TO QUALIFY for their jobs, the city's park rangers already need to undergo state-sanctioned security guard training, learn how to handle a bike, and become qualified to administer CPR. Their latest course of study? Sensitively working with the homeless.
After a successful test run earlier this month, Portland Parks and Recreation says it's asked Brad Gibson, vice chair of Chinatown homeless rest area Right 2 Dream Too, to conduct another training with the entire ranger staff. The effort was the idea of Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz, and comes as rangers say they're encountering more homeless people in public parks than ever.
Gibson, who told the Mercury he canvassed other organizations for suggestions on what to impart to rangers, had "some very useful tips about dealing with the houseless community," parks spokesman Mark Ross says. DIRK VANDERHART
MULTNOMAH COUNTY and longtime downtown restaurant Veritable Quandary are officially becoming neighbors.
On April 16, county commissioners approved a site for a shiny new $250 million courthouse. Not surprisingly, it's the one they wanted all along.
The project team had proposed a preferred site—sharing a county-owned parcel near the westside of the Hawthorne Bridge—and an alternate one, next to KOIN Center. Staffers determined both plots were viable options, but anyone watching the process could tell the KOIN site never stood much of a chance.
Even so, the preferred site wasn't a preference for everyone. Veritable Quandary owner Dennis King initially voiced fears his restaurant wouldn't survive, marshaling employees and supporters to an emotional hearing on the matter. King has since said he believes the restaurant will survive. SHELBY R. KING
PORTLAND'S MUCH-LAUDED network of bike lanes and greenways has turned into a source of rancor and bruised feelings in the last week, and the nation is watching.
The debate began April 13, when a group of bike advocates posted an online petition asking the League of American Bicyclists to downgrade Portland's bike friendliness rating from a stellar "platinum" designation awarded in 2008. The activists say Portland's got an ugly secret—it's still too unsafe for bikes—and that basking in national plaudits may divert energy from that fact.
The petition, and subsequent coverage in local and national publications, spurred a lengthy reply from the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) on Thursday, April 16. In the seven-page memo, PBOT laid out a list of projects it's completed in recent years, and others it plans to complete in the near future.
The bureau makes the case that biking in Portland is always improving—even while conceding the progress hasn't gone far enough toward the city's goal of getting 25 percent of residents biking by 2030.
The activists who created the petition weren't impressed. They're urging people to call and email city leaders to force more dramatic projects. A week after it was posted, the petition had more than 650 signatures. DVH