A recent victory in the Eastmoreland neighborhood saved three giant Sequoia trees from a local developer, prompting one Portland resident to start a petition suggesting the land should now become the new site of the city's self-run homeless camp, Right 2 Dream Too (R2DToo).
The Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association fought long and hard to save three majestic 150-year-old Sequoia trees located near Southeast 36th Avenue and Martins Street, and announced last week they'd cut a deal with the developer—Vic Remmers, owner of Everett Custom Homes—who planned to chop them down and replace them with a new single-family home.
Remmers apparently reduced his original asking price a "significant" amount from the $900,000 he was asking, though neighborhood association member Arthur Bradford declined to say what the total sales price was. What did come out during the transaction is that Matt Stone, co-creator of "South Park," donated to the cause to #savethegiants.
That donation gave Portlander Tony Jordan an idea: R2DToo—the well-regarded homeless rest area that city officials are looking to move—needs a home. Why not put the homeless camp to this gorgeous land in Eastmoreland? Seems like the perfect place, right? It's already been cleared, it's near transit lines, has grocery stores close by, and is tucked away in a safe neighborhood.
So Jordan started a petition on change.com calling for Stone to "make this a double good deed and advocate for this land to be donated to Right 2 Dream Too for their relocation."
READ HOW HIS SUGGESTION WAS RECEIVED AFTER THE JUMP
Jordan—who's president of the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association, though says he started this petition as a private citizen and not on behalf of the association—pointed out that R2DToo has been casting about for a permanent home for months. When the city suggested moving the camp to an industrial area, Robert McCullough, chair of SE Uplift—a coalition of neighborhoods in Southeast Portland—and president of the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association, questioned whether an industrial area was a fitting place for the camp.
At the time, McCullough denied it was NIMBYism speaking, instead arguing it was concern that R2DToo's residents could be subjected to diesel fumes from nearby railways and possibly living in an adversely-impacted environmental zone.
So what does McCullough think about Jordan's idea? Well, he lobbed the question back to Bradford today, saying that Bradford and other neighbors started an LLC to buy the property, so it's not up to the neighborhood association. He suggested asking Bradford, but thought there might be some reluctance and that the surrounding neighbors want to turn the land into a park.
"Should we put a campground on a cul-de-sac with a bunch of middle class homes around it?" McCullough mused. "I don't think there'd be a lot of enthusiasm from the Eastmoreland neighbors even if all the campers drive around in Mercedes."
McCullough suggested with a chuckle that instead maybe the city wants to put the camp on the golf course that's across the street from Mayor Charlie Hales' house.
For his part, Jordan says he didn't approach R2DToo organizers to ask if they'd want to take the Martins Street location, but says he thinks the issue is an important one.
"When he suggested the golf course I said I think nine holes is plenty and maybe we should take nine of the 18 holes from every golf course in an urban area because people need places to live," Jordan says. "He said it like it's funny, but it's not funny. I wanted to start the petition to call people on their bluff, and remind them that we need to think about where we can put people who need homes."
Bradford didn't reply to a call or a text for comment. Hales' spokesperson says R2DToo is creating a site plan an proceeding with an earlier planned move.