Pearl District Neighborhood Association and Homer Williams May Sue City Over Homeless Camp Move

The Pearl District Neighborhood Association voted last night to release $10,000 in funds for legal action against the City of Portland over City Commissioner Amanda Fritz's plan to move homeless camp Right 2 Dream Too beneath the Broadway Bridge.

Neighborhood Association president Patricia Gardner tells WW the group is weighing whether to sue the city or challenge it at the state's land-use board.

She says pledged co-litigants include Williams & Dame, the Pearl and South Waterfront development firm run by Homer Williams and Dike Dame, as well as design company Ziba and condo developer Hoyt Street Properties.

"We are definitely investigating that option," Gardner says of a lawsuit. "At this point, we don't see any other options on the table."

KGW first reported the possibility of legal action this morning.

WW broke the news Sept. 6 that Fritz had negotiated a deal to move Right 2 Dream Too from Old Town to a Portland Development Commission-owned property beneath the Broadway Bridge's west on-ramp.

The neighborhood association had previously sent Fritz a letter saying that hosting the camp on city property would violate city zoning code, fire code and public health code.

Gardner says the objection from property owners and developers isn't about the homeless camp—but about a secretive deal with no public process.

"Fundamentally," she says, "this is not how the city of Portland is supposed to work."

Fritz spoke with the neighborhood association last week—a conversation that did not assuage its objections.

"What conversations?" Gardner says. "The only conversation we had with Amanda was when she said she was sorry the media had found out about it because she hadn't planned to talk to us about it yet."

Fritz, who is traveling, could not immediately be reached for comment.

The coalition of neighbors and developers has retained the land-use law firm Radler White Parks & Alexander, which sent a warning letter reported by The Portland Mercury to the City Attorney on Sept. 9. 

Gardner says the neighborhood association has saved $10,000 over the last four years in a "rainy-day fund." She says it may start fundraising more money soon.

"The goal is not to go to court," she says. "You only go to court when your partner stops working with you—or never starts, in this case."

WW news intern Emily Schiola contributed to this report.

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