Dave Owens from the Old Town Neighborhood Association has come to the downtown Public Safety Action Committee this morning to ask whether the sit/lie ordinance could be driving people to the corner of SW Sixth and Everett, outside Sisters of the Road Cafe.
Central Precinct Commander Mike Reese responded by describing Sisters as "a business that allows problem behavior inside and outside its location," arguing that such a location is bound to be a "magnet for problems."
John Hren, the executive director of Portland Patrol, Inc, a private security force that patrols downtown, told the group: "If the sit/lie forces them there, if that's the case, the vast majority of people who've been moved there are not there because of the sit/lie."
That quote doesn't make perfect sense to me, either. But it's what he said.
Mike Kuykendall, the vice president of downtown services for the Portland Business Alliance, said Sisters wasn't calling the rent-a-cops when there are problems outside the location. "If they call for assistance, they'll certainly get it," he said.
Sisters was on the committee that came up with the ordinance, has opposed it from the beginning, and is now engaged in an active campaign to get the ordinance repealed. The nonprofit has said it does not want the sidewalk obstruction ordinance enforced outside its business.
It appears the downtown business community, private security, and the police, have now decided to stop enforcing any laws outside the business, in a political move to focus negative attention on Sisters in the run up to a council hearing on renewal of the sit/lie ordinance in November.
Law enforcement in Old Town is currently being done at a low level by rent-a-cops. But it's unclear why the police bureau is not focusing the attention of its street crimes unit on any drug dealing problems outside the location. Unless of course they want to stigmatize the place.