A series of unconventional measures taken by City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty to reduce gun violence in a southeast Portland neighborhood appear to be working.
“… The early results are promising.”
— Jo Ann Hardesty, Portland City Commissioner
Back in October, Hardesty and Parks Commissioner Carmen Rubio reacted to pleas from people who live in the Mt. Scott-Arleta neighborhood to do something about the shootings and violence they were experiencing on the streets around SE 72nd and Woodstock. One of the actions taken as part of a pilot project was something the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) had never done before: Use traffic calming infrastructure to reduce gun violence.
Since many gun-related crimes were committed by people using cars, the thinking went, reducing speed of drivers and limiting their access to the street would reduce the ability to commit those crimes.
According to results released today of the three-month pilot project (October to December), concrete barrels and other interventions resulted in a 64% decrease in the number of verified shootings compared to the three months prior to the pilot.
Hardesty’s office also referenced results of a survey in a statement about the pilot project, saying, “Twice as many survey respondents believed the traffic intervention reduced traffic from people escaping a shooting compared to those that didn’t perceive a difference,” and that 72% of people surveyed endorsed non-traditional responses to gun violence including better public spaces.
At a walking tour of the neighborhood this morning, Mt. Scott-Arleta Neighborhood Association Chair Matchu Williams (a former volunteer with Bike Loud PDX) said, “The sudden rise in gunfire and reckless driving last year shook the community and spurred on calls for safe streets where neighbors can gather together. The pilot project gives us hope for future investments into safe streets in Mt. Scott-Arleta and citywide.”
Another resident, Nadine Salama said, “Knowing we are being supported and protected by Commissioner Hardesty’s office and seeing tangible results so quickly has undoubtedly given many of us a sense of relief and hope that things can turn around. We hope that our community becomes a blueprint for measured responses and equitable solutions to gun violence.”
PBOT installed 18 traffic barrels in a six-by-six block radius near Mt. Scott Park and community center.
Commissioner Hardesty touts the successful pilot as part of a “all hands on deck, holistic violence mitigation effort” that included Portland Parks & Recreation, the Office of Management & Finance Community Safety Division, Portland Police Bureau, and local residents.
For their part, Parks increased ranger patrols and repaired lighting in Mt. Scott Park. The PPB also increased patrols of the area. Local businesses were encouraged by the City of Portland to install security cameras.
Parks & Rec Commissioner Carmen Rubio says this experiment should serve as a model for other parts of the city. “I’m open to hearing from other parks-adjacent neighborhoods interested in similar pilot projects.”
It’s notable that Commissioner Hardesty, who’s often labeled as being anti-police, worked in partnership with the PPB on this pilot project. “In the months ahead, the Police Bureau looks forward to continued partnerships with Parks & Recreation, the Bureau of Transportation, and any other City Bureau that has innovative ideas on how to improve community safety,” said Deputy Chief of Police Mike Frome in a statement from Hardesty’s office.
Commissioner Hardesty is clearly excited about this pilot but also issued a note of caution. “We have not implemented this pilot for long enough to determine this a success, but the early results are promising.”
Also shared today was a potential design for changes to the SE 72nd and Woodstock “Arleta Triangle” intersection that currently has a large and dangerous slip-lane. Many residents want PBOT to close the slip lane permanently and install concrete planters to create plaza space.
Hardesty says next steps could include seeking City Council approval for a staff position to expand the pilot project, upgrading the plastic barrels to concrete, speed reader signs on 72nd Avenue, and more.
If you’d like to learn more about this effort, Hardesty will host a live discussion on her Facebook page today (Tuesday March 1st) at 5:00 pm.
Shootings skyrocket in Portland. Portland places traffic barrels. Shootings continue unabated. Portland declares victory.
Come on. This sounds like a joke.
I love the new concrete traffic calming measures, but to claim they stop gun violence is an embarrassing stretch. There’s going to be a conservative backlash if we aren’t careful. The city has multiple problems and voters want to see clear plans with results. From a bike advocacy point of view, it’ll be a disaster if some of these right-wing people get elected. It’s like we’re giving the election away with stories like this.
Your response is strange to me considering this story is on results in one neighborhood alone and doesn’t suggest all of Portland has declared victory. Not only that, but it includes an admission that not enough time has passed to declare the steps taken a success.
If you ask me, varous right-wingers’ poor reading comprehension and their subsequent take on rhetoric explain GOP success far more than do stories with quality similar to this story’s.
