Comment of the Week: About those controversial bike racks

bike racks installed on a sidewalk in downtown Portland.

“Imagine navigating our sidewalks while blind or in a wheelchair.”

Welcome to the Comment of the Week, where we highlight good comments in order to inspire more of them. You can help us choose our next one by replying with “comment of the week” to any comment you think deserves recognition.


Comment of the Week

The last I looked, our story on the bike racks installed to prevent camping had received 265 comments. They came down all over the place, it was kind of a free-for-all of frustration that spared nobody, and I have read them all—the whole thread a few times through.

As you can imagine with 265 comments, several of them deserved to be “comment of the week,” but we only pick one. The comment we chose held up really well over multiple readings. MaxD’s exhortation to consider all sidewalk users—the blind, the disabled, the impoverished—has the characteristics of good persuasive writing. It was intimate, conversational, and empathetic. Rather than shouting “I’m angry, now I’m really really angry,” it persuaded the reader to look at things in a different way, the way maxD sees them. This style of writing can get people thinking and maybe even change someone’s view. It appealed to other people too, with the comment receiving 105 likes.

Here’s what maxD wrote:

This seems like a fine solution. I found this write-up a bit heavy handed—implying this is not neighborly, calling People for Portland [a] “dark money group.”

Regardless, this is undoubtedly an attempt to keep our public space clear. That may be detrimental to a handful of people who seek to occupy it at the exclusion of everyone else, but it is a win for people using mobility devices, people who have reduced vision, anyone wanting to use the sidewalk, people biking. The homeless crisis is desperate, but our public realm is being assaulted, and campers are being given a pass to claim public space, most significantly at the expense of the working poor and the people experiencing a disability. I find it very privileged to imply that sidewalks should be allowed to be closed at random for long periods of time. If you you are able bodied and can walk or bike in the street or cross the road mid block, it is not that big of a deal. Imagine navigating our sidewalks while blind or in a wheelchair. Imagine relying on transit/bike/sidewalk and local parks for recreation because you cannot afford a car.

IMO, a fair critique of Schnitzer is that they bank property, sometimes keeping them in poor condition and neglect to activate them or redevelop them. However, it [is] asking a lot for someone to do more with a space when for long stretches of the last couple [years], the space was unable to be accessed. That sidewalk and bike lane were completely occupied—how is [a] commercial real estate agent supposed to show prospective tenants that space? Schnitzer is far from perfect, but this seems like a civic benefit and an act of neighborliness to me.

You can read maxD’s comment and the full comment thread on the original post.

Thank you maxD, we appreciate you being part of the conversation.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

53 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
bbcc
bbcc
5 months ago

It’s a well-argued point, but I think it rests on a false premise. I’ve seen 3 camps completely block the sidewalk this year, and they all were swept after being reported. The sidewalk was not completely blocked — you can see people standing between the camp & the building wall in Jonathan’s photo. If it was, the city would step in to clear it. If anyone has an example of a completely blocked sidewalk that the city isn’t sweeping after it’s reported to 311, I’d be very interested to hear about it.

In my experience, campers typically set up in the area immediately adjacent to the street, leaving a strip of sidewalk for passers by (and for their own tent access). Lots of people don’t feel comfortable walking past tents, but they usually don’t physically block the entire ROW.

I would argue that the bike racks consume a similar proportion of the sidewalk as the tents they replaced, and that any net gain in physical ROW is marginal. Who really gains are those who were uncomfortable walking between tents and a boarded up building (understandable!). I just think people having a place to live is more important.

