Murmurs: City Won’t Sweep Camps More Than 10 Feet From Doorways

In other news: Hardesty takes August off.

CITY WON’T SWEEP CAMPS MORE THAN 10 FEET FROM DOORWAYS: As conversation heats up about Commissioner Dan Ryan’s plan to build six safe rest villages across the city, Portland’s protocols for sweeping homeless camps may be formalized at a June 30 meeting of the City Council. The aim is to codify sweep protocols, Ryan’s office explained to WW, for the first time ever. One proposed protocol: deprioritize sweeping encampments that are at least 10 feet away from entrances to residential or commercial buildings, so long as the building is not a school and the encampment doesn’t contain biohazardous waste, harbor criminal activity or consist of more than eight structures. “[This] ordinance is not intended to increase or decrease interactions between Portlanders experiencing houselessness and the Impact Reduction Program—our goal is to create clarity around the city’s approach toward houselessness,” spokesperson Margaux Weeke said. Weeke says Ryan’s office worked on the ordinance alongside the Oregon Law Center, Street Roots and all five commissioners’ offices to establish sweep guidelines. Another amendment would decree that campers could not be required to move to safe rest villages. That renews the question of whether people will go voluntarily.

HARDESTY TAKES AUGUST OFF: City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty will take a summer vacation from Aug. 2 to Sept. 6. While such lengthy vacations aren’t unheard of for city commissioners, they are unusual. Hardesty’s chief of staff Karly Edwards wrote in a June 28 email that Hardesty’s staff are trying to give her a full-time vacation: “Commissioner Hardesty will be out and unavailable. That means she will not be available for feedback, council or check-ins. We do not make exceptions for this.” Among the Portland elected officials who’ve taken generous vacation time on the taxpayer dime was City Commissioner Charlie Hales, when he took 48 days of vacation and personal days in 2001. “Being inside in Portland, Oregon, in August is a sin,” he quipped, in a way that now seems anachronistic in one regard—being outdoors in June was hazardous to your health.

PRISON RIGHTS GROUP DESCRIBES DIRE HEAT CONDITIONS: On June 28, as Oregon temperatures climbed to a historic high, the Oregon Justice Resource Center penned a letter to state officials calling for a “robust and comprehensive emergency plan to be put in place and made transparent,” as well as immediate action following a blistering weekend that allegedly left some prisoners without air conditioning and cold water. “Quite simply, it should not take an unprecedented heat wave to remind prison administrators to clean their air-conditioning filters,” civil rights lawyer Juan Chavez wrote. “It is unacceptable, and possibly unconstitutional.” As WW first reported last week, two Oregon prisons in Salem do not have air conditioning. OJRC wrote that women incarcerated at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville also communicated “dire news” about heat in the facility, and that 120 people incarcerated at Santiam Correctional Institution had to share one drinking fountain, which dispensed water ranging from lukewarm to hot.

BLAZERS COACHING HIRE CAUSES ANGST: The Trail Blazers are in turmoil. On June 29, the team introduced its new head coach, Chauncey Billups, amid fan backlash over his alleged involvement in a 1997 rape. But that synopsis hardly conveys the outrage and dread swirling around the franchise, especially after civic icon Damian Lillard hinted he was so upset by front-office dysfunction that he might demand a trade out of Portland. Lillard had publicly endorsed Billups (“Dame Time’s Up,” WW, June 9, 2021) but tweeted last week that he didn’t know about the sexual assault allegation against the coach and he “doesn’t support those things.” The team’s president of basketball operations, Neil Olshey, laughed aloud when a reporter asked about Lillard’s dissatisfaction. “Dame’s happiness always revolves around winning,” he said, and declined to offer specifics of the organization’s inquiry into Billups’ past actions.