So if the plan was a success in this neighborhood what next? Do we block off all the roads in every neighborhood?
Did you read the article, Don? Traffic can still move on the roads with the diverters, so your use of “block off” is either inaccurate, or you’re taking liberties applying it. Not only that, but the answers to your questions are yet to be determined, though the article includes quotes that suggest possibly applying the same efforts to other neighborhoods, as well as finding new ideas to improve community safety.
What makes you think that criticism of a liberal policy makes one a right-winger? Any open mind can be critical of a bad policy regardless of who proposed it.
Where are you coming from MOTRG? Please show me where I said criticism of a liberal policy makes someone a right-winger.
FWIW: While I may not make it evident here, I identify as further left than liberal and criticize liberal policy plenty. My comment about right-wingers above was commentary on nation-wide politics, not only now, but also decades into the past.
I think it is stupid politics for Hardesty to take a victory lap on anything gun violence related when the city is still in crisis mode. I actually agree with this program and maybe it even works. However, I’d prefer to see a better response to our city’s crime problem than traffic calming measures.
That’s reasonable, and I appreciate your reply. However, the existence of traffic calming measures (among all the other measures listed in the article) does not indicate the absence of better responses, so dogging on the program because it’s not other possible better responses still isn’t something that makes sense to me.
Now if you know everything Hardesty and others are working on and can say with complete knowledge that this program has prevented them from working toward and implementing the better responses you had in mind, that would make sense to me. I just don’t know enough to have any idea if that’s the case.
When the article largely buries that there was an increase in PPB patrols, and provides no data on the quantity of those, it doesn’t come across as journalism, but another Hardesty puff piece. So, questioning what actually led to an improvement is a pretty reasonable tack to take here.
I agree with your conclusion. For the record, I wasn’t suggesting anybody should not question what caused the improvement. Instead I was opposing what I thought was a misinterpretation of the story.
What is the difference between the red and blue pins on the map accompanying the story?
This article seems more like a press release.
This is just laughable. A 67% decrease in a sample size of 12, comparing different seasons of the year, is absolutely meaningless. She and her cronies should be embarrassed at even making such a claim. I say that as a former government statistical analyst.
This is abuse of statistics, and anyone who has studied it knows better. It’s possible that this effort has helped discourage this location as some kind of reckless driving meet-up spot that triggered some shooting activity last summer, but absolutely can’t know that now, because it is March. Let’s revisit this in September.
I mean, come on. This is just as bad as plotting shootings and PPB staffing numbers and then drawing conclusions. This is a complex issue, and it really isn’t fair to draw conclusions so hastily.
Agreed. To me, Hardesty admitting now is too soon to declare success was great…but not mentioning the different seasons was disappointing.
I have a grad degree in public policy analysis and the quality of analysis coming out of the city is about high-school level.
You insult high schools. This is political posturing. Politics edit to 5ht grade reading comprehension.
Also a statistician. You’re making a fair claim that what we’re seeing is just a seasonal effect. Shootings went down in the third quarter in 2020 after all.
But if it was just a seasonal effect, you’d expect to see a similar decrease citywide. It’s the opposite. Citywide there were more shootings in October (130) than September (109) this year, whereas Mt. Scott-Arleta decreased from 5 to 2.
The sample size is small but not that small. Just looking at the monthly counts, I imagine you could use a multilevel poisson model to make a more statistically sound argument that shootings were significantly lower in Mt. Scott-Arleta following the pilot relative to the pre-treatment time period and control neighborhoods. Couldn’t call the effect causal though.
If this has any validity at all statistically, it just moved this out of this one neighborhood into others. I think 10 blocks over based on the shooting log in the East Portland newspaper.
Citywide shootings are up actually, so who really cares about one isolated neighborhood other than those who live there—FYI Sarah Iannarome lives there. Do we really think whoever was hanging out around there getting into fights and shooting at each other just stopped and didn’t do it somewhere else in the vast are of Eastf Portland? Are we gonna put traffic barrels in every road in every neighborhood?—I know her allies in the non-profits did suggest that—maybe that’s the plan.
I retired recently and own a house nearby, so I look at the news too much, yes there were some individuals that appeared to be regularly shooting there, I can’t tell if it’s cause someone lived there or what. But there were a lot there, now they’ve popped up ten blocks over on 82nd in SE where they didn’t used to be—is it the same people? We might know that if someone was dedicated to finding out who these people are—now who could that be that is dedicated to knowing who the gang members are? Any ideas?
