By Steve Herman, FM News 101 KXL @HermanatorInPDX.
However there is a glaring flaw in Mayor Hales plan.
The ordinance being used to re-zone the sidewalks giving the city authority over the sidewalks only applies from 7:00am to 9:00pm. This gives the homeless the right to continue to camp out and sleep in front of City Hall, as usual. Essentially changing nothing, considering most the homeless vacate the area in the morning anyways.
This point was brought up in a Monday afternoon press conference by a journalist. Initially Hales and Portland Police Commander Bob Day insisted that the ordinance was 24/7, however upon further review it states:
14A.50.030 Sidewalk Use
B. Improper Use Of Sidewalk In A High Pedestrian Traffic Area – Use Of Pedestrian Use Zone By A Person Who Is Not A Pedestrian:
1. Between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., only pedestrians may use the pedestrian use zone in the high pedestrian traffic areas described in Subsection F.
A spokesperson for Mayor Hales went as far to say "You can roll out a sleeping bag and sleep."
What's also unknown is the effect this will have on other areas designated with the same High Pedestrian Traffic Area, like in front of the food carts on SW 3rd AVE and Voodoo Doughnuts. Those areas were given that designation as a way to fight off the "street kids" from businesses and their customers. That re-zoning technique is one of a few things business owners are clinging to when it comes to dealing with the unwanted gangs.
In addition, campers have moved in front of Terry Shrunk Plaza , along Jefferson ST, near the Wells Fargo Tower, over to the park blocks in front of the Portland Building and the Multnomah County Courthouse.
Trevor Matney who was handcuffed to a tree from Friday to Monday afternoon says the numbers have only grown three-fold since the mayor has drawn extra attention to the situation. "There were at least 50-people whom I don't even know that showed up."
Matney also told KXL "We take this as partially a win, however what we were trying to achieve was help and housing for the people who are actually out here."
Mayor Hales insists "600,000 people own City Hall, we have to listen to them."
Employees have been harassed going in and out of the building. Homeless campers have been seen exchanging drugs and having sex right on the sidewalk. The smell has also generated countless complaints. Hales says social workers from a number of agencies have reached out to each homeless person asking if they need work, housing or both. The goal is to have everyone moved out by later in the week. Police will not disclose when they intend to clear the sidewalks.
Monday morning a company contracted to remove graffiti from a City Hall railing spent an hour preparing the surface to get rid of the paint and deep clean the concrete.