The owner of the land where well-regarded homeless rest area Right 2 Dream Too sits says he's done.
In a brief phone conversation with the Mercury this evening, Michael Wright—longtime landlord to the encampment beneath the city's Chinatown gate—said he's preparing to evict R2DToo, after repeated failed efforts by city officials to move it elsewhere.
"I'm formulating paperwork to go ahead and evict," said Wright. Asked why, he said: "Because of the city's inability to relocate them and putting me in a position of not being able to meet my contractual agreements."
What those agreements are, Wright wouldn't say. As we reported, the rest area was supposed to have cleared off the site by October 7 according to a deal Wright and other owners of the parcel struck with the Portland Development Commission, which is considering purchasing the lot. The PDC didn't enforce that part of the agreement, instead allowing the facility to remain behind its wall of doors at W Burnside and 4th until April.
That delay was necessary after the city's long-term plan of moving R2DToo to a parcel on the Central Eastside was dashed in August by a state panel's ruling that the move would violate city zoning code. The decision was a victory for eastside businesses that opposed the relocation, but threw plans for R2DToo into chaos (an earlier proposal to move the camp into the Pearl District was also scuttled). Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Amanda Fritz, the rest area's two staunchest allies on City Council, haven't been able to say what's next for the camp.
With Wright's apparent resolve to evict, the situation might grow more dire. R2DToo is a vital resource for homeless people in the city's downtown core, offering a place to get out of the rain and rest in safety—as well as food and other amenities.
Wright declined to offer many details on his decision, but said he hadn't communicated his intention to Right 2 Dream Too leaders. A call to Ibrahim Mubarak, a co-founder of the rest area, wasn't immediately returned. Nor was an email sent to Mark Kramer an attorney who's represented both R2DToo and the property owners.
The decision, if Wright follows through, would come as a surprise to Hales. His spokesperson, Brian Worley, said the mayor hadn't heard anything about the possible eviction.
Wright says his hands are tied.
"If they’re not out at there at a certain point, all contracts blow up," he said. "I’m probably being sued by different attorneys for not getting the job done. The city’s inability to relocate is putting me in a corner."
But he wouldn't offer specifics, saying: "I gave you a breaking news story. That's all we're going to do tonight."
The Oregonian ran a long profile on Wright in 2013.