Mayor Wheeler bans street camping along Safe Routes to School routes

(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Summer vacation is coming to an end and the start of school for kids K-12 kids in Portland is just around the corner. In an ostensible effort to help children safely walk, bike and roll to school this upcoming academic year, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler made an emergency declaration to ban unhoused people from camping along city-identified key walking routes to Portland’s K-12 schools.

Since the Portland Bureau of Transportation has identified these routes for more than 100 schools across the city, there are now a lot more places around the city where unhoused Portlanders can’t legally camp. As soon as The Oregonian broke the story yesterday afternoon, some transportation advocates denounced the restriction as needlessly harmful to people experiencing homelessness in Portland and expressed skepticism that it is in fact the best way to help kids get to school safely.

The emergency declaration cites “trash, tents in the right-of-way, biohazards and hypodermic needles” as potentially dangerous hazards preventing school-age children from being able to safely walk, bike and ride buses to and from school. It will “prohibit camping around school buildings and along priority routes to and from schools” and “prioritizes the work of the Impact Reduction Program to post and remove camps in these areas, and enables them to keep these sites free of camping with no right of return.” According to the declaration, this ban is effective immediately and will be in place until the end of August, but may be renewed.

PBOT Safe Routes to School map.

This new camping ban is an addition to an emergency order Wheeler issued in February banning homeless camping along Portland’s ‘high crash corridors,’ which came after the Portland Bureau of Transportation released its 2021 traffic crash report that showed unhoused people in Portland are disproportionately victimized by traffic violence. This declaration was not well-received by local homeless and transportation advocates.

People who have experienced homelessness and advocates point out that when unhoused people are banned from camping in certain areas and their campsites – and all their belongings – are removed, they are often left without a place to go. With this many places throughout the city now on the list of prohibited camping spots, it’s certain a lot of people will be displaced. The declaration states the city will handle this by increasing shelter capacity, but even if there was enough room, not everyone feels comfortable staying in sanctioned shelter locations. Many people will simply start over at other campsites around the city.

“Removing houseless encampments along all school routes is not on the long list of initiatives that would improve safety for children. There are a lot of other ways to care about children’s safety and experience walking to school.”

– Sam Balto, teacher and safe routes to school activist

Though some homeless Portlanders have set up camps along school walking routes around the city, it’s not evident this poses an inherent risk to children walking to and from school, and Wheeler didn’t provide any explicit examples of such a risk in the declaration. Children are very vulnerable to traffic violence, however, and kids have been tragically injured or killed after getting hit by car drivers while walking to school. In 2018 and 2019, two students at Harriet Tubman Middle School were hit and injured by drivers within a few months, and in 2020, an 11-year-old boy was killed by a driver while walking to school in Gresham.

National Safe Routes to School advocates cite traffic danger as the top reasons kids might be unsafe traveling to school via active transportation. They propose transportation infrastructure investments and community education to improve safety.

Portland’s own Safe Routes to School project plan says the top safety concerns for kids walking to school are unsafe crossings, missing sidewalks and traffic speed. The City of Portland used the map of key walking routes provided in this SRTS plan to guide the new camping ban. This map was designed to be an interactive tool for people to find out about SRTS projects throughout the city, however, so it does not serve as a very clear guide for which streets will be off-limits to homeless camps. It’s difficult to navigate the map to find out in complete detail how many of these streets there are around the city or what the network of banned streets will look like.

Sam Balto is a physical education teacher at Alameda Elementary School in northeast Portland who wants kids to be able to safely walk, bike and roll to school. Balto has organized and led “bike buses” – a.k.a., large groups of students and parents riding to school together en masse – to encourage families to ditch the carpool line and get to school by bike. In a statement to BikePortland, Balto said students will be better served by tactics like these than homeless camping bans.

Balto said the city should also increase traffic calming measures and expand existing initiatives – like the School Streets, Walking School Buses and Corner Greeters programs – to help kids use active transportation to get to school. He also wants the city to encourage more community-driven safety efforts like bike buses by compensating parents and community members for their involvement, and said this would “create a more equitable and sustainable student transportation model that would serve students and their families much better than removing houseless individuals.”

“I appreciate Mayor Wheeler wanting to improve the experience of children walking and biking to school, but removing houseless encampments along all school routes is not on the long list of initiatives that would improve safety for children,” Balto wrote in an email. “There are a lot of other ways to care about children’s safety and experience walking to school.”

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Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago

This is a good baby-step. We had a very scary group at the bottom of our street last year, on our most direct route to the neighborhood K-8. Stolen vehicles, weapons, needles, etc. Our kids are young enough that we always walk with them, but we had neighbors that wouldn’t allow their middle-school age kids to walk on this route because of the hazards. They chose to drive them instead, which made it more dangerous for the rest of us still walking to the school. You’re rarely going to “find evidence” that these camps pose a danger to kids, because most of the impacts go unreported, or they get called in but never make it into a report because we don’t have enough police to respond to non-violent crimes in this city.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris I

You are exactly right. Little incidents like a camper throwing something at you or lunging at you aren’t reported but happen regularly. Portland wants to be “progressive” like Utrecht or what have you but the truth is they have more policing, public cameras, laws & enforcement than we do. They don’t have people smoking hard drugs on their public transportation or people camping in city spaces. If we want a safe city with safe drivers and safe public walkways and transportation we need the homeless situation resolved. This is a step and its shocking to me to see pushback, particularly from “transportation activists.”

Serenity
Serenity
1 month ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Why is it shocking to me to see pushback, particularly from transportation activists? Simple bans don’t offer good alternatives.

pigs
pigs
1 month ago
Reply to  Serenity

Yeah, simply removing them from the routes to school will just concentrate homelessness on non “safe routes to school”. What about kids that don’t live on a safe route to school, or has sections of their walk not on that route? Ban camping when you can sweep up a camp and not have them move a couple blocks over, otherwise it is a waste of public money.

maxD
maxD
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris I

Well said Chris I! When my daughter walked to school there was big contingent of neighbors who also walked. When a camp developed under the ped bridge, at least half started driving. A perception of safety is very important to safety- some camps on the sidewalks may not pose a risk, some definitely will (needles and glass at a minimum), but it will push more parents to drive.

Brandon
Brandon
1 month ago

Great news! Kids won’t have to step past used syringes, broken glass, massive piles of human waste and garbage, people screaming, etc. But for some reason the article really tries to convince us that this is a bad thing. Yes, traffic calming measures and infrastructure are probably more important but this is important, as well. Kids might be able to use the sidewalk again instead of walking in the street or crossing streets in unmarked areas to avoid a camp.

Matt
Matt
1 month ago
Reply to  Brandon

This site has a strange love of anarchy.

Rich
Rich
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt

Totally agree. I bike a ton and so do my friends but BikePortland don’t seem to represent most bikers I know. We are all D’s and fairly liberal but their views are extreme.

