It ain't about the pallets

The homelessness nightmare in Portland gets crazier by the day. Now there's a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of the tent campers. They're complaining that the authorities don't take good enough care of their belongings on the exceedingly rare occasions when the city sweeps the squatters off the streets and roadsides and out of the parks.

I am not kidding. The tent people have lawyered up. It isn't the first time.

Of course, this isn't really about their belongings. It's just an attempt to block the sweeps that the mayor says are coming.

I mean, come on, how much are all the belongings of all the homeless campers in Portland worth? If there are 5,000 campers and the property they legitimately own has a value of $500 each, that's $2.5 million. We just voted in a Metro tax of 100 times that amount, every year for 10 years. So put aside 1 percent of the first year's take to compensate anyone whose property gets lost in the sweep. You can even skip the offseting fines for offensive littering.

Indeed, Metro could condemn all the tarps, wooden pallets, tents, and the contents thereof and pay twice their value, and it wouldn't make a dent in the tax money sloshing around to address the crisis.

The belongings issue is a smokescreen. This is about establishing a perpetual right to camp. Some people with real houses are so upset at the injustices of our society that they actually like seeing the tent scene. It embodies their many grievances. They want successful people with homes, jobs, and lives to feel uncomfortable, even guilty. And so any attempt to tell some dude in a tent to move on will be met with mighty opposition.

If the city hopes ever to awaken from its current economic coma, it's going to have to push back against those people. Sometimes you get sued.

We need barracks-like shelters, managed campsites, and yes, unfortunately, more jail space for the folks who insist on the street life. Eventually some apartments, too, but not too many, and not too nice, or we'll have every homeless person in California here.

To straighten out this mess, things would need to be done that sure aren't pretty. There would be a profound sadness about the whole endeavor. But the situation is already beyond depressing.

Life isn't fair. And most people who live here want their city back. Too bad they can't find politicians who will even try to recover it for them.


  1. Street people are there to keep us compliant- be a good little citizen or you could end up in a tent.


Post a Comment

The platform used for this blog is awfully wonky when it comes to comments. It may work for you, it may not. It's a Google thing, and beyond my control. Apologies if you can't get through. You can email me a comment at, and if it's appropriate, I can post it here for you.