Street folks talk sidewalk laws

August 1, 2008

On Tuesday July 27, Street Roots interviewed 27 individuals experiencing homelessness and two canvassers on Portland street corners.

Fifteen of the 27 individuals had been given verbal or written warnings or citations for the sidewalk obstruction ordinance. Twelve of those interviewed say they have also been warned by some form of private security or building owners not to sit on the sidewalks. Almost everyone Street Roots talked to had been given a park exclusion notice in the last 30 days – many of which came from Portland Patrol Inc.

Street Roots will be spending two more days on the streets this weekend and next week interviewing individuals on the streets about their experience with the sidewalk obstruction ordinance. Interviews will be published in next weeks Street Roots coming out on August 8th. Here’s a few excerpts. 

Jace and Chris, two canvassers with Children’s International at SW Third and Morrison

Street Roots: Have you been given a warning or citation for the sidewalk obstruction ordinance?

Jace: Sometimes if I’m sitting down smoking a cigarette I will be told I can’t be sitting down,  but what I notice is that the cops will be very nice to me, but actually give people who look homeless actual written warnings. I’ve witnessed three or four people who are homeless being targeted for the law.

Street Roots: So, you’ve witnessed people on the streets being targeted?

Jace: I’ve witnessed only homeless people on the streets being warned or ticketed.

Street Roots: Are the people giving warnings police or private security guards?

Chris: Both. In fact, on this street corner it’s more private security than anyone else in my experience. I mean, let’s be honest, the private security guys don’t answer to anybody, what are you going to do? 


6th and Morrison

Street Roots: Have you been given a warning or citation for the sidewalk obstruction ordinance?

Dustin: I’ve been messed with endlessly. I’ve gotten multiple tickets for the ordinance, but you know what, I’m right back out. I know my constitutional rights, and as an American I have a right to  be in a public space. I’m sitting down on the sidewalk asking for change. I’m homeless, and I get tired. I don’t care. 

Street Roots: Was it both police and private security giving you warnings or citations?

Dustin: It’s been the police, and the Portland Patrol. And in my experience most of the police don’t really care. They don’t want to be dealing with me because I’m panhandling. They approach me assuming that I don’t know my rights. After talking with me, they realize that I do in fact know my rights. Sometimes I’ll stand up and they’ll run me off anyway.

SW Broadway and Yamhill

Street Roots Have you been given a warning or citation for the sidewalk obstruction ordinance?

Cardboad: Yes. I’ve gotten warnings. They’re nice about it. They tell me to get up off the sidewalk. I told them I wasn’t panhandling and they said we don’t care about that, but you can’t sit on the sidewalk.

I told him, you know what sir, I know you have a job to do, but I’m an old man and I think I aught to be able to sit down on a sidewalk. What’s the difference if I’m sitting or standing if I’m not blocking the sidewalk?

S.R.: Was it both police and private security giving you warnings?

Yes sir, both of them.

Posted by Israel Bayer 

2 responses to “Street folks talk sidewalk laws

  1. Pingback: Truth Commission offers tears and insight « For those who can’t afford free speech

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