City-lover
City-lover
1 month ago

Hear hear.

Bryan Morris
Bryan Morris
1 month ago

Good. Now do the same thing for MUPs.

Jack Blashchishen
Jack Blashchishen
1 month ago

I’m uncomfortable that something like this is being done under the auspices of safe routes to school. It’s not something that we SRTS practitioners have ever called for, it’s nowhere in our strategic documents or goals. It is important to have sidewalks that you can actually walk on and to not be forced to walk in the road because there’s a tent or trash taking up the sidewalk, but the danger kids face on their way to school comes from cars, not folks who are living outside. We will see how this unfolds.

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago

As you state, it is important to maintain a safe pedestrian ROW because cars are dangerous. Unless we are going to remove all cars from the city, sidewalk enforcement is needed. This whole thing falls under the “why not both” sentiment. And the city is doing both. They are making SRTS improvements as well.

City-lover
City-lover
1 month ago

When kids have to walk in the street – like I did with my have done to avoid numerous camps, doesn’t that make them vulnerable to cars? Especially at bridge crossings. The bridgehead along NE 28th at 84 is often blocked. FWIW I too was a SRTS practitioner and am the parent of two walking and biking to school teens.

EEE
EEE
1 month ago

Looks like some implicit support there in the strategic documents on pages 25, 26, and 31, as well as the equitable goals. Glad at least the city has decided not to ostrich this.

rick
rick
1 month ago

I’m not sure, but it looks like some of the Portland Pathways might be designated safe routes to school such as parts of both SW 19th Ave and SW 25th Ave.

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
1 month ago

I’m no shrinking violet, and I do walk by the campers on our streets, but I have to be honest I’m on total alert when I do. There have been a handful of times when just about anything could have happened.
I’m 50+ . . . I can’t even fathom being 10 again and feeling safe around some of the unpredictable activity I’ve encountered.
Maybe the Mayor should stop with the political show and open up the tax payer pocket book that has tons of money in it and get temporary/transitional housing going. This whole “housing first” is not helping the campers out there.

Vance Longwell
1 month ago

What is so unsafe about a discarded syringe? Unsightly, yes; shockingly so. The obvious needle prick? Yikes, a submicroscopic incision! Do you think you’re just going to automatically contract some mortal virus? ‘Cause you’re not. Wish I knew the actual number, but far less than a one-in-a-million chance, I assume. Is it the illegality of the thing? Some more esoteric reason I’m unaware of?

Always with the syringes. Ya’know, there are un-housed diabetics, don’t ya?

Didn’t know the Safe Routes to School were broken glass-free prior to there being homeless people near them. But now that there is, seems like an insignificant complaint; and precisely zero evidence of any direct harm to a kid walking to school.

Oh noes! Human waste! Nice nonseqitur. Waste can’t be human, silly. So, piles of dog feces everywhere are okay, but people poop, totally out of the question. Gotcha!

We made homeless people. It stands to reason then that only we can un-make them. Standing in judgement, sticking your nose in other people’s business, allowing resentment to overwhelm reason and sympathy, none of that is solving the problem.

JM – I told you so! There are consequences involved with legislating morality. At issue, your damn school routes thing just got co-opted by the authorities and used as a pretext for jamming-up poor people.

dwk
dwk
1 month ago
Reply to  Vance Longwell

Is this satire?
Who liked it?

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago
Reply to  dwk

It’s satire or drugs. I can’t quite tell.

Vance Longwell
1 month ago
Reply to  dwk

Why do you mock me? Seriously? I really am just curious. It’s okay, I myself was mocking another commenter with this post; or, at least, intending to. I literally can’t tell. Are you mocking me for my poor writing skills? Is it my point? Is it both?

I wasn’t very clear with regard to a position. My bad.

I accept anyone’s position that poor people living in squalor on Portland streets is upsetting, generally speaking. I once shared this position. However, I did get around to one day exploring just exactly what was so upsetting about it, to me. What I discovered is that I was being an illiberal bigot and practicing prejudice based on economic class.

The ocular fluid in my eyeballs boils every time I see a used syringe on the ground. It does. Why? To this day? Jeez, I’ve had tens of thousands of such encounters; and it still twists my nipple. Am I threatened? Well, yes, but only indirectly. Is it the lack of civility, then? Is it the novelty? I react as if somebody just pulled a gun on me but it’s just a stupid needle. Plastic. Inanimate.

In reality, most if what we see is so much inert plastic and completely harmless. Even if there is tissue of some kind, blood or otherwise, in a syringe moments after its contents reached atmospheric temperature it would all be destroyed. Plus, even as prolific as viruses are amongst IV drug users, the vast majority are not currently contracting a virus. Do you see where I’m going? The possibility of actually being injured by a used needle is ridiculously small. Using them as evidence that poor people need consequences is even smaller.

The only thing injured by a discarded syringe, in my case, are my own sensibilities. Same for the poop, the trash, the claims of blocked sidewalks, the squalor yattayatta… In every instance if you task yourself with finding and observing the DIRECT harm being done to you by whatever homeless-debauchery-du jur, you will arrive at the same conclusion I did. It’s all on me. It’s all IN MY head.

I posted on this topic for two reasons. One of which was to float the idea that when one’s conclusions seem so forgone, that that is the most critical time for considering you might be wrong. I am subjected to the same things you all are. I probably like it a lot less than most of you. I have every sympathy for those calling for some level of decency. I’m way more on your side than that of the homeless. I just think that the right thing to do is often counter-intuitive. I also think the right thing to do, most of the time, is to live and let live.

Matt S.
Matt S.
1 month ago
Reply to  Vance Longwell

Have you been to Lake Oswego lately, it’s oddly weird to be around a downtown that isn’t full of trash and homeless. What we’re experiencing isn’t normal and we can’t let it become okay!

Mark in NoPo
Mark in NoPo
1 month ago
Reply to  Vance Longwell

The possibility of actually being injured by a used needle is ridiculously small.

Engaging in unprotected vaginal sex with a Hepatitis B carrier is significantly safer than being punctured by an HBV+ needle.

Regardless of housing status, the people tossing used needles in public spaces deserve a jail cell, not sympathy.

