Pants on fire

When the scoundrels in Portland local government want to site a high-impact social service facility in a nice neghborhood, their first instinct is to sneak it in. If that doesn't work, they grind the outraged neighbors into submission. Part of the latter process is usually making one false promise after another. The city typically makes a big show of having the shiftless nonprofit running the thing sign a "good neighbor agreement" that isn't worth the paper it's written on. This charade has been repeated over and over across five decades, at least. I've seen that movie way too many times.

And now the neighbors of the managed homeless camp in southeast Portland are living the latest episode. The neighbors were told that as a tradeoff for their dealing with the tiny house "village," there would be no street camping allowed within 1,000 feet of it. Ha! Ha! That was a bald-faced lie, and everybody who told it knew it.

In response to an inquiry from KGW, Mayor Wheeler's office said that the 1,000-foot "no camping" rule around the site was supposed to reduce the burden on the surrounding community. Regardless, the policy doesn't override jurisdiction, and the city can't do anything about the camps on railroad property.

Wheeler said he is sympathetic to the neighbors who are frustrated, and he's been working with railroad company officials to respond more quickly to camps along the train tracks.

On a related note, I see that the "nonprofit" that's running the managed camp is about to get another obscenely fat City Hall contract, this time to "patrol" downtown, because the city cops, despite their all-time record budget, don't feel like doing that any more, and as far as the state police are concerned, Portland does not exist. 

From a classic Friday news dump, we learn:

As downtown Portland continues to be the source of national controversy, Mayor Ted Wheeler is hoping to contract a California-based nonprofit for outreach patrols in the city center.

That nonprofit? Urban Alchemy – the same organization that staffed Portland’s first temporary alternative shelter site.

“Urban Alchemy is proud of the work we have done in collaboration with the City of Portland and look forward to the potential of expanding our services.,” said Kirkpatrick Tyler, Urban Alchemy’s chief of community and government affairs. “At this time, we are actively discussing the scope of the work for this initiative with the City.”

According to the mayor’s office, their contract with Urban Alchemy would create various deescalation and ambassador patrols. However, it has not been decided where those patrols would be nor how many would operate.

The mayor’s office says they want an emergency procurement contract as part of an emergency ordinance to make that happen. However, a timeline has yet to be set.

When I look at the local news around here any more, most days I can scarcely believe my eyes. 

I had a nice dinner conversation with some folks from Florida the other night. They apologized profusely for the government of their state. I had to tell them: It can be just as bad on the other end of the political spectrum, only in a different way. Inner Portland is the poster child.


  1. How is Urban Alchemy getting all these contracts? Simple: None of Portland's home-grown homeless industrial complex have stepped forward.

    First, doing the work is hard work that involves hiring, training, and monitoring people. Portland nonprofits only like doing the easy work - taking tax dollars, handing out tax dollars, and skimming off a chunk for administration and overhead. That way they don't have to do the messy work of going out and "meeting people where they are."

    Second, Portland nonprofits are philosophically opposed to anything other than a "Housing First" approach. If there's not enough housing for Housing First, then the only role for homeless policy is to hand out tents, tarps, and drug paraphernalia until the housing comes on line.

    Urban Alchemy may not be the best, they may not even be good. But, they're good enough when local folks work to make things worse.

  2. The Floridians probably fall for this weird stuff too. In truth, the weird is Portland's festering sore used to cloud over and ignore the perpetual degradation.

  3. Just a couple of clones.

  4. The sad thing about the majority of Portland voters is their belief that the light they’ve told about, is the end of the tunnel.

  5. Alchemy Portland style > turning gold into lead...

  6. "he's been working with railroad company officials to respond more quickly to camps along the train tracks."

    Another lie.

    Just about every other municipality in Oregon has a trespass letter of consent form on their website. Fill it out, sign it, and send it in. Done, gets entered so it's accesible by dispatch during a call.

    Portland: convoluted process including setting up an appointment to have a supervisor come out, survey the property, go over the program, sign an agreement, etc etc. And it's been under review for years.


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.