Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler confirmed in a press conference today that he plans to use executive authority to ban camping adjacent to dangerous roadways and freeways citywide.
The move comes a day after Mayor Wheeler said a finding from the city’s 2021 Fatal Traffic Crash report that 70% of Portland’s fatal pedestrian collisions involved a person who lives on the street was “devastating.”
The emergency ordinance (PDF) that will be signed Friday around 3:00 pm states that it’s,
“inherently dangerous for people to camp along high crash corridors because many sites do not offer safe pedestrian crossings across what are often higher-speed traffic… it is inherently dangerous for people to camp along high crash corridors because many sites do not have a safety buffer around them, leaving it possible at some sites for a vehicle to crash into a campsite.”
The policy, which was first reported by The Oregonian Thursday, will apply to interstate freeways and on what the Portland Bureau of Transportation refers to as its High Crash Network. These are 30 streets that have a higher than average rate of deaths and injuries. The corridors reach into every part of Portland — from the northern tip of St. Johns to the southwest hills and the eastern border with Gresham — and are owned by both PBOT and the Oregon Department of Transportation.
“Stringent traffic calming measures like you describe are a possible fix, but not one that addresses the urgent and immediate safety issue of people living along high-speed crash corridors.”
— Cody Bowman, Mayor Wheeler’s office
Willamette Week reported today that Wheeler and his staff have been in discussions with ODOT for weeks about this issue. That story also outlines major pushback on the plan by a coalition of transportation and housing nonprofits including The Street Trust. That coalition has already sent a letter of opposition (PDF) to the Mayor’s office that says Wheeler’s approach isn’t backed up by any studies and that it’s being rushed without hearing from impacted communities. Instead of moving campers from the corridors, they propose other solutions like closing the High Crash Network streets to drivers and reducing the speed limit on all city-owned roads to 25 mph.
PBOT Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty issued a statement today saying she was never briefed on the plan. Wheeler disputed that claim in a press conference today saying, “The other councilors were certainly aware of the fact that I was looking at an executive order.”
Wheeler added that he’s making the move now because of additional budget resources the city has secured to address homelessness, improved partnerships with the County and other agencies, and the recent PBOT report which he said just validated the need to prioritize this action. Wheeler also said “I feel that the tide is turned,” and that he believes the public is on board with the idea.
The ordinance also includes a commitment from Multnomah County and the Joint Office of Homeless Services (JOHS) to set aside up to 100 extra shelter beds per day as an alternative to dangerous camping locations and in hopes that it discourages people from just setting up their camps in another place.
No one at today’s press conference asked why Mayor Wheeler is focusing only on the victims of these potential crashes and not the people driving cars. Since I didn’t get an invite to the event, I asked Wheeler media relations staffer Cody Bowman via email if any consideration had been given to installing protective barriers or other type of traffic calming measures in order to reduce the risk from drivers. He said the camping ban is focused on, “high-speed corridors like freeways where traffic management is less possible.” That not accurate I replied, because it will apply to the entire High Crash Network which consists of many non-freeway streets like Killingsworth, Foster, Hawthorne, Cesar Chavez, and so on.
“Stringent traffic calming measures like you describe,” Bowman added in a follow-up, “are a possible fix, but not one that addresses the urgent and immediate safety issue of people living along high-speed crash corridors.” “The Mayor is looking to save lives now, by removing folks from these dangerous areas.”
“So the Mayor does not feel that it’s possible to make immediate changes on the roadways that would calm traffic? Even with emergency authority?” I replied.
“Like I said, everything is on the table,” Bowman replied.
The camping ban would become effective immediately upon the ordinance being signed today and the State of Emergency would remain in effect through 5:00 pm February 18th, 2022.
Glad Mayor Wheeler is finally being brave enough to begin to rein in the inhumanity and suffering we allow on our streets. Please don’t let the haters stop you Ted. I’m disappointed and saddened we had to wait until there were so many deaths to act but this is a step in the right direction. Good work and keep it up.
He’s not, though. Wheeler is only telling people where they can’t be, as opposed to telling them where they can be instead
that seems appropriate for a mayor. These are adults who need to decide where to be. Society needs to establish some basic expectations for acceptable behavior in various public spaces. Setting up a multi-structure lean-to along a busy ROW seems very clearly unacceptable by any metric. It makes sense to me that a mayor would tell people where they cannot go, especially if it is based on sound evidence. I would not be comfortable with a mayor telling people where they must go.
What a baffling way to “fix” the danger of cars. If I didn’t know better I might think it’s motivated towards reducing the visibility of Portland’s homeless population rather than our mayor suddenly being interested in Vision Zero.
It’s not an attempt to fix the “danger of cars”. It’s an attempt to mitigate the danger that drug addicts pose to themselves and others by staggering around obliviously in traffic.
I don’t believe any of this is about compassion. https://www.opb.org/article/2022/02/03/oregon-had-second-highest-addiction-rates-in-the-nation-in-2020/
The article you link to makes my point for me.
As I stated in the forums, I hope this doesn’t just create more or enlarge all the existing drug camps on our MUPs.
As someone who lives within a stone’s throw to the 205MUP. Yup. An interesting tidbit that just landed in my mind is that I will be curious to see how it long it takes for people’s empathy to wear thin.