Justin Case
Justin Case
24 days ago
Reply to  Vance Longwell

I’m one of these vilified people camping in one of these rvs on the streets of portland. The situational occurrences that have brought me to this point is a tale of loss and sorrow, it is also none of anyone’s business. I do not use drugs, I do not leave trash on the street and I’m the best kind of neighbor to have if any of you judgmental tv watchers would care to take a closer look. The problem for me is people have been trained to stare out their windows in fear and judgement at literally anything they can. You unhumane people, you homeowners that think you are better than me… the ones that call the city and police any chance the can when never considering that what they are doing could cost someone else so much loss and pain. What it really comes down to sadly is that most people never think for themselves, you all NEVER THOUGHT TO THINK a damn day in your lives from youself, for yourself. It’s easier to be totally programmed and downloaded by the fake media and tv subliminals then to actually think… What we are experiencing is a society that has completely forgotten what it means to be human and is totally backwards. People so disempowered and drone like that they blindly inject their children with a bioweapon that kills them and then get behind a complete facade’ to cause more issues for people with already ruined lives. This is literally terrorism on poor people under the guise of protecting children…. You want to protect your children then don’t let them go to these indoctrination camps disguised as schools.. how about taking your attention away from the tv programming and realizing you have been plunged into an apathetic daze of fear and hatred your entire life. How about putting down the blind beliefs that keep you from realizing the truth and not seeing the beauty that this life truly is. I try to have faith that people will start thinking about the underline motivations in what they are sold all day that make them this way but haven’t seen any clarity in just about anyone for a long long time. If you take off the blinders and look closer you would realize very quickly that the powers that believe they be have taken mind control to a fine art form, systems of mind control thoroughly stacked on top of each other almost flawlessly.. this homeless issue is the result of the loss of self in everyone of us and charades like this new policy just cause more pain, fear and hatred.. This issue isn’t even on the list of things proposed to help children’s safety by the DOT. All of you that buy into this have been fooled… Shame on you for being manipulated into not having the courage to fight for what’s right and damn you for not having the mental strength to see any of this for what it really is. I’m quite sure that if my opinion here isn’t censored then it will be met with arrogance and toxicity from blind people stuck in fear based mind control, terminally apathetic as they cut other’s down feeling that they are doing the right thing.. Like I said, backwards, completely backwards… There are only two choices for every moment of life and then everything after transpires from that, it’s either fear or love… I choose love every time I consciously can, if we all did that we could change the world in a day.
This new legislation really is hurting people under the guise of imaginary heart strings, it is using the false reasoning towards children’s safety to inflict terrorism people that are already discriminated on.
That is the obvious truth if you have eyes enough to see it.

I am another yourself ….

Justin Case
Justin Case
24 days ago
Reply to  Justin Case

I understand there are a couple typos in my comment … I figure that makes me a real person that isn’t perfect … I accept that.. I don’t feel bad about it and the typos in my comment does not change the truths I bring to light.
Just had to add that,
Love life 😉

Chopwatch
Chopwatch
1 month ago
Reply to  Vance Longwell

Well, you could certain propose a pilot study which re-direct illegally discarded drug users’ syringes which often contain a column of visible blood in the syringe body into the grassy area where children are known to play *** Moderator: deleted phrase, divisive *** and see if needle sticks from the study results in an infection

Matt S.
Matt S.
1 month ago
Reply to  Vance Longwell

Doesn’t matter what’s in the needle, if you get pricked you have to go to the hospital and get a battery of tests done. I suppose you could take the needle too and they could analyze the blood and see if there’s any concern. I’m not really how it works. I’ve known people who’ve been pricked and they had to go on a cocktail of drugs and be tested ever so often.

Mark In NoPo
Mark In NoPo
1 month ago
Reply to  Vance Longwell

The assertion that needle sticks aren’t dangerous is misinformation. You assert that the danger is “one in a million,” but research indicates that a needle with HIV has better than a 1 in 500 chance of causing an HIV infection. Hepatitis? More than 1 in 3, according to one estimate.

The inconvenience of this reality to your political leanings doesn’t make it untrue. And unlike so many instances of wishful thinking, telling people not to take an accidental needle stick seriously could truly hurt someone.

Norman
Norman
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark In NoPo

Agreed. Minimizing the risk of coming in contact with used needles is dangerous misinformation. The same with human feces. The fact that we’re talking about this in the context of children walking to school says a lot about the nature of the debate about homelessness in this city. 

Matt
Matt
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark In NoPo

it’s pretty awful this site allows that type of misinformation to be posted.

dwk
dwk
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt

See Vance Longwell accusing people of sex trafficking and they print it.
But if you are “rude” to people they wont print it….

Lisa Caballero (Southwest Correspondent)
Editor
Reply to  dwk

Dwk, Vance did not accuse a specific person of prostitution. Prostitution happens at some camps, and some women do it to pay for drugs. File that under common knowledge.

I thought that paragraph was sexist, because it was stereotypical. But I kept it because I think it is good to know who’s out there and how they think.

What gets you moderated is that you frequently fall into name-calling. It’s not ok to call another commenter a name, or disparage their neighborhood, or neighbors …

Lisa Caballero (Southwest Correspondent)
Editor
Reply to  Matt

Matt,

This was a tough weekend to moderate comments. I kept Vance’s comment because it seemed authentic, and I think it is important to hear from all voices, it informs the reader.

Regarding the infection-rate of pricks from spent needles, believe me, I thought about pulling that, but, here’s the thing, I’m not sure he is wrong.

Mark in NoPo didn’t cite a reference, but my guess is that his stats are about sharing fresh, used syringes when injecting recreational drugs. I don’t know how long a blood-borne virus, or retro-virus, can stay infectious in the open, at room temperature. Most biologic samples are kept refrigerated for a reason, they denature at room temperature. So I don’t know. Are you a virologist?

But look, spent syringes and feces are considered bio-hazards, there are rules about how to dispose of them. Plus they are gross. Is there really a BP reader who is going to read an anonymous commenter and think it is OK to send their kid out to play among the needles?

Norman
Norman
1 month ago

Vance wasn’t the only commenter who downplayed the risk of used needles and even the article’s author framed walking past a homeless camp as causing discomfort first and a risk to physical health second.

I think a reader could easily come away with reading this thread and thinking that used needles are less of a risk then previously supposed. And that could affect what precautions they might take.

Lisa Caballero (Southwest Correspondent)
Editor
Reply to  Norman

Thank you Norman. I’ll pass it on to Jonathan.

Norman
Norman
1 month ago

Taylor, Are you saying that a child is no more likely to encounter a used needle walking by a homeless camp than say a neighbor’s front yard?

dwk
dwk
1 month ago

You printed a post from Vance Longwell that basically said the campers are all meth heads for sex workers….
Which is it?

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin
Reply to  dwk

dwk,
You need to treat other people better if you want to keep posting here. I give you a very long leash, please don’t abuse it. Keep in mind that we have three comment moderators. I am on duty weekdays and then Lisa Caballero does most of the weekends. Taylor fills in when we need it. Also, as you should very well know, we treat comments much differently than our stories. That is, my goal is to make this as open of a forum as possible while also being as welcoming as many people as possible. I will re-read Vance’s comment and consider moderation but I trust that Lisa and/or Taylor did the right thing (I have been gone all weekend in the wilderness). If you have a specific problem with a comment, you tell us the passage/comment and we take a look. I will not tolerate any form of badgering or mistreatment of others — especially BikePortland team members.

Your right to comment here is privilege. Don’t abuse it.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

Encampment does not equal used needles or dangerous people.

