. We desperately need some actual rules to maintain a civil society. The “support” of a person’s right to take over any spot they want is leading to the formal creation of a new, lower class of citizen without the same rights, privileges, protections and expectations. I understand a temporary pause on sweeps, but new shelters and services keep opening, services are expanding, and I have yet to see a plan or vision put forward by Wheeler, Eudaley, Hardesty, Kate Brown or any other local or state leader. What does the future look like. Homeless people are currently excused from protecting trees, preventing erosion, not smoking/drinking/doing drugs in parks/playgrounds/trimet stations, getting vehicles licensed, insuring vehicles, having a license to operate a car operating a car, blocking accessible routes, blocking bike lanes, open fires, defecating and urinating in public, littering, building without a permit, etc.
Just yesterday, I was nearly hit because a car ostensibly did not see a stop sign because the City placed a port-a-potty on the sidewalk in front of it, I had to the leave the sidewalk because it was one hundred percent blocked be giant camps and walk in the road over a dozen times on a 12-block walk to get food for lunch, I encountered a car driving on the “protected” bike lanes along N Greeley and had dodge lots of loose gravel and trash due to people obviously driving along the bike lanes (MUP?) and leaving it across the gravel shoulder to dump/leave trash, and I encountered 2 cars 5 minutes later driving down the sidewalk (!!) along Going just west of the Concord bridge to access a massive camp that is obviously a hub for black market selling/drug trading similar to the one recently busted in SE Portland. That is just one afternoon. It is everywhere and it is constant.
The time for the temporary ban on sweeps is long past. We need to have safe, clean public spaces. I am tired of defending the rights of homeless people to destroy the commons, especially because it is largely at the expense of the working poor. The people with the fewest options are hurt the most by relinquishing our public spaces and civic responsibilities. People who can cannot afford to take time off and drive to a place for recreation or leisure, people who rely on sidewalks, bike lanes and transit. People who can only afford minimal insurance are at the greatest risk from an unlicensed driver in an unsafe, unlicensed and unregistered car. The City needs to reestablish support for all of their citizens. I think that means no camping on sidewalks, beaches, parks and along paths. No shanties/lean-to’s. No open fires. Thee large camps devolve and are exploited by thieves and drug dealers. The model along Water north of the Hawthorne sows a secure, designated area for temporary camping. This has a secure perimeter, restrooms, water and trash and it lets people get on a list for more services. For this fall and winter, lets expand that to the City’s parking structures. These are areas with rules and expectations, but also safety and security.
You have clearly put a lot of thought into your essay. Portland has effectively been broke since 1992. For all the talk of defunding it, the Portland Police Bureau is actually rather small for the size of city it’s meant to “serve and protect”, and no doubt demoralized further by the ongoing protests. Are you advocating for a draconian city homeless policy like, for example, Columbia SC where homeless are routinely picked-up (kidnapped) by city police and delivered to the county line, where there are no services and no transit? (And as a consequence, the regional homeless avoid visiting at all costs?) Or are you looking for a set of compassionate solutions that no city as poor as Portland can afford without severely cutting other services? If the latter, what would you cut or eliminate?
I’d start by repurposing the Arts tax.
That would be unconstitutional since the arts tax was voted in. You can’t just redirect taxes.
Create an “in house artist” program for houseless individuals. They just have to take an art class and they get housing.
Terrible news. I refuse to give up our cycling infrastructure to chaos.
Last week I skated from the columbia river to the springwater trail on the 205 path. So much human misery. I saw three different people shooting up right on the side of the path. Hundereds of bicycles being stripped. Hundreds and hundreds of poeple with nowhere to go being discarded by the system. I’m so sad that someone had to get stabbed. I knew it would happen eventualy.
we need a REAL housing policy for people who fall out of the system. This is no way for humans to live.
I have ridden the I-205 path, south of the Springwater intersection to Gladstone, several times this summer, and have emailed the city twice about campers’ debris in the path around 92nd ave. During the heavy rains in early August, I ran through some broken glass there and suffered a flat soon after and a 5 mile walk home (didn’t bring a spare tube, my bad). I have never encountered anyone in the section of the path where the stabbing occurred. In fact, only a couple of times have I met another cyclist along the entire length. Maybe people are afraid? Or maybe few want to breathe deeply of the diesel fumes from the freeway?
