I know people love their Voodoo pastries and puffs. I get it. But, in light of the sidewalks crackdown outside Portland City Hall—in the name of safety!—does anyone see anything wrong with the following pictures?
- Photographs by Denis C. Theriault
- The sidewalk on SW 3rd outside Voodoo Doughnut has been declared a high-pedestrian zone. The sign says, unless you're a pedestrian, "Please Keep Clear."
I'll tell you what's wrong. This scene—fueled by summer weather—plays out every day. Just like the protest outside city hall that swelled this summer and last summer. One difference? This is way worse. The entire pedestrian zone is filled, leaving people to walk along the curb or in the street. The city hall protest was crammed along the curb and sometimes strayed into the pedestrian zone but never filled it. That protest built in a place that didn't have a high-pedestrian tag until Mayor Charlie Hales decided, among several reasons, he wanted to clear the plaza for food carts. The sidewalk around Voodoo has long had the designation.
The other difference? No police or press conferences about safety. This is a beloved business, written about in national media, that caters to tourists and out-of-towners. In high traffic zones, the sidewalks ordinance allows exceptions for customers going directly to and from a business. I guess you could make the case that a long twisty line is direct. But I doubt it. It also exempts permits.
"We don't have a permit," the guy who answered at Voodoo just told me. "I don't think the city bothers us."
So, basically, this is also what happens when complaints drive the enforcement process. Some violations are treated differently than others.