June's Last Thursday celebration was relatively quiet. Given claims the city wanted to forcibly disperse celebrants with "pressurized water," the procession of cops, officials and street cleaners that ultimately cleared Alberta Street was downright benign.
But city staff actually documented more questionable activity on June 27—when the city was forced to operate the event after the volunteer group Friends of Last Thursday stepped down—than they had at May's event, according to numbers from the mayor's office.
Those figures include double the amount of littered alcohol bottles (34), more people drinking in the right-of-way, more vehicles blocking curb cuts (and a KATU news van both double parked and blocking someone's driveway) and a "group of 30 teens, jumping on car, setting off fireworks." Staffers and interns with the Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement also chronicled new categories: Cars entering Alberta before the streets were opened (12) and fire performers (1).
It's the second time the city's attempted to quantify problems at the popular street fair, derided by neighbors as a magnet for unruly, unlawful behavior. Mayor's office staff is quick to warn the numbers aren't scientific, but a step toward figuring out where enforcement and security should be targeted. The data will also almost-certainly come into play in conversations Mayor Charlie Hales is having with Alberta-area stakeholders about who should run the event going forward.
Friends of Last Thursday—after quitting in protest of suggested changes to the event—have signalled they'd like to remain involved, but Hales' is using their resignation as a bit of leverage to change how Last Thursdays are operated.
"I think there’s this built up hype that FoLT was somehow chairing last Thursday," says Chad Stover, a policy assistant in the mayor's office. "The city ultimately has been paying tens of thousands of dollars for Last Thursday for years."
Going forward, discussions about who takes over Last Thursday will involve finding a stable base of cash for the event. The mayor met with stakeholders earlier this week in a closed door meeting. There's another scheduled Monday.
"It’s a good event," Stover says. "It needs a home and it needs funding. Those are the things we’re working on."
FoLT, meanwhile, has been involved in talks with Hales' office, and wants to remain at the helm of Last Thursday going forward.
"Friends of Last Thursday has the mangement structure in place, one that doesn't need to mess with the Last Thursday 'product' yet conforms to the requirements and logisticts of hosting up to 20,000 people each month," FoLT member Jeff Hilber said in an e-mail. "No need to re-invent that wheel."