Portland Mayor Tom Potter is proposing five reforms aimed at dealing with street disorder, sidewalk nuisances and improving livability in Portland's business districts.
The Street Access for Everyone proposal was crafted by a coalition of business people, homeless advocates, service providers, public safety officials and community members who met for four months. The coalition's recommendations came with the requirement that all five be implemented together.
The recommendations include:
• Implementing a day access/ resource center for homeless adult women and men that is open during the day, with adequate bathroom facilities and storage lockers and experienced outreach/engagement/ housing placement staff.
Eventually, a permanent center with space for 150 people will be built. Shelters now close for the day at 7 a.m., leaving most homeless with no place to go or access to restrooms.
• Enact a "high pedestrian traffic area" ordinance that prohibits anyone from sitting or lying on a public sidewalk between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. in defined areas. Violators will be warned and could receive a noncriminal citation in West Side Community Court, with the possibility of fines up to $250, community service and/or referral for appropriate services/ treatment.
The initial affected areas would be the "Fareless Square" in downtown Portland and the Lloyd District. Other districts may apply for inclusion.
• Provide adequate public seating and benches in "high pedestrian traffic areas" to provide alternatives to sitting or lying on sidewalks.
• Implement a public restroom plan that makes more restroom facilities available to the public in high traffic areas.
• Create an oversight committee to implement these strategies.
"There will be a temptation by some to see this as a way to target our homeless or remove unwelcome groups from high visibility areas," Potter said. "Instead, what these reforms will do is ensure that our city remains a diverse, urban environment by not forcing anyone to leave its sidewalks or streets.
"Their real impact is on specific livability and behavior issues that affect everyone — the need for public restrooms, access to shelter and services for individuals during the daytime, unimpeded access to sidewalks and businesses for everyone and a place to sit and be a part of the community," Potter added.
The City Council, which was scheduled to hear the sidewalk ordinance today, has already approved initial funding for these programs, along with an additional $1.2 million to continue its 10 Year Plan To End Homelessness.