Commissioner Amanda Fritz has announced she's decided to heed a request by Mayor Charlie Hales and pull back a planned vote this Wednesday on a controversial zoning letter that would let homeless rest area Right 2 Dream Too move from Old Town to a city-owned parking in the Pearl.
Fritz confirmed last week she'd been contemplating pulling the vote off of the upcoming city council agenda. She didn't want to press forward while talks were still in play—especially if doing so meant further enraging neighbors and others challenging the move.
The vote initially been set for October 3. But Hales, after a nearly six-hour hearing, put it off two weeks after one of the opponents of the move, developer Homer Williams, beseeched the council for a chance to work with R2DToo and the city in finding a new location.
The mayor's office said yesterday it had no update on those talks. Fritz didn't return a message asking for comment yesterday on how those talks had been progressing. Last week, however, sources said the talks had yet to produce a suitable alternative site for the tent refuge—either indoors or out. Fritz today, in a statement, confirmed that was the case.
A spokesman for Williams and the other businesses in his coalition of opponents said Friday that they were still targeting Wednesday for a deal. The clock is still ticking, however, on a 30-day window to move the site off its current land, at NW 4th and Burnside. That window was part of a legal deal negotiated by Fritz and R2DToo and its landlord, Michael Wright. The city would waive code fines and move the site in exchange for the site and its landlord dropping a lawsuit challenging the city's code enforcement authority.
Here's Fritz's statement:
Commissioner Amanda Fritz told reporters on Tuesday that she has asked the Council Clerk to return Agenda Item 995 back to her office pending further discussions on alternative locations for the Right to Dream Too rest area. Item, 995 to Approve and adopt zoning confirmation letter on Lot 7, Station Place, was the topic for a five hour hearing before Council two weeks ago. The Zoning Confirmation Letter sets out the Bureau of Development Services’ list of applicable Zoning Code rules for the site, proposed as a new location for the Right to Dream Too rest area currently at NW 4th/Burnside. Right to Dream Too is a drug-free, alcohol-free, weapons-free organization where people experiencing homelessness support each other in getting safe sleep and other basic needs met.
“At the hearing on October 3, Mayor Hales asked for a two week delay to allow Williams/Dame LLC to propose alternatives,” said Commissioner Fritz. “Although no viable sites have been suggested by the opponents since the hearing, the Mayor has asked for further delay. As a courtesy to him, I am pulling the item off this week’s Agenda, and there will be no discussion on it tomorrow. Winter is fast approaching. A pending Settlement Agreement agreed to by the parties to a lawsuit had identified Lot 7 as a better location for Right To Dream Too to reside. Opponents stated that they wanted to bring resources to the table to help provide a better location than Lot 7. That has yet to occur. Now is the time for them to step up.”