K. Marie

Right 2 Dream Too's uncertain future could be decided by two weirdly contradictory city documents.

As first reported by the Mercury, the respected homeless rest area last week lost the opportunity to move to a parking lot on SW Naito, when Mayor Ted Wheeler shot the idea down. With no other plots of land being considered, that left the camp with less than two months before an apparent deadline to clear out of its home of nearly six years.

As we also first reported, R2DToo's attorney is confident his clients won't be tossed out so easily. Mark Kramer cites a 2014 city ordinance [PDF] that says if the City of Portland purchases the land where R2DToo sits, it has to find a new home for the camp before evicting it. Kramer wouldn't go into specific strategies, but suggested that that clause would be a safeguard ensuring the camp's continued existence.

It's not that simple, though. A purchasing agreement [PDF] the Portland Development Commission signed eight months after the city ordinance could make that provision unwieldy to enforce, since it mandates the camp be gone before the city buys the land.

So in essence: If the city buys the land, it has to keep R2DToo around, but in order to buy the land, the city is demanding that R2DToo clear out. It's a bizarre ouroboros that officials are still puzzling out.

The PDC is interested in the R2DToo plot, at the corner of West Burnside and Fourth, as part of its ongoing efforts to revivify Old Town Chinatown. The agency's Purchase and Sale Agreement—inked with landowner Michael Wright and others on October 7, 2014—says that the city will pay $300,000 ($10,000 a month) for the landowners to not sell the plot to anyone else for 30 months (or two and a half years). It also sets a series of incremental deadlines that are supposed to be met in that time.

One of those was already blown. Within 2 years of the agreement's signing date, Wright and his business partners were supposed to have R2DToo off the lot. But that October 7, 2016 deadline fell through along with a plan to move the camp to the Central Eastside, and the PDC opted to push the moving date back six months, to April 7.

What's the significance of April 7? It's the closing date on which the city can purchase the property for $1.2 million, or let Wright et. al. shop it around to other people. And the PDC is being clear: If it's going to consider buying, it wants the land empty.

"The position hasn’t really changed," PDC spokesperson Shawn Uhlman told the Mercury on Wednesday. "What we’ve been clear on is that it needs to be clear— vacant of the camp and everything else."

If that doesn't happen, Uhlman notes, nothing compels the PDC to fork over $1.2 million for the land.

And what if R2DToo does clear out, and the PDC opts to buy? The city's ordinance could compel the agency to house the camp, until another lot is found. Here's the exact language:


"Sounds like a lawsuit," said R2DToo co-founder Ibrahim Mubarak, asked about the situation on Wednesday. Mubarak is no longer with the camp, but is in contact with its leadership, he says. He wasn't suggesting the camp would file suit, as much as joking about the confusion.

Wheeler's office is still looking into what all the competing language means, a spokesperson said on Wednesday.

Kramer hasn't yet responded to requests for comment on the competing documents. We'll update if he does.