City crews remove large number of bicycles from street encampment on SE Alder

Truck with people loading bicycles and bike parts into it from a pile on the sidewalk.
Crews from Rapid Response move bikes from the sidewalk on SE Alder near 30th.
(Photos: Taylor Griggs/BikePortland)

Piles of bikes and bike parts on a sidewalk next to a chainlink fence.

Taylor Griggs contributed to this story.

This morning Portland Bureau of Transportation staff and a crew from Rapid Response Bio Clean removed property from a street encampment on Southeast Alder near 30th. The location was flagged by neighbors over concerns about the large number of bicycles parts lined up on the sidewalk.

We were first made aware of this location today when it came up in a thread posted on the Shift email list by people who referred to it as a “bike chop shop” and said it has been reported to authorities several times in the past. “The inventory of bikes changes every few days,” a person wrote.

A local bike shop owner who is well-aware of this location chimed in to say crews were currently at the site and, “That chop shop has more inventory than I do. There is a sign that says ‘bike shop’. I need a permit for commercial signage. I also need a business license.”

BikePortland reporter Taylor Griggs arrived at the scene as Rapid Response crew members loaded bikes and parts into the rear of a large flatbed truck. There were no police at the scene, but there were PBOT Parking Enforcement workers watching the process unfold. They told Griggs campers willingly gave up their space and property and that they’ll be offered space in a shelter.

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People standing on the street next to a white City of Portland vehicle.
PBOT staff outside their vehicle.

One man referred to himself as the manager of the camp. He told Griggs he wants to run a bike repair shop for friends and other campers and the bikes were not stolen. A lot of people simply give away “really nice bikes” he said. He didn’t deny some people do steal bikes. He also said he’s happy to talk to anyone whos think their stolen bike is at the camp. If they can prove it belongs to them, he’d give it back. “Nobody wants to talk to me. They come by with leers and jeers,” he said.

Gianna Bortoli, who lives a block away from the camp, said she’s seen the number of bikes skyrocket in the past few months and that complete bikes will often be brought to the site and get quickly dismantled. “I can’t say if the people there are stealing them or if people are dropping them off, but I have seen extremely expensive bikes there including multiple brand new looking bikes.”

Allegations of large scale chop shops at street camps have been around for years. They have always been very tricky for the city to handle given there’s often no way to prove if they’re harboring stolen bikes. In May 2020, the (now defunct) Portland Police Bureau Bike Theft Task Force made two arrests and recovered 15 stolen bikes from an encampment.

Bikes are a very common and valuable mode of transportation for people who live on the street. They provide folks a cheap way to get around the city to reach jobs and medical appointments, and to connect with friends — all the same stuff you use your bike for! If you see bikes in encampments, please do not assume the worst. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty and these folks deserve the same respect you’d show anyone else.

The City of Portland was sued last year by homeless residents over the handling of seized property. Yesterday the city enacted new policies to comply with the demands in the lawsuit. See this new city website to learn more.

UPDATE, 5/12: On the night of May 11, some bikes still hadn’t been cleared by the official crews. Some campers moved the bikes off site, but as of the morning of this morning, some bikes still remain.

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NoPoResident
NoPoResident
2 months ago

Long time lurker, first time commenter here. Every time there’s a post on bike theft and/or homelessness, there’s a huge wave of comments dehumanizing folks living on the streets, saying tough love is the answer, advocating for sweeps even though there aren’t enough shelter beds, and even if there were ignoring the fact that shelters are nowhere near a solution to the problem of housing. There’s an understandable commenter below who says their empathy has run out due to their own personal experience of mental illness and drug use in their family.

I beg of you to sit with the idea, the reality, of what it’s like to be homeless. Have you ever struggled with mental illness or drug addiction? In my immediate and extended family, plus a wide swath of friends have dealt with both and the results have hit the spectrum from death to recovery. And these are people with a lot of resources and support. Now imagine you don’t have either and you live in a city and country that has close to no safety net. In a place where people with money and jobs can’t afford housing in a lot of the city. Have you ever made some choices that resulted in you losing a job, losing money, made a mistake, had an illness that cost a lot to treat? I beg of you to work on that empathy muscle. We are all (most of us) so much closer to homelessness than we are to wealth.

Bike theft sucks (i don’t bike anymore but when i did my bike was stolen – probably a decade ago). But it is nowhere near the biggest problem in your life. If it is, then you are lucky. Bike theft is a symptom of a bigger problem, and that problem will not be solved by jailing homeless people, sweeping them from one street to another, or forcing them into shelter beds that provide at best a bed for 7 hours but without their things, their families, their pets, and won’t let them in if they’re an addict. Again think of the people you know who have struggled with addiction or with mental health. It is hard. My heart goes out to all who struggle, addiction is one of the hardest things to overcome and so many people don’t. I am also running out of empathy, but it’s for folks who complain about the sight of homelessness while they head to their warm house or their job.

dwk
dwk
2 months ago
Reply to  NoPoResident

Is the problem getting better or worse?
Who exactly is dehumanizing people?
I think you and the people who are in charge of the city and its funds are dehumanizing people for doing absolutely Nothing about the problem except complaining about people who complain about the problem….
Have you contacted city officials about fixing the problem?
We passed a 250 million dollar bond to try to help and nothing is being done.
I call that dehumanizing.

NoPoResident
NoPoResident
2 months ago
Reply to  dwk

It is getting worse. And it is also a problem ~40 years in the making. It didn’t start with COVID, it didn’t start with the Great Recession, it started when the federal govt systematically and dramatically stopped funding housing and health care coupled with decades of zoning and land use that vastly limited growth in cities where people want to live and there are jobs.
I support candidates, politicians, and groups that put housing first when it comes to tackling the homeless crisis. JOIN, Portland Homeless Family Solutions, Human Solutions, Neighborhood House, Community of Hope, as well as mutual aid networks. There are LOTS in Portland. The Metro bond is building over a 1000 units of housing with another 2K in design, but building does not happen overnight. I support programs that provide direct financial assistance to people and families, whether through vouchers, credits, or cash, to help keep them in housing or get them into housing. This is a big and complex problem but if you think complaining about the people who are suffering is the solution, well i don’t know what to tell you other than stay mad i guess? Cause that’s all that’s gonna come out of it.

Norman
Norman
2 months ago
Reply to  NoPoResident

6 years ago Los Angeles approved a 1.2 billion housing bond measure. It’s falling far short of the promised results. The most expensive units cost $837,000 each. It must be a lucrative business for contractors.

It will be the same here. The Metro bond is already failing. There are alternative ways of spending public money that are much more effective. It’s really not that complicated. It just means losing the housing first ideology.

Chris I
Chris I
2 months ago
Reply to  NoPoResident

You seem to be pushing back on people who are calling for action (and are going to kick out local leaders who don’t take a tough position on homelessness) and then continue by suggesting that we “stay mad”.

You, your activist friends, and the local leaders who have enabled Portland’s decline are going to be shocked after the next election cycle. You are going to complain about Portland shifting to the right, and wonder what happened.

We are going to change city policies, and we are going to remove anyone who doesn’t take a tougher stance. There will be sweeps, and tougher law enforcement action. It’s going to take years to make a dent in the problem, but we will get there.

NoPoResident
NoPoResident
2 months ago
Reply to  Chris I

I’m not suggesting you should stay mad. I’m saying that’s all that will happen if we don’t pursue housing as the solution to homelessness. You cannot get treatment for any illness, mental or otherwise, get a job, take a shower, live a normal life of dignity, without some kind of housing. I haven’t heard a single solution that isn’t jail here in any of these comments. What is a better use of public funds than housing? I guess you can argue that our unbelievably bloated carceral system, one of the biggest in the world, is a solution. I would say it is categorically an immoral one. I mean, we could incarcerate ourselves out of homelessness, but is that the country we want to live in? Does that not cause more problems than it solves?

I guess my point in even commenting was that this is not the 1st post about bike theft and chop shops. It won’t be the last. and every time there’s comment after comment about “these terrible criminals and drug addicts who defile our city and won’t someone just throw them all in jail”!! and while it was a futile attempt, I was trying to get folks to think of this as the bigger issue that it is. i won’t be surprised at any election results because we’ve only recently started to undertake the tough work of dealing with homelessness but we have politicians like Ted Wheeler and Dan Ryan who are so entrenched with money and law enforcement that all we’ll get out of this is more police and more jails. And Portland’s largely white “progressives” will always fall back on law enforcement to protect property over a community that puts people first.

soren
soren
2 months ago
Reply to  NoPoResident

I guess my point in even commenting was that this is not the 1st post about bike theft and chop shops. It won’t be the last. and every time there’s comment after comment about “these terrible criminals and drug addicts who defile our city and won’t someone just throw them all in jail”!!

I thank you for your comments, NoPoResident. I find these hate-filled threads to be far to depressing to comment these days.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  NoPoResident

Protecting members of the community from those who would victimize them IS putting people first.

Chris I
Chris I
2 months ago
Reply to  NoPoResident

We need housing solutions for people who want housing. The people running open-air chop shops need to go to jail. Providing this guy with an apartment is not going to stop him from fencing stolen goods.

Rain Waters
Rain Waters
2 months ago
Reply to  dwk

and all other 9 digits up !

Steve
Steve
2 months ago
Reply to  NoPoResident

Are you, by any chance, a member of the group that provides needles, can returns, and meals to the houseless camped on the Peninsula Crossing trail?

