NOT A DAY goes by without some breathless rant about Portland's "worse-than-ever" homelessness, but what does the data say?

According to the best numbers we have, things haven't changed much recently.

In a "point-in-time" count of Multnomah County's homeless population completed every two years, volunteers and outreach workers actually found fewer people sleeping on the streets on January 28 than they did two years before. But the difference was slight—just eight people—and there were worrying changes within that population, including a rise in the number of African Americans, women, and families sleeping on the street. When also including people living in emergency shelters or transitional housing, homelessness is up around four percent.

The count isn't perfect—it doesn't take into account changes that come about in warm weather, for instance—but it's what we've got. DIRK VANDERHART

PORTLAND CITY COUNCIL is free to ignore a Canadian energy company's request for a zoning change that would clear the way for a massive propane terminal, but it might find itself in court if it does.

That's the finding, anyway, of City Attorney Tracy Reeve, who was asked for an opinion last month on whether officials were bound by code to consider the request by Pembina Pipeline.

"There is no mandatory obligation to hold a hearing," Reeves wrote. But she noted: "We are not able to predict with certainty how a court might rule on the issue." DVH

THE CITY'S mountain bikers scored a victory earlier this year, when they convinced Mayor Charlie Hales to fast-track a study on how Portland can expand access for their sport ["Fury Road," Feature, June 3].

Now comes a defeat. Cyclists appealing the decision to close off mountain bike trails in the 146-acre River View Natural Area earlier this month their effort had died. The state's Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) ruled on June 3 that the Northwest Trail Alliance hadn't proved the closure fell under its authority. LUBA dismissed the appeal.

The decision over River View, announced by Commissioners Amanda Fritz and Nick Fish on March 2, has been considered a last straw among mountain biking advocates who've lobbied for years for increased access to parks in the West Hills. Two weeks after the city's announcement, hundreds of mountain bikers amassed at the natural area in protest, some wearing shirts that read "Portland Hates Me." DVH