This is true in theory, but in practice it often does.

If the city made a commitment to remove camps where biohazards, threatening behavior, or criminality were present, it would be easier for the public to distinguish “clean camps” from ones who had occupants that created danger.

The real problem is the tolerance some of us have developed toward antisocial and violent behavior among those camping on the street, much of it directed at other homeless folks.

Tim
Tim
1 month ago

58% percent of on street campers self report a drug addiction. Is that safer than walking down the street in my neighborhood? Nope. That’s just a laughably silly statement to make.

Antelope
Antelope
1 month ago

What a concept, that the public right of ways should remain public instead of being claimed by insane drug addicts. Next, enact this for every pedestrian route, for all ages.
In other words, start managing the city again.
Assuming our mad-max experiment with anarchistic psuedo compassion has run its course?
We just cleared our North Portland park of a ghost RV squatter caravan….3 vehicles with no plates and not roadworthy, “owned” by one dude who appeared to be storing stolen goods in them and God knows what. He left a pile of burning trash when he moved camp to avoid being towed.

Justin Case
Justin Case
24 days ago
Reply to  Antelope

I would suggest you are fabricating and at the very least exaggerating…
How do you know for certain what you claim to know? Sounds like a bunch of spite filled delusions thrown from an angry blind person sitting on a pedestal..
But that’s just if you ask me 😉

Todd/Boulanger
Todd/Boulanger
1 month ago

Yes, this is an interesting emergency policy initiative to support more children walking (and cycling) to school [and back home] and safer. If it is concurrent with supplemental traffic safety capital investments AND traffic enforcement then we can judge it as such. BUT if those are not concurrent then we will be left to say it was not for the kids, but to restrict houseless camping to fewer areas.

The other safety concern – for kids-as-pedestrians – along many camps along side and in sidewalks would be protective dogs that scare even me as I weave between tents and public storage of personal property.

Plus Mayor Wheeler’s emergency rule also misses the topic of fulfilling the ADA access to public sidewalks…

Todd/Boulanger
Todd/Boulanger
1 month ago

Its been awhile…so I thought I would see what a ‘new’ parent-with-child attending Boise-Eliot ES [a prewar neighborhood with lots of sidewalks] would have to do to find information on-line to walk to school…sadly in 2022 (vs 2010) its still much easier to find out how to be bused to this school versus walk. [There is a tab on the school’s home page for buses.] So I went to the PPS to see and again the same (a overt tab for buses, and walking to school is buried deeper in the index). Plus there is a distinct hierarchy: Busing / Transportation is a “service” with its own “department”. But walking is not included under “transportation” and not even a link to “other”. Walking nor Safe Routes to School can be found…assuming you look for it as a word search and had not given up by then. I the found the City’s SR2S project GIS maps very helpful BUT these were in a different silo sadly….and I only knew of them due to this BP article.
https://www.pps.net/boiseeliot
https://www.pps.net/Domain/61

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Todd/Boulanger

To be fair, it is easier to figure out a good walking route on your own than to figure out how the ever-changing school bus system works.

Todd/Boulanger
Todd/Boulanger
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Watts, point taken…but that seems to be race to the bottom…where parents and guardians just decide to chauffeur their kids to school.

[Back when I was with the City of Vancouver, we would be called out to do roadway safety audits of non-major arterial school zones and typically the traffic safety behaviour threat to other students were the very parents dropping off/ picking up classmates.]

ivan
ivan
1 month ago

There’s a dehumanizing assumption underlying this declaration — that houseless people are inherently dangerous, and that moving houseless people to other locations will reduce that danger — that seems to be unexamined here.

Where is the mayor’s evidence that houseless folks are disproportionately dangerous (anecdote ≠ data) — and deserve to be treated as collectively guilty of this as a result? And even if there is evidence of this, where is the evidence that moving them from one place to another will reduce overall levels of danger?

(I agree that sidewalks around schools should be free of waste and refuse, and support increasing garbage and street-cleaning services. If financing such services is an issue, PBA seems particularly interested in addressing it so let’s call them first.)

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  ivan

A homeless man threw a bottle that missed my wife’s head by inches. Homeless people have thrown stuff at me, and I was almost mauled by a German shepherd guarding a tent. Hundreds of Portlanders have experienced this kind of dangerous behavior, so spare us your “Where’s your data” demand. If any city agency cared enough to collect the data on dangerous behavior by homeless people, you would have more data than you could deal with.

dwk
dwk
1 month ago
Reply to  ivan

Houseless people comprise 50% of all arrests Portland. 50%….. A very safe population to have around children.
Not anecdotal by any means.

NM
NM
1 month ago
Reply to  dwk

Here’s some additional info on that stat that folks are loving:

“Most commonly, they’re arrested on what we call procedural charges. These are warrants or say, a supervision violation related to previous arrests. The other charges are most commonly what we call crimes against society. That’s what the FBI calls them as opposed to violent crime where the victim is a person or property crime where it’s a car theft or burglary for example, although, theft is among the more common charges as well, but by far the most common is on warrants alone. So not a new crime.”

“In more than 40% of the arrests of unhoused people in Portland, the only purpose was to execute a warrant, most often for failing to show up for a court hearing.”

More with the researcher who looked at all West Coast cities:

“Miller: What did you find when you looked into the data about violent offenses among people who were homeless when they were arrested?
Lewis: I found that consistently, in every city, unhoused people were much less likely to be arrested on a charge that included a violent charge, that is to say, what what the FBI calls ‘violent,’ and I was even conservative and included a couple of charges that the you know, strictly that Uniform Crime Report they always publish, doesn’t include, included robbery, and what’s interesting is Portland is actually, Portland and San Diego had just a very low rate of violent charges in general. About one in five arrests of everybody made in both San Diego and Portland included a violent charge as opposed to more than one in three, for, like LA, Oakland, Sacramento.”

https://www.opb.org/article/2022/07/06/data-show-about-half-of-portland-police-arrests-are-people-who-are-unhoused/#:~:text=About%2050%25%20of%20the%20arrests,violation%20related%20to%20previous%20arrests.

https://revealnews.org/article/homeless-unhoused-police-arrests-west-coast-cities/?utm_source=reveal-twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=criminalizing-homelessness

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago
Reply to  ivan

https://pdxscholar.library.pdx.edu/open_access_etds/5561/

Results indicated that crime was 2.9 times more concentrated within this area, as compared to the city.

https://www.rstreet.org/2019/06/21/no-home-when-you-get-out/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwjIKYBhC6ARIsAGEds-J5StPa9LPaYCw9E1HXeEudbcqPmrQTEtwhtaiN08t7xMnnnl36VNQaAlZdEALw_wcB

Regrettably, formerly incarcerated people are almost 10 times more likely to be homeless than the general public. And the number of justice-involved individuals who experience housing insecurity (a measure that includes those living in marginal housing, e.g. hotels) is nearly three times that. The problem is worse in large, urban areas. In New York City, for example, more than 54 percent of people released from prison moved straight into the city’s shelter system in 2017.