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  NoPoResident

Bike theft is a symptom of a bigger problem, and that problem will not be solved by jailing homeless people

Fully agreed. It might, however be solved by jailing bike thieves and aggressively closing the illegal chop shops they use to fence their stolen goods.

Which type of structure the thief or chop shop owner lives in seems irrelevant.

Brendan P
Brendan P
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Let’s say I bought a used bike to get to work… Its stolen… Then I see it being stripped on the corner for resale.

What is justice?

I’d think restoration of my property and some sort of consequence for the perpetrator so they may not inflict such suffering on another.

I think this is where many in the public are at and are getting irked because there seems to be no consequence for the perpetrator and continued suffering from those who are not wealthy and have zero ill intent against those less fortunate than themselves.

Norman
Norman
2 months ago
Reply to  Brendan P

Having zero consequences is also not good for the perpetrator. Lack of consequences steers them down a path towards greater and greater self destruction.

DeeGin
DeeGin
2 months ago
Reply to  NoPoResident

“Bike theft sucks (i don’t bike anymore but when i did my bike was stolen – probably a decade ago). But it is nowhere near the biggest problem in your life. If it is, then you are lucky.”

That’s a lofty and insensitive comment. I remember when I was in college and a drug dealer stole my bike it was absolutely devastating. I could not afford daily bus fare for school and work. I eventually got it back because the drug dealer hung around my neighborhood and I was brave enough to confront him. I wish I didn’t have to as a 19 year old female. I had no choice. If if I hadn’t confronted him, it it would have taken months to save up for a new bike, requiring me to sacrifice healthy meals and work extra shifts.

The barely-not-homeless around here are victims of the rampant theft and something SHOULD be done about it. Let’s stop arguing about who’s rights are more virtuous than others. The blasé attitude of “oh well, I can just get another bike” is not applicable to a large percentage of bike riders.

NoPoResident
NoPoResident
2 months ago
Reply to  DeeGin

Well again, would the solution to that problem be jail? Do you think our decades long war on drugs has been even marginally successful in anything other than expanding our carceral system to basically the largest in the world? That comes at a huge cost. Your problem was likely (and still is for barely-not-homeless people) poverty wages that are perfectly legal because of American capitalism and in your case the dwindling support for college education for students who don’t come from money. The solution to that is higher minimum wage laws, unions, and our tax dollars going to literally anything that supports communities so that people don’t have to resort to drug dealing and theft to survive. So housing, education, healthcare, supporting jobs that people can live off of, not just barely survive. This isn’t about virtue, people who steal things for money aren’t virtuous, they’re just trying to get by and it sucks and we should do something about it. My position is that jailing all those folks won’t fix the problem.

J_R
J_R
2 months ago

Jonathan, I appreciate what you do by having this site and allowing comments. I agree with much of what you write, though I certainly do not agree with all of what you say in your editorial capacity. I agree that nuance is important and it’s hard to get that across with many issues.

As I’ve stated on this site before, bicycling culture and bicycle infrastructure, rank among the top five reasons I like and continue to live in Portland. But, as I’ve commented before, the streets feel less safe than they used to (higher speeds, road rage, and an absence of enforcement) and multi-use paths have been made unusable as they’ve been taken over to accommodate the homeless. I won’t ride them anymore unless I’m with a group. So, one of my top reasons for being in Portland has gone from a positive attribute to a negative.

I recognize that you feel you are being attacked by some commenters. For my part, I’m disappointed that you seem to have reduced your advocacy in support of bicyclists in preference for houselessness/racial/equity issues. I think you are among the handful of the most powerful voices who can protect bicyclists’ priorities and effect positive change to restore what we had in this community a few years ago. I rank you up there with the PBOT commissioner (whoever it happens to be) and the mayor when it comes to the ability to make good stuff happen.

Because of BikePortland, you have a megaphone to use in support of bicyclists. My emails to the mayor and commissioners seldom even generate a response. What you say and write carries much more weight than any of your readers.

I feel let down when you don’t advocate as strongly as I would prefer to keep our streets and MUPs useable, but instead emphasize compassion for the houseless. If your comments were interpreted to say that the paths are OK or the homeless are really not a threat, I think it would undercut comments by any of us mere cyclists who think otherwise.

So, if you take my comments as being an attack, I’m sorry. I’m frustrated and wish you did more in support of cyclists who have lost access to MUPs and who suffer from bicycle theft. Granted, houselessness is an important issue. Maybe I’m being selfish by wanting ride my bike safely and not be burdened by confronting the homeless/crime/trash if I want to ride where I used to. It’s a false choice to say we must have one or the other.

Like others, I’m suffering compassion fatigue. I make very generous contributions to select causes, including some directly related to health care and food insecurity in this community. I wish there were more positive things happening. If I had solutions, I’d offer them up. I’m definitely not happy with what’s happening. I hope that you find ways to make it so, I just feel you are sometimes undercutting cyclists with your statements and positions.

Karstan
Karstan
2 months ago

Thanks for all you do Jonathan. This reader appreciates the way BP has changed and grown over the years

Charley
Charley
2 months ago

This seems like the most moderate, milquetoast request: “Everyone is innocent until proven guilty and these folks deserve the same respect you’d show anyone else.”

It’s fascinating that such a request has set off a firestorm of very emotionally charged comments. Commenters seem very, very angry.

I know, I know; all feelings are valid. Yada, yada, yada.

But I just want to ask: what good does it do anyone to show people disrespect?

What good would it do us to vacate the principal of innocent until proven guilty?

Is some BikePortland reader’s assumption going to somehow make the City cleaner?

Will not showing people respect somehow return stolen bikes to their owners?

See, the problem I have is that all of this anger isn’t doing anyone any good.

Sure, I get the frustration at the state of the City. I’m probably about as pissed as anyone else. Thing is, this is a democracy. For the most part, we can pin the problems we face on ourselves (the voters) and our elected leaders (we voted for them, for crying out loud).

You want to be pissed? Sure! Direct that energy at the people that created the problem. Not at a guy running a website, who asked for civility, and who recommends following one of the most important legal principals this great country has.

Charles
Charles
2 months ago
Reply to  Charley

I agree that the request “innocent until proven guilty” is reasonable, and it is something we should uphold. It’s a better system that anything that involves brandishing pitchforks.

However, I think some of the frustration here seems to be that these encampments get to have it both ways: They can occupy public spaces (illegal), run dismantling operations (illegal), litter (illegal), etc. Yet enjoy the benefits afforded by our justice system. There’s advocacy that allows these encampments to use public property, yet are then afforded the privacy that comes with private property.

So this is where advocates need to a pick a lane: either our laws and justice system matter, or they don’t. But if you want to understand the resentment right now, there’s your answer

Jeff
Jeff
2 months ago

“If you see bikes in encampments, please do not assume the worst.”

At this point in time, are we seriously arguing this?

FDUP
FDUP
2 months ago

All those bikes just don’t fall from the sky now, do they??? The level of criminal activity associated with many of these camps is sky high and well documented in most instances but PPB and the county justice system just don’t seem to care one bit.

Champs
Champs
2 months ago

I… have a journalistic duty to not assume guilt until I can prove otherwise.

True, but your position is undermined by:

these folks deserve the same respect you’d show anyone else

This statement is also true, but editorialized—you have to pick a lane.

Champs
Champs
2 months ago

Integrity depends on not blurring the lines. In this case it’s as easy as grabbing a quote, and you probably have one in the archives. Talk about legwork.

It is always up to the reader to make a decision about the writer. Just know that mine is informed by a J-school grad and professional journalist. That person is my friend and your peer. Consider the field.

dwk
dwk
2 months ago

[***Moderator: Deleted first sentence, insulting.***] Why is this a story then if you don’t think the bikes are stolen?
[deleted phrase: please disagree civilly]
Not sure I understand……

dwk
dwk
2 months ago
Reply to  dwk

I have no idea why any of this harmless nothingness was deleted.

[*** Moderator: My ultimate standard is whether the exchange has gone so far that it might be turning off other readers. If it becomes too personal, or too much of a fight club, I step in. Sometimes more art than science. I think everyone has gotten their views out here. ***]

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
2 months ago
Reply to  dwk

Search for “How I stole my bike back”

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
2 months ago

Your own words:
“Then about one hour later, I rolled out again for a longer loop to see check the eastside. This time I took my camera and was feeling more determined about the search. I headed straight for the start of SE Salmon under the I-5 freeway at the northeast corner of the parking lot at the Hawthorne Bridge. I knew this was a common spot to see people living among lots of bikes and bike parts. It was bustling with activity but I didn’t see my Cielo. So I continued north on the Esplanade.

Then I realized that if I was a good bicycle thief I would not have a freshly stolen bike out in the open. I would stash it for a while. So, as I rode I started looking to my right into the bushes and under the freeway. Eventually I was down on the floating portion of the Esplanade ramps, just north of the Burnside Bridge, and lo and behold I saw a white road bike resting on some rocks underneath I-5!!! I could not believe it.”

Mark McClure
2 months ago

RE: “Eventually I was down on the floating portion of the Esplanade ramps, just north of the Burnside Bridge, and lo and behold I saw a white road bike resting on some rocks underneath I-5!!! I could not believe it.”

This excerpt caught my eye. On May 6th, when I did a walk along the Eastbank Esplanade to look for trash and graffiti, I took several photos at the location JM described. My 5/6 walk was a precursor for the Eastbank Esplanade SOLVE cleanup event I participated in this morning.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
2 months ago

Also:
“I have always given these encampments the benefit of the doubt in terms of whether or not they were trafficking in stolen bikes. But after my conversation and experience today, that’s no longer the case. I am convinced there are active bicycle theft operations happening in broad daylight in Portland. It’s really absurd that more isn’t being done about it.”