A lot of houses have turned hands to millennial age folks who have kids that are turning school age. PPS is a pretty good signal, with Clark Creative School likely to turn neighborhood K-8. Viable, safe non-automobile infra sure becomes important to a new family trying to live the ‘Urban Dream’ of having the carfree life they were pushed to try out. I do also think that a lot of the City is waking up from COVID, and that a lot of folks who’ve spent 18 months trying to minimize risks are emerging to scene that’s changed. Yet more possible correlation, with kids back in school and 5+ vaccinated, families are getting back outside more.
Anyways. Also been a heck of a media push on the issue this year. Everyone’s jumping on ‘pdx is done’ party bus. Tin foil hat mode: There is no doubt in my mind that there is some connection to the governor’s race this year, especially with an (ahem conservative) ‘independent’ standing to have a pretty good shot at winning governorship by dividing urbanites and and picking up the rural vote.
It probably will.
I’m so confused. I thought the Street Trust was out to reduce traffic deaths to pedestrians and promote traffic safety and now they are opposing a plan that would do so.
Get out of here with your logic and reasoning… Don’t you understand?!?!
Pretty sure they’re pushing back against just people without Offering better options.
Hilarious.. I am sure this ‘ban’ will be enforced…. This city can’t do something as simple as pick up garbage,
they cannot enforce camping bans on sidewalks which is illegal, they can’t patrol streets for safety, do none of the basic things a government is supposed to do but THIS WILL NOT STAND….
Closing the High Crash Network to drivers? As in shut down all the major arterials in Portland so people can camp there safely? Have they been smoking a bit too much of our locally grown ganja at the The Street Trust?
And people wonder how Wheeler got re-elected. Sarah Iannarone is living in an alternate reality.
Word. I can kind of understand their proposed solution in a late-night-dorm-room philosophical way. The chain of cause and effect is logical, alright. . . but it would be a massive disruption of the city’s transportation system. They either didn’t think it all the way through (which would be inexcusable), or it’s just wild, alienating messaging (which is very, very disappointing).
This is the most disappointing policy recommendation in the report. I read that and basically shut my mind down to the rest of the proposals. I have been an advocate for closing streets downtown b/c it makes sense with the traffic numbers. But the whole city? Really? Are you winning any friends with the shipping/freight industries with this type of language? No they are not.
The optics on this are pretty horrible. If you want to go after drivers then change the state level punitive laws on hitting people with cars. Asking PBOT to change the entire structure of the road network means asking Portlanders to table the Transportation System Plans which are state law requirements, and include community consultation. Do you really think PBOT can do this? No it can’t which is why Wheeler didn’t even ask them.
This seems like a veiled attempt to push long term transportation greening infrastructure as a “solution” to short term homelessness. I support solutions to both, but this policy paper response is really a pile of some of the worst policy recommendations on transport I have ever seen.
Sarah I. had this same sort of knee jerk policy response during her campaign. Cow-towed to a few screaming homelessness advocates in the back. I was disappointed when she announced her second mayoral candidacy. We had no choice but to support her. I doubt every organization or person that signed that document actually agrees with it. Did they take it to their next meeting and get a vote? No they did not have time. 3 or 4 of them sat around and decided. Then they pushed out this pile of policy crap out, while not listening at all to the resisters. This is business as usual for “transportation advocacy groups”.
Did someone hold a gun to your head? You gushed congratulations when she was appointed to head The Street Trust. It seems now you are trying to say you never liked her in the first place? I’m confused.
Sarah’s a feminist who can lead change in the most entrenched departments.
— Roberta Robles
Bike Portland Comment 1/10/2021
Congratulations. She will do great. But we don’t need an elongated strategic planning process. We need the Bike Bill guaranteed funding legislative push in the next 2-3 months. Then do a strategic organizational plan. DO NOT LOOSE THE MOMENTUM OF THE PROTESTS with another internal strategic plan. GET the GANG started in Salem for a big bike bill. I would like to remind everybody this is a statewide organization with statewide responsibilities. Make sure you are pushing for all Oregonians. Not just Portland specific projects. GO BIG SARAH!!!
Roberta’s previous support of Iannarone aside, Roberta’s assessment of the farcical Street Trust response seems pretty on point.
Do we need studies to tell us walking across and interstate at night to reach your campsite is dangerous?
The Street Trust really shot a ton of credibility with me with this, quite frankly, absurd letter.
whatever shred of support I once had for The Street Trust is now gone. They have gone full Portland on this one. Bizarre.
Never go Full Portland.
Agreed on all counts. On your point about camps being in these locations because of underused public space, I’ve noticed similar things around bridges; yet many (empty, dry) underpasses are now fenced off, and the city continues to sweep people out of places like under 405 (recently covered here).
Frankly, if the city doesn’t want people to live in these locations, where does it want people to live? (Shelters! they cry, while restricting entry to those who are already sober and in good mental health, even as every neighborhood association scrambles to loudly denounce any siting nearby because “safety.”)
And thank you to Jonathan for pushing back on the mayor’s bizarre belief that in the midst of a self-acknowledged emergency he can’t slow down vehicles in any way, through policy or construction.
This is equivalent to saying “people keep getting shot to death when walking on this street, so we’ll just close the street to pedestrians.” Instead of doing something about the shooters.
At the risk of following one bad analogy with another, it’s more akin to saying “people keep wandering onto this shooting range and getting shot, so we’ll make renewed efforts to keep people out.”
That said, we do have a lot of streets where people really are getting shot to death, and do I wish they would do something about the shooters.
IMO, a more fitting analogy combines yours and ivan’s, because Wheeler raised the possibility of people crashing into camps.
