Some eyebrow-raising developments in Portland's ongoing—if much quieter—"sidewalk management" debate in the past few weeks. Joanne Zuhl has the scoop in a couple of pieces freshly posted to Street Roots' website.
In the first piece, she takes a look at how things have gone in the seven months since approval of the city's current sidewalk rules—which essentially carve out only the two feet closest to the curb as a zone where folks are allowed to simply be, presumably without official harassment, so long as certain rules about minding one's belongings and animals are honored.
The upshot? Given all the fighting over this issue previously, it's been peaceful. But significant concerns remain, advocates say. Citations have fallen heavily on homeless residents, which is to be somewhat expected. But there have been a handful of pretext arrests, too. And it's not always clear when someone has a disability that should, theoretically, keep a horse-mounted cop form poking at them.
Chani Giegle-Teller, community organizer with Sisters of the Road, which advocates on behalf of people experiencing homelessness, says her organization is concerned that people are getting moved out of the downtown area who are not included in the figures.
“We appreciate the process that the city is going through to keep this accountable, but in our experience at what we’re seeing still, on a daily basis, is there is a lot of enforcement that is not being documented,” said Giegle-Teller. “So we still feel like it’s a law that is being unfairly used to target people experiencing homelessness. It’s still, in our opinion, a move-along law.”
Further, the city working on labeling sidewalks where even the two-foot zone isn't allowed, looking to include curbs along MAX lines and along busy thoroughfares like Burnside. Street Roots has a good map of the affected areas, in downtown and the Rose Quarter/Lloyd District if you click through.