Springwater path update: Neighborhood meetings, a community walk, and the City’s stance

Springwater path update: Neighborhood meetings, a community walk, and the City’s stance

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(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

We’re continuing to track the concerns about people who live outside along the Springwater path, the conditions of the path, and the safety of people who ride bikes on it.

Our two recent stories on the subject — one about concerns from path users and the current state of law enforcement response to them, and the other that shared the perspectives of the homeless residents themselves — has sparked a big discussion.

This issue obviously goes way beyond bicycling. We’re covering it because it impacts conditions on properties managed by the Portland Parks & Recreation and Bureau of Transportation that have transportation corridors running through them (like the Springwater, Waterfront Park, and the Greeley path).

Here are a few updates:

Neighborhoods are stepping up to address the issues

– Terry Dublinski-Milton, a member of the Southeast Uplift Neighborhood Coalition action committee has been actively working on this. He tells us SEUL, which represents 19 southeast Portland neighborhoods, is “taking the lead.” They’re working with houseless community advocates to find a long-term solution so that people who cannot find shelter have a more sustainable and safe place to live. Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood Association Chair Eric Wikoff confirmed with us that he’s working with the SE Uplift Executive Committee to address the issues as well. Wikoff said the topic will be discussed at their upcoming meeting on February 4th.

Lents Active Watch is a neighborhood group that formed last spring to, “begin patrols and take a more involved step into the Lents neighborhood.” They have an event planned this Sunday (1/24) dubbed “Walking the Walk” where they plan to get out on the Springwater path in the area around SE 82nd and Harney to “explore the neighborhood and get to know your neighbors.” Show up Sunday at 4:00 pm at Cartlandia (8145 SE 82nd) to join in. Come for the walk, stay for the food!

City of Portland statements on camping near the Springwater path

To help clarify the city’s position on the issue (that may be different than what you think), below are two statements. The first comes from the Parks Bureau (they manage the Springwater), the second comes from Mayor Charlie Hales’ office:


mohawk craig

“Mohawk Craig” is a vet who lives in a tent adjacent to the Springwater near SE 82nd and Harney.
(Photo: M. Anderson/BikePortland)

Portland Parks (emphases mine)

Portland Parks & Recreation is aware of campsites off the Springwater Trail, including in the area you mention. It is indeed a challenge; a lot of folks have expressed concerns, fears and frustrations, and we are working with the Mayor’s Office on a more sustainable solution. Please know we are bidden to follow the Mayor’s Office’s direction on this issue (see below).

As you likely already know, the City Council has enacted a State of Emergency around homelessness last year. In addition, the City of Portland changed the policy regarding campsite clean-ups. This new policy reflects an equitable set of best practices to address the homeless challenge in Portland in a humane and safe way, while at the same time allowing the City to take appropriate action when the situation calls for it. The Parks bureau is complying with the City’s new policy which generally permits low impact camping on city property, but gross misuse of public space is not tolerated. Let me add that this policy does not apply to emerging criminal behavior. All crimes in progress should be reported to police. Furthermore, we ask residents to report campsite observations to the city’s campsite coordination program called One Point of Contact, at http://www.portlandoregon.gov/campsites.

Each location is assessed by the Mayor’s Office and can include removal of camps at city parks. You can also report any non-emergency issues including camping to parks at 503-823-1637. We have about 4 to 8 rangers on daily duty during winter months. They do respond to calls for services, prioritize them, and take action as appropriate. Under the new policy on camping, they cannot remove camps until an approval from the Mayor’s office is received. What helps secure this approval is your campsite reports to the One Point of Contact program, at http://www.portlandoregon.gov/campsites.

Mayor’s Office:

Recently the City of Portland changed our policy regarding campsite clean-ups. This new policy reflects an equitable set of best practices to address the homeless challenge in Portland in a humane and safe way, while at the same time allowing the City to take appropriate action when the situation calls for it.

As has been widely reported, the City Council has enacted a State of Emergency around Housing and Homelessness because we lack sufficient indoor space – whether temporary shelter or permanent affordable housing – to house our approximately 2,000 homeless people living on our streets. The City has prioritized the funding and building of more bed spaces, but in the meantime the City is managing public space in a realistic, balanced manner and is generally permitting very low impact camping. However, criminal activity and gross misuse of public space continues to not be tolerated.

If you send in some info on a camping situation we can document it, and it will be reviewed and prioritized with other campsites already under review. reportpdx@portlandoregon.gov

It’s worth noting that a reader saw a visible increase in police and ranger presence after he rode the path yesterday.

This is an important issue and I know there are many passionate voices with different perspectives on how to best to address it. I hope we can have a respectful and productive dialogue so that BikePortland readers can be a part of the solution.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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