Terminal 2 at the Port of Portland is where they should be bussed to. Transit can be easily provided, it is very close to downtown, wrap around services could easily be provided, there is no neighborhood nearby to have NIMBY’s impacting it, dirty 30 can’t get much dirtier, huge swaths of people could be put indoors, etc. This would be a fantastic test to the amount of homeless who are actually interested in improving their lives vs. the others who really just want to be addicts and have access to the things that allow for that to persist.
State of emergency that lasts through Feb 18? So the underlying safety issues will be resolved as of Feb 19? That really *is* good news.
I believe that by law, a state of emergency has to be renewed every 14 days. No one is saying the problem will be fixed then.
The good news is that the state of emergency can be renewed every 2 weeks indefinitely.
Honestly, I think most(?) Portlanders want anyone without a house interned. A few directed bans like this and Wheeler’s recent proposal to ban camping outside of safe rest villages, and I think camping may effectively banned except for in state-sanctioned sites. That would be very bad.
It reminds me of Tubman Middle School. We know we have this deleterious public health threat in our urban core, but instead of removing the threat, we just…move things further away from it?
“Interning” meth and opioid addicts for two years of detox and rehab with followup support for transitional housing and employment would get my vote.
Treatment options & housing support are necessary to fix our current crisis, no argument there. But this order affects people without homes, not drug users. To conflate the two is a textbook example of bigotry. Punitive measures are not effective means to break the cycle of substance use or houselessness.
Oh, please. Enough with the enabling. The non addict “houseless” person is a unicorn. The vast majority of people camped out on our streets, MUPs, and other public spaces are drug addicts whose using has rendered them mentally ill and homeless. Oregon has the highest rates of meth and opioid addiction in the country and it’s evident every place you look. Measure 110 that Oregonians were dumb enough to vote for makes the state a destination location for addicts throughout the country. Until the meth and opioid epidemics are dealt with seriously, the camps will just continue to grow, property and violent crime will get even worse, and our community will continue to be destroyed. What I suggested would be costly, but it’s the most effective and humane way of dealing with the issue. And it’s not “punitive”, it’s compassionate.
Do you have a citation for that? It looks to me like less than 50% of people living on the streets are struggling w/ substance abuse. It’s tempting to assume that everyone living on the street wound up there as a result of their own poor choices, but I think terrible luck & a broader societal failure is just as often the culprit. StreetRoots profiles are really enlightening on that front, I recommend checking those out! There but for the grace of god go I, ya know?
It would be compassionate to make treatment & housing services available & easy to access for houseless people. It would be punitive to make those services compulsory.
What you linked to was a site that refers people to for profit rehab facilities. It makes the ridiculous claim that “Oftentimes, addiction is a result of homelessness”.
If you knew anything about addiction to opioids or meth, you would know that it completely overturns the way the brain works. The main sense of danger that addicts feel is that they will be cut off from their drugs. Everything else is crowded out. That’s why “offering” voluntary drug treatment services is such an abject failure. Addicts run from it because it means no more drugs.
In addition to a lifetime of dealing with and cleaning up the messes made by addicts in my own family and seeing how private addiction clinics put profit over results (do you know what an insurance cure is?), I’ve done quite a bit of reading of reputable work on the subject. “Houseless advocate” enablers’ ideology seems to blind them to the reality of the meth and opioid situation.
I’m not sure what would incentivize the addiction center to underestimate the prevalence of substance use disorder, but they aren’t the direct source anyways. They’re actually citing a study from the National Coalition for the Homeless. I really tried, but I couldn’t find any estimates over 40%.
“It makes the ridiculous claim that “Oftentimes, addiction is a result of homelessness”.
This is neither a claim nor is it ridiculous. Many youth are forced into houselessness for a variety of reasons and addiction is often the effect.
A citation? Probably only in own mind. Or maybe his friends at Fox News told him that.
I at least somewhat agree, but is it really reasonable to call closing the most dangerous camping spots “punitive”? We don’t consider enforcing building codes, for example, to be punishment. We enforce them to protect people in and around a structure from injury and death. Why is this different?
I think enforcing rules like this are punitive when there is no safe and legal alternative. People do not camp on the edges of busy roadways because they want to, they do so because they have no other tenable choice. If building codes were so onerous that it was effectively impossible to construct new buildings, I would oppose that too.
There certainly are safer alternatives, but I concede there are not enough legal ones. I agree this is a problem, but I don’t agree that it’s a reason to keep people away from acutely dangerous locations.
And, on the analogy front, if it were impossible to build buildings safely, I would support not building more of them.
I appreciate that point. I’m coming at this from a place of general disapproval of autocentric infrastructure, so I would prefer that cars be curbed before encampments are moved. Those roads are dangerous because of how the state itself built them and could be redesigned to be more safe to live near, so I’m unsympathetic to the claim that we need to move people away for the sake of their own safety.
Re: analogy, if we can’t build anything, where are people supposed to live?
I share your desire for less auto-centric infrastructure, but we also need to acknowledge the reality of where we are, even if we might wish for something different.
“Curbing cars” in this context is simply not feasible option. You may be right that the roads are dangerous because of how they were built, and that, with an giant bucket of money, we could rebuild them all*, but that doesn’t actually address the reality that people are living in wildly inappropriate places and are dying as a result, today.
Given the actual choices on the menu, all terrible, you are saying you’d pick the one where more people are maimed and killed. I just can’t get on board with that.