NM
NM
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris I

From the first research article linked, this is the opening statement making it clear the crime rate analysis was about how likely the homeless people themselves are to be victims of crime: “Those experiencing homelessness face several challenges in contemporary society including a higher risk of victimization compared to the general population. In order to offer effective intervention to protect members of this population, understanding the spatial relationship between homeless camps and crime is imperative”

Your second article is about how our criminal justice system fuels the homelessness crisis. Once someone is a felon they have immense barriers to accessing housing, employment, student loans, you name it. This article should be encouraging you to promote removing barriers so folks can get into housing instead of falling into homelessness after jail! But no, you’re trying to make it look like data tells us that homeless folks are scary felons that we should be scared of. Look at this quote from the second article you chose not to include: “Those who have recently left the incarceration system face enough challenges. Housing doesn’t need to be one of them. Policymakers have plenty of tools to create an ample supply of low-cost housing for vulnerable populations. But doing so has political costs.”

Clearly the political challenges are great, as the commenters here make it clear that slapdash and ineffective policy like what the mayor just put out is what they’d prefer to see over real solutions.

Rob W
Rob W
1 month ago

Homeless law applied in the City of Portland has several adjacent, overlapping, and interacting parts. Few people understand them, they are widely misinterpreted, and our press is not informing the public.

The City of Portland can ban tent and vehicle camping and subsequently move campers. Under HB3115 championed by Speaker Kotek, any city or county can create “objectively reasonable” camping bans.

The mayor is simply using existing PBOT maps, the high crash, and the safe routes, to satisfy HB3115.

Using the maps for that is not limited legally in this case by their original intent, historic intent, or the need for additional resources for those safety programs.

It is the responsibility of Multnomah County to provide campers County beds with services. Multnomah County has about $110 million new money per year from the Metro Supportive Housing levy in addition to another about $110 million existing money per year for non-campers and other programs. There is enough money for Multnomah County to bring every camper in.

Chopwatch
Chopwatch
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob W

Can enforce with no obligations to enforce. Just have a look in the Central Eastside. PBOT’s Dylan Rivera contended that anyone who overstays a time limit can be expected to be cited. The thing is that they can cite but unless they add a language creating obligations, the special police officers (PBOT meter maids) and PBOT parking enforcement managers will swing their enforcement at their whim to avoid enforcing it in certain impacted areas. I suspect the underlying reason for non-enforcement in Lloyd, Sullivan’s Gulch, Hosford-Abernethy is so that campers do not move along to streets that are less restrictive (do not have hour duration limits or permit requirements) but family oriented and much wealthier like Irvington and Alameda.

Matt
Matt
1 month ago

Good! This needed to happen.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago

This line stood out for me: “there are now a lot more places around the city where unhoused Portlanders can’t legally camp.”

There really shouldn’t be any “legal” camping on any public right-of-way – only in city-sanctioned safe areas, which the city can’t seem to create. Instead they seem to prefer camping everywhere. It’s such a depressing situation and just emphasizes how inept Portland’s city gov’t is. Other cities manage the problem so much better.

Vance Longwell
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

What’s the difference between a poor person pitching a tent on a sidewalk and a restaurateur bolting a six-person booth to it?

“Camping” can be defined neither legally nor empirically. To do so is to anthropomorphize the word. Stop pretending it can be. Same for a host of other words meant to pigeonhole a bunch of poor people into a subgroup.

Besides in what ways do YOU hog up public spaces? Since you’re a good enough citizen to cast aspersions? Got a dog? A baby stroller the size of a Subaru? Are you riding around on an e scooter? Do you loiter in front of your apartment building smoking cigarettes? You can’t even say false equivalence ‘Cause you can’t even define most of it.

I know the homeless thing sucks. I do urge you to consider alternatives to concentration camps, though. Bad history there.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

“just emphasizes how inept Portland’s city gov’t is.”

Will 13 district-based proportionately elected representatives be inherently more equipped to deal with this challenge that four citywide representatives?

Dubs
1 month ago

The Peninsula Crossing Trail needs to be included in this as it is one of the only ways to walk to Roosevelt HS.

Dwk
Dwk
1 month ago

You think the problem is overstated in Portland?
Mr. Balto teaches at Alameda elementary. If all the neighborhoods were like the one around that school I would agree with you.
They are not by any means.
Anyway, Wheeler and the city won’t follow through so you won’t have to worry.
The homeless folks can continue to sleep in mud and garbage, we don’t want break up the communities they have formed.
Your compassion is noted.

NM
NM
1 month ago
Reply to  Dwk

Thanks for this, Taylor. I appreciate your additional context of the fact that shifting people around from place to place does little to address actually helping folks off the streets and into permanent housing which I think most would agree is a preferred solution than just moving folks to the next street over.

You’re right Dwk, not all schools are like Alameda, but that’s a poor assessment of why Sam shared critique of this strategy. There are no report injuries/deaths of kids by houseless individuals but a kid was seriously injured just last week biking across Powell Blvd and we didn’t hear a peep from the Mayor about that. With zero data an entire citywide policy was enacted using maps and analysis that was meant to improve traffic safety for kids, the real threat backed up by plenty of data. I understand that folks have felt threatened and I do not demean that as a scary experience, but kids are literally killed by cars and we haven’t seen our mayor take an inch of action on that.

The main busy road in front of the school near me is a ‘primary investment route’ on this map. A month ago a moving truck and a family showed up on this street and have been parked there while they clearly are figuring out what to do next after some sort of eviction, they have all their household items in a trailer now and are sleeping in the car. Two adults and two kids. I guess that family might be ‘swept’ under this rule because they are a danger to the kids at the school up the street, which might even be where the kids sleeping in their car also go to school. Where would their stuff go if they were forced into a shelter? Would their kids be able to get to school when it starts next week? What if they are one week away from a housing situation finally panning out and instead their stuff goes into some unknown storage location across town and they’re told to stay at a shelter somewhere else. I do wish the city had the right systems in place to help this family because they shouldn’t be sleeping on the streets but an automatic sweep because of your location near a school is clearly not going to help their situation, and framing them, via this blanket policy, as a threat to kids is just hurtful. Your compassion is noted as well.

dwk
dwk
1 month ago
Reply to  NM

If I had a family living on the street in front of my house I would write them a check and contact authorities who would certainly help out a family of 4 in this circumstance.
I have no idea what the purpose of your post is, I am not the person who thinks people living in tents should STAY in the their tents.
They should be off the streets in drug treatment , temporary housing (City owned Parking garages would be a starting point), or permanent housing in a case like the family who is in the street in front of your house.
I am not a supporter of the status quo, I think it sucks for everyone.