ROH
ROH
5 months ago
Reply to  bbcc

I disagree. There are lots of places in SE Portland where the tents and shacks made of pallets, plywood and tarp completely block the sidewalk. Or streets, such as foster where lots of broken down zombie campers surrounded by piles of trash spill onto sidewalks. It is disingenuous to say that if the sidewalk isn’t 100% blocked then it’s usable and the tents can stay. Tents on the sidewalk make those areas of the city unlivable. It’s intimidating for people to walk by, especially women or kids. It’s not fair to the people who maintain their properties all over the city. And, it’s not compassionate to the people living in tents, especially during the last few really wet months. If we as a city tolerate the tents and campers, it gives justification and cover for the city, county and state leadership to do nothing. If we allow camping all over the. There will be no urgency to actually help the homeless and make the city livable.

bbcc
bbcc
5 months ago
Reply to  ROH

I’m just trying to tease out the premise MaxD proceeded from, that sidewalks were “closed at random for long periods of time” and “were completely occupied” by tents. That claim does not seem true.

Watts
Watts
5 months ago
Reply to  bbcc

If it is unsafe to walk on a sidewalk, even if it is physically possible, it’s not unreasonable to call it “closed”. I’ll concede the “at random” clause, as the closure pattern was predictable from its earlier state, and so was not truly random. I assume you don’t take issue with the “for long periods of time” portion of the comment.

As for “completely occupied”, the photo certainly supports that. That does not mean every square inch had a tent on it, only that the space was “claimed” by someone and unable to serve it’s primary purpose of conveying passersby.

I think those comments are “effectively true” given the context and non-technical nature of the writing.

bbcc
bbcc
5 months ago
Reply to  Watts

No I’m not being that pedantic. Why is it unsafe to walk next to tents? I often walk by tents, it’s fine.

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
5 months ago
Reply to  bbcc

But it’s not “fine” for everyone.
You and I may be ok, but not everyone is. To be truthful I’m on total alert when I do.
People I work with dread it because their perception of possible danger is real to them when they have to navigate down sidewalks to get to work.
All it takes is one tripped out druggie to ruin a day, or even a life. Does it happen often, no. But lets just hope it never happens to any of us.
I wish the City/County would spend a good chunk of our tax money on temporary/transitional type housing that would at least offer a safe place to sleep and a meal. This whole “housing first” isn’t helping anyone and will take many many years which only benefits the non-profits and construction companies.

Watts
Watts
5 months ago
Reply to  bbcc

 Why is it unsafe to walk next to tents?

“Walking next to tents” (in the street, for example) is different than intruding into the “front yard” of an unknown person; many find being “trapped” between a tent and a building, out of view of people on the street, to be unsafe in the event the tent is inhabited by someone high on meth who sees you as a threat.

Your comment reveals you are not a woman, old, disabled, or someone who otherwise feels or is vulnerable to assault.

bbcc
bbcc
5 months ago
Reply to  Watts

That’s a good way of putting it — I suspect the real issue is that homeless people are scary and I don’t want to be around them. Tent-adjacent places are closed to those who share that bigoted view of campers as dangerous meth users. While I disagree (there but for the grace of God, etc.), I’m fine with people making that argument explicitly. The comment at hand instead claimed that tents consume sidewalks entirely and used that claim to deploy the language of social justice. I think that was a little suspect and reads like a sublimation.

I think a big set of BP commenters would cheer sweeps even when they have nothing to do with accessibility, so I’m skeptical of using that specific line of humanist reasoning for a practice I consider to be inhumane.

cc_rider
cc_rider
5 months ago
Reply to  bbcc

I was in the central eastside and in my short time there spotted 5 blocks that were closed for pedestrian use due to trash,tents, and people blocking the sidewalk. While I’m glad you (obviously) don’t have any mobility issues, these camps really do make life harder for people who then have to cross our dangerous roads unnecessarily putting them at even further risk.

Outside of that, your comment about ‘bigoted’ views reeks of both male and white privilege. Drug addiction is extremely common amongst the homeless population as is untreated mental illness. It’s born out in research and its born out in the testimonies of the people who work with them. The Old Town shelter just shut down because of how dangerous it is.

