Why nobody goes downtown unless they have to

It's pretty amazing to me that they're taking surveys to determine people's opinions of the state of downtown Portland. Isn't it obvious? Oh well, we can't leave that taxpayer money lying around – time for a survey.

The results are ugly, as anyone with functioning eyes and ears might expect.

Homelessness, litter and crime were all notable areas of concern for Portland residents, the survey shows. According to the data, 66% of those polled said they avoid Downtown and the central city area due to homelessness. Trash and graffiti were also a factor for not visiting the inner city for 60 percent of people. Half of those polled also listed vandalism, property crime and violent crime against people as reasons to avoid the city’s center.

Meanwhile, check out what people are feeling about their own neighborhoods:

Only 41% of respondents felt “very safe” walking alone in their neighborhood during the day, and only 16% felt “very safe” walking alone at night. Almost half felt “somewhat unsafe” or “very unsafe” walking alone at night. Those who felt unsafe said they feared physical assault most of all (78%).

When I was choosing to live in the Rose City many years ago, the town didn't have much to offer, but it seemed like the safest place in the world. What a different situation today.

Meanwhile, the comedy act known as "Downtown Portland Clean & Safe" has pushed out a duelling survey, which reports that downtown is coming back to life, so so vibrantly!

People are returning to Downtown Portland in dramatic numbers compared to 2021. The city is far busier than last year, and the community is flocking into downtown for large-scale events, dinner and entertainment, according to our recent pedestrian counts.

If I worked for an outfit named "Downtown Portland Clean & Safe," I'd be hanging my head in shame right now. Not these guys. They've got all sorts of statistics. You know what Mark Twain said about that. They have a map, too.

Somebody should tell them, blood red was a really bad color choice.

The mayor, Dud Wheeler, says he has a new plan to try to fix things. But let's face it, he's had his chance for several years, and the place is too far gone for his milquetoast brand. Recovery down there will take a decade or more, and the necessary actions aren't even on the drawing boards at this point.

Meanwhile, tourists who are unfortunate enough to stumble into town are high-tailing it out. A reader sends along a note he got recently from a seasoned traveler from overseas. She wrote:
I’ve had an interesting dialogue today. A friend of mine is traveling in the US now. They went to SF. I’ve learned today that they also went to Oregon. They stayed in Portland before they moved on to Seattle. And I was so excited about it. Her response was, “The worst place we have been so far – drug addicts, alcoholics, homeless, etc. We got the taxi and ran away to the hotel.” I couldn’t believe it! Is this true? My memory of Portland is so different. And it was so sad to hear this…

Will we ever elect the kind of leadership that it will take to turn this around? Do such people even exist?


  1. The electorate is unwilling to select anyone willing to enact policies that would correct the situation. It would take at least 3 election cycles to clear out the deadwood. Portland will not be saved.

  2. Repeal of Ballot Measure 110 would be a start.

  3. For over 20 years I rode a bus to downtown where I worked and I would take walks on my lunch hour all over downtown and took probably a few hundred pictures that I called my 'out to lunch' series or 'lunchtime pics'. I retired just one year ago BC (Before Covid) and when I drove through town and no longer saw the Elk Statue I knew the place was dead and I can't go back there anymore but when I have to drive through town I think of those old 50's movies like 'On the Beach' about the end of the world after a nuclear war.

  4. I feel bad for the legit businesses trying to make a go of it, but I'm not supporting this much incompetence and unwillingness to do what needs to be done. Kick all these scumbags out- both the politicians and the street trash.

  5. Those people "returning to downtown" are gun-wielding thugs and mentally ill homeless cases.

  6. Downtown Portland was. (Past tense)
    It was supported by people that spent money in shops.
    Those people have left for places that don’t have dumpster fires. Like Bridgeport, Washington Square, etc.

    It’s wishful thinking to believe they’ll be back.

  7. The progressive/woke crowd continues the blame the Covid pandemic for the demise of commercial down town.

    It is the fear that the organized riots are just waiting for another excuse.


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