NM
NM
1 month ago
Reply to  dwk

But you support sweeps based on location, which does not guarantee any of those things? Folks from the city have been out to talk to this family, but based on this new policy the folks coming from the city would now be hauling their stuff out and handing them a list of shelters to contact.

dwk
dwk
1 month ago
Reply to  NM

Because a shelter for a family would be a lot worse than sleeping on the street?
*** Moderator: deleted last two sentences ***

NM
NM
1 month ago
Reply to  dwk

The only point I’m trying to make is that this policy assumes they are a threat to kids bc of their location and prescribes one solution: sweeps. They are not blocking sidewalks or leaving needles or trash that kids have to walk around, they just happen to be on a street on this map. It 1) doesn’t solve the perceived threat and 2) causes potential trauma for folks like this family and many others.

dwk
dwk
1 month ago
Reply to  NM

No, you cherry picked One family that needs help that you and your neighbors will not do apparently *** Moderator: deleted phrase ***
Give me the street location and I will go and help them out. I am serious.

dwk
dwk
1 month ago

126 homeless people died last year on the streets.
You sound heartless. No answers, no solutions. Leave them in their tents.
Pathetic.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

A third option exists beyond living in tents and moving from place to place. Indoor shelters can provide refuge from the elements, a mailing address, and a more straightforward entree to the various social services folks need to get back on their feet.

I fully realize that some people don’t want to “get back on their feet”, but that doesn’t make camping on the street and acceptable alternative.

Mark in NoPo
Mark in NoPo
1 month ago

The “advocates” pou-pouing the safety concerns of parents must not want to retain what remains of their credibility.

Matt
Matt
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark in NoPo

Too much money pouring into the homeless industrial complex. They can sit back and decry the “high cost of rent”, while they make the money and city continues to decline.

NM
NM
1 month ago

Absolutely, a citywide trash cleanup effort on priority routes would make a ton of sense. It’s likely, like you said in your previous comment, that houseless folks would also want that to happen and support that effort. It’s also possible that trained folks (like Portland Street Response?) could go talk to campers along each of these routes over the next two weeks and connect with them resources and let them know that school is about to start so there is going to be increased foot traffic. Seems like there are a TON of potential efforts we could do to address concerns and safety for families and houseless folks, without continuing the sweep policies that clearly don’t solve the problem and cause additional trauma.

dwk
dwk
1 month ago
Reply to  NM

I have cleaned up homeless camps, have you?
Do you want to go into the camps and chat with them about resources?
Hilarious….

NM
NM
1 month ago
Reply to  dwk

Notice I said ‘trained folks, like PSR’. Good ‘gotcha’ attempt. There are such bad faith arguments here that zero solutions are being proposed but then this kind of response when solutions even start being talked about that aren’t just sweeps. If y’all don’t want anyone to get creative and think only mass city sweeps are gonna solve our houseless crisis I don’t know what to tell you bc in two weeks I guarantee you’re not gonna see this issue magically disappear.

amt
amt
1 month ago

You seem to be confusing the City and County’s responsibilities. The COUNTY is responsible for providing shelter, social services and mental health care. The CITY is responsible for ensuring access to the right of way. The CITY is actually doing what it can while the county is limiting these services in favor of glacial housing first policies

Dubs
1 month ago

I would challenge your statement that the homeless don’t want our sidewalks to be littered with trash. I have witnessed campers with ample room to set up set-back from a sidewalk or path and yet set up on, in, or over the right of way. I am sure that there are those who are homeless who might consider other users in the spaces they inhabit, however, an understood combination of depression, mental health, and possible drug addiction keeps these persons from seeing their own humanity let alone others. I would wager you don’t bike way out by 205 or in some areas I ride. I can tell you it is as bad if not worse than you have seen/ experienced.

cc_rider
cc_rider
1 month ago

It should be pointed out that nobody – including homeless people themselves – want our sidewalks and paths to be littered with trash.

Uh…maybe they could start by not throwing trash all over the sidewalks and paths?

There need to be long-term solutions, and bans like this make it increasingly difficult to implement those.

Portland cannot afford to house the nations drug-addicted homeless population. There is no ‘long-term’ solution that is actually viable. We are attracting people with severe drug addiction issues to our cities, specifically because they can live on the street here and do drugs to their hearts content. Our policy of inaction is making the problem worse, not better.

t the very least, people ought not accept these crumbs as meaningful work to help kids walking and biking to school. It says something that people involved in this work on a daily basis, like Sam Balto, have criticisms.

Do you have kids? Know any kids? Most people aren’t people aren’t going to let their kids walk a route that includes a shooting gallery and involves stepping over human feces and uncapped needles. This is an actual solution to an actual problem.

People who “do the work” in Portland tend to also all be very invested in maintaining the status quo. Sam Balto isn’t an expert on anything, so we don’t need to listen to Sam on this.

Steve
Steve
1 month ago

If you seriously believe this, try pedaling the Peninsula Crossing trail some time. the porta-potty is repeatedly vandalized and garbage is simply thrown over the embankment. To represent that these “residents” actually care is contradicted by their behavior.

Chopwatch
Chopwatch
1 month ago

What does it mean in the real world when Wheeler bans something? I’m quite aware something will be added into City Council proceedings and documents will be churned saying so just as when he banned camping along busy roads. Some new camps popped up in areas covered under that restriction and I didn’t see police immediately removing them.

I’m quite concerned this ban will infinitely flex enforcement discretion to swiftly clear houseless campers from the vicinity of politically powerful *** Moderator: deleted long list of adjectives. Divisive, insulting. *** communit[ies].

amt
amt
1 month ago
Reply to  Chopwatch

It means that everything else being equivalent, a problematic camp on a designated ‘safe route to school’ street will be cleared/cleaned before a camp outside the designation.

Sigma
Sigma
1 month ago

I take a tremendous amount of satisfaction in how badly Bike Portland gets ratio’ed in the comments on these articles.

Why don’t you interview a parent, Taylor? Does your Rolodex include anything other than a small group of objectively pro-homelessness “activists?”

It gives me hope knowing that the people who support the status quo are a very, very tiny minority. I have long been frustrated that our response to this issue is governed by politicians’ fear that these people will be mean to them on Twitter. It seems that Ted Wheeler is out of f@&$s to give, finally.

dwk
dwk
1 month ago
Reply to  Sigma

Actually Wheeler is probably getting sick of Tina Kotek’s phone calls….
This issue is going to give us Christine Drazen as governor when Johnson and Kotek split the vote and the MAGA crowd wins with 40%.
Thanks Ted.