*If we did rebuild these facilities, would providing safe camping really be something you’d want to design in? That just feels like exactly the wrong solution to the problem of homelessness. That said, 82nd is being reimagined now…
I totally see where you’re coming from, but I don’t think sweeping roadside campsites will keep people safe from drivers. The more likely effect is to simply destabilize people, to force them away from the dangerous place they know and into another dangerous place with which they’ll be less familiar. It seems like a bad intervention, and a waste of resources.
Destabilization is a legitimate concern (though surely a smaller threat than getting struck by a car), but what non-roadside dangerous places are you concerned with?
This emergency order seems to fit pretty squarely into the rubric of “harm reduction”.
I’m referring to other roadside campsites. I don’t think the city is capable of actually keeping roadsides clear, I think there will be a sort of shuffle — as they sweep one site, campers will move to another down the road. A bit like Laurelhurst & Sunnyside elementary.
I don’t think a ban on roadside campsites should be considered harm reduction because it criminalizes behavior. I see road dieting & traffic calming as harm reduction measures because they would make camping safer.
The order does not change the legality of camping on roadsides (it’s illegal now), it just increases the priority for sweeping those camps. Once people understand the new rules, we’ll reach a new equilibrium that will, I hope, result in fewer people dying.
We agree that if the emergency order just pushes people from one roadside site to another, it will do more harm than good, and should be discontinued.
We probably also agree that this effort should not distract us from making the roads themselves safer, which has been and will continue to be a decades-long process.
Where we differ is on the question of whether we do anything in the immediate term to reduce the number of people getting killed.
Fair points. I’d actually say we disagree whether this order can effectively stop people from being killed, and there’s no real way to know unless it gets enacted & we see some impacts. If it does go through, I hope you’re right & it decreases the fatality rate, because I know in the meantime it’ll cause a lot of pain for the people it purports to save.
Maybe, for the first time in Bike Portland history, we can end our conversation on a point of agreement 🙂
So compassionate of you to want people to camp outside in garbage and rain…
Do you think that camping is positive? It is hard to even know what to say about posts like this?
Do you think mentally ill people should just be free to wander around and camp in filth on the streets?
Most Portlanders want a humane response to all of this and Wheeler and crew have none.
You like seeing people sleep in their filth? You like seeing people catch diseases and virus that are literally from medieval times? I don’t. At some point compassion is saying that we have these places you can sleep that have running water, heat/ A/c, a doctor, and places to wash your clothes. Sleeping on the sidewalk is far from compassionate. Somehow Portlanders have been made to believe that this is normal. It isn’t. It’s literally watching failed commissioners like Dan Ryan continue to fail and Mayors like Hales and Wheeler fail. This isn’t normal. City council need to have its own emergency. The amount of ineptitude and personal goals is failing us.
Because it’s easier to move/close and interstate freeway than move a school lol??
Seems like a coded policy that the mayoral office thinks it is time to “go somewhere else” but not actually helping go anywhere safe.
My gut is that Wheeler has been getting an ear full about houseless camping, but fears ridicule for a enacting a policy to displace the anyone. So this something that is actionable but he can point to as being for “safety”. In Feb no less, right when people need the shelters they’ve put together the most.
Will this change anything? Probably not.
Is this a solution to homelessness? No.
Does this address the inherent dangers of cars v. peds? Nope.
Is this a step in the right direction tonally? Yes~
Not super excited this will change much but a positive sign the homelessness advocates’ ideological wall of ignorance is slowly being chipped away as we wait for a new mayor and council members to take a wreaking ball to this fetid hell.
Comment of the day! And good use of fetid
And good use of “wreaking”, although perhaps inadvertent.
“other solutions like closing the High Crash Network streets to drivers”
This is so out of touch with what is politically and practically possible, whoever suggested it as their
is basically saying “ignore me”.
Alternative transportation advocates need to build coalitions, persuade median voters, and pursue pragmatic, attainable goals that help people. The proposed “solution” does the exact opposite. Sure, it’s probably just “messaging,” but it’s a really poorly done message: I wonder if anyone in the organization realizes how out of touch and ideological it sounds to most people.
Just about everyone in Portland is demanding substantive change, and has been for some time. Do you know even a single person who thinks things are going well?
I disagree with your assessment that Portlanders are myopic and only want to treat the symptoms; most of us see that policies enabling antisocial and self destructive behavior by keeping people on the street are a miserable failure. We are desperate for real solutions, including housing, mental health and drug treatment, and medical care. As evidence that Portlanders are willing to pay to solve these problems, I would cite successful bond measures and funding allocations for housing and drug treatment that passed in 2018 and 2020. Those weren’t measures that passed the bill on to others; those were us paying the bill ourselves.
So history shows we’re willing to pay. We all see that letting people fester on the street is inhumane and degrades the quality of life for everyone. People are angry because our leaders are unwilling, or unable, to grapple meaningfully with the issue.
And yes, there are some Portlanders who, fairly or not, are also angry at the individuals who steal their bikes, use their yards as a toilet, leave used needles on the playground, burn piles of trash, or brandish weapons at passers by. However, I believe it’s those who allow the situation to persist that people are most angry at. This is going to be a bad year for incumbents.
In a way that showcased a big weakness of our current plurality primary/general setup (the winner didn’t even win a majority!). I am curious to know how it might’ve turned out differently with a more expressive voting system like STAR (which does not need a primary) – with any luck, we may get to vote on having such an opportunity in the not-too-distant future.
