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.



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)

City Policy Makes PDX a Destination for “Lifestyle Vagrancy”

City Policy is Making Portland a Destination for “Lifestyle Vagrancy,” Lawlessness, and Crime Increase Police Staffing and Fight Our Panhandling Epidemic With Community Education

Click image to view video
Click image to view video

Public comment to Portland City Council
Delivered October 28th, 2015
Testimony as PDF (80KB)              Click to view video

Thank you for allowing me to speak today. And thank you Mayor Hales for your stated desire to focus on the city instead of re-election. My name is Fritz Jünker. I’ve lived in a condo four blocks from City Hall with my wife since 2007. I am speaking today out of concern for the safety of my family, friends and neighbors. Last Summer, as we all know, a man was stabbed to death by a drifter just steps from here. This terrified our neighborhood. Earlier this Summer, my wife was assaulted by a homeless man a block from our home. She’s now constantly afraid and on guard. Just weeks ago, a visiting friend was spit on and threatened by a panhandler who was displeased with not receiving change. My wife and I, our neighbors, and our friends have had innumerable other experiences with aggressive and criminal behavior from Portland’s increasing unsheltered populations and we have all reached our limit. As quoted recently in the Oregonian “the next New York Times Article about Portland isn’t going to be about how great our food and wine are.”

For the last several years, I’ve watched with great frustration as our city has been allowed to become a destination for “lifestyle vagrancy”, unchecked drug activity, limitless street camping, aggressive panhandling, and other illegal and disruptive behavior that directly affects the safety and quality of life residents Downtown, and city-wide. Sadly, Portland is no longer a place where we can use public spaces without disruption, 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 as a city. Only after we restore basic rule of law can we then speak about affordable housing and other solutions not related to immediate public safety.

Every Summer, street kids, drug-users, and other “lifestyle vagrants” flock here in greater numbers to take advantage of the city’s hands-off ideology. They inundate our woefully understaffed Police force with increasingly brazen and illicit behavior, draw drug and gang activity into the region, and extract dollars, services, and compassion from resident populations of the homeless and mentally ill who really need it. This coming Spring, we must send a strong message to those who travel here or choose this lifestyle that Portland is not their anarchic utopia.

Some in this debate want to make those who are fed up with the lawless behavior of these populations to feel heartless. We are not heartless. It’s about behavior, not homelessness. Of course – there are people here in Portland who desperately need social services and deserve compassion. But compassion that is misdirected helps no one. To care for those who are legitimately in need, we must sort out those who abuse our collective kindness.

I speak today on behalf of a growing number of Portlanders who are very frustrated with the state of our city. We implore you to consider the following four solutions:

  1. Properly staff our police force at FBI-recommended levels and pace staffing with population growth.
  2. Drastically increase funding and exposure for the “Smart Change, Not Spare Change” campaign to educate Portlanders about the dangers of supporting panhandling.
  3. Commission a neutral, 3rd party study of the true demographics of Portland’s unsheltered populations.
  4. Draft stronger ordinances to allow better law enforcement response to these issues.

Thank you for your time.

Fritz Jünker, Portland Resident

Portland Tribune: Police Passive with Homeless Population

Police passive with homeless population
Reposted from:
Police Passive with Homeless Population
Portland Tribune October 2015

Written by Peter Korn

Hayley Purdy can’t figure out why police officers bike, drive and walk by the social chaos she lives with on the North Park Blocks and do virtually nothing.

Throughout the summer Purdy and her neighbors documented the increasing disorder in their part of downtown. They watched the proliferation of illegal campsites and the garbage piling up and they’ve had a few angry confrontations with squatters over broad daylight drug dealing.

Daryl Turner says he knows why. The Portland Police union chief says street officers have been walking by situations involving illegal homeless camping and sidewalk obstruction when in years past they would have taken action. And that’s because city officials refuse to provide police with clear direction and support in dealing with the growing number of homeless people who violate city ordinances, according to Turner.

“We have never, ever, by any leadership, been given clear direction on how to deal with the homeless population on sidewalks and in parks,” Turner says. “Without clear direction, cops don’t know what the city wants.” Continue reading “Portland Tribune: Police Passive with Homeless Population”

Do You Know The Difference Between Policy and Law?

PortlandCityHall_640editedOne of the biggest questions we run into is “why isn’t law enforcement enforcing the law”. This is a great question but, also a complicated one. Herein lies the conundrum of law and policy. The State of Oregon’s legislature writes state laws. Local city government officials that “we” vote for and put into office set forth policy. Sometimes the law and policy collide when city officials take it upon themselves to set policy which overrides the law.

