Portland street racers may soon find themselves on the bus. Last week, City Council unanimously authorized police to tow and impound the vehicles of street racing participants--including those of spectators. Though police officials insist they won't engage in arbitrary, large-scale impounding of vehicles at races, the city is interested in pushing the matter further.
During the same session, city lawyers were instructed to look into automobile forfeiture, followed by sale at public auction. Currently, forfeiture is illegal because "speed racing" is technically only a driving infraction, not a misdemeanor.
Funds from forfeiture and sale could be a boon to beleaguered city coffers. But Commissioner Charlie Hales says that any resultant monies are not the point. "This is a safety issue, not a budget issue. We need a zero tolerance standard." According to Mayor Katz's Communications Director, Sarah Bott, this is just research into the legality of forfeiture, not an effort towards it. But Bott says that, "if the five recent fatalities didn't persuade dangerous drivers to get off the road, they face getting towed." (Last winter, there were five traffic fatalities in Multnomah County attributed to street racing.) Although police will immediately begin impounding cars used in races, they will wait a few more weeks for word to get out before towing spectators' vehicles. DAVE YANOWITZ
WHO DONE IT?
Once again, an anonymous party has placed signs on Alberta St. to parody gentrification. Two years ago, on April Fool's Day, signs were posted that promised "Starbucks, Coming Soon." This time, municipal-looking signs were tacked to telephone poles that said "redline district." (Redline zones are, traditionally, minority neighborhoods designated by banks as too poor and risky to receive loans or be subjected to new development.) "In Portland's past," explained an anonymous email claiming responsibility, "'redlining' practices created exclusionary zones for 'Negroes and Orientals,' by real estate, banking, and insurance companies. Now, urban gentrification displaces low-income families, as the remaining affordable housing stock in this area disappears." KATIA DUNN