Terminal 1 or Wapato: Better Than Dying on PDX Streets

Day Campers on North Park Blocks ~ Aug 2015
Day Campers on North Park Blocks ~ Aug 2015

The sad truth is that the down trodden sleep on our streets with no treatment or protection and people are increasing dying. Our current policies are not working. We need more shelter beds and a consistent street policy to eradicate unregulated, unsanitary and unsafe street camping. Terminal One or Wapato – are real impactful solutions – big enough to make a measurable impact, giving people a roof and safe haven for sleep and nourishment. The argument that a large shelter concept would be warehousing homeless is the least of our worries when people are dying on our streets. ~ Michelle Cardinal

From: 88 Homeless People Died on Portland-Area Streets Last Year by Rachel Monahan, Willamette Week, Sept 9, 2016

The number of homeless people who died in Multnomah County rose sharply in 2015—to 88, up from 56 the year before.

That’s the highest number of deaths since the county and the Street Roots newspaper began compiling the data in 2011 for a report entitled “Domicile Unknown.”

It’s may be a first, official indication that the number of homeless Portlanders has risen sharply since the last count in January 2015.

The lack of affordable housing is a contributing factor, says Street Roots executive director Israel Bayer.

“We’re not getting people into housing at a quick enough pace to save the lives of people who are elderly and vulnerable,” says Bayer. “There are more people on the streets because we’re not moving people inside.”

Using the same method since 2011, the county has tallied the number of deaths investigated by the medical examiners’ office.

In all, 17 homeless women died in 2015, up from four in 2014. The number of African-Americans rose to 10 from seven. The number of homicides rose from one to five. Women died at an average age of 41; men at an average age of 50.

Drugs or alcohol contributed to 44 deaths in 2015, up from 31 in 2014. Deaths related to heroin or other opiates remained relatively flat: 19 in 2014, 22 in 2015.

As in years’ past, roughly an equal number of homeless died from April through September and October through March.

Here’s a link to the report.

PBOT: Suck it Up, Unhappy PDX Drivers Citywide

Bolt Bus reduces Everett to 1 lane during rush hour
Bolt Bus reduces NW Everett to one lane during rush hour

The folks who live and work around the North Park Blocks keep getting the cold shoulder from Portland’s Commissioner of Public Safety Steve Novick and his Bureau of Transportation.

For months we’ve documented how Bolt Bus turned a quiet historic park into a bus depot. We were startled when PBOT suggested we suck it up since drivers all over Portland are frustrated.

Cevero Gonzalez, constituent services coordinator for the Portland Bureau of Transportation, wrote us that “PBOT has not documented any increased safety impacts as a result of the Bolt Bus location,” … “Double parking and impatient motorists are problematic in all neighborhoods citywide.”

We invite Commissioner Novick and Mr Gonzalez to spend some time with us and watch the logjam and traffic violations created by Bolt Bus’ 40+ daily stops at NW Everett and Broadway.

Each Bolt Bus drops off up to 50 passengers (with baggage) who get picked up by double-parked drivers. Add to that another 50 passengers waiting on the sidewalk to board the next bus.  Without access to restrooms or cover from inclement weather they  seek shelter or a restroom by approaching businesses in the neighborhood.  Many huddle beneath overhangs in near-by buildings. At times more than 100 people (with baggage) block the sidewalk, making it nearly impossible for pedestrians to get through.

Simple solution – get Bolt Bus out of our historic park and let them use nearby Greyhound bus station (at NW 6th and Hoyt)

Read all about it in the Northwest Examiner.
Click headline below BoltBus Creates Logjam (August 2016)
2.5mb pdf

NW examiner Aug 2016

Bolt Bus – It’s A Park, Not Your Bus Depot

Without facilities, trash piles up on the street
Without facilities, Bolt trash piles up on the street. Passengers ask nearby businesses to use bathrooms.

