Street Roots’ Israel Bayer on moving Springwater camps: ‘Do it surgically’

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Nonprofit newspaper director Israel Bayer.
(Photo: Street Roots)

As the day approaches for a so-called “sweep” of everyone camping along the Springwater Corridor, one of Portland’s leading housing advocates is offering a counterproposal.

Instead of pushing everyone in these informal camps “back into the neighborhoods and downtown,” Street Roots Executive Director Israel Bayer wrote in a column Thursday, the city should (a) increase “organized camping” and (b) “surgically” target only people who are causing problems, not everyone else around them.

“If there are bad actors, get them out of there,” Bayer wrote. “If people are having an environmental impact, give them an ultimatum. Clean your camps up, or be swept.”

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Oregonian: Mayor Hales plans complete removal of camps along Springwater path

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“Mohawk Craig,” a resident of a Springwater Corridor camp, in January.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

“You can’t stay here any more.”

After months of telling park rangers and police to avoid issuing that order to people living in tents along the major Portland biking path, Willamette Week and The Oregonian are reporting that Mayor Charlie Hales plans to order a sweep of the length of the corridor within city of Portland boundaries (the eastern border is SE Jenne Rd/174th).

Here’s more from Hales in a video created by The Oregonian:

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Views from campers about the future of the tent city on Springwater path

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The Springwater Corridor near SE 82nd.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

It’s been a week since someone living on the Springwater Corridor survived a gunshot and months since it became maybe the largest single tent camp — tent suburb? — in Oregon.

Consciously tolerated by the city government under an uneasy compromise brokered by Mayor Charlie Hales and his (now former) chief of staff Josh Alpert, the encampment has gotten more and more complicated as it’s become a more common place for people without a roof to look for refuge. It’s also gotten harder for people biking on the Springwater to ignore. With Alpert gone from the city as of July 1, the camp’s future is newly uncertain.

Thacher Schmid (who I should disclose is also a personal friend of mine) is a freelance reporter based in Portland, writing in this case for his own website. He rode his bike to the camp last week and spent a few hours talking to people there about their lives and the city’s efforts to reduce, manage and regulate homelessness.

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Legislators’ bicycle town hall on Springwater path will focus on camping issues, safety concerns

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The Springwater Corridor near 82nd.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Several Oregon state legislators will host what they’re calling an “interactive bicycle town hall” on May 14th to learn more about conditions on the Springwater Corridor path.

Interactions between path users and people who live in camps adjacent to the path reached a boiling point back in January. Since then there has been a broad community effort to address the issue. In April, local author and nonprofit director Joe Kurmaskie said he would cancel his youth summer bike camps due to concerns over the unruly and dangerous behaviors of some of the Springwater campers.

The issue was back in the headlines again this week when local news stations reported on a major operation by the Portland Police to move people out of the camps and pick up trash and personal belongings.

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Nonprofit puts youth bike camps on hold due to Springwater safety concerns – UPDATED

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Kurmaskie (in rear with cowboy hat) and
campers last summer).
(Photo courtesy Joe Kurmaskie)

Portland author Joe Kurmaskie says he feels conditions on the Springwater Corridor path have gotten so bad that he might be forced to cancel his popular teen summer bike camp program.

Kurmaskie, who turned 50 this year, is known for his “Metal Cowboy” books that describe his many adventures while bike touring through the United States and around the world (including two cross-country journeys with his wife and five children). He moved to north Portland in 1998 and now lives in Sellwood. For the past four years he’s run the “Camp Creative: No Child Left Inside” summer camp for 9-13 year olds in partnership with Portland Parks & Recreation. The camp is completely bike-based and the main route used to access activities is the Springwater Corridor. This year Kurmaskie says he’s decided to put the camp on hold because of an increase in unruly and unsafe behavior from people he’s encountered along the path.

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Neighborhood meeting tonight will address homeless camp on Springwater path near 82nd

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Springwater path west of 82nd.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

We apologize for the short notice; but we’ve just heard that the Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood Association is hosting a meeting tonight (7:00 pm at Brentwood Darlington Community Center, 7211 SE 62nd Ave) to talk about issues related to the large number of people living in tents adjacent to the Springwater Corridor path near SE 82nd Ave.

As we reported last month, the situation reached a boiling point when business owners, residents, and users of the path shared a variety of concerns about the impact of the people living on the path. One of the activists mentioned in our story on January 14th, Terry Dublinksi-Milton, connected with Vahid Brown, a well-known homeless advocate who has helped establish the Hazelnut Grove camp in north Portland.

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Springwater path update: Neighborhood meetings, a community walk, and the City’s stance

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(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

We’re continuing to track the concerns about people who live outside along the Springwater path, the conditions of the path, and the safety of people who ride bikes on it.

Our two recent stories on the subject — one about concerns from path users and the current state of law enforcement response to them, and the other that shared the perspectives of the homeless residents themselves — has sparked a big discussion.

This issue obviously goes way beyond bicycling. We’re covering it because it impacts conditions on properties managed by the Portland Parks & Recreation and Bureau of Transportation that have transportation corridors running through them (like the Springwater, Waterfront Park, and the Greeley path).

Here are a few updates:

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Springwater path users feel threatened by campers, police say their hands are tied

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Springwater path near SE 82nd.
(Photo: Mark Mollenkopf)

Neighborhood advocates and residents say conditions on the Springwater Corridor path near its intersection of SE 82nd have reached a boiling point. Things have gotten so bad that local residents have dubbed it the “Avenue of Terror.” At issue is the behavior of people who live in tents and under tarps adjacent to the path and the impact their presence is having on users of the path and the surrounding community.

In recent weeks we’ve heard from several readers with concerns about the situation and from a Portland Police Bureau officer who says there’s not enough officers to deal with the issue and a federal court decision has constrained their enforcement power.

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