Threat of Lawsuit Forces Mayor Charlie Hales to Delay Springwater Corridor Homeless Sweep

The agreement specifies no enforcement of camping ban and no sweep until Sept. 1

Reversing his plans because of a legal threat from homeless advocates, Mayor Charlie Hales has agreed to delay sweeping homeless camps from East Portland's Springwater Corridor bike trail for another month, until Sept. 1.

The mayor's spokeswoman says the delay was forced by the threat of a lawsuit by homeless legal advocates at the Oregon Law Center.

As part of a formal agreement signed with the Oregon Law Center, the mayor is giving social service providers more time to reach homeless people, particularly those with disabilities.

The city also agreed not to enforce the camping ban on the corridor until then.

A sweep of the Springwater Corridor, where as many as 500 people are living in one of the largest homeless encampments in the nation, was previously scheduled for Monday, Aug. 1.

"The agreement identifies an extension to Sept. 1 in order to avoid suit," the mayor's spokeswoman Sara Hottman acknowledges.

Hottman declined to provide a copy of the agreement, referring the reporter to the city's public records system.

"I know neighbors to the Springwater are dealing with very real problems, and I hope that initial steps now and a major cleanup in one month will balance our need to treat people humanely, with our need to restore the Springwater to a public asset," says Hales in a statement.

The mayor's press release fails to mention the lawsuit but mentions an agreement with the Oregon Law Center.

Update at 5:55 pm: Here is the full memorandum of understanding between the mayor's office and the Oregon Law Center.

The memorandum shows that the city agreed to delay the sweep until Sept. 1 after a July 22 demand notice filed by the Oregon Law Center, threatening the possibility of a lawsuit.

The memorandum says that the Law Center filed the demand letter in U.S. District Court on behalf of 11 people living along the Springwater Corridor.

The agreement also requires Hales' office to post notice of the Sept. 1 sweep on Aug. 1, and to begin preparing a city-sanctioned homeless camp at Southeast 104th Avenue and Reedway. That property, known as the Kalbrener site, was discussed last month in The Portland Mercury.

The city is allowed to start picking up unclaimed garbage now, and can increase police patrols of the bike trail to crack down on crimes.

Here is the mayor's full statement.