Enough is Enough PDX: We need solutions for deteriorating public safety and livability

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Enough is Enough PDX is a City-Wide campaign led by neighborhoods to demand our elected officials at the state, city, and county level respond and take seriously the property crime wave and deteriorating livability issues in neighborhoods across Portland.

Our public spaces such as parks, nature areas, residential streets, business districts and recreational multi-use paths have become illegal camping spaces occupied by camping. In a majority of these camps, service resistant individuals live and use heroin and methamphetamine, and support those habits by stealing from the neighborhoods they are located in on a daily basis.

While neighbors across the city make thousands of reports, response from the city and state is slow, inadequate and often non-existent. Neighbors across the city are reporting these camps thousands of times a year to the city and state and the response is slow and inadequate. Regular sweeps of camps occur but crime caused by these camps, which often sit weeks or sometimes months before a sweep is not addressed. Campers simply return to the same spot or relocate in the neighborhood the very next day.  

Portland Police are turning a blind eye to crimes that in years past would have resulted in swift enforcement. We’ve heard from officers that they are both receiving mixed communication from elected officials about the enforcement of laws on the books and are reluctant to enforce the law because of a lack of support from prosecutors who drop charges and let people right back out onto the streets. 

There isn’t a week that goes by where neighbors are not being stolen from or burglarized. Fires that burn down structures and natural areas in our neighborhoods are a regular occurrence. Hazardous waste and other pollutants are commonplace in public spaces. Property owners cannot receive protection from squatters. Violent crime is common among the camps. In recent months, there have been neighbors stabbed by drug addicted campers and even service resistant campers stabbing other campers.

This situation is untenable and has reached a boiling point. We call on elected officials at the city, state, and county level to undertake the following actions:

Mayor and Police Commissioner Ted Wheeler:

  • Issue a memorandum to Portland Police in support of officers enforcing laws around livability and addressing issues that are deteriorating neighborhood livability.
  • Meet with organizers of the Enough is Enough PDX Campaign to discuss these issues and tour some of the residential areas and talk to neighbors.
  • Work with your team to identify changes to policing strategy that can be made to begin addressing these concerns.
  • Form Triage Teams with law enforcement, mental health providers and citizens to identify needs of those living on the streets.

Chief Danielle Outlaw:

  • Issue a memorandum clarifying that officers are allowed and expected to enforce laws equally and not exercise discretion to consider individuals housing status to decide whether or not to enforce laws.
  • Work with precinct command staff city-wide to ensure that there is not miscommunication about enforcement of laws as some officers are still operating under past administrations hands-off policy and tell neighbors they cannot do anything.
  • Increase funding for ATV patrols of Multi-Use Paths and Parks in East Portland

Commissioner Nick Fish:

  • Work with Park Bureau Leadership to ensure that parks are getting equal attention from Park Rangers. Currently, Park Rangers spend more time downtown and at newer parks than they do East Portland Parks.
  • Work with Park Bureau Leadership to have Rangers visiting parks at their closing times to remove people still in the park and to address any park code violations.
  • Work with Park Bureau Leadership to have Rangers use data and recent calls and reports to prioritize resources.
  • Work with Park Bureau Leadership to have Park Staff more adequately cleanup needles and trash left on a near daily basis at parks.

Oregon Department of Transportation:

  • Remove trees and bushes in areas along freeways where camps have hidden as these camps are starting fires and are using their seclusion to hide from police after committing thefts at residences surrounding them.
  • Add fencing or other barriers to ODOT properties where camping has been a problem; this will address recurrence and reduce the cost of repeated cleanups.
  • Work with cleanup crews to ensure they are cleaning up all waste and trash as neighbors often see trash and waste left after sweeps.
  • Turn 205 Multi-Use Path Lighting back on. Lack of lighting has made it unsafe for residents and kids who walk the path near camps. Those using the path cannot see and avoid contact with hazardous materials including human waste and biohazards..  

Multnomah County Board of Commissioners:

  • Talk with Multnomah County Health Leadership about the Needle Exchange Program. One of the sites for East Portland is in Montavilla at St Peters and Paul Church. The program is not requiring needles be traded back in 1 for 1. As a result, thousands of needles are left in streets and parks in neighborhoods. This taxpayer funded program essentially requires neighbors to pay for needles to be discarded in their neighborhood. 
  • Talk Multnomah County Health Leadership about the Needle Exchange Program. Demand that they work to install a needle drop box in Montavilla Park and give out more receptacles to the public.
  • Consider locating Needle Exchange Programs in properties that are equipped to handle emergencies associated with drug use i.e Police precincts, hospitals and medical facilities.
  • Establish conduct standards for all needle exchange sites where clients who harass or threaten neighbors or leave needles or cause other public safety issues adjacent to a site are suspended from services for a period of time. This will help alleviate some of the chronic issues near exchange sites and demonstrate the program expects clients to be neighborly.