Again, I’m glad you don’t feel vulnerable but other people do and that’s not bigoted, its common sense. There is a ton of violence at these camps. The most common victims are other homeless people. You should go talk to some homeless folks, they’ll tell you how scary some of the people living in the camps are. Calling someone a bigot for being scared to be around someone with untreated SPMI who is on meth is the height of laugh ability.

bbcc
bbcc
5 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

Sorry, I do think that view is bigoted. Even if the prevalence of drug use is higher among homeless people as a group, it is bigoted to assume that any individual homeless person is a drug user without evidence. Assuming traits about individuals because of their membership in a larger group (esp. one they did not choose) is textbook bigotry. We all struggle with it, please don’t feel too offended!

bbcc
bbcc
5 months ago

Oh you don’t think so? I do. If someone says that they don’t feel safe walking next to tents because they assume the person inside of one is “high on meth,” (which I believe is what Watts was saying) they’re making an assumption about the individual in the tent based on their perception of the group to which that camper belongs.

Lisa Caballero (Asst. Editor / SW Correspondent)
Lisa Caballero (Southwest Correspondent)
5 months ago
Reply to  bbcc

Watts wrote “In the event,” which means it’s a possibility.

bbcc
bbcc
5 months ago

As in one should avoid walking near tents as a rule because of the possibility the person within it is high on meth, because they belong to a group which we associate with drug use.

cc_rider
cc_rider
5 months ago
Reply to  bbcc

. Even if the prevalence of drug use is higher among homeless people as a group, it is bigoted to assume that any individual homeless person is a drug user without evidence.

Using information we have about the world to keep ourselves safe is a basic part of being alive. Plants do it, animals do it, and we do it. Being able to pretend to be naive is a privilege that a lot of marginalized and vulnerable members of community don’t have. Please don’t call them bigots.

Assuming traits about individuals because of their membership in a larger group (esp. one they did not choose) is textbook bigotry

It actually isn’t. It isn’t bigotry to assume that a professional baseball player spends time at the gym. It’s not bigotry to assume a math teacher spent time studying math in school. We use our knowledge of the world to make reasonable assumptions about people all the time. Bigotry is when those assumptions are unreasonable. Considering the homeless population overwhelmingly consists of people with untreated SPMI and/or drug addiction, its pretty reasonable to assume that any single member does to. Especially when it comes to making decisions about keeping yourself safe.

We all struggle with it, please don’t feel too offended!

No worries! I don’t live in the activist bubble, in the real world no one thinks avoiding someone obviously out of their mind on drugs is bigotry. You should check your privilege friend!

bbcc
bbcc
5 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

Sure, bigotry is a basic fact of humanity, but that’s something I think it’s important to notice and try to adjust. Even if all members of a particular demographic subgroup but 1 were to commit some criminal offense, I believe it’s important that we not persecute that 1 innocent person because of their status as a member of that group. Particularly if it’s a group they did not choose to belong to.

cc_rider
cc_rider
5 months ago
Reply to  bbcc

Even if all members of a particular demographic subgroup but 1 were to commit some criminal offense, I believe it’s important that we not persecute that 1 innocent person because of their status as a member of that group.

Sorry, persecute? Being uncomfortable being close to a group of people that routinely threaten and harass people is persecuting them?

Ya hear that ladies? If you feel uncomfortable passing a group of men living on a sidewalk late at night, you’re a bigot and you need to stop persecuting them!!!

You don’t know what bigotry is friend. I suggest you get of portland anarchist Twitter for a little bit and go out and talk to some real people who have very valid reasons to not want to take chances on whether a group of men living on the streets are dangerous or not.

bbcc
bbcc
5 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

Well, this is really about whether or not to criminalize the act of camping on the sidewalk. The women/man thing is more complicated because there is a long standing power imbalance there, which intersects in a complicated way with the homeless/housed power imbalance.

