Right 2 Dream Too, which has operated a weigh station for the homeless for more than a year, filed a suit against the city of Portland today. The filing came as R2DToo members rallied with supporters outside City Hall.
The lawsuit, which also names Commissioner Dan Saltzman and Bureau of Development Services Director Paul Scarlett, disputes the city’s assessment of Right 2 Dreams Too’s operation at Fourth Avenue and Burnside and the validity of subsequent fines. Saltzman’s office oversees the Bureau of Development Services, which ruled on Right 2 Dream Too’s status last year.
“It is our hope that the lawsuit is a motivator to get responsible people to sit down and negotiate,” says Mark Kramer, the attorney representing R2DToo. Kramer is donating his work as a member of the National Lawyers Guild.
Read the complete R2DToo lawsuit.
The city claims the nonprofit is operating a “recreational park” campground on the lot, and as such is subject to city ordinance requirements. Right 2 Dream Too, however, says the site is not a campground at all, but rather a transitional housing accommodation for people experiencing homelessness, as allowed under state statute. Oregon law allows for two such sites, the first being Dignity Village in Northeast Portland.
The lawsuit also seeks relief from the $5,349 in fees, along with the interest and penalties that have mounted since the BDS began assessing them early this year.
Kramer said he and his clients sat down twice with Saltzman and Commissioner Nick Fish, who oversees the cities housing and homeless programs, to find a solution to the impasse.
“It was cordial and friendly, but they were unbending and ultimately unresponsive,” Kramer says. Kramer added that the members of R2DToo have been looking for another site, but they need the city’s help to negotiate something appropriate, and they have not received any. “It’s like assigning to David a Goliath task.”
Kramer said the process of the lawsuit could take several months, during which time R2DToo will likely remain on site, despite efforts by one local developer to rev up the complaint process and have the camp removed to appease investors.
You can read about the rally today on Street Roots Twitter.