Indeed, he does. I’ve seen no polling data to substantiate this, but I am confident if he were up for election this year, and had a decent opponent, he’d lose handily.
If he had a decent opponent at the _last_ election, he’d have lost handily. Sadly, decent opponents are in short supply.
For the most part, maybe. I would argue that there are far more Portlanders like that than there used to be, even 6 years ago.
Other than vote for more funding which, we have done, and choose better leaders, which I hope we will do, what is “the work” that average citizens can do to address the problems associated with the crisis?
Average owners should immediately stop supporting immoral subsidies of property ownership/rent-seeking (e.g. tax credits, tax jubilees, tax limits), dehumanizing anti-tenant laws/regulation, zoning that favors ownership,and, most importantly, racist and classist barriers to social housing.
Average owners helped create and profit from a rigged housing system that relies on scarcity, misery, and human tragedy to generate “rent/equity”. If you own a loan or “property” and want to know why there are so many houseless people in Portland, look in the @#$%ing mirror.
Ok, other than vote for more funding, choose better leaders, and overthrow capitalism, what is “the work” that average citizens can do to address the problems associated with the crisis?
I think most affluent people have some inkling about what must be done to address the housing crisis (and the healthcare crisis, biodiversity crisis, climate crisis etc) but they value a few more years/decades of “business as usual” comfort over the inconvenient reforms that could prevent more destructive societal change (2025 is less than three years away so perhaps this is a moot point now).
You are exhausting.
But we are paying for solutions. We are just not seeing any progress.
Who were they supposed to vote for?
Someone not Wheeler.
If you see the choice as being “awful” or “more awful”, you’re going to have to pick a candidate you don’t really like.
The headline for this article should read ‘Mayor Wheeler will ban camping within Portland city limits’
You say that like it would be a bad thing.
Yes! You’re right! Only . . . the opposite . . .
*** comment deleted. No name-calling please! – Jonathan ***
Ted and Dan could just house these folks instead of sweeping them up and putting them somewhere else. I know, that would involve planning and that isn’t their forte. I’m also not surprised Hardesty wasn’t involved since her last solution to drive bys hasn’t sat or aged well.
This of course would close down the majority of major arterials and interstates in Portland.
This statement was actually signed by The Street Trust (Executive Director is Sarah Inarone) and Oregon Walks (Executive Director is Ashton Simpson).
This is so out of touch with reality I seriously wonder if they both are suffering from some sort of mental illness.
Inarone and Simpson are now “political untouchables” by anyone with even a modicum of common sense. Any good their organizations could have done has now evaporated for the foreseeable future.
[Editor: I removed the first portion of sentence] … sarcasm. Obviously they understand that these streets won’t be closed, but the city has swept people into areas like cloverleaf onramps, and yeah it is super unsafe to have to cross a cloverleaf so it isn’t surprising that we have a safety issue. The statement seems to be that closing the street without a way to still get all the people to their destinations makes as much sense as just chasing these folks off again without having anywhere for them to go. I don’t understand why it is so hard to take over some empty parking lots, and shelter people in sheds. It isn’t a permanent solution but it is clearly better in so many ways than what we have now.
It’s not only Portland (actually, Portland’s pretty darn mild considering). Read yesterday about a butterfly sanctuary in Texas that had to shut down because it was being threatened by rightwing militias. And the Missouri legislature is about to pass a law that makes murder by gun legal. All you have to do is claim self defense and presto!, case dismissed.
No, actually, it’s worldwide. How about that video of Kim Jong Un riding a white horse in slow motion along a beach at sunset while the voiceover touts his economic successes. Bet the locals who have to survive on eating grass love that one!
Interestingly, the Mayor can make such a sweeping declaration in less than a week but has had years (and tons of taxpayer money) to provide temporary shelters for campers and has accomplished nothing. Of course, the County is no better.
“The camping ban would become effective immediately upon the ordinance being signed today and the State of Emergency would remain in effect through 5:00 pm February 18th, 2022”
A 14 day ban? Campers can move a block then return two weeks later? Or don’t bother moving, because in two weeks the city can probably manage to post and clear only a few larger camps?
I wonder why Iannarone and Simpson “propose[d] other solutions like closing the High Crash Network streets to drivers”. Why discredit one’s organization and one’s own judgment with such a farcical position, to oppose a ban that will be brief and of little impact?
Is the ban’s duration being correctly reported?
The ban will almost certainly be renewed, so it’s duration is likely to be indeterminate and ongoing.
Apparently, an emergency order like that can only be for a short time but it can renewed over and over. And the proposal to ban traffic on those roads is performance art intended to show just how out of touch with reality those groups that proposed it are?
Emergency orders can only be 2 weeks in duration. But they can be renewed indefinitely. It will be a permanent temporary order.
By all means, do nothing and be more of the sumpter fire Portland has become. Once Portland and San Francisco figure out how much homeless they attract …
You can’t give free stuff and not expect a caravan of people looking for free stuff..
Tell that to Corporate America – they get more “free stuff” than anyone even though they don’t need it.