I’ve been trying to ignore the personal attacks, but no I am not an anarchist or anything, I consider these to be Christian values and I’m just trying to proceed from first principals. I hope we can just talk about the ideas we’re sharing and not who were are personally! I may call viewpoints bigoted (feel free to sub in a better word if you have a suggestion), but I do not mean to say that makes the person a bigot per se.

cc_rider
cc_rider
5 months ago
Reply to  bbcc

Well, this is really about whether or not to criminalize the act of camping on the sidewalk.

Sure, and your whole schtick is pretending that a pile of trash and people isn’t technically ‘blocking’ a sidewalk.

The women/man thing is more complicated because there is a long standing power imbalance there, which intersects in a complicated way with the homeless/housed power imbalance.

I guess I’m confused. You said its bigotry to make any assumptions about someones character based on the actions of others in their group (especially a group they didn’t choose to be in!). Not all men are dangerous to women so women shouldn’t make assumptions about any man, right? That’s what you’re saying.

I’ve been trying to ignore the personal attacks

Uh, yeah? You calling me a bigot isn’t a personal attack?

, I consider these to be Christian values and I’m just trying to proceed from first principals

Well other people still need to live in the world. When a mentally unstable person chases you with a hatchet, its okay to steer clear of other people who are likely to act erratically.

but I do not mean to say that makes the person a bigot per se.

Then I’d suggest you think about what word you actually mean. A bigot is by definition a person who owns bigoted viewpoints.

bbcc
bbcc
5 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to call you a bigot. I try to decouple my personhood from my notions & ideas a bit, so that if someone criticizes some idea I have as racist, sexist, etc., it’s easier to take that feedback without considering it a personal indictment.

I think we all have bigoted impulses, but that doesn’t make us all bigots. I’m not sure where that line exists, but I didn’t mean to say you cross it. I’m sorry for implying it in any way!

As for the woman/man thing, that’s a really big conversation to have, but generally I believe both

a) men have, as a group, maintained imbalanced power over other genders

b) any individual man should not be blamed or impugned for that historical power imbalance unless he perpetuates it himself

And I think I can reconcile those beliefs with the argument I’m making here.

cc_rider
cc_rider
5 months ago
Reply to  bbcc

And I think I can reconcile those beliefs with the argument I’m making here.

You aren’t addressing the question. Why are you talking about power? Why are you talking about blame? I’m asking a simple question.

You state that making any assumptions about someone based on experiences with other members of their group is bigotry.

Is it bigoted, or a bigoted impulse, or whatever for a women to be uncomfortable about the prospect of navigating through a group of men sitting in the middle of the sidewalk and to feel the need to cross the street or change course all together?

bbcc
bbcc
5 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

Sorry, I’m trying to answer the question. I’d say that yes, categorizing a particular demographic as scary is stereotyping. I’m deeply sympathetic to the very real reasons people do that, and I don’t want to police people’s natural responses, which they don’t control. I just don’t think that we should be taking away other people’s civil rights based on those responses.

cc_rider
cc_rider
5 months ago
Reply to  bbcc

I’m deeply sympathetic to the very real reasons people do that, and I don’t want to police people’s natural responses, which they don’t control.

So you believe that women who cross the street to avoid groups of men are bigots? Wild

I just don’t think that we should be taking away other people’s civil rights based on those responses.

There is no right to live on a sidewalk. No ones civil rights are at risk here.

bbcc
bbcc
5 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

So you believe that women who cross the street to avoid groups of men are bigots? Wild

Nope, not trying to say that makes someone a bigot. Not trying to call anyone I don’t know a bigot at all! It’s not that experiencing any stereotyping impulse makes someone a bad person. Maybe a good rule of thumb is if someone experiences a bigoted or stereotyping impulse towards a particular demographic group, that’s totally normal; if someone advocates for policies which impact the whole of that group as a result of that impulse, that’s wrong.

There is no right to live on a sidewalk. No ones civil rights are at risk here.

