Free Soup Protest Scalds City: Two dozen protesters gathered outside Parks Commissioner Nick Fish's apartment building Dec. 8 to protest Portland Parks & Recreation's new permit requirement ("No Soup For You," WW, Nov. 20, 2019) that limits a homeless meal service in Director Park to one night a week. (Fish took leave Dec. 10 as he continues to battle stomach cancer.) "I'm not sure how a protest helps get us to a better policy," Fish chief of staff Sonia Schmanski says. "There's a standing offer to come in for a conversation—that's been on the table for a while now." Free Hot Soup volunteers tell WW the protest wasn't coordinated by them but by advocates of the service: "There's a greater community outside of people who serve at Director Park who have a voice and opinion about the parks regulations."
Detox Center Talks Sober Officials: As WW first reported, the Portland Police Bureau stopped transporting people Dec. 23 to a sobering center in Northeast Portland run by Central City Concern under a contract with the bureau. That means many of the 10 or so people a day transported by police will be diverted to hospital emergency rooms or jail. The bureau says it took the step after Central City staff said they could no longer safely serve the center's clients, who have become increasingly violent with an upsurge in methamphetamine use. Talks between the city and Multnomah County about alternatives to ending the sobering service led to frustration. County spokeswoman Julie Sullivan says Mayor Ted Wheeler and County Chairwoman Deborah Kafoury agreed the morning of Dec. 23 to maintain police transport until March 1. But later that day, the Police Bureau made its announcement, which caught the county by surprise. Wheeler chief of staff Kristin Dennis says the mayor made no promises about March 1. But Sullivan says the city's move has created chaos. "We are now left scrambling," she tells WW, "to figure out how this decision will affect our staff and the folks on the street."
Big Bike Win at Hotel Site: Portland Bureau of Transportation director Chris Warner brought holiday joy to cyclists by coming down squarely on their side in a dispute over the design of a new Hyatt hotel at the corner of Northwest 12th Avenue and Flanders Street. The plan presented to the city's Design Commission on Nov. 21 called for a passenger loading zone on Flanders, where the city plans to build a greenway bike path next year ("Collision Course," WW, Dec. 11, 2019). Neighborhood groups and bike advocates hated that location for the loading zone. Warner listened. "A high-turnover passenger loading and unloading zone is likely to create operational issues along the neighborhood greenway," Warner wrote in a Dec. 18 memo. He directed staff to put the loading zone on 12th instead. Reza Michael Farhoodi, co-chair of the Pearl District Neighborhood Association's planning and transportation committee, called the decision "good news."
No Rest For Design Code: The Portland Design Commission has deleted the word "rest" from a controversial code change that would have encouraged developers to include design elements for overnight camping outside new private buildings. The Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission voted twice for the code change ("Rest Easy," WW, Dec. 4, 2019) before passing its work to the Design Commission. At its Dec. 19 meeting, however, that commission took a less expansive view and deleted "rest" from the document it will send to the City Council this year.