An example of this can be seen with state law prohibiting smoking in public places which took effect July 1, 2015. While the state law is pretty clear Portland City Council deemed the law unenforceable in their opinion and Amanda Fritz was quoted to say ‘peer pressure,’ not police, will enforce Portland policy. Therefore you will not see a reduction or impact whatsoever on smoking of any kind in public parks nor around play grounds like the one outside of Emerson School, nor will you see a reduction in the cigarette butts left behind.

Similar situations of policy trumping law would be site lie and inner city camping which are both illegal under State of Oregon Law. This particular issue was addressed in the Portland Tribune this week. City Hall has failed to give clear direction to police on what they can or cannot do.

“Assistant Police Chief Bob Day says he has made it clear to officers, for instance, that tents on public property should not be allowed. “We’ve talked about that on multiple occasions,” he says. However in recent discussions with Chief Day – he said “we can and should report illegal camping. That said, the police have to jump through several hoops to get people to move along – it may take 24 – 48 hours. And with understaffing this is not huge priority, but it can be done.

Therefore squeaky wheel gets the grease.” So, let’s get squeaking by calling non-emergency police to remove people from side walk blockage and from door ways. Tents, forts, sleeping bags are all illegal.

Additionally here are other state laws that we as a tax paying citizen have the right to demand be enforced:

1. 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.”

All that has to be shown to obtain a conviction is that the person had more drugs on them then for personal use. That is enough to show an “intent to deliver.” State v. Rodriguez-Barrera, 213 Or. App. 56, 60, 159 P.3d 1201, 1203 (2007) (“possession of a controlled substance in a quantity that is inconsistent with personal use, when accompanied by possession of materials commonly associated with delivery, is sufficient to establish possession with intent to deliver the contr olled substance.”)

2. Dog attack – Oregon law. ORS 609.090 allows the police to impound a dog if it is a “pubic 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).

3. 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

Recently, Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Stephen Bushong found the same ordinance to be lawful and constitutional.

This summer our voices were heard by city hall and they took some action. The cooler weather has moved in and we are seeing less drifters and traveling gangs. But, this is the time when we need to push and make noise. If we don’t we run the risk of having another summer next year whereby the North Park Blocks are over-run and occupied by a street dwelling criminal element bent on affecting the quality of life in and around the park.

The only way that we will impact lasting change is by keeping our voices be heard. If we see any crime being committed it is our obligation as good neighbors to report it. If you are confused, which many are, by who to call when feel free to download the North Park Blocks Resource Sheet here  or consider the following:

If you witness or are subject to illegal behavior, please do not confront the perpetrator(s). PLEASE REPORT IT.

  • Crimes in progress or life threatening emergency: dial 911
  • Non-emergency (suspicious person/activity): Portland Police 503 823.3333
  • Park rule violations/drugs/alcohol/off leash dog/litter: Parks Ranger Dispatch 503 823.1637
  • Park maintenance issues: 503 823.4824
  • Illegally parked vehicles: Parking Patrol 503 823.5195
  • Excessive Noise Noise Control Office 503 823.7350
  • City/County Information and Referrals: 503 823.2781

Additionally, sign up to testify at the City Council meetings. Simply email Karla Moore via Karla.Moore-Love@portlandoregon.gov and let her know when you would like to provide the public testimony. City Council meetings are held on Wednesdays. Communications are the first item on the official agenda and they start at 9:30 a.m. (You may also fax at 503-823-4571 or call 503-823-4086 for more information).

Keep Portland Weird (But Safe)

PDX mounted police

This past summer the North Park Blocks experienced a dramatic rise in unlawful activity – traveling gangs, aggressive panhandlers, drugs, public sex, off-leash dog attacks. That situation was turned around when City Hall finally took notice and Portland Police stepped up their presence to enforce the law in the park.

We saw smart policing based on positive and supportive police interaction with citizens.  But increased police presence in the North Park Blocks required pulling scarce police resources from other Portland neighborhoods. Bottom line  – community-focussed policing is labor-intensive and Portland Police is understaffed to provide adequate safety city wide.

Statistics show that Portland Police is understaffed. The FBI national benchmark calls for 2.7 officers per 1000 residents and Portland has only 1.5. More stats here.

sign the petition

Public safety has made Portland one of America’s most livable cities. Our community needs our Police Bureau to take calls for service, investigate crimes, confront gang violence, and proactively engage with the public. Having enough police officers to manage these functions will keep Portland a great place to live.

Portland City Council must increase Police Bureau staffing levels to ensure there are enough police officers to meet the City’s public safety priorities.

The Portland Police Association has started a petition to Mayor Hales and Portland City Council. Send a message to City Council – Read more and sign the Petition.

pdx police stats
Click to enlarge graph