Our approach to homelessness is a lose-lose. The homeless live in dangerous dehumanizing conditions and those of us with homes feel like hostages in our own city. I have stopped bike riding in a lot of places because it is unsafe and unpleasant. The camps are not just camps, they are massive piles of garbage that demoralize everyone around them. The worse things look, the less people will venture out and support the city. People who complain are seen as cruel, but the reality is that some areas of our city are unusable. Sidewalks, MUP’s and parks are blocked and littered. It is hard work and takes a long time to build strong institutions and pleasant cities and it is easy and quick to destroy them. Without action now (yesterday or 2 years ago would have been better) we will be looking at years of intractable problems and people who can leave will move to the suburbs to get away from it. I don’t know if Wheeler’s plan to ban camping on some streets and freeways will help, but it’s the first thing I’ve seen him do about homelessness since he became mayor. The whole council has really been invisible on this issue and it has festered.
My work, located downtown Portland though many us have been WFH for past 2 years, has been giving us pep talks for the past couple months on how great downtown is. How it just needs us to come back to work, buy a few cups of coffee, and some sushi for lunch and we’ll save the City.
I would be very surprised if anyone is buying it. I’m sure not.
Here’s a excerpt from a January 10, 2021 post of BikePortland where it was gleefully announced that Sarah Inarone was hired to be the Executive Director of Street Trust.
I’m guessing Mr. Ngo is trying to hide under his pillow right now after reading that inane letter demanding major arterials and freeways in Portland be closed to vehicles which was signed by The Street Trust.
The damage of this irrational letter to the reputation and efficacy of both The Street Trust and Oregon Walks cannot be underestimated. It shows the poor judgment of both of their boards on hiring 2 individuals (Sarah Inarone and Ashton Simpson) who seem to be rash ideologues rather than unifying and visionary leaders for these two transportation non-profits. I can’t imagine any elected official or policy director would want to deal with them in the future.
This letter is so irrational I feel it is a new milestone in our march towards an alternative reality. And it’s not just the Street Trust endorsing this, but organizations such as Verde, Impact NW, Central City Concern and the Transition Projects, all of which I (possibly mistakenly?) have always considered as relatively pragmatic, down-to-earth and action-driven organizations. I am wondering how the endorsement was made within these organizations. It happened so fast, so does it mean it was not endorsed by their respective Boards of Directors. That’s what I am hoping, in which case not all hope is lost. But can Executive Directors alone make these kinds of endorsements? It’s all very puzzling.
Vincent, I’ve also been wondering about the backstory here. My experience with NA boards is that when something needs to be done on the fly, they will give permission for a letter “along those lines,” that committee chair or executive director has permission to write (usually in an emergency session). Logistics of quick action/response can be difficult w boards, depending on their bylaws, which may include sunshine provisions which slow everything down, sometimes for a month. So yeah, this letter went out pretty quick considering the number of people sitting on the boards of the signatory organizations.
Well if the board members have any desire to salvage what is left of their organization’s seriously damaged reputation they need to immediately issue a retraction and fire whoever in their organization authorized the signing. Time for damage control. Otherwise they will be deemed irrelevant, irrational and a group to avoid.
I’m wondering about this too. I’m hoping there will be a follow up story/interview/podcast with the authors/signers of this letter to explain themselves. It seems like there must be more to this story and how the letter came about. I mean, if they stand by their recommendation to close all these HCC roads to cars, it would seem like such a dramatic recommendation warrants more explanation than a small bullet point. I’m at least curious to hear more.
I agree that first bullet point seems a bit off given how it’s completely removed from political reality. I’ve talked to one source who said it likely had something to do with how quickly the letter had to go from draft to final given the news cycle on Friday. I’ll try to do some follow up.
I have been on several non-profit boards/committees. Attempting to hurry a response on “urgent” statements and co-signing of letters is always a warning sign! We’re rarely at our best and most effective when we feel a sudden urgency to respond to an issue out of left field.
Unfortunately one of these “rash ideologues” (Ashton Simpson) may very well be an elected official shortly. He’s running for Metro Council Position 1. Arrgh!
While much of the discussion so far has focused on the living situation of the victims, nothing has been said about the drivers. If 70% of pedestrian deaths were people experiencing houselessness, I’m willing to bet that 95% of the drivers fall into one or all of the following categories:
* no valid license
* expired registration
* no license plates at all
* stolen vehicle
* hit and run
* reckless driving
* multiple past driving infractions
We can focus on the root of the issue without resorting to ridiculous measures like closing the streets to all automobile traffic.
You have nothing to base that on. Have you seen the way addicts behave on our streets? They stagger down the middle of 5 lane roads pushing their shopping carts or baby strollers all the while talking to the meth demons in there heads. They walk across busy roads without using crosswalks or paying attention to oncoming traffic. They stumble in front of cyclists on our MUPs. I know about this last one because I crashed into a nearly naked woman who, even after I yelled to let her know I was coming well in advance, ran back and forth across the Springwater trail like a confused squirrel. I had a multi thousand dollar bill for the subsequent concussion I suffered.
I don’t understand the othering of drivers like this. Is it based on fact? Otherwise it reads like the average driver is completely off the hook. Reminds me of the “it must be caused by outsiders” bias that has popped up for centuries.
It’s based on fact, but is merely speculation, because I don’t have the details of every driver that killed someone on our roads last year. Too often, I read news reports that indicate a long history of bad decisions by these deadly drivers. I understand that people trying to cross a freeway on foot are hard to see and react to, but crashes that happen on city streets should be much easier to avoid.
This wasn’t a pedestrian crash, but it’s the most recent example that I have. The driver is accused of hit-and-run in a fatal crash that happened at Holgate and McLoughlin just a couple of weeks ago:
From the Oregonian: “Walker was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center on suspicion of second-degree manslaughter, third-degree assault, driving under the influence of intoxicants and reckless driving.
