Kafoury's calendar, obtained by the Mercury via public records request, shows the mayor took Kafoury to an erstwhile US Army Reserve Center at 2730 SW Multnomah. The 3.6-acre property sits a short ways west of the SW Barbur Safeway, and was decommissioned for military use in late 2011. At the time, the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management planned to use the center for " emergency training, response and staging for the west side of the city." PBEM even made this helpful video.
Those apparently immediate plans have since been put off. "At this point, nothing's been decided," says Portland Office of Management and Finance (OMF) spokeswoman Jen Clodius. OMF currently controls the building.
Kafoury also toured another site in SW Portland with the mayor on Tuesday (we're not sure which). But, crucially, the county chair had no warning an "emergency" declaration was in the offing. She says she didn't find out about Hales' plans until roughly an hour before he made an announcement at the outset of Wednesday morning's city council meeting.
"The mayor’s office wanted to show the chair two city-owned properties to explore the idea of creating more shelter space," county spokesman Dave Austin says. He didn't know the address of the second property.
The interesting thing about Hales keeping his plans from Kafoury during their tour: The mayor's counting on her help. A major aspect of Hales' plans to establish a new shelter for homeless women by the end of the year is convincing the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners to ask Gov. Kate Brown to declare a state of housing emergency in the county. That would allow the city to skirt state building rules, and help officials more easily site a shelter, Hales staff says. City council's expected to vote on its own declaration on October 7.
But it's unclear that Kafoury's willing to ask Brown to declare and emergency. She issued this statement yesterday, strongly hinting a belief Hales' plans could be tied to his nascent mayoral race against Treasurer Ted Wheeler: "I'm not going to play political football with an issue that affects the lives of so many people and that I care so much about. If this discussion leads to action that gets people into housing, then I'm all for it. We just need to see the plan."
The mayor's office says creating a new shelter in Portland is too expensive and lengthy a process. The mayor said yesterday that a detailed review of plans to house homeless people can cost $30,000 and take six months.
We've put questions about the site to Hales' staff, but not yet heard back.