Tag Archives: Sidewalk Management Plan

April 30 Editorial: SR once again weighs in on sidewalks

First let us say that we commend Mayor Sam Adams and Commissioner Amanda Fritz for their efforts to create an ordinance that has split the issue of sidewalk management right down the middle. All parties involved are not completely satisfied.

Regardless of the rhetoric being slung, the business community is not happy with this ordinance — it doesn’t go far enough. From some homeless and civil-rights activists’ perspective, it goes to far.  It doesn’t help that both weekly newspapers have handpicked what homeless advocates they would like to give voice to, while ignoring others who have had a voice in this fight over several incarnations — giving the general public little context to decipher the complexity of this issue.

Like it or not, the use of our public sidewalks and how it relates to people experiencing homelessness, public safety and business downtown, has devolved into a decade-long quagmire that some of the smartest minds in our city have yet to figure out.

We’ve heard the whispers — Street Roots is sitting this one out. Must be political. Not so. Anyone who reads SR knows we work to present and dissect ways for the region to improve its systems and approaches to fighting poverty. We’re neither naïve nor entrenched in blind ideology. We know the streets. We live them.

In March, SR gave recommendations for the ordinance, saying we supported the stalemate with the following suggestions: to fund two or three homeless outreach workers, to dedicate funding for a neighborhood non-uniformed police officer to work with outreach workers and organizations working with people experiencing homelessness, and to organize a response team made up of homeless outreach workers who respond to calls regarding people experiencing homelessness and poverty and mental health issues in non-emergency situations on sidewalks during peak hours. We also ask for a six-month review of the ordinance to determine its effectiveness.

And while some of these recommendations have been considered, and even implemented (police working with mental health and homeless outreach workers), the language used around the ordinance by the city is once again drifting off onto a slippery slope of blatantly targeting people on the streets with law-enforcement instead of harm-reductions models like those outlined in our recommendations.

For one, aggressive panhandling is not a crime on the books, but it is regularly described in that context.  Saying that, assault is against the law, and should be met with zero-tolerance. SR doesn’t want anyone, regardless of their housing status, verbally and physically assaulting anyone on Portland’s sidewalks. It’s everything we’re not.

We are disappointed that we haven’t evolved enough as a city that we can’t get beyond the simple notion of framing policy that will ultimately mean not targeting poor people. When this kind of language is used, it usually means it’s being used for a reason. If that reason is to target people on the streets, then history tells us that this ordinance, if passed, will end up right back in the courts and be ruled unconstitutional, and we’ll all be having this conversation again (and again). And honestly, it doesn’t matter much what SR thinks anymore, that’s just the way it is.

Read the ordinance and the FAQ here.

Final sidewalk ordinance and three-page FAQ released by City Hall

Amanda Fritz’s office just released the final Sidewalk Management Plan ordinance and a three-page overview of the law that will be voted on tomorrow.

Final ordinance: FINAL SMP Ordinance_4.29.10

FAQ:Sidewalk Management Plan FAQs FINAL_4.29.10

Posted by Israel Bayer

SR gives recommendations for Sidewalk Management Plan

Attn: Mayor Sam Adams, Commissioners Randy Leonard, Amanda Fritz, Nick Fish, Dan Saltzman

Street Roots would like to thank both Mayor Sam Adams and City Commissioner Amanda Fritz for taking on the difficult subject of sidewalk management in our community.

Street Roots has the following recommendations for the ordinance:

–       Dedicate funding for two or three homeless outreach workers who work with individuals experiencing homelessness and poverty downtown, including youths and people dealing with mental health issues.

–       Dedicate funding for a neighborhood non-uniformed police officer to work with outreach workers and organizations working with people experiencing homelessness and poverty, including youths and individuals dealing with mental health issues.

–       With the resources above, organize a response team made up of homeless outreach workers who respond to calls regarding people experiencing homelessness and poverty and people dealing with mental health issues in non-emergency situations on sidewalks during peak hours.

–       Six-month reporting date to bring stakeholders, including people experiencing homelessness and poverty, to discuss the effectiveness of the ordinance.

Historically, Street Roots has come out against the sidewalk ordinance in 2002, and again in 2006 due to its strict enforcement guidelines that targeted people experiencing homelessness and poverty.