My understanding is most campers have nowhere else viable to go, and I do believe people have an unalienable right to live somewhere.

cc_rider
cc_rider
5 months ago
Reply to  bbcc

My understanding is most campers have nowhere else viable to go, and I do believe people have an unalienable right to live somewhere.

Sure, they could go back to whatever city they lived in before they moved to Portland to live on the street.

Otherwise, these months-long camps don’t need to exist. We don’t need to let them live on our sidewalks and destroy our city.

bbcc
bbcc
5 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

Oh, so a sizable chunk of people living on the street moved here to do so? Interesting idea! Would you mind sharing a source for that?

cc_rider
cc_rider
5 months ago
Reply to  bbcc

Sure!

According to Multnomah County, in the 2019 PIT survey 53% of respondents who reported their housing status reported they were homeless when they arrived in Multnomah County. Further, 77% of respondents who had been in Multnomah County less than three months were homeless before they arrived in Multnomah County.

I’m sure its only gotten worse

https://pdxscholar.library.pdx.edu/rri_facpubs/63/

I’d read the whole thing if I were you, it may challenge the assumptions you’ve made about the homeless population.

bbcc
bbcc
5 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

Great! I so appreciate your linking this source, and frankly I’m surprised how many people’s homelessness predates their moving here. But I’m a statistician, can I offer a little different reading? This is an interesting exercise in how two people can see the same set of data and interpret it quite differently.

It’s never good to exclude missing data, particularly when it is not missing at random. All those who answered that they were from here originally fell into housing status unknown, so that question was likely nested in a way that makes excluding unknown values problematic. You might stay that at least 54% of all those sampled were either housed prior to moving to Portland or were born here. That’s a conservative estimate — knowing the original housing status of others missing that question could increase the estimate, but not decrease it.

It’s also interesting what the authors chose to preface that table with:

Of those in the unsheltered population not born in Multnomah County, 29.5% (n=445) reported moving to Multnomah County in the last two years. And similar to previous counts, the total number of unsheltered people who reported coming to Multnomah County while homeless at least in part to receive available services was very small: 143 people, or 7% of the population. In both 2017 and 2019, the most common reason given for coming to Multnomah County was family and friends.

I do think that people should be able to live where they want to, and generally I have a similar reaction to the concept of they can go back to where they came from that I do to Build That Wall — I consider it my civic duty to try to help people in need. There’s room in my tent, so to speak. Making folks’ lives tougher so that they’ll want to pack up and leave is just a hard pill for me to swallow.

cc_rider
cc_rider
5 months ago
Reply to  bbcc

and frankly I’m surprised how many people’s homelessness predates their moving here

Really? Have you ever talked to literally any of the homeless community? They are frequently more than willing to share their story with you. I suggest you actually spend some time with them.

All those who answered that they were from here originally fell into housing status unknown, so that question was likely nested in a way that makes excluding unknown values problematic.

My statement explicitly stated what I was speaking about. You asked about people coming here to be homeless. I’m talking about the population that moved here who is homeless. Over half the people who moved to Multnomah County who are homeless were homeless before they moved here. As a statisitican you should be very familiar with focusing on what the actual question is.

Further, 35% of the total sample having been homeless when they arrived in Multnomah County is, in itself, problematic.

It’s also interesting what the authors chose to preface that table with:

Not really, Multnomah County is heavily invested in spreading the lie that our homelessness crisis is driven by housing affordability rather than drug addiction and and untreated SPMI. People aren’t coming here for services, they are coming here because they can do literally whatever they want, wherever they want, and the population will fund that lifestyle for them.

There’s room in my tent, so to speak. Making folks’ lives tougher so that they’ll want to pack up and leave is just a hard pill for me to swallow.

That’s great for you to say! Do you deal with living next to one of these shanty towns by chance? Go take a stroll through The Cut at night and visit these poor ‘down-on-their-luck’ folks. I doubt you’d even go in. Recognize that people live every day next to that.