City-lover
City-lover
1 month ago

I don’t know how many times you want people to say it, but forcing kids and other people to walk in the street because a campsite is taking up the whole damn sidewalk makes all pedestrians and campers vulnerable to cars, something you say you want to avoid. I along with two elderly folks had to walk along Sandy Blvd for 100’ because a camp overflowing with trash (which I guess they didn’t want there but how do you really know there’s an awareness or desire to keep the streets garbage free) blocked the entire sidewalk next to the Zipper. I was walking to the dentist with my kids. I’m not sure this blog is fit anymore for the mantle of Bike Portland. These answers are just so off the mark.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
1 month ago

A lot of homeless campers have personality disorders which is part of why then end up without much support. It sounds cynical but a lot of what they will tell you isn’t actually representative of the truth.

Matt S.
Matt S.
1 month ago
Reply to  City-lover

I don’t live too far from the WINCO on 82nd and Powell. I should be able to cut through a nice little forested area between 79th and 80th near Taggart street and then walk down 79th to the grocery store, but I can’t (I used to be able too). About a block from WINCO you begin to encounter zombie RVs, needles on the ground and blocked sidewalks with tents full of trash. So I drive. It’s safer to walk along 82nd than through a neighborhood. Think about that for a second, it’s safer to walk along an orphaned highway than a neighborhood. It’s baffling to me. When I do walk down 82nd, at least I get to high five the sex workers… Gosh I love this city!

X
X
1 month ago
Reply to  Sigma

Ratios?

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsr1804754

In the face of that I have a hard time giving any * about camping in Portland. IDK, maybe some of the death rigs are being driven by people with no fixed address.

I am not a parent but I am an uncle five times, great-uncle once. All of those young people have pretty good prospects except for growing up in a physical environment where the sky can basically fall on them at any time, in any place.

The 2021 June heat dome killed 72 people in Multnomah County alone. Zero died from needle sticks. There’s a ratio for you. But ok, let’s worry about needles on the ground.

Matt S.
Matt S.
1 month ago
Reply to  X

Maybe accidental needle sticks on the ground, but many die every year from needle sticks in the arm.

X
X
1 month ago

The mayor has at least two recent initiatives to ban camping in certain areas: on high traffic streets and on Safe Routes to School which I will paraphrase as ‘everyplace else’. No doubt this is politically popular. It’s also a rationale for shifting anyone who is in the way.

As a human being I’m not proud of the squalid scenes you can find in Portland but I have to acknowledge the will to survive that people show even in the worst conditions.

I’ve been sketched out by stuff I’ve seen in particular parts of town but the actual danger isn’t even close to what I’ve experienced from the Routine Operation of Motor Vehicles.

Times I’ve been knocked down by MV: 4
Times I’ve been knocked down by HP: 0

Your mileage may vary.

City-lover
City-lover
1 month ago
Reply to  X

What about times you’ve had to walk Into a busy street to avoid a camp? Each of those is a risk. Times I or my kids have been verbally assaulted and threatened in our neighborhood by a camper? Too many to list.

X
X
1 month ago
Reply to  City-lover

Those verbal assaults are not OK, not what I would want or expect in a civil society. They are a symptom of problems we need to solve.

On the other hand, a transportation system that kills people daily as part of its expected normal operation is an outrage. Your issue seems to be around kids, your children. The biggest risk to kids, their leading cause of death, is in car crashes.

Only guns even come close. Car use is a greater hazard to kids than the machines that are actually designed to kill stuff.

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
1 month ago
Reply to  X

I guess according to you, since arsenic isn’t a big killer of children, we should just let them play with it or have easy access.
Yes, cars kill, but does that mean we have to ignore other dangers?

City-lover
City-lover
1 month ago
Reply to  X

Right- cars. We are all more vulnerable to cars when we have/choose to walk into the street to avoid an obstacle that is/feels unsafe to us.

rick
rick
1 month ago

I’m not sure, but it looks like some of the Portland Pathways might be designated safe routes to school such as parts of both SW 19th Ave and SW 25th Ave.

Brian
Brian
1 month ago

If you can ban part of it, ban ALL of it.

Vance Longwell
1 month ago

To the author,

I am sorry to hijack a transport issue and go all off topic-like. I wanted to comment on some of yours.

I’ve got thousands of hours in volunteering in area indigent services programs over the last ten years. Churches mostly but secular programs as well. I’ve got almost 6000 hours in at St Francis Dining Hall, alone. Now defunct anybody working in indigent services will tell you, that was ground zero for the whole short eastide homeless population for three decades.

I don’t mention my volunteering as a way of bragging. I didn’t volunteer because I’m a nice guy, or even a good person. I volunteered out of sheer self-interest. You see, I am homeless. Have been for 30 years. I’ve lived on the streets nearly 15 years. I found, early on, volunteering at the places I took meals and services afforded me extra benefits there.

I still learned stuff.

One of the toughest lessons I learned was to stop regarding homeless people as ‘other’. Super, super hard. They seem so incredibley different. I mention this because I can easily infer from your comments in this thread that you want to help them. I ask you, as I once asked myself, why?

Did anybody ask you for your help? Have you ever considered that the tacit assumption of need is a de facto ( “…inherent…” is contextually anchored in mathematics; and most of us are not smart enough to use it correctly as a metaphor. Just sayin’) assumption of inferiority? Would you be surprised to learn some homeless people are deeply offended by this assumption?

I get you. It seems unimaginable a human being lives in squalor by design. I understand and respect your desire to help. But I urge you to remember that these are human beings. Egos fully intact. They are just exactly like anyone else. I urge you to consider your own desire to help just might be an unconscious desire to address a perceived threat. Putting people in sub-groups, even if your criteria is a perceived need, is a slippery slope.

Homeless people call their housed opposition, ‘normies’. Normie men of low stature often predate homeless women. It’s presumed they’re all affordable prostitutes or something. In the mind of such an individual their cruddy apartment, their filthy but working shower, the six pack of beer and dime bag of meth, are all that’s needed to turn a homeless woman into a willing sex slave.

Heheh.

What this normie bro don’t know is that that same homeless gal can hang out for ten minutes in front of an adult book store and ride to a luxury Westside condo in a Cadillac Escalade EXT. Once there she can command thousands of dollars to expose her dirty feet for some pictures. Le fetish! Point being, appearances can be deceiving. And when normie bro comes at a street girl like that, let me tell you, he’s the one that’s gonna need the help.

Look, homeless people arent stupid. They know how and where to get services. Did you ever ask yourself ‘why make such a spectacle of yourself?’ The carts, the tents, the squalor, the bad behavior? You want to believe they can’t help it, don’t you? Well, A. Most are gratified by the notion of offending normies, and B. It’s all a great big, gigantic, plus size, enormous, sign reading: Give me money for methamphetamine! Plain and simple. Works like a charm, too. Especially on normies hell-bent on ‘helping’…

I personally know people out here having the time of their lives. Trust me. There are also people on the streets who want and need help. Just like us. The biggest difference between the two, is the ones whom actually want and need the help usually have zero problem finding it. Moreover, they’ll usually bug the heck out of somebody until they get it.

