The downtown ordinance has served few functions over the last 18 months, with only 19 tickets being handed out - eight of which were out of downtown leading to all of them being thrown out of court. Of the 11 remaining, one was found not guilty, and the rest did community service, or served time due to other factors.
Interestingly enough, the Portland Business Alliance requested a six-month extension for the ordinance in a letter addressed to the mayor and the council on May 1. The letter also requested the PSAC committee,
Instead, the mayor’s office has chosen to develop a separate committee that will look at a broad base of public nuisances, and public safety issues. The committee will have representatives from varying interest groups, including business, and community activists.
People around the table say this is just the beginning of a much larger process to develop a strategy citywide that will target several criminal behaviors. Will sit/lie, and other ordinances go citywide? We will have to wait and see. The mayor’s office claims they are trying to come up with solutions that will avoid the criminalization of its own citizens. Let’s hope so, but don’t count on it.
Portland is at a critical point in deciding what the future of the city will look like. Will we turn into the next Pleasantville, sweeping away social problems on the surface, or will we become a city that can truly invite a healthy urban experience?
While the business community continues to scapegoat people on the streets, and other social ills being experienced around the globe, the people of Portland feel much safer than what we are led to believe.
According to the Neighborhood Citizens Survey conducted in 2005 by the auditor’s office, people in Portland don’t support the constant talking points put out by the Portland Business Alliance, and others saying we have a public safety problem. In fact, the survey shows just the opposite.
So why are countless city staffers, neighborhood, housing, and homeless advocates, and others spending hundreds of hours, and tax payer money on the issue of public safety in Portland? And why does the PBA continue to lobby for stricture laws downtown when people already feel safe? And why are we looking at possibly expanding these systems citywide when the ones we have in place are failing?
Seems to me we are chasing the end of a rainbow that simply doesn’t exist.
You can also check out Monica Gorack, from the Oregon Law Center's take on sit/lie in the latest Street Roots
And the Mercury story
And more on the national perspective at