I’m fine with helping residents of our community, but I’m not going to pretend that the people in The Cut just got priced out of the city. I’m not going to look the other way about the trash, the gunshots, the uncapped needles, and stolen property.

Working class Portlanders are bearing the brunt of our tolerance of crime and its unfair. My car isn’t going to get stolen. Its working class folks driving 20 year old vehicles, or working class folks that can’t be choosey about where they lock their bike up that get their stuff stolen. I’m going to prioritize the health and safety the thousands of people being negatively impacted by the actions of a very small but dangerous minority of people.

I’m glad that you get to pat yourself on the back for being pious, but you don’t care about all the victims of crime that is associated with these camps, so maybe expand the scope of who you care about.

bbcc
bbcc
5 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

Nice. More name calling. Pious? really? I’m from here, I live and work in the central eastside, I’ve been assaulted, this is not theoretical for me.

I’ll leave you with this:

https://www.sightline.org/2022/03/16/homelessness-is-a-housing-problem/

Median contract rent alone explains 55% of the variance in homelessness rates between cities. SPMI rates explain less than 5%.

bbcc
bbcc
5 months ago

Good point, you really can’t establish causality without a robust body of RCT-based research, which is impossible here. But I think studying correlations can still be very useful!

I agree that homelessness is high in attractive cities because that’s where people want to move. It seems to me that we’ve underbuilt housing in those cities, so as demand continues to rise, the distribution of housing prices shifts to the right, and the cheapest available apartment becomes a little more expensive. Whomever was strained to afford that cheapest place can no longer afford it, so they become homeless. That’s the causal model that I believe underlies the .55 R squared value in the sightline piece. Like you said, that bar chart correlates well with where I think that influx in demand would be strongest.

I really hadn’t considered that people feel homeless people moving here is a primary driver of our crisis. It definitely seems like that’s a part of what’s going on! But it doesn’t seem true that it’s the main cause from the PIT numbers (the majority of homeless people were born here or housed prior to moving), and I also honestly don’t like where that line of thinking puts me: I think it “others” people and identifies those who are now my neighbors as a foreign element, which just isn’t a feeling I like or find useful/constructive.

Supplying more housing seems like a good policy response if I believe a housing shortage to be the main problem. If I believe homeless people moving here to be the problem, what’s a good policy solution? To restrict migration to Portland? To require proof of housing? I wonder if you have any ideas?

ellizabeth
ellizabeth
5 months ago
Reply to  bbcc

They are unpredictable and often lash out. Many in tents are armed as well.

ellizabeth
ellizabeth
5 months ago
Reply to  bbcc

I can think of 2 off hand, NE 27th and Sandy near the zipper is totally taken up by one tent and a ton of debris that fills the sidewalk for a block for months. I have reported it several times. Another is 2 tents and piles of stuff blocking the sidewalk at about NE 38th and Halsey

Amit Zinman
5 months ago
Reply to  ROH

I’m afraid that I also agree. Biking through the 205 multi-pass or the Powell underpass can be quite risky as campers don’t just block it from time to time but also leave all kind of stuff on the path that can damage your tire (or worse)
I distinctly remember have to go off the sidewalk and into the road when campers were blocking Division Pl, walking home from a bike store (my bike had to stay there overnight).
The people least affected by campers are people who go from the home to their car parked in their driveway, to work and back.

Jack S.
Jack S.
5 months ago
Reply to  Amit Zinman

That’s an interesting point about who is impacted. Which is making me think about how we are so deep in car centric culture that it would be beyond the pale for a camper to occupy a car lane, but that when they occupy a bike lane/pedestrian lane, then there is more of a split for what people believe.

Watts
Watts
5 months ago
Reply to  bbcc

I would argue that the bike racks consume a similar proportion of the sidewalk as the tents they replaced

Based on the photos, you’d be wrong. No part of the bike racks extends beyond the edge of the tree wells. Most of the tents do, at least one extensively so.