It’s amazing to see people react so negatively to this effort on here. Traffic calming is good! They’re trying to do something! It’s a cheap and small-scale experiment with little-to-no downside!
The barrels are just one part of the program. I feel like the increases in lighting, security cameras, and Park Rangers should get some more attention..but they don’t provide quite as much fodder to pile on Hardesty.
I agree bbcc.
A lot of people are missing some of what’s going on here.
I see people in a neighborhood who wanted something – ANYTHING! – done to take back their streets and Hardesty listened, showed-up, tried out some stuff, got other bureaus/leaders involved, and has continued to show up and improve on her efforts. This alone is a huge thing. Portlanders are desperate for action and innovation from elected officials and Hardesty gave that to them. It’s a big win for her and I also happen to think it’s exactly the right approach to the violence issue (both traffic and gun). People are dunking on it in part because it looks like small, but you have to imagine it being fortified and more robust. This is just the first step, and to create the political will to do more substantive things, we must have buy-in from people in neighborhoods and elected officials who know how to take that buy-in and use it. Hardesty seems to know how to do that.
Jonathan, I agree, and I wish that your comment was the story! This is a great intervention, and it improves safety from cars while creating a space that supports pedestrians. With some money and effort, this space could include trees, site furnishings, pedestrian-scaled lighting and become a neighborhood asset. I would love it if Hardesty was talking about that as a goal and an outcome. I have to agree with previous commenters that pitching this as a solution to gun violence is just far-fetched. It actually belittles the know-able, obvious benefits, and sets a new, sad, high bar for future street interventions: once you have X number of street shootings, PBOT will intervene to curb traffic. The frustration/disappointment for me stems from Hardesty not presenting this on its obvious merits: the head of PBOT is working with a neighborhood to replace unneeded street that supported unsafe driving with a safe community space
I’ll plan an opinion piece about this asap.
Yes, thankfully it is something, but to come out so soon to declare a success seems a bit of a reach. Let’s just hope that when tried elsewhere that it succeeds.
Hardesty put this out as a press release, did she pay you for yours?
Seriously, this is one tiny improvement that Is nice in a failing city I guess, but
she and the other commissioners are just awful, the city is failing and not one of them deserves re-election.
given your feelings about the city and its politicians, I feel like it’s impossible for you to have an open mind about anything. So I read all of your comments with that lens. Bias is a powerful thing. Be careful.
It is bizarre that you apparently think I am alone.
Do you read the rest of the comments?
I don’t think you’re alone. I’m well aware of opinions that exist on this site and more broadly in the public. It’s part of my job.
If it’s part of your job and since you do have a voice in this city why are you putting up with what is going on?
You think Portland is a nicer place to live than 5 years ago?
You should advocate for Better instead of praising the current ineffective status quo.
I don’t get it…
Yes it does seem like you don’t get something here.
I don’t think I’m just “putting up with what is going on” at all. And no, I think Portland has lost a lot of what made it “nice” 5 years ago. It really bums me out! But I just choose to communicate my feelings about it differently than you do. I don’t think saying how terrible specific things or people are is helpful at all. In fact, I find it very insensitive and counter-productive. Most people paying attention are well-aware of the bad condition of things in Portland right now. My role here is centered around transportation and cycling, so I tend to let folks who are the main voices/leaders in other issues have their space and I try to not force BikePortland into the middle of things just to have a “take” on something.
Homelessness is extremely complicated and it’s very easy to make things worse by what we say and do. Since I don’t feel comfortable as an expert on it, and I’m aware that there is actual human suffering going on, I tread very very lightly with what I say and do around that issue.
I do what I can with what I have. I have a platform and I share information that I hope is useful for the community. When I feel there’s a need and that I have something valuable to say, I will use my platform to share more opinionated/advocacy-oriented stuff. Thanks for reading.
Jonathon, I noticed that you opened this response with a thinly veiled insult steeping in paternalism, as you often do. So I read all of your comments with that lens and often disregard them entirely. Bias is a powerful thing. Be careful.
I didn’t read that opening as an insult, but instead as acknowledgment, though I recognize he may have meant it as an insult. How would you suggest he say the same thing in a way that can’t possibly be insulting?
