City works to find solution to homeless camp in Chinatown

City works to find solution to homeless camp in Chinatown

PORTLAND, Ore. - Members of Portland's housing bureau pulled interested parties together Wednesday to try and work out a solution on what to do with a homeless camp on a prime piece of real estate in Chinatown.

The city has received numerous complaints since the camp went up at 4th and Burnside two weeks ago.

Nothing was decided, but members from the city heard plenty from business owners. Some of the complaints were minor while some business owners said they've felt threatened. In a few cases business owners were left with a big mess to clean up.

Jason Leivian has worked in Old Town for five years and said he's suddenly seeing a new kind of crowd across the street from his store.

"I have noticed an increase in the amount of homeless people that are around, more people asking to use the bathroom or asking for change and stuff like that," he said.

He said at times, people from the camp have even gotten aggressive with him.

"I told him we don't allow soliciting inside (the store) and then he just started questioning me, and he wouldn't leave immediately when I first asked him to."

Those are just some of the complaints. Some restaurant owners have arrived to work only to have to clean up broken glass.

But it hasn't always been a problem. At one time the property held food carts only to have the city put an end to it because the lot wasn't paved.

Co-owner of the property, Linda Wright, said she blames the city for not allowing her to develop the property she has partly owned for nearly 30 years.

She said she wasn't even allowed to have a parking garage built.

What members of the Bureau of Development Services say they want is to "take a look at the site (to see) what is currently going on and then figure out which codes apply. And if there are violations then we would send a notice of violation to the property owner letting them know what we found and what options to comply with city code are," said Mike Liefeld.

Wright said she's had one hang up with the city after another with codes and trying to find some way to develop the property.

The city still wants to see more of a development plan from the owners. Another meeting is planned for Dec. 6.