People do need a place to live, and while they are getting that sorted out, I’m happy to pay my share to provide a shelter system so people don’t need to sleep on the streets, and where they can get access to whatever services they need.

maxD
maxD
5 months ago
Reply to  bbcc

Until last August, my office was near SE 12th and Main. This is only a few blocks down for the Oregon Commission for the blind. I could see a rotating set of camps from my window that completely blocked the sidewalk midblock, and see the frustration of someone navigating with a cane who would encounter these. On my lunchtime walk and rides to and from the office, I saw dozens of more examples. The camps were the most common and the most complete obstructions, but I also observed cars parked across sidewalks and scooters left in the middle of sidewalk create serious obstacles. The last substantial camp I noticed blocking a long stretch of sidewalk was on SE Ankeny, south side, between 7th and 8th. This is by no means uncommon in the CEID.

When the bike lanes were added to northbound NW Broadway, I was thrilled- they were a huge safety improvement to taking the lane. However, I soon encountered bike lanes blocked by camps, I tried to detour to the sidewalk but it was impassable. After that, I did not take the time to check the sidewalk to see if a passable zone had been created; if I saw a bike lane blockage ahead I moved into the “car” lane and kept going. I appreciate your claim that the camps leave a “strip” for access, but in my observations that strip never meets even the minimum 5′ clear required by the ADA not the 6′-8′ clear zone COP standard.

In terms of the bike taking up space, check out the COP Pedestrian Design Guide, page 10.
https://www.portland.gov/sites/default/files/2021/pbot-pedestrian-design-guide_public-review-draft.pdf

The bike racks are laced within the furnishing zone with street light, signal poles, trash cans, signs, etc. and the Restrained Through Zone is left clear. These standards are important to maintain so propel using a mobility device or with a vision impairment have a reasonable expectation for what they may encounter when they are planning a route.

bbcc
bbcc
5 months ago
Reply to  maxD

Yeah, I appreciate your points. I’m definitely open to the idea that camps need to be placed such that some minimum footage is clear & passable. I just don’t buy that removing the camps entirely is the only intervention capable of accomplishing that.

Frank Perillo
Frank Perillo
5 months ago
Reply to  bbcc

I’ve personally watched disabled folks in motorized wheel chairs and mobility scooters forced into the street by campers who completely block sidewalks and even spilled into bike lanes with chop shop operations.

Steve
Steve
5 months ago
Reply to  bbcc

The sidewalk on the north side of NE Everett between MLK and Grand. It has been completely blocked for weeks. (Not for the first time.)

Steve
Steve
5 months ago
Reply to  bbcc

The sidewalk on the north side of Sandy Blvd between 29th and 30th has been completely blocked for months. I admit I don’t know if anyone has reported it to 311.

Tomas Paella
Tomas Paella
5 months ago

All unsanctioned camping is, by definition, hostile architecture: a structure erected to prevent legitimate use of a public space or resource.

We should not tolerate the seizure of public property for private use. Period.

qqq
qqq
5 months ago
Reply to  Tomas Paella

But the tents and shed were not “erected to prevent legitimate use of a public space or resource”. At least in the vast majority of cases, they were erected to provide shelter. Preventing use of the sidewalk is a result of their being erected, but wasn’t the purpose.

Fred
Fred
5 months ago

A comment of the week that goes *slightly* against the grain. Shocking!

Mark McClure
5 months ago

On topic and for those who prefer long-form journalism to 280-character posts, I recommend this article that was published today. I sincerely hope a qualified journalist writes a similar story about our failed city.