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
2 months ago

I’m not a journalist nor a representative of the criminal justice system. I don’t have to give even a pro-forma nod to the absurd notion that “people give away nice stuff”.

I actually *do* give away decent things I no longer need – to Good Will in the main. Back when I did lots of computer stuff as a hobby it was to Free Geek (am I mis-remembering that name? a couple blocks south of Hawthorne on 10th’ish).

What I don’t do is dump brand new stuff at homeless camps. Also, if it’s just people giving away stuff, why aren’t there other household goods there? Why is it only stuff that easy to steal (bikes)?

Yeah, I call BS on the whole notion that the vast majority of those bikes are anything but stolen.

Years of working closely with (and supporting financially) CCC in there efforts to actually help people get clean/sober/housed – I’m suffering extreme compassion burnout and no longer willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the group of people who have just poisoned a resource I used to depend on (I205 path anyone?).

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
2 months ago

JM,
when your bike was stolen you went to the homeless camps to look for (and successfully find) it. Did you exhaust all other possible locations before you settled on the one under the Esplanade?

It’s not an unfair assumption given it is one you have once made.

https://bikeportland.org/2014/11/04/stole-bike-back-113065

dwk
dwk
2 months ago

8 years and the problem is at least 3 times worse but it doesn’t effect you in the last 8 years so no big deal….. What an out of touch attitude.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
2 months ago
Reply to  dwk

100%. It’s absurd mental gymnastics.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago

I don’t think they’re “enraged” at folks not having a place to live, but rather at the destruction that some of them do to what was once a great city.

We need to condemn antisocial behavior that damages our community regardless of who is doing it. Giving some people a pass makes us complicit as enablers.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago

That being said, I think people who live outside (for whatever reason, be it drugs or money or whatever) do need to be given more leeway

I think most people would agree with this as a general sentiment. It’s what constitutes “leeway” where the differences arise. Where leeway includes victimizing people, hard no. Where leeway includes damaging or destroying valuable community assets, hard no. Where leeway includes overlooking minor violations that really harm no one, then definitely yes.

The issue at the heart of this story is not in that third category.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago

I am prepared to be victimized.

I am not.

I am, however, willing to contribute more than I currently do, but watching how our leaders are unable to make good use of what we’ve already given them makes me wonder if the problem is really a lack of resources. We suffer from a real leadership deficit.

The system I benefit from has created many victims, so it’s sort of like payback that I have to live with the consequences of that.

That sounds pretty defeatist.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
2 months ago

This is not normal thinking. This is cultish. I do think though if more people feel this way (again, I don’t believe this is a normal human impulse, to give up safety and be resigned to your things being stolen) they should say this rather than arguing with others about how Portland streets are just fine, the homeless don’t present danger, etc. We need an honest conversation and I appreciate this honesty.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
2 months ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Additionally, the folks hurt most by homeless are actually the least privileged in the city. See recent stories on camp at 157th and Division and one in outer SE adjacent to a mobile home park. You are not ever going to find homeless camps in the west hills or dunthorpe etc. So thinking its ok for the ‘privileged’ to give up rights to safety etc is not even realistic.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
2 months ago

The public isn’t responsible to fix this beyond voting for measures and bonds to fund solutions. Its a failure of leadership; the money is absolutely there. We’ve got money coming out our ears.

Rain Waters
Rain Waters
2 months ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Some of my bikes are worth thousands. they are NOT REPLACABLE. beside their practical value. i didnt build them to end up in a junk pile so some political whipping pud charachter can finance the ruin of ITS and societies sense of dignity.

IT would be wise to avoid temptation around a human beings tools. Very wise.

as to animals jostling each other for a spot at a kill, parting out another ‘peacefully liberated’ bike or looting someones business WHATEVER

this is what happens when horse thieves are encouraged by lousy fear attitudes. . .

Rain Waters
Rain Waters
2 months ago

noble ‘privilege’ moderating this comment section.
No, success through applied compassion, dedication and 10 years of work.

just my take

dwk
dwk
2 months ago

You had a bike stolen and your attitude was just like anyone else who had their bike stolen…
Get off your high horse.
This is not about YOU.

J_R
J_R
2 months ago

Eight years ago my kids and I could safely ride on the Springwater and I-205 paths. Today, I won’t even ride on them unless I’m riding with a group. Yeah, things have gone to … in the last few years. I’ve changed my thinking too – about whether to even stay in this community.

This is fdup
This is fdup
2 months ago

“Please don’t think that the 20 something bikes piled by a tent are stolen”
wtf else could they be? You think they run a tool library?

Srsly, I swear there must be something in the local kombucha

Serenity
Serenity
2 months ago

Yep! I think that is exactly what Jeff is saying.

Chris I
Chris I
2 months ago
Reply to  Jeff

Joke of the week nomination. No one can take a comment like that seriously at this point.

Peter
Peter
2 months ago

Thanks for discussing this in such a thoughtful way.

Toby
Toby
2 months ago

That generally means you are doing something right.

Mark in NoPo
Mark in NoPo
2 months ago
Reply to  Toby

Though I roll my eyes at the pains taken to not see what is in front of one’s nose, I’d like to add my thanks to Bike Portland for covering this story.

Situations like these are wearying, but we mustn’t become inured. A close friend lives in an apartment two blocks from this particular camp and he’s furious that the city, county, and Metro let it get this far. “This bike camp had multiple fires too,” he just texted.

Kudos to the city for finally taking action. I hope that the county commissioners wake up (or get replaced), too.

Brent
Brent
2 months ago

I also appreciate the way you discuss homelessness. It is a very complex subject and anyone advocating for an oversimplified solution is just looking to score points with the crowd, not actually solve problems.

I once heard, and mostly agree, that when you’re working with the homeless, if you aren’t constantly questioning whether you are going too far in walking the line between helping and enabling, tough love and burnout, then you’re not doing it right. Working with the homeless involves seeing and working in a massive gray area where no action is fully right or wrong.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  Brent

Enabling people to victimize others is fully wrong.

Brent
Brent
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Hi. Sure. Of course. That is without question. But what I’m saying is that is usually often hard to tell when help has crossed a line into enabling. Even in hindsight.

Simple platitudes that paint homelessness issues with black and white paint serve very little purpose in the practical work of trying to help people.

I doubt anyone ever intended to enable a person to victimize others. Yes, that happens sometimes. Of course it does. And that outcome is worthy of criticism, apologies, correction, and change. But we need to be careful in the way we frame the criticism. The desire to help, the compassion and love, the intention was admirable. Framing bad outcomes as the result of bad intentions, intentional ignorance or deceit, or moral flaw are unnecessarily divisive.

My main point is this: If a person is so far removed from details of this kind of situation that they only see solutions in black and white, then I encourage them to get more involved. Maybe they have good ideas and can help. But my experience is that each person’s housing situation is unique and what works for one person may not work for another. And trying to push aside the problem without solving some of the root issues will ultimately fail. And in the end it is better to look back and question whether you did the right thing than to wish you had done something.

Sorry to be preachy. This kind of stuff is important to me.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  Brent

I agree with everything you wrote in this message.

And yet, there are people who are either unwilling or unable to change. Spending too much time on them makes it harder to help everyone else. Knowing where to draw the line is difficult, and you may only realize you’ve crossed it after it’s well behind you, but when you see that you’ve crossed it, sometimes the only thing you can do is try to isolate people so they can’t continue to hurt others, many of whom may also be struggling.

Brent
Brent
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

And I agree with everything you wrote in this message. Thanks.

Rain Waters
Rain Waters
2 months ago
Reply to  Brent

one year, five, ten how many more before it dawns on us theres NO SOLUTION cuz theres NO PROBLEM. There will always be those who serve to provide contrast to enable a delusion of success. That non problem is and has always been baked into this system.

sorry

Frank Perillo
Frank Perillo
2 months ago

Jonathan thanks for sticking up for the “houseless” folks out there but let’s be honest what a collection of bikes and parts at a site like this really represents. Yeah there are some sad stories but churching it up the way you do is the reason our city is in the sad state that its in. Some times it takes some tough love and we need a lot of it here.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago

Innocent until proven guilty is a legal standard relating to the government and burden of proof. Just as freedom of speech does not require you to let anyone say what you want on your site, the burden of proof does not require you to deny the obvious.

I mean, the guy’s story doesn’t even make sense. If people are gifting him “really nice bikes”, why is he taking them apart (and likely making them into “a lot less nice bikes”)? How many legit bike repair shops have mountains of partially parted out bikes in their shop?

If the police give a driver the benefit of the doubt, you’re quick to cry foul. Why do chop shop operators deserve better?

bbcc
bbcc
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Drivers have outsized political power; homeless people have none

Chris I
Chris I
2 months ago
Reply to  bbcc

While that is generally the case, I’m not sure that is true in Portland. We have a city council that is willing to ignore open illegal activity, as long as the perpetrators are houseless. We have very active NGOs that receive City funding to serve the houseless and actively lobby for more. They have political power here, for better or for worse.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  bbcc

It is true that because people who identify as “drivers” make up the vast majority of everyone, they have a large amount of political power. But in the sense that they rarely if ever vote as a block, their power is very much not “outsized”.