Bolt Bus, a subsidiary of Greyhound likes to market itself as the hip, low-cost future of bus travel. Earlier this year, Bolt moved into the North Park Block without warning. Rather than use their nearby Greyhound bus station (at NW 6th and Hoyt) Bolt turned the corner of NW Everett and 8th into a bus terminal without concern for it’s impact on the the park or neighborhood. We first  in February. See Terminal Chaos Forces Bolt Bus To Street Corner

Bolt passengers block sidewalk
Bolt passengers block sidewalk

To update the situation, here’s a reprint of a letter from Pearl District Neighborhood Association. 822KB pdf


April 19, 2016
Re: Bolt Bus
Dear Mayor Hales and Commissioner Novick,

The Pearl District Neighborhood Association (PDNA) brings forward the following Livability & Safety concerns regarding the Bolt Bus stop/depot that moved from SW Salmon St. to NW Everett St. at 8th Avenue; without any prior communication to the neighborhood. The Bolt Bus move to this block has had an immediate and negative impact on those living and working here.

Bolt riders forced sit on the sidewalk
Bolt riders forced sit on the sidewalk

We do not understand why Bolt would use a city street for a depot as there are no services commonly associated with a commuter bus terminal. Bolt Bus provides a coach service to destinations as far as Vancouver BC. Their customers travel with luggage – which necessitates being dropped off or picked up by car or taxi. Buses queue all day long, starting with the 6:30 AM pickup – which results in increased traffic starting sometime after 6AM and throughout the day. The Bolt Bus’s last drop off is scheduled for 10PM, although with delays their buses do sometime arrive much later. The increase in traffic is undeniable. The noise from the idling cars, the greetings and farewells, the honking of frustrated drivers who cannot proceed on Everett or surrounding streets due to double parking is ever present.

Bolt Bus drop offs block traffic
Bolt Bus drop offs block traffic

Livability Issues:

  • Noise from the buses; including idling and wheelchair ramp engagement.
  • Pollution from the buses.
  • Littering from Bolt Bus customers due to the fact there are no trash receptacles
  • Cigarette butts thrown on the sidewalk and ground cover of the WeWork (Custom House) building as there is no butt disposal container.
  • Illegal congregation of Bolt Bus customers under the private property doorway of the previous Remedy Wine Bar (also an egress into/out of the North Park Lofts building for residents); as Bolt Bus customers attempt to get out of the rain, wind, cold, heat, etc.
  • For residents of the North Park Blocks building; especially those on the corner of 8th and Everett, there is a materially negative impact on the livability of their homes; and most likely the property values as well. Residents are unable to open their windows due to the noise and exhaust.
Idling Bolt buses block street crossing
Idling Bolt buses block crosswalk

Safety Issues:

  • Traffic congestion as the stop is in a lane of traffic on an already busy street (Everett).
  • Illegal parking of cars picking up and dropping off Bolt Bus customers.
  • Concerns for the safety of Bolt Bus customers and drivers at the North Park Lofts building garage entrance/exit. Bolt Bus customers congregate under the roof of the garage door to get out of the rain, wind, cold, heat, etc. This is particularly concerning as this exit is a downhill slope from the parking garage which makes visibility poor; a risk for drivers and Bolt Bus customers.
  • Cars are parked illegally, backing up a lane of traffic (which also has two pedestrian crossings) on Everett between 8th and Park; as they drop off or pick up Bolt Bus customers.
  • Buses stack up down Everett as Bolt uses Cascade and Northwest Point and other bus company’s buses when demand exceeds Bolt Bus capacity.
  • The right lane of traffic on Everett is impassable when Bolt Buses drop off or pick up passengers; creating traffic back-ups that extend into the pedestrian walkways.
  • There is no presence of traffic officers ticketing illegal parking in a lane of traffic on Everett nor are there parking officers to ticket drivers who are not paying for parking as they are dropping off/picking up Bolt Bus customers.
Blocked sidewalks and illegal dropoffs
Blocked sidewalks and illegal drop-offs

This bus depot should be relocated to Union Station which has a facility with seating, bathrooms, concessions, garbage receptacles, etc. or to a parking lot where at least the traffic concerns would be addressed or use the bus depot on NW 6th and Glisan.

Please advise as to next steps to work towards a resolution in this matter.

Sincerely,

Patricia Gardner
President, Pearl District Neighborhood Association

Bus passengers trample plantings to get out of rain
Bus passengers trample plantings to get out of rain

Ted Wheeler: Reclaim PDX Public Spaces

Portland firefighters called to homeless camps 79 times in two months
Portland firefighters called to homeless camps 79 times in two months

First off, our congrats to Ted Wheeler for sweeping the primary. Now it’s time to get down to work making Portland a better city for all. In case you don’t read Reddit, we wanted to repost this piece from r/Portland 18 May 2016

Open letter to Ted Wheeler 

Dear Ted,

I’m a resident of Portland, a homeowner, and one of the many people who voted for you yesterday. I chose to cast my ballot for you because of your experience and technical credentials as our state’s treasurer, but also because of your work with Portland Mountain Rescue.