He was cited three times for driving without insurance before his license was suspended in 2019, according to court records. He also pleaded not guilty to reckless driving charges in 2020 and was cited two more times that year for driving with a suspended or revoked license, records show.”
I own and drive a car, but I take my responsibility very seriously because I know how easy it is to maim or kill people outside my car. I also ensure that my liability insurance coverage is at the maximum level, because I know how expensive hospital visits can be. There is no excuse to allow unlicensed or uninsured motorists to drive away from a traffic stop. In the example above, the driver was cited three times for driving without insurance. It’s impossible to tell whether someone has insurance unless you pull them over for some other reason in the first place, so clearly not a good driver to begin with. I willing to bet (speculation alert!) that he was allowed to drive away from each of these stops.
I would like to see an article that digs into the situation and driving history of the drivers who kill pedestrians, instead of blaming the victims.
Mark, last year I wrote two in-depth articles about those issues. The first was about the Pedestrian Crash Report that Oregon Walks released last year. They analyzed, 43 I think, pedestrian deaths, went through the police reports, visited the sites, the whole bit. You might find it interesting. The second article was an interview with Columbia County Assistant DA Kimberlyn Silverman, who was the Oregon State DUII prosecutor of the year a few years back. I’d give you links, but I’m working off an iPad and it’s cumbersome. Kim gets into the legal weeds about repeat offenders and sentencing.
I can’t believe I left this out of my bullet point list:
* distracted driving
I find this response from The Street Trust troubling.
Issue an emergency resolution to close down high crash corridors and intersections to auto traffic and reduce speed limits to 20 MPH on all city-owned facilities and roadways
In years past, I’ve worked alongside and supported the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) now broadened and rebranded as “The Street Trust.” I have trusted and respected them until reading this letter. If it was written as satire to express a point of the absurdity of how the city is attempting to solve issue related to houseless community, then it fails in execution. If it’s a literal non-satire then it is even worse. This really doesn’t look good for them.
We need smart savvy people on the side of bicycle and pedestrian advocacy. Their letter is quite disheartening.
All the following non-profits signed this irrational letter protesting Wheeler’s order to restrict camping in dangerous areas. They are all permanently off my donation list:
The Street Trust
OPAL Environmental Justice
Getting There Together Coalition
Human Solutions Inc.
No More Freeways Coalition
Street Roots Advocacy
Our Portland PAC
Portland: Neighbors Welcome
Northwest Pilot Project
1000 Friends of Oregon
Right 2 Survive
Urban League of Portland
Portland Jobs with Justice
Central City Concern
Sisters of the Road
Transition Projects, Inc.
Hygiene for Al
How on earth do organizations like those support just leaving people on the sides of roads and paths in squalor? As a long time supporter of CCC & Outside In (among others) I’m just appalled.
This asinine notion of closing major arterials in Portland (therefore driving the mass of traffic onto side streets, thanks) does nothing for anyone.
The only way to move people out of dangerous areas, off of paths and sidewalks is to *GIVE THEM SOMEPLACE BETTER TO CAMP*.
Sanitation, Garbage service, Safety & Welfare checks on the inhabitants (never forget the day we discovered the camper on SE 11th between us and the Elections office had died in their tent), Services (particularly those geared to helping people back into housing – a huge percentage of our current homeless population are situational).
This, by the way, is *actual* compassion. Simply ignoring the homeless does them no favors (and by alienating residents of the area does substantial harm to long term outcomes). Unfortunately real compassion, real solutions cost money and Americans (not just Portlanders) don’t like that.
Someone objected to categorizing Portlanders as myopic – it’s correct insofar as it describes the entire population of this country.
I’ve been waffling between throwing my hands up and giving up and still caring. This sort of stupidity moves me farther and farther to giving up.
Why would any of these organizations want things to get better. They get millions of dollars from our elected unprofessionals on city council to make sure things stay awful so they have a reason to exist. We don’t actually expect any of these “non-profits” to work themselves out of existence do we?
If it was even remotely true that MORE money would fix this issue, it is impossible to believe San Francisco and Los Angeles do not have sufficient resources to fix it. Portland, maybe less so, but our issue is less severe than those places too.
When I have conversations with folks they just can’t fathom that the non-profits have no incentive to actually fix problems. Just band-aids. Afterall, if the problem was fixed, no more non-profit.
A few folks finally see that yes, the way things are setup by the City the housing crisis will never be solved.
Get out the tinfoil hats – no one has to do anything to make sure there are always unfortunate people in need of help, that’s the nature of our world.
This is clearly written by someone who’s never been inside the efforts of one of those agencies (the 2 I mentioned are the ones I actually know something about).
Ah yes, if we are going to applaud people for efforts, well that may just be the genesis of our problems. We have no ability to track results, nor are results the priority, we are just happy throwing good money after bad, because after all, these organizations are just trying so dang hard to make a difference.
I have seen enough of the inside machinations of non-profits via my work in funding affordable housing and my wife’s as a LCSW to know that the level of waste and incompetence is rampant, sufficient to be easily compared with many bureaucratic institutions of government.
I’d be curious to know how many duplicate services these organizations provide. Seems like homelessness and pedestrian safety has become a cottage industry of sorts, it’s no wonder little tangible improvements are being made.
It is probably worth noting that closing all major streets would impact East Portland much more than other parts of the city, and would be deeply inequitable.
So does this mean the 205 and marine drive bike paths will be cleaned up, or even more full of campers?
