Say what you will about Portland Mayor Charlie Hales: He doesn't give up on placing bioswales on the sidewalk in front of City Hall.
As WW reports in today's cover story, the mayor has spent a significant chunk of his first year trying to remake the front portico of City Hall by removing homeless campers and starting a food cart pod.
The Oregonian first reported in July that Hales began the effort by trying to dig bioswales—stormwater drainage troughs—on the Southwest Fourth Avenue sidewalk where campers were sleeping. City Commissioner Nick Fish and other officials objected to the idea.
The homeless campers are long gone—swept out by police in July and August. But Hales still wants the bioswales.
The city's fall budget adjustment shows Hales plans to spend $214,500 on "storm boxes" on the Fourth Avenue side of City Hall, as well as sidewalks in front of the Portland Building and the 1900 Building, which house city bureaucrats. (Nearly all the money comes out of the facilities department's contingency funds.)
"They will be bioswales," confirms Hales' spokesman Dana Haynes. "They will be raised relative to pedestrians, but will function as bioswales. But they won't be something that's around your shoes."
The Portland Mercury has previously reported that City Hall bioswales could be installed as soon as next year.
Haynes says the Portland Building sidewalk will get its bioswales first.
"Part of our decision-making was to invite our friend who runs the burrito cart to City Hall, because [he] will be displaced," Haynes says.
Fuego Burritos did in fact move from the Portland Building to the food cart pod Hales established in front of City Hall this August. But it moved back a week later, citing harassment by homeless protesters.