The section from Stark to Gateway is scary, camps have take most of the width of the path in several sections.
A couple of weekends ago I was riding it around noon and three guys were beating up a fourth that looked like just got there with a stolen bike, with them also not wearing any mask and taking up the whole path it wasn’t very pleasant. I probably will not ride it again and I would discourage anyone from riding it. It’s dangerous.
I just took that stretch yesterday, and it was incredibly sketchy. I was able to get through, but was prepared to flip around at any moment. I definitely won’t be riding that section again any time soon. I guess I’ll stick to 94th or 97th.
I have talked with first responders and they say there is a mix of people on the streets. There are some that could benefit from a hand up with support and housing. These people could be productive members of a functioning society with help. There are some that are just plain terminally addicted to drugs or alcohol and no amount of help will pull them up. A friend of mine was like this. He literally drank himself to death at age 60. Then there are the severely mentally ill that used to be housed in state mental health facilities. When the government closed most of the mental health facilities to “mainstream” folks those residents became street people because they cannot hold a job or function in society. It harsh but maybe it is time to institutionalize those folks that are so mentally ill that they cannot take care of themselves. I can’t help but wonder if it might be cheaper overall and more humane to do something like that. We need to help the folks that can use the help and stop enabling the folks that don’t want or care to change. I personally have started seriously considering moving outside of Portland to a west side suburban city where I can actually use the multi-use paths and don’t have to watch my step to make sure I don’t step on human feces when trying to visit a local business. Portland is failing it residents
Agreed. Not everyone can be helped and not removing those folks impacts the rest of the community.
41% self report as having a mental health issue and 45% self report as having a substance abuse problem so we’re going to need a lot more than housing to fix this. This is a mental health and drug abuse problem being sold as an affordable housing problem.
My sister was attacked on the same path by a homeless man.
If the government would butt out of our lives and stop stifling business, particularly with the asinine COVID shutdowns, a WHOLE LOT of those homeless folks would still be working and would not be homeless. We all know how to be safe – wear a mask, stay 6′ apart as much as possible, wash hands and face religiously, etc – we don’t need to badgered by the state to make us take care of ourselves at this point – we’ve had 7 months of practice at it. No economy can put up with forced shutdowns for long.
There were a whole lot of homeless (and growing) before COVID, so I am not sure that’s entirely accurate. COVID might have exacerbated a trend, but the trend was still there.
Keeping people away from one another when there is a little-known, dangerous, and highly communicable disease in widespread circulation doesn’t strike me as asinine. If we could rely on people to do the right thing, there would be a lot less ongoing spread.
covid didn’t put these people out on the streets.
Evictions are banned during C19 so 0% of those folks are out there due to Covid.
There is no solution, not in this economy. We’re only going to see more of these mini slums, and we’re going to have to figure out how to live with them.
Sorry to be negative about it, but I’ve been cycling around Portland and the Bay area since the 1990s and I’ve only seen these encampments / shanty towns get bigger and bigger.
The poverty pimps don’t want this problem to go away. Too easy throw around catch phrases like “connect them to services” and the other non-sense and keep milking the public for millions without producing any real results. And because we seem to have bought into the bullshit that compassion means letting people crap on the sidewalk.
I rode a section of the 205 bike path last weekend. I saw a gasoline motorcycle, someone going full-speed in a golf cart, people tossing lit cigarette butts in the grass when many city parks were still closed due to high fire risk. It’s ridiculous.
There are sections I am no longer willing to ride. I won’t ride between the Columbia and Sandy, and between Burnside and Stark. And I am a male in my late 20’s. I sympathize with others that feel vulnerable here.
Even more frustrating is the less-used sections become by cyclists, more illicit activity occurs in those sections.Its a negative feedback loop, it just seems to get worse. This year I find myself preferring 122nd over the 205 path more and more, despite all the aggro driving on 122nd.