Under an emergency ordinance approved this morning, anyone banned from the New Columbia development in North Portland would also be banned from the park that sits in the middle of it.
Mayor Sam Adams made the proposal after the shooting this summer of Billy Moore, one of several violent incidents marring McCoy Park in recent months.
Commissioner Nick Fish, who heads the parks bureau, said the law is meant to deny the park "as a safe haven" where those removed from the facility could "continue their unlawful conduct." It's pitched as a way of closing a "loophole," because the park is surrounded by the development.
Bureaucrats and cops who work the beat up there say the park has become a roadblock on their path to building a new community in place of the violent, rough-and-tumble Columbia Villa that it replaced. If that stigma returns, it may not leave, they worry, and the residents will.
Ida Cunningham, who lives across the street from the park, said people who don't live in the development routinely appear at McCoy.
"I'd like for them not to be able to come back there at all," she said. "parents are afraid of their kids going to the park and they should not be. Once upon a time, it was Columbia Villa, and it as a bad little territory."
After the break: Is this a good idea? Also, some good news for kids all across Portland.
But the notion of banning people from a public park is troubling. Portland tried and abandoned zones where folks with criminal records were excluded—because of constitutional concerns.
Randy Leonard mentioned the city's drug- and prostitution-free zones as a warning, but only because they wound up pushing criminal activity elsewhere, he said.
"Why do we think excluding these individuals from a public park will reduce criminal activity?" he said.
Fish said he was sensitive to those concerns, but pointed out that Portland already has rules that ban repeat offenders from parks. The difference this time, is that when the housing authority excludes someone from New Columbia, it would also apply to McCoy Park, with no separate finding required. Appeals would still be granted.
"Bad actors in the community should not be able to find safe haven in the park," Fish said.
In other news, the council unanimously agreed to renew support for TriMet's YouthPass—a program that makes bus fare free for all Portland Public Schools students in sixth- through 12th-grades.
But there was also some bad news. Maybe. There's funding right now only through December, and a new grant for federal dollars for 2011 is in the works. The school district last year put up $800,000, which then allowed TriMet to seek $2 million in federal grants. No city money is spent on the project.