During a live, online conversation with a supporter Monday evening, mayoral candidate Sarah Iannarone was asked how she’d address safety concerns and homeless camping on the Springwater Corridor path — an issue that has challenged Portland leaders for nearly a decade.
The interview was with Portland-based attorney Alan Kessler. Kessler asked Iannarone to repeat an answer about the issue he overheard her share at a recent open house hosted by “cycling lawyers” (who he described as “the lycra folks who go on fast carbon fiber bikes and go for long rides”). [Read more…]
“If we want Portland to be taken seriously as a pedestrian and bike-friendly city, we need people to feel safe walking and biking, wherever they may be.”
“We request that the City of Portland clear campsites located in parks, waterways and public paths.”
— from a statement signed by four north Portland neighborhoods
Four north Portland neighborhood associations have issued a joint statement about homelessness. Among their requests is that government agencies work harder to clear campsites located in parks and on public paths.
Throughout the city, vital parts of the transportation network are blocked and/or dominated by peoples’ homes, belongings, and trash. Without enough places to live or social services to help them get off the streets, thousands of Portlanders sleep along streets — often directly adjacent to bike lanes and carfree paths. These paths are often in places where surface streets are unsafe, unconnected, or for some other reason not a safe alternative for bicycle users and walkers. This has led to a sad, complicated and frustrating problem for everyone.
Bicycle users are viscerally aware of this issue. BikePortland has fielded questions and concerns about it for years, ever since people started creating camps along the Springwater Corridor path in 2014. Last year we reported that conditions on the I-205 path had reached an unacceptable level and just this week a reader shared that some of the camps remain. For many people, this means many local paths are no longer an option.
In the joint statement posted yesterday, the neighborhoods of Bridgeton, Arbor Lodge, Overlook and University Park say Covid-19 has made a bad problem worse and that it’s time to respond. [Read more…]
Last week I highlighted conditions on the I-205 path at NE Sandy Boulevard. The response to the coverage here and on Facebook was overwhelming.
My intention was to make people aware that this path and others have become dramatically impacted by our homelessness crisis. Not only was the path full of personal belongings and discarded items, many of our fellow Portlanders have become so desperate for a place to live that they built shelters directly on the path — nearly blocking it in some sections.
The comments here on BikePortland were mostly productive and I think overall we’ve all learned a lot about the various issues at play. Facebook was a different story. Too many of the 1,300 or so comments were useless and mean. So, after over 220,000 views and 2,500 shares in just four days, I took the video down and posted a note to explain why.
With so few safe and direct alternatives, the I-205 multi-use path in east Portland is a crucial backbone in our transportation network. Unfortunately it’s been rendered nearly unusable due to an abundance of trash, personal belongings, and makeshift homes that have been built upon it.
A comment written by Roberta on March 9th touched on an issue that we’ve addressed several times in recent years: People who live on and adjacent to multi-use paths.
“Commenters on BikePortland used this incident as an excuse to take potshots at our unhoused neighbors.”
— Andrew Riley
This was written by Andrew Riley, an east Portland resident and longtime community organizer. He wrote this to me via email and gave me permission to post it as an opinion. — Jonathan
I’ve been reading the site since 2007. I’m writing as an East Portland resident, as a cyclist, and as someone who lives near several tent camps along I-205.
When the story on the I-205 “booby trap” was published, I was disturbed – but not surprised, to be honest – to see BikePortland commenters immediately blame houseless campers for this assault.
Literally the first comment on the post linked the two:
In the past nine days, over 200 people have chipped in nearly $60,000 toward to the construction of the “Dirt Lab” at Gateway Green. But as excitement builds for the first new singletrack trails in Portland in what seems like forever, advocates and partners behind the project have come face-to-face with one of Portland’s most vexing issues: homelessness.
Dozens of people who were just moved from the massive homeless camping villages on the Springwater Corridor path have found solace at Gateway Green, the 40-acre parcel of vacant land that sits at the intersection of two freeways in east Portland. That means before any shovels can hit the ground to build the new trails and riding areas, the city must address the land’s current residents.
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.”