In fact, I would argue that in Portland, folks living on the streets are exercising hugely outsized power by being exempt to many laws and codes that others are required to follow. What better measure of power is there than being immune to the rule of law?

bbcc
bbcc
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Political power is not measured only by whether or not a group votes in a bloc. Drivers have political power because our state apparatus is designed to support them, in this sense nearly everyone identifies as a driver *because* drivers have outsized political power. A person driving a car can kill a homeless person and face no consequences so long as they comply with law enforcement (this happens often); the opposite is not true.

bbcc
bbcc
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Think about it this way: most people would say that cyclists routinely break traffic laws without consequence. Does that indicate that we as a group have great political power, or do we break laws because we lack political power, and most laws overlook us?

It’s also simply not true that homeless people are immune to legal repercussions for law breaking — they account for more than 50% of arrests!

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  bbcc

When I violate traffic law on my bike, it is usually an issue of pure expediency, justified by a self-serving argument that it hurts no one. It has nothing to do with power — I don’t get punished because I don’t get caught*.

To pick one simple example from dozens to choose from, if I complain about a housed neighbor blocking the sidewalk, the city will respond promptly with a requirement that they fix the problem, and if they don’t the city will address it forcibly, and send the neighbor a bill for their trouble.

If I complain about an unhoused neighbor blocking the sidewalk, the city will tell me they won’t respond. In other words, that neighbor doesn’t have to fix the problem because the city has decided to exempt a class of people from the rules everyone else has to follow.

“Getting away with it” vs. “categorical exemption based on identity” strikes me as a big difference.

*When I have been caught, I got a ticket.

bbcc
bbcc
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I think that’s just your feeling?

Homeless people are arrested at about 10x the rate of the housed population. It’s not true that camps blocking sidewalks cannot be cleared. Where’d you get that from? A camper blocked the sidewalk near my apartment last week and was swept within 24 hours.

X
X
2 months ago
Reply to  bbcc

The city, or somebody, is putting a lot of resources into clearing camps. Long standing tent sites have been cleared and they haven’t been rebuilt nearby as in the past. Who knows what budgets are going toward this effort?

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  bbcc

That’s what Hardesty’s office told my neighbor when he made a very modest request to make the Powell underpass usable while the Stacy elevators were broken. (Not even a request to sweep or evict, just to make a minor adjustment in a tent location.)

Maybe someone talked to a more responsive commissioner to resolve the issue near you.

bbcc
bbcc
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Yeah you’re supposed to just call 311, it works. Maybe the issue is that they called the office of a commissioner who doesn’t even oversee campsite sweeps.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  bbcc

Hardesty is the commissioner in charge of PBOT. That includes things like making sure sidewalks are usable when your elevators are broken. His message specifically stated he didn’t want anyone swept, just a polite request to move the tent a few feet. Hardesty’s office could have suggested 311 but instead said “nope.”

But whatever. The facts are clear, and I’ve already voted.

bbcc
bbcc
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

It’s not true that PBOT is responsible for sweeps, jsyk. And to recap: you claimed that homeless people are allowed to break the law with impunity. I told you that isn’t true (they’re arrested at 10x the rate of their housed peers, the record number of sweeps in the last 3 days is the top story in our newspaper of record right now) and now you’re just complaining about someone else not getting enough help from commissioner Hardesty in doing something she isn’t responsible for. Cool!

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  bbcc

(Not even a request to sweep or evict, just to make a minor adjustment in a tent location.)

Maybe the issue is that they called the office of a commissioner who doesn’t even oversee campsite sweeps.

His message specifically stated he didn’t want anyone swept

It’s not true that PBOT is responsible for sweeps

This was not about sweeps.

bbcc
bbcc
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

This feels like the goalposts are moving. You said:

If I complain about an unhoused neighbor blocking the sidewalk, the city will tell me they won’t respond. In other words, that neighbor doesn’t have to fix the problem because the city has decided to exempt a class of people from the rules everyone else has to follow.

And I pointed out that yes, those laws are enforced, yes homeless people are arrested & swept. Now you’re saying you didn’t mean that homeless people are allowed to break the law with impunity, you mean that PBOT will not clear sidewalks by some unspecified means other than sweeping? What are we talking about?

Bryan Morris
Bryan Morris
2 months ago

Reality check. Most of the people you see in the the camps lining the streets, MUPS, and everyplace else are drug addicts. Most of the ones classified as mentally ill got that way from their drug use. Most gun violence is related to drugs. Most of the bicycles you see around these camps were stolen and used as currency for and delivery of drugs.

Giving people the benefit of the doubt is all fine and noble, but come on man. There’s how you wish the world was and then there’s how the world actually is.

[***Moderator: I couldn’t “stick” this comment because it is not top level, so I have tacked it on to Bryan’s top level comment]

Experts will tell you that the mental state of meth addicts is pretty much indistinguishable from schizophrenia and that’s why so many of them are assumed to be schizophrenic. Cause (meth addiction), meet effect (mental illness symptoms). I’ve spent most of my life dealing with and cleaning up the messes made by the addicts and alcoholics in my own family. My lifetime supply of compassion for addicts and alcoholics is all used up.

Jrdpdx
Jrdpdx
2 months ago
Reply to  Bryan Morris

Your chicken and egg hypothesis that “most mentally ill people got that way from their drug use” does not come from any informed literature or studies. That is a thought that imposes your morality on “drug addicts” to those who we often view as more “innocent” victims of mental health disorders. Stigmatizing “drug addicts” is an easy out and makes folks feel justified in their judgments of others.

Bryan Morris
Bryan Morris
2 months ago
Reply to  Jrdpdx

Experts will tell you that the mental state of meth addicts is pretty much indistinguishable from schizophrenia and that’s why so many of them are assumed to be schizophrenic. Cause (meth addiction), meet effect (mental illness symptoms). I’ve spent most of my life dealing with and cleaning up the messes made by the addicts and alcoholics in my own family. My lifetime supply of compassion for addicts and alcoholics is all used up.

Jrdpdx
Jrdpdx
2 months ago
Reply to  Bryan Morris

I get the compassion fatigue. Not trying to jump all over you. I ride past one camp daily and half the time I’m a gray about the garbage, human waste etc that I have to navigate.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  Jrdpdx

Drug addiction is not a moral issue. Stealing to support a habit is.

Jrdpdx
Jrdpdx
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I agree this is stealing and commented the same, see below. I disagree w conflating most mental illness is the direct result of drug addiction

Mark in NoPo
Mark in NoPo
2 months ago
Reply to  Jrdpdx

I agree, though I can’t help but sense that the sharp rise in addled and aggressive behavior we’ve seen in recent years is a result of unchecked meth usage, both by local folks falling off the edge and non-local folks migrating here upon hearing that anything goes in Portland.

Fred
Fred
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark in NoPo

You nailed it, Mark in NoPo. Travel to cities in so-called “red states” and you won’t see the problems we see here in Portland. The word is out that anything goes in Portland.

Bryan Morris
Bryan Morris
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Stealing to support a drug habit is not a moral issue. It’s a crime and the people doing it are criminals.

Serenity
Serenity
2 months ago
Reply to  Bryan Morris

Careful, Brian your prejudices are showing. What makes you think that most of the people you see out there are drug addicts? Have you talked to most of them?

Kurt
Kurt
2 months ago

Those bikes are stolen. Period. If I see a beat up bike or two next to a tent I’ll be sure not to jump to any conclusions but you just jumped the shark on this one. If he’s running a bike shop let’s see the receipts. Sure people just swing by and donate perfectly good bikes to him. Do they leer and jeer before or after they “give” him their bikes. I was born at night, not last night.

cc_rider
cc_rider
2 months ago

They told Griggs campers willingly gave up their space and property and that they’ll be offered space in a shelter.

The space doesnt belong to them and the bikes almost don’t either. Come on

tom Martin
2 months ago

“He also said he’s happy to talk to anyone whos think their stolen bike is at the camp. If they can prove it belongs to them, he’d give it back. “Nobody wants to talk to me. They come by with leers and jeers,” he said.”

Is this before or after he chases people down the block screaming and brandishing a weapon?

PDX Biker from Maine
PDX Biker from Maine
2 months ago
Reply to  tom Martin

Surprised Jonathan published this one. He’s an intolerant censor and a part of the decline of PDX.

X
X
2 months ago

Jonathan is a small business owner. It’s like being mad at somebody for painting over graffiti.

tom Martin
2 months ago

I didn’t know Jonathan is the United States Government and is actively infringing on your constitutional rights. His private non profit livingroom; his rules for decorum.

tom Martin
2 months ago

Also- becasue they aren’t complete bicycles (with PPB preseence) all that ‘inventory’ is going straight to the landfill. Rapid Response does not have the time or resources to inventory, check serial numbers and search databases.

Chris I
Chris I
2 months ago
Reply to  tom Martin

Exactly. “Bike Shops” like this are destroying thousands of complete bikes every year in Portland. Most commenters here see this for what it really is. Operations like this are one of the things destroying cycling in Portland.

Mark in NoPo
Mark in NoPo
2 months ago
Reply to  Chris I

And destroying local businesses and the broader community, too, because if one can’t ride to a nearby neighborhood, lock my bike, and go on a stroll, what’s the point of living in the city, anyhow? My stuff never got stolen in the suburbs, my taxes were low, and the schools were good. City life requires tradeoffs — and if I don’t feel safe leaving my bike outside a coffee shop for an hour, I might as well hop in my car and drive way.