Street Roots feels this ordinance brings together a wide-range of community concerns, and on its face is fair to everyone accessing sidewalks. Saying that, in our recommendations, we suggest a six-month reporting date that will allow stakeholders to determine the effectiveness of the ordinance.

Mission: “Street Roots creates income opportunities for people experiencing homelessness and poverty by publishing a newspaper that is a catalyst for individual and social change.”

Sidewalk ordinance coming; drafts of alcohol impact area and camping updates

This fell into the Street Roots mailbox tonight.

Dear Sharing Public Sidewalks committee member,

Attached are the notes from the March 1, 2010 meeting. Please contact Sara Hussein if you have corrections.

The Mayor is working with the City Attorney to propose a new sidewalks ordinance along the lines suggested at the end of last year, i.e. keeping sidewalks open for through traffic especially with regard to facilitating movement for people with disabilities. It is hoped a draft proposal will be out next week. The Mayor wants the Sharing Public Sidewalks committee to review and comment on the proposal. We will send it to you when it is available. The April 6, 2010 meeting of our committee will be devoted to discussion of your opinions about it. A public hearing would be scheduled before Council after the committee’s review.

The Mayor and I appreciate your willingness to participate on the committee and give us your advice.

Amanda Fritz

Commissioner, City of Portland

The following are notes from the March 1 SHARING PUBLIC SIDEWALKS ADVISORY COMMITTEE Continue reading

Street Roots weighs in on Sidewalk Management Plan

Editorial in the current edition of Street Roots (Oct. 16)

Opportunities lie ahead to build up, not down

There are many reasons to have a doom-and-gloom attitude about the economy and homelessness in Portland. We know businesses are hurting. People are hurting. Workers are feeling the brunt of layoffs and uncertainty heading into the holiday season. There are bills to pay and hungry mouths to feed. That comforting sense of security has long since vanished.

Right alongside all those uncertainties are people who sleep in our doorways, under our bridges and along makeshift paths stretched across our city. It all signals a weary and unforgiving winter ahead.

On the street, the buzz is about the new Sidewalk Management Plan. Street Roots has been getting calls from supporters, organizers, politicians and foundations on what our thoughts are on the Sidewalk Management Plan. So, what do we think?

We think a real opportunity exists to change the way Portland messages and works for with individuals on the streets.

On the front end, the plan is fantastic and builds a base for ongoing support for services, such as public restrooms, that are essential not just for people experiencing poverty, but all Portlanders. But concerning homelessness on our sidewalks and neighborhood corners, there are two ways the city can go: the familiar route of antagonism, or a new path of cooperation.

The city could opt for an anti-panhandling campaign that will fire up the engines of advocates for people on the streets and groups such as the ACLU. If the city goes for the anti-panhandling strategy, the plan risks being polarizing and falling into patterns that have failed many times before in cities across the U.S.  And at the end of the day, it doesn’t get to heart of the problem – which isn’t panhandling per se, so much as it aggressive behavior.

Or the city could choose, through a public education campaign, to engage people on the streets through outreach from social-service agencies and support from the broader community.

What if the general community was asked to give to services and support a larger spectrum of goals set out to curb the problem without saying don’t give to panhandlers? In the end, it’s not the city’s responsibility to direct or discourage any particular form of individual charity, but it is entirely appropriate for the city to spread the word on how people can plug in to and support the great programs Portland offers. Services that exist for people experiencing homelessness are strained, just like small and large businesses in this economy, and that strain ripples across the streets.

Why not beef the outreach up and engage people into getting into housing and accessing services? For those who choose to step over the line and commit aggressive acts, there are tools for addressing that behavior. Not everyone is kind, housed or homeless. There has to be personal accountability on the streets and it’s that simple. Why not educate people on the streets to show kindness and respect when facing adversity and survival? Street Roots does it every day with its vendor program, and it works.

If we embrace the approach of what we can do, instead of what we can’t, we might not have to read about police stings and anti-panhandling campaigns anymore. And instead of seeing negative stereotypes reinforced in the daily headlines, we might get some good news about a city that chooses to stand up together, instead of tearing one another down.