North Park Blocks Recommendations to Mayor Hales

City_Hall,_Portland,_Oregon_in_2012On Sept 1st Mayor Hales hosted a 90 min meeting at City Hall to hear the concerns raised by residents and businesses of Portland’s historic North Park Blocks (NPB). Over two dozen were in attendance including Portland Police, representatives from city and county agencies, outreach program managers, and DAs office. The NPB neighborhood was represented by Michelle Cardinal (R2C Group), Tom Manley (PNCA), Bob Packard (ZGF), Peter Pappas (resident), Jessie Burke (Society Hotel), Edie Rogoway (Rogoway Law), Jean Fleming (resident) and Ed Blackburn (Central City Concern).

Mayor Hales opened the “listening session” and stressed the need to address the immediate concerns of the North Park Blocks while being congruent with larger initiatives to address needs of Portland’s public spaces.


Then Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz lectured the group that “parks are for everyone – the last place for people,” and announced that she would only be able to stay for the first 20 minutes of the scheduled 90 minute meeting.

The North Park Blocks neighbors are disappointed that Park’s Commissioner Fritz could not find the time to listen to our concerns and contribute to the discussion  for improving the safety and livability of the city parks that she oversees.


On behalf of the NPB neighbors, Michelle Cardinal presented the following four recommendations:

1. Enforce existing laws/ordinances on books:

a. Drug Free (School) Zones Under Oregon law. Under ORS 475.904 it is a Class A felony “for any person to manufacture or deliver a schedule I, II or III controlled substance within 1,000 feet of the real property comprising a public or private elementary, secondary or career school attended primarily by minors.” The entire North Park Blocks falls within 1000 ft of the Emerson School

1000 ft Emerson School Drug Free Zone extends the full length of Park Blocks
1000 ft Emerson School Drug Free Zone extends the full length of Park Blocks

b. Impounding Dangerous Dogs (ORS 609.090) allows the police to impound a dog if it is a “public nuisance,” which includes a dog that is deemed to be a “potentially dangerous dog” further defined as a dog that: . . . “Without provocation and while not on premises from which the keeper may lawfully exclude others, inflicts physical injury on . . . a domestic animal . . . .” ORS 609.035(5).

c. Illegal Camping on Public Property (14A.50.020) – “campsite means any place where bedding, sleeping bag or sleeping matter is placed or established.” Illegal camping. There are no Oregon or federal cases stating that Portland’s “no camping” ordinance is unconstitutional. To the contrary, in Anderson v. City of Portland, No. CIV. 08-1447-AA, 2011 WL 6130598, at *4 (D. Or. Dec. 7, 2011), federal Judge Anna Brown rejected a host of constitutional arguments against the ordinance but noted that the plaintiffs’ issues “cried out for a political rather than a legal solution.” Recently, Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Stephen Bushong found the same ordinance to be lawful and constitutional.

d. No smoking in Public Parks Ordinance (July 2015)

2. North Park Blocks oversight is not working:
Two entities share responsibility (Park Rangers in park / Clean and Safe surrounding streets).  Aggressors know and simply cross the street when confronted.  Residents are confused on who to contact.  We request return to Clean and Safe jurisdiction. Only two teams of Park Ranger assigned to entire downtown. Their primary mission of Park Rangers is “diplomats.” Security is secondary. Since Park Rangers have assumed responsibility, park security has declined.

3. Neighbors need one point of contact
Who do people call when reporting incidents. The current system is a confusing collection of phone numbers and jurisdictions.

4. Program the Parks
Team with PNCA, Park Blocks neighbors , businesses, and CCC to flood the park with positive events.

The meeting continued with many ideas shared among attendees. Mayor Hales concluded the meeting by noting that while Portland has multi-layered governmental system, that is not an excuse for inaction. He asked that attendees follow up by sending him specific recommendations. He is planning a follow up meeting for this group as well as hosting a meeting of west coast mayors to address common concerns of homelessness. He closed by citing the successful summer at Portland’s Holladay Park which organized a summer of positive programing.