X
X
2 months ago
Reply to  Chris I

If that is true then cycling in Portland was in sad shape. Elemental forces like gravity, corrosion, wind and rain, heat and smoke have been sawing away at “cycling in Portland” for a while now. How big a deal is this chop shop thing anyway? Is it worse than the left-side bike lane on N Williams?

TA
TA
2 months ago

That’s rich. He wants proof of ownership? Nah man. Also are we forgetting anyone in possession of stolen goods is actually breaking the law? Onus is on “bike repair guy”

Kent
Kent
2 months ago
Reply to  TA

That’s rich. He wants proof of ownership? Nah man. Also are we forgetting anyone in possession of stolen goods is actually breaking the law? Onus is on “bike repair guy”

Exactly. Where is HIS proof of ownership that he legitimately owns those 100 or so bikes that are sitting there on PUBLIC property? Does he have receipts from local shops?

ivan
ivan
2 months ago

Amazing how all these folks who never comment on BP stories suddenly show up to comment on this one.

You have a solid approach to this work Jonathan (and even if you didn’t, it’s your damn site). Don’t let the squeaky ***portion of comment deleted by moderator*** commenters dissuade you.

FDUP
FDUP
2 months ago
Reply to  ivan

Now we’re all right-wing trolls b/c we don’t love street camp chop shop dudes enuf?!?!?! Well, same to you buddy.

dwk
dwk
2 months ago
Reply to  ivan

I am far from a right winger… I think homeless people need to be in housing… I also think that JM and others including the mayor and city commissioners and some housing “advocate” groups think that people sleeping in tents in the mud is somehow better than fixing the problem.
Tent camping in public spaces should be illegal. Period.
Inadequate substandard housing should not allowed or excused.
Criminals are taking advantage of the situation it is obvious if any of you have helped clean up the camps and see what they leave……

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  dwk

Tent camping in public spaces should be illegal. Period.

It is, under city ordinance, and has been since the early 1980s. By court order, we can’t enforce the law until there is adequate shelter space to provide everyone with a bed. This is why groups like People for Portland want the city/county to spend more money building shelter space, so we can have sufficient beds to allow the city to enforce its laws against camping.

Some people running for office support this approach, others do not. If you haven’t voted, please do.

X
X
2 months ago
Reply to  dwk

You may be wrong about the mayor, assuming that single person really has the reins of government firmly in hand. Even a cursory look around the places I frequent shows that tents on the street have been not just decimated but sharply reduced. I estimate that over 80 percent of the camping population inside I-405 have been moved on.

Granted, that’s a small area and it’s also where city government and the PBA eat their lunch. Maybe the folks in the tents just got pushed out the numbers or someplace. We pretty much don’t care about things that annoy us as long as they go out of sight.

There’s no question that _some_ people who camp in Portland do drugs. I’ve seen the needles but I also know that giving needles to admitted drug users is a hell of a lot cheaper than treating them for hepatitis or HIV.

There’s no question that _some_ people who camp in Portland steal bikes. It’s also true that some people who sleep rough have had crimes done to them and/or would cut off their hand before they would steal. You can’t lump them all together.

It’s still bedrock Constitutional law that a person who hasn’t been convicted in a court is innocent under law and Jonathan is correct in holding that line. It’s people who would breach that barrier who are really wrecking this country. We have no problem believing that people who are rich got that way rightfully in spite of the many counterexamples.

Bernie Madoff was walking free for years after evident crimes were reported to the SEC and his peers quit dealing with him. An ‘innocent’ man who kept wrecking fortunes for years. Parting them out, you might say.

Chris I
Chris I
2 months ago
Reply to  ivan

So far gone that you think reasonable centrist opinions like “people shouldn’t be operating bicycle chop shops on public property” and “fencing stolen goods in broad daylight is bad” are right-wing positions.

GXEAGLE
GXEAGLE
2 months ago
Reply to  Chris I

One of the most heartbreaking things is seeing the progressives in Portland behave in all the same despicable ways they accuse the right of doing.

If the rest of America should adopt more progressive stances, we should no longer look to Portland for this. This city has so many advantages, and a lot of great human resources. But the politics in this town is so rooted in the theoretical and feelings-based politics and toxicity, that nothing of value will come out of it unless there’s some change.

Matt
Matt
2 months ago
Reply to  ivan

Interesting we normally see “deleted by moderator” or something to that effect when someone lobs an insult here. This time it was just struck through. What does that say Jonathan?

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt
Lisa Caballero (Southwest Correspondent)
Editor
Reply to  Matt

Matt, a commenter who knows HTML can strike through their own comment. Anything done by a moderator is marked “moderator” in bold.

Bryan Morris
Bryan Morris
2 months ago
Reply to  ivan

You couldn’t possibly be more off base by calling me right wing. BTW, there’s a new patch of broken glass on the Springwater Trail near the Paesano social club. A number of people often hang out where there’s an awning there.

Fred
Fred
2 months ago
Reply to  Bryan Morris

I’ve been getting so many flats lately that I had to spring for a new set of Schwalbe Marathon Plus “flatless” tires. I hadn’t really thought about the fact that all of the broken glass on the street correlates with the rise of homelessness. JM, this is a reason your position is getting so little sympathy here: the problem is directly impacting cyclists’ ability to do what we love and to advance the cause you promote via BP!

dwk
dwk
2 months ago

Obviously 90% of the people who are posting on this are wrong according to you and you are just misunderstood..
Nuance left the station about 3 years ago, the bike paths are trashed and you don’t seem to care.
What more nuance is there? $50,000 of stolen musical instruments were found the other day in a camp…. I am sure it was just a misunderstanding and lack of nuance…..

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
2 months ago
Reply to  Fred

I find putting stan’s sealant in my tubes helps with the very small punctures that glass shards cause.

for 700C tires, Gatorskins + sealant is (in my experience at least) faster and better flat protection than Marathon+’s (which are on the front wheels of my trike ATM) for riding the junked up bike lanes.

Bryan Morris
Bryan Morris
2 months ago
Reply to  Trike Guy

I ride vintage racing bikes, so my modern tire options are pretty limited. My main bike has clinchers, but it’s 25 years old and 700x25c tires are as wide as it will accommodate. I had Continental Gatorskins on it for a while but they were so slow I tossed them and went to Vittoria Rubino Pros. All my other bikes use tubulars as Merckx intended. The point is none of us should have to worry about broken glass on a MUP. Blackberry thorns are gonna happen though.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
2 months ago
Reply to  ivan

Want to see my receipts for donations to a group that does real work getting people off the streets? How much time have you actually spent in your life helping people – I lost track.

As for “suddenly show up” I’ve read this site for years. I’ve been car free for the vast majority of my life (only drove/possessed a car for 3 of my 55 years).

Calling someone a right wing troll because they’re a realist is just stupid. Says a lot about the commenter, less about the folks he’s commenting on.

soren
soren
2 months ago
Reply to  ivan

Amazing how all these folks who never comment on BP stories suddenly show up to comment on this one.

I am fiercely opposed to most of the comments on this post but I gotta say that the idea that these “folks” (commentators) only suddenly appeared is some high-grade cognitive dissonance. This is your “subculture”, Ivan. Own it.

Mark in NoPo
Mark in NoPo
2 months ago
Reply to  soren

Even progressive enclaves like Portland are done ignoring the consequences of excusing dangerous, antisocial behavior on a mass scale. People with options have started leaving Portland, and those that stay are trending away from leftist political candidates.

Seattle just elected a Republican to city council. San Francisco is about to recall its DA in a landslide. Portland is next.

Steve Cheseborough (Contributor)
Chezz
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark in NoPo

There’s really not much progressive about Portland anymore, and big business and the cops are supporting more right-wing commissioners and laws to make it even less progressive. If you choose to go along with reactionary law-and-order politics, don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re trendy. That perspective has been around for centuries; it’s always waiting to try to quash any outbreak of populist progress.

Mark in NoPo
Mark in NoPo
2 months ago
Reply to  Chezz

If you choose to go along with reactionary law-and-order politics, don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re trendy. That perspective has been around for centuries…

I’ve never been one for a hymnbook, so I wasn’t a leftist when it was trendy, and I’m not one now.

I’m a liberal — the sort who considers allowing weed a smart plan, and allowing meth an awful one. The sort glad to pay high taxes for good infrastructure, and aghast to see it commandeered. The sort unwilling to pretend away the failures of fantastical ideas, no matter the crude intimations to follow.

FDUP
FDUP
2 months ago
Reply to  Chezz

Vera Katz was the original Law ‘n’ Order progressive and she set Portland back decades with her hiring of Mark Kroeker as Police Chief and other similar antics.

Todd/Boulanger
2 months ago

And the flip side is ‘Bikes [and bike parts] are a very common and valuable [street currency] for people.’

Thus the pile a bike frames and fewer parts in the photos…since most bike frames are marked with a serial number they have a higher risk to reward(value.

Its an old – but important story – of a compounded failure of ‘our community’ that just helps to reinforce this problem:
1) the major component manufacturers must start adding a serial number to any part with a retail price over $x (otherwise they will continue to profit from this missing link);
2) local jurisdictions should return to the transportation policy of requiring bikes to be registered (for recovery etc);
3) any city agency that recovers an asset should try to look up the bike frame number to see if it is registered (national) or listed as stolen in the PPB database for return to the owner of record; and
4) a network of secure bike parking hubs needs to be established if Biketown is really going to be anything but a lip service slogan.

J_R
J_R
2 months ago

Do you also believe that managers of Target, Home Depot, and Safeway dropped off shopping carts for them, too?

