Less than a week before Right 2 Dream Too is supposed to leave its longtime home, the six-year-old camp is facing formal eviction.
R2DToo Chairperson Sarah Chandler confirms to the Mercury that the homeless rest area was served last week with notice to vacate the property by landowner Michael Wright. Others, including a spokesperson in Mayor Ted Wheeler's office, had suggested that was the case. Wright himself didn't return calls, but told us last year he was planning to evict the camp.
The order adds another layer of complexity to an already thorny situation. Under an agreement between the Portland Development Commission (PDC) and Wright (along with several co-owners), the property at West Burnside and 4th must be vacant by April 7—this Friday. If it's not, the city can demand more than $300,000 the PDC paid to maintain an option to purchase the plot, and walk away from potentially purchasing the land for another $1.2 million.
But while the PDC has said forcefully in recent weeks it's going to hold fast to that deadline, that resolve might be slipping. Wheeler's chief spokesperson, Michael Cox, tells the Mercury that there is potential wiggle room in the deal.
"If there's a solution and all it requires is a little bit of problem solving and short-term flexibility, that’s hypothetically something we could all discuss," Cox says. "Discussions would have to be in the context of a certain solution, rather than just contributing to the general sense of uncertainty."
People involved in ongoing talks have been cagey about details in recent weeks, but it appears Wheeler's office is still working to find a solution that ends with R2DToo in a new space. Without an earlier decision by Wheeler, the camp might have already moved. Commissioner Amanda Fritz hoped to put R2DToo on a city-owned parking lot on Southwest Naito, but Wheeler refused to put city resources into that arrangement.
"We are in regular active dialogue with the folks are R2DToo trying to land at a solution for their April 7 problem," Cox says. "I think all parties are hopeful we can come up with something."
Chandler confirms, saying it's "not exactly clear" when the rest area would have to be out of the plot under the eviction notice.
"We're still in negotiation," she says. "I'm hopeful and confident that we will find some place to be."