Image credit: Wikimedia

4 Replies to “North Park Blocks Recommendations to Mayor Hales”

  1. This is an excellent summary of the meeting. Commissioner Fritz’s performance was particularly distressing as she has oversight for the parks. Pity she couldn’t stay, as she would have learned that the issue is roving bands of malicious gangs who engage in illegal and dangerous activity.
    I have invited her to take a personal tour of the park with me and I hope she will accept. No word back yet, however.

  2. You mean the same Amanda Fritz who tried to put a tent city in the Pearl District. Why aren’t we surprised?
    Short term…..get something done. I don’t have kids at Emerson, but if I did, I would be livid.
    Long term….Recruit a candidate who will run against and Beat Fritz.
    She does not represent the views of the public.
    Yes “The Parks are for everybody.” We have in the past, and should continue to let ALL citizens use the parks….but only if they obey the rules and the laws.

  3. This is an email that I sent to Commissioner Fritz
    “The Parks are for everybody” You were quoted as saying that during the meeting with Mayor Hales and the citizens who requested the meeting to discuss the deterioration of the park blocks.

    That statement by you is an excellent start.

    Let me finish it with an even better quote.

    “The parks are for everybody as long as they obey the rules and the laws”

    I realize that the homeless have no place to go. I, like the vast majority of Portlanders, do NOT object to the presence of people in the parks that have no home.
    This situation in the Park blocks, is not about that.
    It is about people breaking the laws.
    The majority of these people are not your typical, hang out in the park, grab a blanket and sleep all day types. They are much worse than that.

    These are the 10 laws that are being broken. Some petty. Others a felony.

    They are dealing drugs within 1000 feet of a school, which is a felony.
    They are publicly intoxicated.
    They are urinating in public.
    They are leaving dangerous needles laying around.
    They are horrific litterbugs.
    They are smoking in public parks. They say second hand smoke is bad. What about second hand pot smoke….in front of Children? Tell me….Why did you vote for a ban on smoking in the parks, when you had ZERO intentions of enforcing it?
    They are camping in the park….Yes…..I know. You look the other way with this law…But it IS the law.
    They are aggressively confronting to the point of assault, passer bys.
    They are letting known aggressive dogs go off leash. One dog nearly died last week, due to an attack.
    They are not picking up dog waste.

    Because of the 10 laws that are being violate on a daily basis The north Park blocks, have ceased. “To be for everybody”, just the select few.

    So yes “The parks are for everybody.” It is just that there is a huge segment of population who aren’t not able to use that park because it has been completely taken over by people committing lawless behavior. These are dangerous roving gangs of law breakers, scaring the shit out of elementary children.

    You have to come see for yourself.

    Personal note. I met two young women, who just moved moved here from out of state. They have opened up a new wine bar on the west side of the park.
    Like most new businesses, I could tell, they are struggling to make it happen.
    Why don’t you go visit the park, see what is really going on first hand, then pay a visit to this couple. Ask them what their concerns are.

  4. We need to change some local ordinances..one being the camping law…why is it ok to camp wherever you want? No city in America allows that..
    And even more important,panhandlers…there is an “underworld “type of pecking order when it comes to panhandling on the off/on ramps,ect..
    Apparently,there is a “boss” who allows certain homeless people to work the offramps..those are the homeless people that you see with signs declaring that they will work for food or whatever..they in turn ,pay the “boss” a percentage of their take from the day..sometimes,the boss will get greedy and take all of the money..similar to a pimp/prostitute dynamic..
    This should be looked at and dealt with accordingly..
    There are alot of different issues to look at in this delicate area..I agree that homelessness needs to be dealt with,there are many people that need help,however,there are also alot of people that are happy with their lifestyle and dont want it to change..we,as a neighborhood,need to make that change for them..I am personally tired of constantly being harrased ..lets seriously make some changes here folks..

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