Hardesty says ‘holistic’ violence interventions in Mt. Scott-Arleta show promise

Draft design of Arleta Triangle Plaza and placement of barrels in the street by PBOT. (Source: Commissioner Hardesty’s office)

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.

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“Gun violence went down in pilot area after intervention began compared to the city as a whole.” (Source: City of Portland)

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.”

Event streams live today at 5:00 pm.

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.

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David Raboin
3 months ago

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.

Caleb
Caleb
3 months ago
Reply to  David Raboin

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.

Don Courtney
Don Courtney
3 months ago
Reply to  Caleb

So if the plan was a success in this neighborhood what next? Do we block off all the roads in every neighborhood?

Caleb
Caleb
3 months ago
Reply to  Don Courtney

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.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
3 months ago
Reply to  Caleb

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.

Caleb
Caleb
3 months ago

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.

David Raboin
3 months ago
Reply to  Caleb

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.

Caleb
Caleb
3 months ago
Reply to  David Raboin

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.

PS
PS
3 months ago
Reply to  Caleb

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.

Caleb
Caleb
3 months ago
Reply to  PS

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.

igor
igor
3 months ago

What is the difference between the red and blue pins on the map accompanying the story?

Ireneo
Ireneo
3 months ago

This article seems more like a press release.

Steve Scarich
Steve Scarich
3 months ago

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.

Chris I
Chris I
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve Scarich

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.

Caleb
Caleb
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve Scarich

Agreed. To me, Hardesty admitting now is too soon to declare success was great…but not mentioning the different seasons was disappointing.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve Scarich

I have a grad degree in public policy analysis and the quality of analysis coming out of the city is about high-school level.

Granpa
Granpa
3 months ago

You insult high schools. This is political posturing. Politics edit to 5ht grade reading comprehension.

bbcc
bbcc
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve Scarich

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.

Don Courtney
Don Courtney
3 months ago

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?

bbcc
bbcc
3 months ago

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.

maxD
maxD
3 months ago

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

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
3 months ago

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.

Dwk
Dwk
3 months ago

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.

Dwk
Dwk
3 months ago

It is bizarre that you apparently think I am alone.
Do you read the rest of the comments?

Dwk
Dwk
3 months ago

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…

Ryan
Ryan
3 months ago

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.

Caleb
Caleb
3 months ago
Reply to  Ryan

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?

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
3 months ago

It almost sounds like you are taking a middle of the road approach 🙂

Watts
Watts
3 months ago

My reading of the comments above is that people are dunking on Hardesty for prematurely claiming success based on a very dubious statistical “analysis”.

Chris I
Chris I
3 months ago

I guess it is more your framing of it that gives people the perception of her claiming success, then.

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.

A successful pilot.

Steve Scarich
Steve Scarich
3 months ago

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).

Frank Perillo
Frank Perillo
3 months ago

If only it were going to be anything but a Hardesty puff piece. I guess we’ll see huh?

Steve Scarich
Steve Scarich
3 months ago

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.

Fred
Fred
3 months ago

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. 🙂

Caleb
Caleb
3 months ago

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.

Steve Scarich
Steve Scarich
3 months ago

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.

Josh Chernoff
3 months ago
Reply to  bbcc

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.
https://ibb.co/ZcwB1Ss
https://ibb.co/J5tFrYr
I’m sick of all the ego, I want substance.

Watts
Watts
3 months ago

I somehow missed this when I first read the article, but saw it in the Oregonian’s writeup:

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.

The Oregonian reports further:

The Portland Police Bureau said in a statement that other measures the agency took independently of the pilot program — including “saturating the area with officers” and investigating occupied, stolen vehicles — led to a nearly 80% drop in area shootings between late September and mid-January. The agency said its efforts also resulted in 63 arrests and the seizure of three guns during that time.

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.

John
John
3 months ago

Police “saturated” that area during the two months that shootings were down.

https://www.kgw.com/article/news/local/traffic-barrels-gun-violence-prevention/283-5baf4743-e82a-4005-8e79-1c7b489d65eb

Even so, 911 calls for both shooting and reckless driving didn’t decline

https://www.kgw.com/article/news/crime/gun-violence/portland-traffic-barrels-gun-violence/283-4c374d37-0b6f-472e-8841-75ac2554c390

This feels more like part of the Commissioner’s political campaign than anything else.

one
3 months ago

I’m voting for JoAnn again.

Josh Chernoff
3 months ago

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.