Jrdpdx
Jrdpdx
2 months ago

If my home owning neighbor had 30 new bikes in their yard and garage being disassembled and had a rotating stock I would be equally swift in my assumption that they were somehow stealing from others and profiting from this. I would talk to them and alert the police. I am not trying to demonize or spread hate it is simply enough evidence to draw a reasonable conclusion.

Jonathan K
Jonathan K
2 months ago
Reply to  Jrdpdx

^This.

I think JM is probably right that we shouldn’t presume that the “managers” of these encampments are bike thieves themselves. That’s fair, as far as it goes. But it’s completely absurd to suggest that the pile of miscellaneous bike parts on the site could somehow be free of stolen bike parts. There’s a pretty simple test that could be run: Ask the managers whether they are religiously checking serial numbers. If they are, there’s a chance that everything’s clean. If they aren’t, certainty approaches 100% that there are stolen parts on the site, and it is not unreasonable or unfair to report that there are *probably* stolen parts on the site. Again, very different from accusing individual people of being bike thieves.

dwk
dwk
2 months ago

Feel free to explain yourself, It is your blog…
Do you think tent camping in public spaces should be allowed or not?
How hard is this? Are they camping in the park strip in front of your house?
Why not?

pigs
pigs
2 months ago

Everyone in this thread acting like homeless people chose to live in the streets and be addicted to drugs and blame them for just trying to exist. Blame the system that put them there and keeps them there. Thank you for being level-headed JM

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  pigs

Everyone in this thread acting like homeless people chose to live in the streets and be addicted to drugs.

Some do. I’ll refer you to page A11 of yesterday’s Portland Tribune for a profile of one such person.

Frank Perillo
Frank Perillo
2 months ago

“I have teenage girls who are afraid to walk around the block because of fears related to people who live on the street.”

And yet you continue to try to convince us these are folks just like us just trying to survive. Sounds like you haven’t done a good enough job convincing your kids.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  dwk

It seems the main question here is not whether camping should be allowed or not, but rather if you see someone with a big pile of bikes being parted out (regardless of the housing status of the person doing the parting), can you call it a chop shop and assume the bikes are stolen, or do you need to wait for positive proof before making that assertion? No one is saying that someone with a single bike, or even two, is a likely thief.

If a chop shop “manager” lived in a house or apartment, no one would have second thoughts about calling out their illegal and immoral behavior. If an addict lived in a house or apartment and stole from their neighbors, no one would think it wrong to try and get them to move elsewhere. But if they are camping, it seems to give some people pause, making them confused about whether thievery and possession of stolen property are acceptable behavior.

Victimizers don’t get a pass just because they live in a tent. Why is that controversial?

Watts
Watts
2 months ago

Anything can be made “complicated”, but when it comes to the situations I described, the lines seem easy to draw. If you steal things, or help others steal, or sell or distribute items you know are stolen, you are victimizing other people, and it is wrong. If you lie about it, it is evidence that you know you are doing something shameful. If you make excuses for people who are doing it, you are an enabler.

And yes, I concede that someone somewhere may have questioned how someone living in squalor was able to afford a high end racing bike, but that has no real bearing on the topic of this conversation, which is when it is right to declare that someone in possession of dozens of nice bikes they probably couldn’t afford and are greatly reducing their value by mixing up the parts in a way that suggests covering up a crime, is probably a thief or an accomplice of a thief.

Bryan Morris
Bryan Morris
2 months ago

“So what if people who steal things are criminals and they lie about it? What next?”

“Should we just send in police?”
Yes.

“Forcibly arrest them?”
Yes. That’s what you do with criminals.

“Do we have enough police to do that?”
Probably not. Crime, particularly drug related crime, has exploded. Police staffing levels should be a match to the level of crime in a community.

“What if a poorly trained cop beats someone up or shoots them?”
That’s a problem that police oversite and training should promptly deal with.

“Can we afford to incarcerate all these folks?”
Once again, the ability to incarcerate criminals should match the level of crime in a community.

“Would the justice system even be able to keep them locked up for more than a few days?”
Same answer as above.

“Should we send in PSR?”
Not for criminal activity.

“Are they even equipped to deal with criminals?”
No.

You are correct that no single individual or politician is responsible for this stuff. I would say that Oregon voters bear most of the responsibility for the state of things. They are the ones who voted for Measure 110 and for enabling politicians. That tide seems on the brink of changing. I’m concerned about the side effects of that though. Mussolini claimed to have made the trains run on time (he actually didn’t) but he was also a fascist dictator with a whole lot of blood on his hands. One of the problems I see is that naïve, well intentioned people have so enabled the current mess that we have today that they have given real progressives (of which I am one) a bad name and left the door open for much more regressive politicians who claim to have all the answers. If you want to see that in action, just watch all the Republicans’ political ads that play during local new right now.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago

it does us no good to ignore how complicated and nuanced they are in the actual lived reality sense

I don’t, but when someone is obviously running a business that literally pays people to victimize others, it takes a lot of nuance to overcome the basic reality that this person is causing considerable harm and we would all benefit if they stopped. If they’re unwilling to do that voluntarily, we have a problem to resolve.

How to best do that? I don’t know. We have a system for deciding that, and while it doesn’t work all that well, we don’t (yet) have a better one.

X
X
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

“If a chop shop “manager” lived in a house or apartment, no one would have second thoughts about calling out their illegal and immoral behavior…”

Well, that’s wrong. There’s a homeowner on my street who buys bikes from various characters, works on them, and resells them. I’ve been suspicious of him for years. Maybe he’s not an actual crook but I would bet he’s not running the serial numbers through the PPB. It’s fishy as hell but I have no proof. I also don’t know how many bikes or frames or parts he has because, you know, he has a house.

Mark in NoPo
Mark in NoPo
2 months ago
Reply to  X

Having a house would make it easier to conceal all manner of crimes, which is entirely irrelevant as to whether we should excuse a particular type of crime.

If I ran a dog fighting ring in my basement, I might get away with it. But if I held fights on the sidewalk, people of conscience would act. No one would say, “But he has nowhere else to commit animal cruelty!”

Matt
Matt
2 months ago
Reply to  X

Jonathan, any idea why I’m seeing this comment with negative one thumbs up? You deleted the thumbs-down link a while back but it seems somebody has a hack to still “click” the link?

TearGasTed
TearGasTed
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt

I’ve also noticed this on a handful of posts since the thumbs down was removed.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago

Ok, I voted this one down (but not any other posts). When we get to the new site, if this technique no longer works, and if anyone asks, I’ll explain how I did it.

Tom Martin
2 months ago
Reply to  Jrdpdx

They could be running a commercial business in a residential area.
That runs afoul of local zoning. Is the business register with the Secretary of State? If not, why not?

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
2 months ago

I’m absolutely shocked, SHOCKED at the number of unemployed bike mechanics in this town.

Andy Mesa
Andy Mesa
2 months ago

Sad to hear the BTTF is defunct now. They were the only ones that cared at all when I twice reported my bike stolen (it had a tracker on it so I caught the first thief).

Mark in NoPo
Mark in NoPo
2 months ago

Thank you to the PBOT and Rapid Response Bio Clean employees who put in the hard and risky work to dismantle whatever we’re supposed to call this.

dwk
dwk
2 months ago

Most of the stolen bikes in the camps are pretty low end as are most of the piles of everything..
Mostly taken from people who can afford it least. That is why a lot don’t care and excuse it since it doesn’t effect them unless their nice road bike is stolen.
This site should care about all the others whose bikes get taken.. where else do you think the are from?

Bryan Morris
Bryan Morris
2 months ago
Reply to  dwk

Every bike, from a $15K Colnago to a department store special, has the potential to change someone’s life for the better and bring joy to them. Every bike matters or no bike matters.

MC
MC
2 months ago

Will you follow up w. PBOT / RR to find out what happens to all these bikes, frames, misc parts?

I feel like there should be an opportunity for the public to recover any stolen property.

gpodpdx
gpodpdx
2 months ago
Reply to  MC

Four or five bikes went into the trash because they were unsalvageable. Other unsalvageable parts were thrown out. PBOT tagged twelve of the bikes and are holding them in storage for Johnny. He got a truck, took the rest of his stock with him and moved. PBOT, nor the police, “confiscated” any bikes or parts.
PPD has stopped by the site several times in the last several months looking for stolen bikes and checking some serial numbers. They have not found any stolen bikes at the former encampment.
I helped him move the last of his things last night (Thur 12th.) The site is now clear.

Matt
Matt
2 months ago

Jonathan is being very hypocritical on this one. He purposely edited that particular post in a certain way when it was accusing (probably falsely) “right wing trolls”. And all he talks about is not being mean and name calling? Give me a break.

PDX Biker from Maine
PDX Biker from Maine
2 months ago

Jonathan you sound so dated. Very 2019. Street camping needs to be banned. It’s inhumane for EVERYONE in the community.

Fred
Fred
2 months ago

Very lazy journalism, JM. Your basic tack here: “I can’t tell if all those bikes were stolen, and you can’t tell if they were stolen, so give these people are break and don’t judge them.” I think you have a responsibility to do a little more research here and try to find out where the bikes are coming from. Didn’t you start BP as a way of getting back stolen bikes? Have you forgotten where you came from? You’ve done so much to combat bike theft – it would be a shame for you to become a stolen-bike enabler.

Mark smith
Mark smith
2 months ago

Shocking. Shocking!

