CITY COMMISSIONER Dan Saltzman has embarked on what aides are calling a "due diligence" campaign that could potentially save Peterson's convenience store on SW Morrison. The shop, located in a city-owned parking structure, currently faces eviction on August 15.
Saltzman, like the Mercury, has only received a three-page list of vague complaints about the store from the city's Office of Management and Finance (OMF), which oversees the building on Morrison from which Peterson is about to be evicted. According to Saltzman staffer Matt Grumm, Saltzman asked for more detail on these complaints last Friday, July 25.
"Specifically, when Mr. Peterson was offered a good neighbor agreement, and again when he refused it," Grumm says, explaining what Saltzman would like to know. "And for more details than the three-page document, which Dan was not satisfied with. He is hoping for more detailed information."
"It's a very vague list," adds store owner Doug Peterson. "For example, it says 'various dates' a lot, and 'various times.' It doesn't get very specific about the 'various complaints.' And then it mentions a 'meeting with interested parties' on March 6, including the Portland Business Alliance, the police bureau, Portland Patrol, and retailers. But I was never invited to that meeting."
On Tuesday, July 29, Mary Volm, a spokesperson for OMF, told the Mercury that her office had had "no contact with any city commissioner on this issue. They haven't asked us to answer any questions or give them more information whatsoever." (Grumm clarifies that Saltzman asked for the info through the mayor.)
When asked for the details on Peterson's, Volm referred the Mercury to Central Precinct Commander Mike Reese, and Portland Business Alliance Vice President of Downtown Services Mike Kuykendall, "because they're the ones that really led that meeting [on March 6]," she said. "We didn't document the complaints, they wanted us to take action. So they would have how many calls and what kind of activity."
A spokesperson for Kuykendall did not return a call for comment by press time.
Meanwhile, Saltzman has also asked the police bureau to provide data on calls for service to Peterson's locations, according to Grumm. Central Precinct crime analysts found that calls for service to Peterson's two stores on Yamhill and Morrison were "significantly above" the calls to his third store on SW 4th and Washington—and to other convenience stores, like Michelle's on SW 5th and Yamhill, according to Commander Reese.
While that seems like strong evidence, Peterson points out that "Michelle's has shorter hours than my store." Peterson's stores are open 24 hours a day, "and my Yamhill and Morrison stores are both on the MAX line."
On an average weekday, 6,000 people board and disembark the MAX in front of Peterson's SW Morrison store, according to TriMet.
Saltzman has also been discussing the issue with fellow Commissioners Nick Fish and Randy Leonard, according to their staffers—a council majority that could potentially sway the mayor's eviction decision.
"Dan wants to make sure he understands why the Portland Police Bureau, which he strongly respects, and the mayor, whom he also strongly respects, are so adamant on this issue," Grumm says. "I know that the Portland Business Alliance has supported Peterson's not renewing their lease. But that's all I know."