There’s new Facebook page Keep Portland Weird, But Safe
While this page is not a publication of the North Park Blocks it seems our NPB experience this past summer has inspired it’s launch. In return we would like to publicize the page and share its public statement.
“Keep Portland Weird, But Safe” – Public Statement:
City Policy is Making Portland a Magnet for “Lifestyle Vagrancy,” Lawlessness, and Crime. Give Law Enforcement Necessary Staff and Ordinances to Make Portland Safe Again.
For the last several years, we’ve watched with great frustration as our city has been allowed to become a destination for “lifestyle vagrancy”, increasing drug activity, limitless street camping, aggressive pan-handling, and other illegal and disruptive behavior that directly affects the safety and quality of life of residents Downtown, and city-wide. Sadly, Portland is no longer a place where people can use public spaces without anxiety or fear. Recent efforts to temporarily displace this activity or label it as the bi-product of an “affordable housing” crisis are short-sighted, misleading, and will not resolve the serious public safety issues we face. An appropriately staffed Police force, public education campaign about the dangers of supporting panhandling, and more forceful ordinances are the only solution to this problem.
Compassion that is misdirected helps no one. As a city, we should support efforts to provide housing and social services for those in our community who are legitimately in need. However, masses of street kids, drug-users, and lifestyle vagrants flock here in greater numbers every Summer to take advantage of Portland’s liberal city policies and ordinances. They inundate our woefully understaffed Police force with increasingly brazen and illicit behavior, and extract dollars, services, and compassion from resident populations of the homeless and mentally ill who really need it. These individuals seek out an unsheltered free ride in Portland, and by the Police Bureau’s own account do not want help, housing, or other services.
Some in this debate want to make those who are fed up with the lawless behavior of these unsheltered populations to feel heartless. We are not heartless. Of course there are people here in Portland who need social service and deserve compassion. But as a city, we need distinguish between those who need help, and others who choose this lifestyle, constantly make poor choices, and abuse our good will. We must study and understand these nuanced unsheltered populations if we are to provide support and care for those who legitimately need help and, conversely, send a strong message to those who choose an unsheltered lifestyle that Portland is not the place for them to panhandle and fund their anarchic lifestyle.
The first and foremost duty of elected officials is to provide safety and rule of law for constituents. Our streets and public spaces must be restored as lawful environments so that ALL residents of the City of Portland can enjoy them equally, without fear or concern for their safety.
This opinion is shared by a growing number of vote-wielding Portlanders who are very frustrated with the status quo. We implore the Mayor and City Council to initiate the following practical solutions:
• Properly staff our police force at FBI-recommended levels and pace staffing with population growth
• Commission a study of the nuanced demographics of Portland’s unsheltered populations in order to inform social services and/or law enforcement response
• Drastically increase funding for the “Smart Change, Not Spare Change” campaign to illustrate how supporting panhandlers puts everyone in danger
• Aggressively litigate and enforce sit/lie/stand ordinances and renegotiate PPS contract to clear disruptive camps within 24 hours, not 2 weeks