Jane Stretch
Jane Stretch
2 months ago

Attitudes like the author’s are actively contributing to the decline of livability in Portland. What fantasy world is this? Of course those bikes are stolen. Of course the author’s had a bike stolen himself and blogged about fetching it, vigilante-style, from a “homeless” camp.

This post seems intentionally crafted to give himself another opportunity to play language police / censor. Just look at all the edits!

The intent is to enforce the newspeak preferred by the nonprofit Homeless Industrial Complex. They desperately need us to keep pretending that they’re solving issues instead of exacerbating them. Our bottomless pit of “compassion” and feel-good policy has run out and the last 3-5 years have laid this bare. The nonprofit grifters are threatened. They know the jig is up and change is coming.

I beg you all to remember this when you cast your ballots in 2022. Enough disingenuous manipulation from outlets like BikePortland. This city needs a voice that actually cares about cyclists and the conditions we face every day in Portland. This ain’t it.

Ryan J.
Ryan J.
2 months ago

Just wanted to say that this thread and the censorship within was the nail in the coffin for BikePortland.

I’ll no longer be visiting this site after this. Jonathon, you’re out of your element. I cannot support a site that ignores reality with such enthusiasm and then goes on to censor comments that speak against the chosen narrative. You’re actively working against the interests of cyclists and citizens in Portland and I’m done supporting this site and it’s sycophants like bikeloud.

This will be the second time I’ve given up on BP. This time it’s gonna stick.

-Ryan

Ryan J.
Ryan J.
2 months ago

Well personal attacks certainly won’t get me to stick around!

I don’t have any dogs in this fight, JM. I’ve long since given up hope that BP could move the needle on cycling in Portland. I don’t think I’m alone in that assessment.

You’re the one with something to lose in this scenario, not me.

Charley
Charley
2 months ago
Reply to  Ryan J.

Have you read all the comments on this article? You think the main problem here is censorship? That Maus doesn’t let people speak out differing viewpoints? Really? There are about 150 comments, and the vast majority are very emotional and very negative toward Maus and the article. If you think this is a good example of censorship. . . man, I don’t even know what to say.

roger noehren
roger noehren
2 months ago

“We were first made aware of this location today when it came up in a thread posted on the Shift email list by people who referred to it as a “bike chop shop” and said it has been reported to authorities several times in the past.”
Really? I’ve been reading about this notorious operation on “Nextdoor” for months. It’s not just bikes; lots of catalytic converters there too.
Thanks to Mike C for posting it on Shift, thus bringing it to your and PPB’s attention. It’s about time that it was shut down.
When I worked at Citybikes, we had to register every bike that we bought and sent daily reports to the police. We were required to keep them for two weeks prior to selling them and didn’t pay the sellers for two weeks. None of the bikes that we purchased turned up stolen, presumably because the system was a deterrent. We were also wary of buying used parts and accessories, but kept a record of those that we did and who we purchased them from. We also declined any we suspected might be hot. I believe that Citybikes no longer purchases any bikes or parts.

MC
MC
2 months ago
Reply to  roger noehren

Thanks for the credit Roger. I too tried to be careful in my wording. I hope next time we get the word out faster and get folks attention, get some attention on the activities so that folks know we’re paying attention and we care about what’s going on in our community.

SD
SD
2 months ago

I appreciate that BikePortland doesn’t simply amplify the pointless “next-door style” rage against people with housing instability. If BP took this approach, it would just become part of the angry arm-chair certainty that is the noise-trash cluttering online media ten times more than the litter on bike paths.

Chris I
Chris I
2 months ago
Reply to  SD

I can’t safely ride on any of the multi-use paths near my home with my kids these days, but I’m glad that you are concerned about online clutter.

SD
SD
2 months ago
Reply to  Chris I

Maybe you missed my point accidentally, but BP publishing yet another nihilistic article trashing people who want long lasting solutions to this problem or publishing fear-mongering click-bait to capitalize off of peoples frustrations won’t make your mups safe.

Serenity
Serenity
2 months ago
Reply to  SD

Yeah, none of that here…

SD
SD
2 months ago
Reply to  Serenity

A ton in the comments, even some new people who came here just to comment, but at least the main story isn’t a pointless rehashing of grievances.

Amit Zinman
Amit Zinman
2 months ago

Houseless people do need bikes to get around. While some of them live in and/or use cars/vans/trucks, those will inevitably fail, not to mention the constant cost of buying gas for them.
The point is that there is no use in fighting reality. You can move people away from their camp and demolish their chop shops, but they will come back eventually as the underlying need would not just disappear.
Can we imagine a $1 million dollar project (a lot more has been spent on planning expansions of freeways that will never happen) aimed at providing usable bikes and trailers to people in need? Pour that budget into organizations that are already refurbishing bikes like Bikes for Humanity.
I don’t think that there’s any other way to break this cycle.

Charley
Charley
2 months ago
Reply to  Amit Zinman

A lot of very emotionally driven commenters here seem focused on punitive measures, to the detriment of their practical thinking regarding the problem. I kinda get it though. It’s hard to imagine helping a group of people, when individuals in that group are clearly responsible for a lot of disorder and crime. But yeah, harm reduction is the way.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  Charley

I actually agree with this statement. The problem is that there are a lot of folks trying to help, giving money and volunteering, and we’ve collectively voted in huge taxes on ourselves to provide housing, drug treatment, and other services, and still the problem gets worse. Many folks are asking why these efforts at harm reduction don’t seem to be making a dent in the problem.

I see a lot of mismanagement, poor leadership, incompetence, and the idea that maybe the government can’t do everything is starting to take hold within me. The notion that maybe the conservatives are right about this is something I’ve resisted most of my life, but watching the very long list of collective failures in Portland, Oregon, and nationally over the past couple of years has started to erode what was once a bedrock belief in the power of collective action and harm reduction.

So, back to you… what more do we need to do? How much will it take? Where are the limits of what can be done?

Bryan Morris
Bryan Morris
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

No progress will be made until well intentioned but naive people accept the fact the drug addiction epidemic is the root cause of most homelessness and crime and that most addicts have no interest in voluntarily accepting treatment to get off drugs. Only then can we come up with solutions that might actually make a dent in the problems we’re seeing.

Clem Fandango
Clem Fandango
2 months ago

What baffles me is the assumption throughout this thread, is that free housing is going to fix these people. It won’t.

X
X
2 months ago
Reply to  Clem Fandango

No, free housing will not fix all the people living outdoors. I’ve seem counterexamples at my nearby neighborhood squat.

Here are some things that would help people fix themselves, if they want to (some of these things exist, just not enough of them).

Free drug clinics with two options: voluntary treatment, or harm reduction and yes that includes free needles. Mike Pence prayed about it and the Lord said “Do it”.

Public toilets. Merchants who don’t have to swab up piss will thank you.

Places where any person can shower for a nominal fee and sleep for two hours.

Roving canteens where people can swap cans for things they need: snacks, hygiene items, over the counter drugs, lighters and cigarettes.

Kiosks where people who have phones can charge them and get a wifi link that’s good for an hour or so.

You might think that people who have, arguably, screwed up their lives don’t deserve this stuff. I say not many of us get what we deserve but if you give people evidence that somebody actually does give a damn, some of them will reward you by fixing themselves, getting off the dole, and basically being citizens.

Pulling up the ladder is immoral and it’s bad business.

Serenity
Serenity
2 months ago
Reply to  Clem Fandango

What baffles me is the assumption throughout this thread, is that free housing is going to fix these people. It won’t.

I’m not getting that assumption in most of these comments.

Bryan Morris
Bryan Morris
2 months ago

Jonathan, I realize that you and disagree on a number of points around this issue. But I appreciate the work you do facilitating these discussions by publishing this site. The back and forth in the comments on this particular article must at times seem like a particularly discouraging and thankless task. It sure would to me if I was in your shoes. So, thanks.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
2 months ago

As Sam Clemens (1835-1910) said, “There are Lies, there are Damn Lies, and then there are Statistics.”

According to the internet, that fountain of truth and wisdom, there were approximately 100 million bicycles in the USA in 1995. Since then, on average, we’ve imported or produced around 20 million bicycles annually, over 500 million in total. Of course we’ve also thrown out a fair many, either into our landfills or as recycled scrap. So the 650,000 residents of Portland Oregon right now, as of Friday May 13 2022, have somewhere between 200,000 and 1 million bicycles within its city limits, and no more than 5% of those (between 10,000 and 50,000) are used for daily commuting, and that a certain large number are legitimately disposed of every year.

So statistically speaking, there is a certain probability, possibly quite a large one, that all those bikes at your friendly local corner chop shop are in fact simply bikes that have been thrown out by their past owners and not actually stolen. Keep that in mind as you are blowing off steam today.

soren
soren
2 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

There are also cost, knowledge, and convenience barriers to donating bikes so I’ve noticed that my neighbors often discard their bikes by leaving them on the sidewalk or at a corner (free pile).

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
2 months ago
Reply to  soren

Yes, we have the same issues here in Greensboro NC. We have lots of community efforts to recycle and repair pre-loved bicycles for the poor and refugees in our community – Our organization Bikesboro alone collects over 600 bikes per year, none of which are stolen – but a far more vast number of high-quality bikes end up in the dump every year. There is some bike theft here, but nothing compared to Raleigh or Charlotte, let alone Portland or Seattle, and our chop shops are still hidden in the woods or in rented back yards, much like Portland pre-2010.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
2 months ago
Reply to  soren

IMO, I think part of the problem is that Portland has a vast oversupply of bike-shop quality bikes and a solid body of customers who are clearly willing to look the other way when purchasing used bikes that might or might not be stolen. I’d say Portland’s current slide began when marijuana was legalized for medical use, but not for the usual reasons you might think – Portland has always had drug addiction and homelessness issues as have all other major cities.