Like you, I love the mountains and the outdoors: biking, hiking, climbing, skiing. It’s why I’ve chosen to make my home here.

Over the last few years, I’ve slowly watched our urban green spaces be taken over by a population of people who reject the social contract and feed off our city like parasites. Open air drug use, public defecation, rampant property crime, intimidation of law abiding folk… the list goes on. The taxpayers and responsible citizens of this city are being held hostage in their own neighborhoods. I commute to work every day past growing camps of transients who have no respect for the rule of law, and no care for the city which they are polluting. Help us. Direct the police to help us. Just… do… something.

Our city cannot tolerate another four years of passive non-leadership on this issue. Our city cannot tolerate kicking the can or shifting blame. Fight for the taxpayers on this one. Help us reclaim our parks, multi use paths, and sidewalks. Create the conditions for us to enjoy our wonderful city without fear of being harassed, victimized, or worse. Be the hero Portland needs.

Sincerely,

alpinemarmot


For more on the subject see 6 reasons why Portland’s homeless crisis is at a breaking point


Image From Portland firefighters called to homeless camps 79 times in two months ( KGW)

Terminal Chaos Forces Bolt Bus To Street Corner

Bolt bus depot

Dear Mayor Hales and City Commissioners,

I know that some other residents of my building (The North Park Lofts at 300 NW 8th Ave.) have written complaining about the Bolt Bus “stop” (read: depot) that has been moved from SW Salmon St. to NW Everett St. at 8th Ave.  I won’t add to the litany of complaints but suffice it to say that the noise pollution, traffic congestion, illegal parking, litter, etc. from this has had a materially negative impact on the livability of our homes.  And most likely the property values as well.

I met with Joe Darden, Senior Operations Manager of Bolt Bus, yesterday to get their side of the story and to share our concerns with him.  I met him at the Greyhound bus terminal on NW 6th Ave. and it was evident immediately why he would want to use a city street as a depot rather than the modern facility they own; a facility with seating, bathrooms, concessions, garbage receptacles, etc. that was completely deserted and in lockdown at 2pm.  Outside were probably 25-30 presumably homeless people who had taken over the sidewalk and mall surrounding the terminal.  I am a 6’1”, 195lb. man and it was very uncomfortable for me to walk the length of the terminal.  I was twice asked if I was “looking” and one man glared and spit at me.  I cannot imagine a woman, an elderly person, a family, or anyone really who would feel safe going near the terminal.

Joe is a very reasonable man who was sympathetic to our concerns.  He agreed to implement a no-idling policy which, although less than 24 hours in effect, has already made a big difference in the noise.  I didn’t even bother asking him the question why Bolt would use a city street for a depot, with all the attendant issues that creates, because it was painfully obvious that the terminal has been rendered virtually unusable.  His frustration with the situation was palpable, and as someone who endured the similar and horrible situation on the North Park Blocks last summer, I shared his frustration.

When will this City Council do something concrete and meaningful about this?  This is not a Bolt Bus problem, it’s a city-wide livability problem.  The “temporary” moratorium on enforcing the no-camping ordinance is only going to make matters worse. Perhaps we could take a “temporary” time-out from creating bike lanes, couplets, and extending the Streetcar and Max lines to seriously address this.  If the city’s scarce financial resources could be redirected to create one or two permanent camps/shelters with concentrated services and drop-off/triage centers for the police, then maybe the city could find the spine to enforce our laws and make the city inhabitable for tax-paying residents.  The PBA and downtown business owners would no doubt enthusiastically support this and possibly contribute financially.  Even groups like Mercy Corps and Medical Teams International might be willing to offer help in addressing what amounts to a humanitarian crisis in their own backyard.

I know that homelessness is not a crime, and my heart goes out to those who are in that condition through no fault of their own, but what has happened to the once-fair city I grew up in and have lived in for nearly 60 years is a crime.  Doing nothing is not compassion and only enables, nay exacerbates, a tragic problem for all of us.  Thank you for listening and I look forward to your response.

Eric Stromquist
North Park Lofts