What you are seeing on the street is an orgy of methamphetamine and heroin induced debauchery, fueled by proceeds first from SSI payments, second by SSDI/SSD and/or legit SSR benefits, third by the TANF and SNAP programs, fourth by proceeds from sex trafficking, fifth by proceeds from property crimes, and sixth by pay-to-recycle programs; like beverage containers and CAT converters, and automobile batteries. Does anybody know that about a third to half of these folks get an SSI check?

There is no…one…to…help…!

Dwk
Dwk
1 month ago
Reply to  Vance Longwell

SSI is not easy to get… Do they get their checks at their mailbox?
I also think that accusing homeless people of sex trafficking is a pretty serious allegation to print…

dwk
dwk
1 month ago
Reply to  Dwk

If I disparaged people like Vance just did, you would never print it.
Your standards are ridiculous.

Gui
Gui
1 month ago

Thank you, Mayor Wheeler. The tone of this article versus the comments really shows the disconnect between the lived experience of Portlanders and those who live in a Twitter thread version of pseudo-reality about the social issues facing the city.

Matthew in PDX
Matthew in PDX
1 month ago

Unless the Mayor is proposing to actively enforce the ban, it’s only words. The Safe Routes to School observation that traffic speed, unsafe crosswalks and missing sidewalks are the biggest dangers is likely correct. However, there is next to no traffic enforcement in Portland, so why do we think that there is going to be any enforcement of a camping ban?

Addressing homelessness is a long term, labor intensive and expensive issue. Anyone, including the current candidates for Governor, who say that resolving homelessness is quick and easy are either lying or deluded.

Nameless
Nameless
1 month ago

Every day this insane drug camping problem is allowed to persist it another day the city dies a little more.
There are plenty of beds.
There’s plenty of money.

But like any good addict they don’t wanna go to rehab. And the majority of Portland would rather enable their self destructive behavior than enforce some semblance of law and order lest they be labeled “conservative”. It’s clear that good liberals (I include myself) can be just as guilty of dogma and groupthink as the best MAGAs.

I applaud the mayor but this is a dumb pretext for for something patently obvious: laws apply to all people and all should be expected to follow them. No carveouts for rich or for poor.

City-lover
City-lover
1 month ago

This might sound self pitying but this article makes me feel like BP doesn’t have our backs anymore. I always felt as a parent, a bike rider, an advocate, a bike and ped planner, BP had our backs, helping us raise bike lovers, and future bike and ped advocates who would carry the torch. But BP’s message has become diluted for me. Apologists for hepatitis needles, mobility obstruction, minimizing the real and scary experiences especially those of us who live near the Central east side who are impacted by drug related violent conditions on the daily, trying to raise kids who aren’t afraid and who can find joy getting on our bikes. And maybe that’s okay because BP now has a bigger broader view and more interests. But they don’t reflect me and the certainly don’t make me feel like BP has my or my kids’ back.

Norman
Norman
1 month ago
Reply to  City-lover

BP is one of many organizations and institutions that have strayed from their core values and mission to focus more on social justice issues. Unfortunately, many of the people leading this change are highly ideological and not open minded in how they approach these important problems. Their ideas have not been effective. They are hurting the people they say they are trying to help. Meanwhile the organizations that have bought into this have become diluted and less effective in what they do.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin
Reply to  Norman

Hi Norman and City-lover,

You are correct. BP has changed a lot over the years. That’s because I have changed! And as publisher/editor/owner of this site, I want it to reflect my core values and principles to the extent it’s appropriate to do so. If you think caring about “social justice issues” is a bad thing then I get we’ll just have to disagree strongly about that! Social justice is THE issue. I think a more fair and just society should be everyone’s goal. If that makes me a radical or whatever, so be it.

many of the people leading this change are highly ideological and not open minded in how they approach these important problems.

I totally agree with this! I would strongly encourage you to not make broad brushed assumptions about people or think that everyone fits into big convenient buckets of thought. People think all types of different stuff about everything on all sides of all debates. It’s a messy and weird world and I think the way we make progress and continue to respect each other is to embrace this and not fall into the lazy trap of labeling and stereotyping people.

And I also disagree with “their ideas have not been effective”. Do you realize how massive the problems are that some of these “social justice issues” people are trying to fix? Homelessness, racism, crime and incarceration, inequity of all types… These things are not just “fixed” in a few years after a few protests and doing things differently for an election cycle or two. They are extremely complex and take years of collaborative problem-solving to make better — which gets me back to my point: The only way we solve this stuff is by giving each other the benefit of the doubt and resist tearing someone down simply because they might not have the same perspective or opinion as you do 100% of the time.

And City-lover, you really think “BP doesn’t have our backs”? Come on. What you mean is that you expected to agree with this site 100% of the time and now that there are some different perspectives being shared you are uncomfortable with that. I think we are stronger when we can disagree respectfully and challenge each others long-held views.

I don’t have any one’s backs. My responsibility is to this community as a whole. That’s what I think about when I make my editorial decisions and form my beliefs. I’m trying to do what I think is the best thing for the city of Portland… not for “bikes” or for my readers or even for myself. Thanks for your comments.

Norman
Norman
1 month ago

Jonathan,

I would caution you in taking a blind faith in this approach to social justice. Look at how Portland has changed in the last few years since many have adopted this new paradigm. Have the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable improved? What are your measuring sticks? If it’s the rate in which black people are dying by homicide, things are certainly much worse. If it’s the number of lives being destroyed by living on the street, things are certainly much worse. At what point do you say this approach (or this leader) is not working?

Robert Wallis
Robert Wallis
1 month ago

As bad as the worse of the homeless are for people who walk or bike, they are nothing compared to cars. A tiny fraction of one percent of the urban landscape land area is degraded by homeless camps, while at least 10 percent of that area is degraded by cars. The drug addictions that are causing many of the problems with homeless people are nothing compared to our collective oil addiction. If nothing changes with the homeless, over time we will become as accepting to that deficiency as we are accepting to our deficient transportation system.

Blackbeered
Blackbeered
1 month ago

The young people need to experience the cesspool created by Wheeler, with the encouragement of Sen Wyden and Gov Brown.

The political hacks should not be allowed to hide their mismanagement of this once-proud city, the disgrace they’ve made. All their talk about protecting the environment have been all lies for years.

Young people need to know this. They need to experience this. They need to know it didn’t have to happen. They need to know that, with the right kind of leadership, it can and will be turned around.

Shielding them from the failures of the grand social experiment is not in anyone’s best intertest other than the politicians that created this disgrace.

AndyK
1 month ago

The author of this story waiting for data showing houseless folks endangering children is just the icing on the whataboutism cake.

Chopwatch
Chopwatch
1 month ago

Portland City Code 16.20.170 already prohibits storage of items in the street without proper permission. This has been effect for over two decades. As we all know, the rules are there, but it’s unenforced. I’m not convinced this new ban is anything but talk.