Change is coming to Alberta Street. Again.
Mayor Charlie Hales is renewing his call to close Alberta's popular, hectic Last Thursday event an hour earlier, after scrapping similar plans last year. And that's not all.
Hales' office, in a statement today, also says it will crack down on marijuana use and illegal drinking at the monthly summertime street fair. Last year, the mayor deployed city staffers to walk the event and chronicle lawbreaking (see picture above).
And, as we've reported, the mayor's going to look for ways to shift what have been city-borne costs onto vendors and businesses. Hales' office says in the release the city paid $75,000 to $85,000 last year, between city staffers paid to attend the event, portable toilets, garbage, recycling and security.
The changes Hales announced, from the release
•The events will end at 9 p.m.
•Police will strictly enforce open-container drinking in the right of way, as well as marijuana use. Neither was enforced strictly in the past.
•The Noise Office and police will work to bring street musicians within compliance of the city’s noise code.
•The city will look for ways to cover the extraordinary costs borne by taxpayers. Possibilities include applying fees to restaurants and bars that are open during the event, food vendors in the street, artists and performers.
The suggestions—particularly the possibility of charging vendors and performers, who are accustomed to the event being free—could lead to big changes in Last Thursday, which the city's wrestled with almost since it emerged as an "art walk" in 1997. But the measures Hales is proposing are essentially the same he floated last year. Those proposals met outcry, and Friends of Last Thursday— the nonprofit group that organized the event—announced it was quitting.
“Last Thursday is a special event that many Portlanders love,” Hales says in the statement. “We want to find a way to make it a sustainable event that is welcomed and appreciated by neighbors and businesses, as well as the Last Thursday enthusiasts who attend each year. Ultimately, the event needs to manage appropriately and it needs a financial home.”
This year's first Last Thursday is May 29.