It almost sounds like you are taking a middle of the road approach 🙂
My reading of the comments above is that people are dunking on Hardesty for prematurely claiming success based on a very dubious statistical “analysis”.
read more closely. She’s not “claiming success”. In fact in her full statement she warns about doing just that. She’s saying initial results look promising.
I guess it is more your framing of it that gives people the perception of her claiming success, then.
A successful pilot.
Thanks Chris I.
99.9% of the time I am very very careful with my word choice. I often find people rush to judgment about what they read on here because of confirmation bias and narratives they want to put onto BikePortland. That gets annoying after a while.
Sorry Jonathan. This is not a big win for anybody. It was a lie, nothing less. When you use numbers in this fashion, it is lying. There is absolutely nothing that can be conclusively learned from this experience, because of the many shortcomings of the ‘statistics’. In fact, it sets your policy change ambitions back, because the thinking public will now not believe a word that comes out of her mouth. And, it also taints your credibility, because you support her statement. btw I might even agree with her theory (I’m need to be convinced).
I have more I want to share about this effort but it will fit better in an op-ed. I’m working on that and hope to post it soon.
If only it were going to be anything but a Hardesty puff piece. I guess we’ll see huh?
Looking forward to that. I am open to innovative efforts like this. I just wish they wouldn’t ‘shoot themselves in the foot’ by the way that they present it.
Cool Steve. So it sounds like you actually support what Hardesty did in spirit but you have quibbles with the press release. Good to know.
And I say that with a touch of sarcasm because I feel like way too many people jump in with anger and criticism about peoples’ ideas these days before giving them a fair shot in their minds.
I think your headline is the big problem here, JM. It’s not a “gun intervention” but really it’s traffic calming that MAY have had an impact, but just as likely the change is due to completely random chance. There’s really no story here aside from JH’s good intentions, and the fact that she is trumpeting the success of her effort really undermines her credibility. Using BP to amplify her talking point also undermines your credibility, I’m afraid.
Looking forward to your opinion piece in which you restore your credibility. 🙂
thanks for the feedback on my headline. Writing them is hard! I agree the word “gun” in this headline is awkward. I’ll figure out how to edit it.
I disagree there’s no story here though.
Maybe I misunderstood the article, but I read it as saying the people who made decisions to change the neighborhood’s infrastructure and patrolling did so targeting gun violence, and for that reason I thought “gun” in the headline made sense, regardless of whether the changes are truly the shooting decline’s cause.
Welllll, I wouldn’t go that far. I support thinking outside the box. The anger and criticism in this case, were justified to a great extent. But, I re-read the article more critically, and realized that her actual quotes did not claim success or anything other than ‘promise’. All the claims of success were the writer’s framing of the pilot program results. Without belaboring my point, the very first paragraph is a perfect example. To say that the plan ‘appears to be working’ is just not true, due to all the criticisms about statistics, time frame etc, previously mentioned. The only media release that was justified this early in a pilot program was a one paragraph statement about ‘promising indications based on a very short time frame’. The public announcement, tours, flowery statements, your extensive coverage, were not justified. In other words, she and you, hyped a tiny result into something that it isn’t….yet. It is more an indictment of how some government officials operate and how some media eat it up.
I live on Martins, Just before woodstock. I have one of those plastic barrels at the entrance to our oneway. Ask me how many people drive the correct way on my road to start with, let alone speed and crash into our corner at 69th and woodstock. Neighbor had a drunk driver crash into his living room at about 80mph. Nothing is working, its all BS.
This was just last November, and its not even the worst wreck to happen here.
I’m sick of all the ego, I want substance.
I somehow missed this when I first read the article, but saw it in the Oregonian’s writeup:
The Oregonian reports further:
So there was a lot going on that may have contributed to the relative drop in shootings. I can understand Hardesty not wanting to give PPB credit, but maybe enforcement played a role.
I’d like to know how the rate of shootings changed in areas with only plastic barrels and no change in policing.
Police “saturated” that area during the two months that shootings were down.
Even so, 911 calls for both shooting and reckless driving didn’t decline
This feels more like part of the Commissioner’s political campaign than anything else.
I’m voting for JoAnn again.
I literally live on this block and have bullet holes in my home from a drive bye and no the barrels did nothing of real substance.
If someone is willing to possibly kill someone else, in what world did they also care about plastic road barrels?
Also there is a wreak weekly less than a block away on the s curve on woodstock. Maybe start there first.