City wants eastside land with or without R2DToo

Mayor Hales says land useful even if R2DToo move doesn't happen as planned

The City of Portland wants to relocate the homeless camp to a site in SE Portland. (KOIN 6 New)
The City of Portland wants to relocate the homeless camp to a site in SE Portland. (KOIN 6 New)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The homeless camp Right 2 Dream Too may soon be moving from Chinatown to the eastside.

Portland mayoral spokesperson Dana Haynes, July 16, 2015 (KOIN)
Portland mayoral spokesperson Dana Haynes, July 16, 2015 (KOIN)

The city — which has committed to moving the camp from its original Chinatown location — allowed Wednesday the ability to spend $254,044 to purchase land near OMSI.

However, moving the camp there isn’t guaranteed. Neighbors and businesses nearby have their fears and camp leaders said a lot will have to happen before they agree to move.

Regardless, the city wants the land.

“Sometimes you just buy land and hold on to it not sure what you are going to use it for,” Dana Haynes, Mayor Hales’ spokesperson told KOIN 6.

“The mayor is of the opinion it would be a good idea to have land there in the station areas for both the new Trimet lines and streetcar line.”

Haynes said Hales’ preference is for the camp to move to the soon-to-be-acquired eastside location.

“If we can find a new home for it we should, but if that doesn’t work out, that is good land to have and a good part of town that is going to be growing,” he said.

The mayor said there are 5 ODOT-owned properties in the central eastside area and he will recommend the city buy them all.

Thursday Haynes said he wasn’t sure what the locations were of the other lots the mayor was interested in purchasing.

ODOT’s Don Hamilton said the agency owns 3 blocks along SE Water Avenue between Taylor Street and Madison Street.

He said while he can’t speak for the mayor’s intentions it is safe to say that if the city wants to discuss buying those lots ODOT would listen.

At a public hearing on the land purchase Wednesday the mayor told those signed up to testify it wasn’t the time or place to talk about what the land would be used for.

“That is a separate decision. I repeat, that is a separate decision,” Hales said.

That frustrated many who were there to speak.

“You haven’t really been very open about what your decision making is,” said Debbie Kitchin, president of the Central Eastside Industrial Council. “We think it is premature and not responsible when you haven’t determined a use for it.”

She was not alone in her displeasure.

“If there is a plan to buy up all these properties we would like to see an open process that talks about what you plan to do with them,” said Don Gardner with the Southeast Uplift Neighborhood Coalition.  “I find it a little disingenuous to say we’re going to have a hearing about this other use at a future date, but we don’t know what that future use will be.”

Haynes added that Mayor Hales and City Commissioner Amanda Fritz are committed to finding a new spot for Right 2 Dream Too either way.

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