If only the mayor would slightly prioritize bike paths.
Those displaced from the HCC roadways have to go somewhere – and bike paths aren’t in the HCC network. My magic 8-ball says expect lots more crowding in those areas, spilling over into the path even more.
If you haven’t already found alternative routes to those paths, do so now.
I mentioned 205 and Marine drive specifically because they are along two HCC roadways. People cross marine drive on foot to get to varied camps there. The 205 path camping under Sandy actually combines two HCC roadway areas. But, I don’t know if the paths will be treated as “part of” those roads, or not.
Many multi-use paths in Portland are unusable now because of homeless squatting – the I-205 path, the Springwater, Peninsula Crossing trail…so not sure that it’s going to matter much if they are “more full” of so-called “campers.” That said, I’d enthusiastically support clearing those trails in order to return them to their intended purpose.
Not sure if anyone uses our bike trails anymore. I quit about 2 years ago.
Lorie, not everyone is you. Plenty of people use the bike trails.
This is going to make the bike paths even worse.
This is what in the military we call “eyewash”.
The reactions to this situation are bizarre. The emergency declaration expires February 18th. That’s only two weeks!
On one hand, the mayor is reacting to the fatality statistic by banning camping on the high crash corridors. The thinking presumably is that if you move campers off the high crash streets then fewer campers will be involved in crashes. But, for two weeks… is that the best you could come up with?
Then on the other hand, the coalition letter is reacting in a different strange way. Do they really think they’re going to get what’s listed in their demands? Close all the main arterials in the city to auto traffic. Really?
It’s been mentioned several times in the comments but this emergency declaration can fortunately be renewed every 2 weeks indefinitely. It’s a start to ending the inhumanity on our streets.
The non-profit coalition response letter is just plain nuts. I think they have lost their minds. Not much else to say on that.
thanks i saw that after posting. it would be helpful for the reporting to mention the two-week renewal in the article. I did see today that Portland Street Response will be expanding as part of the new PPA contract so hopefully there are some other components to the response of this situation beyond this emergency declaration.
No. I doubt that they thought they’d get what’s listed in the demands.
This would be a great time to pressure the mayor and council members to open the closed Post office as a giant shelter. We could temporarily house thousands and provide services to them in a central location. Once the crisis is managed, smaller housing could still be established throughout the City, but this is great location to triage the urgent crisis and get people off the streets/sidewalks, riverfront, paths and parks! Prosper Portland has been resistant claiming that they need to start defoliation to stay on their construction schedule, and once demolition begins the site will be contaminated. This is bullshit since they no longer even have a contractor: there is not construction schedule! They are just planning demolition to avoid helping to solve the homeless situation.
Currently the site is not safe for habitation because of contamination that already exists in the site. After the construction starts and the contamination is removed, then it can be used for habitation.
There are quite a few sites around the city that are not contaminated but let’s not kid ourselves, the politicians don’t want to create “temporary” type housing. They want it to over-priced “affordable” housing that makes a lot of bank for the construction industry.
The contamination is not a risk until the start demo- it is safely within walls/under asphalt. People were working in there just a couple of years ago.
Working at a location is much different than living at it.
Check with the City/State, people are not allowed to live there. Working there is fine.
I think you being overly cautious. Have you seen were some of these people are sleeping now?
I disagree and I think that is just excuse-making on the part of Prosper Portland. That building is far safer, cleaner, less toxic and more sanitary than a tent in a the gutter. This is only supposed to temporary during a declared emergency. The intention is to intervene in the obvious humanitarian crisis on our street, to break the cycle and help people to find a path to a more sustainable lifestyle. Enabling camping is truly sick, IMO.
That letter is a clear case of TLDR. It’s crazy that the first bullet point was so overlooked by all the signers. It is, approximately, sarcasm but in fairness it is no more implausible than the mayor’s proposal. If Ted had a hundred thousand troops on the border, maybe he could pull that off. As things are the city has no chance to sweep camps in all those places and keep them clear.
I agree with much of the letter but who edited it anyway?
Who says it was overlooked? I think you are enabling their idiocy.
Enabling? I didn’t give them a platform to say that, or disseminate it. It just looks to me like something that was really fast and without a lot of consideration.
This is excellent news. I only hope it is enforced rigorously. It’s in no one’s best interest to have shantytowns set up next to freeways…dangerous for homeless, dangerous for drivers.
If I were mayor I would see this crisis as the perfect opportunity to practice what it would be like sheltering thousands of people after a catastrophic earthquake. They say one’s coming after all. I’d be on the phone with the governor coordinating the National Guard to come out and setup mobile field bases with hospital tents; sending troops out into the street to locate survivors/campers and bring them into shelter. That way we could effectively triage people and setup a system to get them back into more permanent housing. We have the technology and resources, just not the will nor the leadership.
It makes me wonder if the government response to this crisis we see today is what we can expect to experience ourselves should the big one shake.
It is in the raging fires of disasters and crises that leaders are forged. The fact that this homeless crisis has not inspired any of the “so called” leaders to rise to the occasion is really discouraging. And it predates Wheeler and the current council. Charlie Hales was also an absentee caretaker. I like Adam’s suggestion. I also like the idea of people with power trying something. Anything. Watching the city deteriorate and presiding over a loss of hope among the population is the opposite of leadership.
I’d count on us all being on our own if we are around for Cascadia. I see no competent leadership in Portland. Plan accordingly.
That would make too much sense.