Most bike shops nationwide are in essence perfectly legal money-laundering operations. In Red states where marijuana sales are still illegal, the typical scenario is the wife earns a six-figure salary as a doctor, lawyer, or other highly-paid professional who needs a regular tax loss AND a way to get her slacker husband out of the house doing something somewhat productive.

In Blue states where marijuana sales (recreational and/or medical) are legal, banks still can’t allow the cash generated to be deposited since marijuana sales are still illegal at the federal level. So they the marijuana sellers need to convert their perfectly legit cash into a commodity that can be bought and sold on the open market – debt – and bike shops with lots of overhead and the nastiest customer service are a quick way of generating such debt (as are small clothing boutiques). The result is often a high bike sales turnover rate with frequent inside sales and inside bike theft, and the local market is literally flooded with high-quality bicycles with ownership histories that most people would rather not have revealed.

Bryan Morris
Bryan Morris
2 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

That’s certainly an interesting take. Do you have any links you can share that back up your claims about seemingly legit bike shops (not chop shops) being money laundering enterprises? I’d really like to learn more about that.

Adam
Adam
2 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Really? How much bike industry experience do you have David? Doesn’t match my experience, 20 plus years of it.

Dwk
Dwk
2 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

What the hell are you talking about?
Do you have any proof of this lunacy?
BP prints this drivel and deletes and edits other comments?

Kurt
Kurt
2 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Way to malign hard working, honest business people.
“It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it.” – Maurice Switzer

Granpa
Granpa
2 months ago

The conditions in Portland are exactly what feeds suburban sprawl, automobile dependency and its resultant freeway widening. People leaving urban Portland to avoid the squalor and real and perceived unsafe conditions may delight our resident communist if home values plummet, but the decay of urban living is a net negative of huge proportion

SD
SD
2 months ago
Reply to  Granpa

A bit chicken and egg. Suburban sprawl also feeds this condition and is responsible for many of the problems like this that cities face. Suburbanites demand excessive car infrastructure for their convenience. This creates wider roads, more parking and more road-associated dead spaces, which decreases density, increases the need for urban cars and increases housing prices. This leads to the current housing crisis, homelessness and a lack of resources and compassion for impoverished people.

SD
SD
2 months ago

Real question: exactly which sentence or paragraph of this article got people so worked up?
Was it the quote from the “camp manager?”
Was it the closing statement to not assume that every bike at every camp or tent is stolen?
Was it the lack of anti-camping statements, or editorialized screaming-at-the-clouds frustration?
How many commenters actually read the entire 605 word article?

Kurt
Kurt
2 months ago
Reply to  SD

The idea that these huge piles of unassembled bikes are anything but criminal activity.

SD
SD
2 months ago
Reply to  Kurt

What actual words in the article are you talking about?

Dwk
Dwk
2 months ago
Dwk
Dwk
2 months ago
Reply to  Dwk

Earl Is now a right wing kook with no understanding of the homeless problem.

MC
MC
2 months ago
Reply to  Dwk

I’m done with “Cities” in general. I think there’s a point where they become unmanageable & instead of real community, there’s just special interest groups butting heads in the struggle for political power.

$700K of outside money in the battle for a city commissioner seat is the writing on the wall. Tick-tock…

Roberta Robles
Roberta Robles
2 months ago

Woohoo BikePortland JM, holding down the free speech ‘fort’ without devolving into chaos. Great job, I’m doing a happy dance for Jon, thanking him into bike heaven for eternity.

I for one am thankful for this space to continue pondering solutions. I have personally taken two sets of parents thru rehab. Mental illness and drug abuse could both be directly addressed thru universal healthcare.

Instead we are debating chop shops and houseless camps on sidewalks. I have put in hundred of hours of advocacy testimony etc etc on at first transportation advocacy and then housing advocacy. Driven to Salem multiple times to testify in person. At some point enough is enough.

We have spent so much energy on advocating for ADA ramps, sidewalks and bike lanes and such. I feel it’s really unfair situation to be in. We have transport corridors to help people get to jobs so they can stay housed. Comparing advocacy compassion levels is like the crabs in the bucket scenario. Not good comparing trauma. Not good comparing housing and transport advocacy.

Both are needed and there is no hierarchy where one is more important then the other. We need both and we cannot sacrifice city accessibility for a few unhoused people. Women in particular are emotionally and economically impacted by transport safety issues more so then men. I will not be ‘shamed’ by housing advocates. I’ve put my time and money into solutions.

But I’m done sacrificing walking and biking accessibility to serve drug addicts serving chop shops and a few mentally ill people. IDk if you’ve tried getting mental health prescriptions but it’s darn near impossible for houses people, I can’t imagine getting mental health prescriptions as an unhoused person on the streets. We need prescription reform. I blame the drug companies for outrageous costs.

Seth Alford
Seth Alford
2 months ago
Reply to  Roberta Robles

TIL today: the crabs in the bucket scenario. Thank you for that lesson.

The crabs in the bucket scenario is a good metaphor for describing this situation.

MC
MC
2 months ago

I’m a veteran, I’m a college graduate & was fairly successful in the IT/industry. I’ve been life long recreational cyclist & car-free in PDX since 2008. I’ve had many bikes stolen ~ $4k worth. I’ve been homeless & have been involved w. homeless advocacy/support for many years before, while & after being homeless.

Everything you see in & around homeless camps, drug/alcohol addiction, mental & physical health issues, crime, hoarding, trash, criminal behavior all exists among the housed. It’s not just on full public display 24 x 7.

Where I think “journalistic integrity” wasn’t delivered is that it’s my understanding that the “activities” in and around this camp have been going on since last Summer and quite a few people in the area were keeping a watchful eye and talking about it.

If anyone had a fairly well informed opinion about whether or not it was in fact a “chop shop” it would be them. Why weren’t any neighbors interviewed?

Not all homeless camps w. bikes are chop shops. But if you Google Chop Shop Portland, OR, at least a 1/2 dozen stories are listed. And those are just the ones where arrests were made.

Pic
Pic
2 months ago

I’m ignorant of many things. But what would it take to get the city to photograph every bike they collect and record every serial number? Then post them all online and check against registered missing bikes. Seems like just a few minutes of work per bike. Maybe volunteers could help. This could help people, including houseless people, recover their bikes.

MC
MC
2 months ago
Reply to  Pic

When sweeps are done, all personal property is supposed to be documented but I don’t know if that’s the responsibility of PPB, PBOT and/or Rapid Response.

I was also recently told by a bike shop owner that the police only check serial #s on complete bikes & not frames.

And that might only have been done by PPB Bicycle Task Force, which is now defunct.

AndyK
2 months ago

Time for a podcast on this subject 🙂

Seth Alford
Seth Alford
2 months ago

TL;DR: When we look at the entire system, tolerating homelessness leads to climate change. Therefore, addressing homelessness is addressing climate change. We need to address homelessness with the same urgency as we address other climate change issues.

I’m reading Jonathan’s comments, particularly one from 5 days ago, https://bikeportland.org/2022/05/11/city-crews-remove-large-number-of-used-bicycles-from-street-encampment-on-se-alder-353600#comment-7468376, which includes the phrase “…benefits from the systemic forces….”

Jonathan’s point, if I’m reading it correctly, is that he’s thinking systemically when he is willing to tolerate the problems created by the homeless, including blocked MUPs and increased bicycle theft.

OK, then. Let’s think systemically.

In the above 215 comments, people raised the point that

  • homeless camps blocking MUPs,
  • glass and garbage on MUPs and other bicycle infrastructure from those camps (admittedly, other people cause glass and garbage on bike infra too,)
  • homeless people having mental health episodes or displaying other threatening behavior on MUPs or near other bicycle infrastructure,
  • actual or possible bicycle theft, which is often associated with homeless camps,

discourages people from bicycling. A systemic point that I didn’t see raised is that discouraging bicycling, in turn, encourages other transportation modes. The other modes are walking, or I think more probably, some form of motorized transport, such as train, bus or single occupancy motor vehicle. Those motorized transport modes are much more likely to generate green house gases. GHG leads to climate change.

I also strongly suspect that there’s an inertia effect. Once someone decides to switch modes away from biking, they are going to stay away. They will have formed a habit around using another mode. So let’s say all the camps blocking the MUPs, with the associated glass and garbage, were to disappear today. The threatening behavior displayed by some homeless people in those camps were to disappear today. Let’s say that all the stolen bikes were returned or replaced, today. Those bicyclists discouraged by blocked MUPs, etc., and/or (possibly) having their bike stolen would not start biking again tomorrow.

When we look at the entire system, tolerating homelessness leads to climate change.

Therefore, addressing homelessness is addressing climate change. We need to address homelessness with the same urgency as we address other climate change issues. We need to get the homeless, and their garbage and glass, threatening behavior, etc., off of the MUPs and away from other bicycle infrastructure. Because of the Boise v Martin decision, and because we want to be humane, we can’t just arrest the homeless. We have to offer them some sort of shelter. That shelter has to be plentiful enough and built quickly enough so that there is always an available bed. But because of climate change, that shelter offer has to come with a get tough attitude. Society needs to say something like, “Take the shelter offer or get swept. Sorry. The oceans are rising and the weather is going crazy. You are hindering people who are doing something about that. We can’t allow that. You have to stop.”