“HOW SAN FRANCISCO BECAME A FAILED CITY, And how it could recover” by Nellie Bowles, June 8, 2022

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/06/how-san-francisco-became-failed-city/661199/

Mark McClure
5 months ago
Reply to  Mark McClure

To be clear, so there is no misunderstanding, I was not referring to BP staff when I said “qualified journalist.” I’ve come to appreciate the good work that BP does.

maxD
maxD
5 months ago
Reply to  Mark McClure

Thanks Mark, that is a great article.

Damien
Damien
5 months ago
Reply to  Mark McClure

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/06/how-san-francisco-became-failed-city/661199/

Been enjoying this article, though there’s one paragraph near the end that highlights what drives me nuts about political labels:

The city’s progressives seem to feel that it is all just too beautiful and fragile to change. Any change will mean diminishment; any new, bigger building means the old, charming one is gone, and the old, charming resident is probably gone too.

That description is the core of what it means to be a conservative, in diametric opposition of what it means to be a progressive. To be a conservative is to want to conserve – to believe that the status quo is good enough relative to the risks of change. To be a progressive is the opposite – to believe that the status quo is unacceptable and progress must be made.

Of course, in America’s mainstream conversations, “progressive” just means “less fiscally conservative Democrat” and “conservative” = “Republican”. This annoys me to no end, because we could just use the terms Democrat and Republican for those without demeaning the other words into uselessness.

Mark McClure
5 months ago

Taylor, I just read your March 9th Street Roots article, All 6 Safe Rest Village sites are confirmed, what’s next?

I thought it was well written. I’d encourage other BP folks to read it. I’m not sure, however, it would be appropriate for us to comment on it here. I see Street Roots allows comments. I’ll leave that to you to inform us.

anonymous
anonymous
3 months ago

Prejudice = pre-judging. A judgement is only as good as the information it is based off. In this context, following accurate information and/or direct prior experience is called “being careful”. Not having access to accurate information or prior experience does not make someone “a bigot”, but having access and choosing an echo chamber instead would surely qualify.

I have been randomly attacked by homeless meth heads before, Im aware the data shows this is unlikely but I listen to my personal experience now when I see tents, and I totally sympathize with other victims. However, I have also been homeless before, I even blocked the sidewalk outside a hospital because I was victim of medical malpractice and literally too weak to move. A lady with a wheelchair gave me hell over it.

When I see tents I am reminded of the people who attacked me, but also reminded of myself, or the homeless computer engineer I met once, or the vietnam veteran who wanted to become a doctor but cant sleep without drugs. Fact is, nobody knows what anyone else is going through. Its possible to pre-emptively feel fear and compassion towards the same person or situation, and to continue feeling both those things throughout the encounter, you dont have to rule out one feeling or the other, or allow either one dominace. Everyone has to strike their own balance, we can only encourage them to supplement their personal experiences with information that is as accurate as possible.

On a side note, did you know that nearly every low-income mental health/addiction service in Oregon is currently full, with a full waiting list? People who want help with addiction can spend hundreds of hours making phone calls and hear the same thing every time: “youre on your own”. This is to be expected when neighboring states decide its cheaper to put people on buses to Portland instead of providing their own social services (a majority of homeless are not from here, including nearly all those who commit felonies). So can we please give the “they dont want help” narrative a rest?

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
2 months ago

Imagine navigating our sidewalks while blind or in a wheelchair. Imagine relying on transit/bike/sidewalk and local parks for recreation because you cannot afford a car…”

Now imagine doing all that while homeless. Imagine feeling unsafe or unwelcome in the limited shelters available. Imagine being refused entry to a shelter because you have pets, or children, or because opposite-sex partners are not allowed. Imagine not being able to transport your limited belongings to and from a shelter each day because of limited mobility or other health problems. Imagine looking for a spot to rest for a few days, only to have all your belongings confiscated and/or destroyed by the city. Imagine being seen as an outcast and an eyesore by everyone you encounter. Imagine someone describing your very existence as an “assault” and applauding barriers meant to keep you out of the public realm.

Amazing what a little imagination can do, isn’t it?