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Meeting with Mayor Hales – Aug 18, 2015

Crime and Safety report image

Michelle Cardinal the CEO and Co-Founder of R2C Group (and North Park Blocks neighbor) met with Mayor yesterday to bring his attention to our criminal vagrant problem.  She presented this slide deck at the meeting.

Here are Michelle’s  notes from the meeting:

The meeting with the Mayor went well today – thank you for your support and input in our meeting yesterday. Tom Manley from PNCA and Bob Packard from ZGF were also in attendance (who I encourage to please weigh in on my notes or make additions).

The Mayor brought a large group, I didn’t get cards for all of them, but most notable were: Commander Westport – Portland Police, Josh Alpren – Chief of Staff, Patty Howard – Parks (works for Amanda Fritz, there were also representatives from Clean and Safe and Portland Business Alliance and Eloise Damroch – Executive Director of Regional Arts and Culture Council.

We presented PowerPoint deck (download it here: Crime Safety North Park Blocks 2.1MB pdf )and also a short film my employees made – showing exactly how life on park blocks has gotten unbearable. Film included real life testimonials of harassment, drug dealing, vagrancy etc…and overall lack of livability here (your photos were very helpful, thank you!). The video along with hard photos we left behind really made our point – loud and clear – they all seemed a bit speechless. A picture truly is worth a thousand words…

We clearly and concisely laid out our concerns;

We are now experiencing an unprecedented influx of crime led by gangs of drug dealers as well as abnormally large numbers of mentally ill and drug

Addled vagrants threatening our safety. This is not an indictment of the homeless community, instead an attempt to shine a light on a growing and vibrant criminal element who are smart and organized – taking advantage of the truly indigent and needy.

Big picture – Mayor appears to understand big backlash from constituents coming his way on this issue… Attempting to get ahead of it. Was open and willing to dialogue.

Here’s where we netted out: Some short term wins, to disrupt criminal activity in Park and a seat at the table to dialogue with Mayor on this issue.

Wins:

  1. Mayor encouraged creation of our Park Blocks Consortium – (I hope you like the name, I made it up to avoid confusion with PBAlliance) and wants to work with us through creation and expansion of Business Improvement Districts (BID) as Jacob suggested last night.
  2. Tom Manley (PNCA) – successfully floated idea of “Programming the Park” – whereby events are scheduled in the park (music, art, festivals) – to discourage vagrancy/criminal activity and encourage resident and tourist use. This would be partially funded by our Business Improvement District as well as other funding from PNCA. Mayor used “Holiday Park case study as excellent example” – and highly supports this.
  3. Three Week “Park Shut down ” – Mayor and Patty Howard (Parks) – Agreed to “shut park down” for three weeks in preparation for Labor Day Art in the Pearl – for reseeding and repairs of irrigation system. This will require complete clearance and fencing around the park.
  4. Three Week – Temporary “High Pedestrian Zone”on our sidewalks (directly across from Park) – which means no camping of sleeping of any kind.
  5. When Park reopens – Irrigation will turn on at 9AM and 12AM – daily.
  6. More Police will be assigned directly to North Park Blocks – Commander Westport – also gave me information regarding the hiring of “ off duty police” service – (which Jacob referred to last night a tool SW Park Blocks are also using). We would do this through our new BID (and our new Park Blocks Consortium).
    Next meeting – Mayor would like to have a follow-up meeting in two weeks – to follow up on above game plan and include additional people from our group.

Non Starters:

  1. Our request for a “ Drug Impact Area/Exclusion Zone” was shot down – with explanation that District Attorney is no longer prosecuting those cases (due to high failure rate). Failure rate is related to ACLU Claims that these laws unfairly target minorities. (Exclusion Zones were dropped by Potter in 2007 – due to ACLU lobbying – same issue).
  2. Open Town hall/Forum – was also shot down . Mayor wants to have solutions and plan before opening dialogue citywide.

Maybe:

We floated idea of the brand new, unused “Wapato Jail Facility” – to be used for homeless facility . This could be done fairly quickly and provide lots of quality space. This was met with lukewarm enthusiasm – because it is owned by County and too far from city services. Others in the know – think this is great idea. So we should continue to push this.

Concern :

New Methadone clinic is opening in ChinaTown/Oldtown? Not sure of location. Will impact our area.

It’s About Behavior, Not Homelessness

behaving badlyLast week an intern was walking to their office on the North Park Blocks. On NW Flanders (a few doors west of the park) they encountered this couple. Mayor Hales and members of Portland City Council don’t get it. Let’s simplify the situation for them – we don’t know the housing status of this couple, but we do know they are behaving badly.

This summer the North Park Blocks, its adjacent streets and many other public spaces in Portland have been overrun with illegal activity – drug dealing, public use of alcohol, destruction of property, intimidating panhandling, urination/defecation, prostitution and illegal sexual activity.

Portland has lost control of its public spaces. Mayor Hales and members of Portland City Council fail to provide humane solutions to Portland’s long-standing homeless crisis while turning a blind eye to the illegal activities that make our parks, public spaces and sidewalks unsafe for everyone.

Portland can do better. We’re “The City That Works.”

Dear Mayor Hales, Park Conditions Affect My Business

Local businesswoman, Michelle Cardinal recently wrote to Portland Mayor Hales to express her concerns over the deteriorating conditions in the city’s historic North Park Blocks.

… Our lovely Park has become home to vagrants who openly do drugs, have sex, fight and regularly urinate and defecate in public. My employees and clients are verbally harassed and physically threatened when walking to and from our office.

Daily we remove belligerent people aggessively blocking the entrance to our building and side step groups of people erecting makeshift cardboard forts on our sidewalks. This is affective my business and more importantly Portland’s prosperity in the long run. …

She has a meeting scheduled with Mayor Hales. We will reach out to her to unify efforts & perhaps participate in that meeting. Click for the full Letter to Mayor Hales 1MB pdf

Mayor Hales responded to our recent tweet. We look forward to his meeting with Ms Cardinal.

North Park Blocks Meeting and Update

Friends and neighbors;
A meeting of the North Park Blocks residents has been locked in.

When: Thursday, August 6, 2015 6:00 pm
Where: Powers Studios/Visiting Media
825 NW Glisan St, Portland, OR 97209

All of us are adamant about working with the necessary agencies, parks bureau, and the police to resolve the illegal, criminal activity that has surfaced in the North Park Blocks and surrounding neighborhoods in the past six months. This is not a matter of homelessness, it’s a matter of ILLEGAL activities such as:

Threatening behaviors
Fighting
Intimidation
Selling/Buying drugs
Prostitution
Trespassing
Lewd sexual behavior, including urination/defecation
Public consumption of drugs or alcohol
After hours park occupation
Aggressive pan-handling
Anti-camping laws being disregarded
etc….

Contact was made with Jacob Brostoff, our Crime Prevention Coordinator, regarding the “Problem Solving Issues in Public Spaces” document he provided at the recent meeting with residents from the Flanders Lofts and North Park Lofts.

Continue below for our Q&A with Jacob Brostoff.

Continue reading “North Park Blocks Meeting and Update”

Portland Business Alliance Livability Petition

Honeyman_LoftsWe are reaching out to ask you to sign the petition and share it with anyone in your community who is concerned about this issue. Our intent of the campaign is to show city leaders that Portlanders are concerned about the safety of people living on the streets, the safety of families and visitors who use our public spaces and the businesses impacted by disruptive behavior.

Sign this petition telling Mayor Hales and Portland City Council to provide safer and more humane solutions for people living outside and to prioritize the safety, cleanliness and livability of our city’s public spaces.

Go to: www.pdxcandobetter.com