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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pearl Group Announces Proposed Framework of Deal with Right 2 Dream Too

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Thu, Oct 31, 2013 at 4:50 PM

The consortium of Pearl District neighbors and businesses fighting Commissioner Amanda Fritz's plan to move Right 2 Dream Too onto a city-owned lot beneath a Broadway Bridge off-ramp shed some light this afternoon on their efforts to find an alternative site for the homeless rest area.

In a detailed statement, the group—led by Williams/Dame Associates, Hoyt Street Properties, and the Pearl District Neighborhood Association—sketched out a proposal that would put the Old Town rest area in a building, potentially in an industrial district, and provide for bus service, moving expenses, materials for temporary tent accommodations, and utilities.

"While a final deal has not yet been reached with the City and Right to Dream Too, the group is optimistic that an acceptable and legal path will be secured in the coming weeks and that a final agreement can be completed shortly thereafter," says the statement, sent by spokesman John Mangan.

The announcement follows a tentative agreement more than a week ago to keep the site on its current lots at NW 4th and Burnside for 60 more days while negotiations for a new site play out. To keep up leverage in those talks, the Pearl group has filed but stayed an appeal with the Land Use Board of Appeals of any decision letting R2DToo move to the Pearl site pushed by Fritz.

It's unclear, however, whether R2DToo or Fritz support the proposal. Both have declined to comment in recent days on the pace of the talks. The announcement implies support from Mayor Charlie Hales, continuing to notably and pointedly praise his role in pushing for the new negotiations.

Says the statement:

"Under the Mayor’s leadership, the Pearl Group of neighbors and businesses has been working diligently since the October 3 City Council hearing to explore a variety of alternative solutions to the current status of Right to Dream Too. In addition to meetings with the City and Right to Dream Too, the group reached out to property owners, trade unions and community members who might be willing to offer resources."

Hales, meanwhile, is in China, partly on business and partly on vacation. He'll be back in town Tuesday. It's been said that nothing official could happen without his blessing or while he's gone.

UPDATE 4:56 PM: Fritz didn't immediately comment. In fact, she asked me to share the details when I called her for comment and that she planned to reach out to the mayor's office for more information.

UPDATE 5:33 PM: The announcement also was news to principles within Right 2 Dream Too. Sources close to the talks remain circumspect about the terms and priorities laid out—and were puzzled by the reference to some kind of agreement on a "legal path" with the city. They're still waiting for something specific and plan to keep talking in good faith, they say.

Organizers also are wary of the offer for transportation. A bus might work for the members who sleep at R2DToo permanently. But so many of the people who sleep there are "overnighters" or "daytimers" drawn from the downtown area, and who might struggle to get to the rest area if it were too far away and then struggle to get back to social services providers after their stay in the rest area.

UPDATE 8:45 PM:

Fritz issued a statement earlier tonight pouring cold water all over the Pearl group's announcement. She confirmed something to the Oregonian I'd only heard off the record previously: That the Pearl negotiators tried to tie their promise of help for an alternative site to a promise to give up the Pearl site. Fritz dismissed that.

No deal has been reached between Right to Dream Too, the City, and the Pearl District Group.

No site has been suggested by the Pearl District Group that is both legal for the proposed use and acceptable to Right to Dream Too.

No additional sites are currently under review by the City or Right to Dream Too.

No additional new sites have been suggested by the Pearl District Group.

There has been no response by the Pearl District Group to the offer made Monday, October 28 by Mark Kramer, Right to Dream Too’s attorney.

The Pearl District Group’s “proposal”, as outlined in their press release, has not been presented to Right to Dream Too, to their attorney, or to me.

The full Pearl statement is after the jump.

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