PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — City officials are eyeing a parking lot across from a Mercedes-Benz dealership in downtown Portland as a possible new location for the Right 2 Dream Too homeless camp.
The parking lot between SW Naito Parkway and Harbor Drive is across from the dealership and steps away from restaurants and shops along the Willamette River.
Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz has been trying to move the homeless camp out of Chinatown where it has been for the last 5 years. Two previous deals for sites fell apart.
Fritz declined multiple requests for an interview.
Mayor Ted Wheeler told KOIN 6 News he needs to know a lot more about relocation plans before it goes any further. Commissioner Dan Saltzman said he has concerns about the move. Commissioner Nick Fish wants the city to look at other city owned land options.
Rebecca Dike, who works at the Mercedes dealership, told KOIN 6 News she feels uneasy about the idea of the camp moving across the street. She said she already has some concerns with homeless people who frequent the area.
“There’s homeless people that sleep kind of in the alley and they get a little aggressive,” Dike said. “I have to walk down here twice a day, sometimes before the sun comes up or sometimes after dark, and it’s a little nerve wracking.”
Local shop owner Laurie Ogan said, “Eventually it would spill out. They’ll be camping at the park, the waterfront and garbage [will be] left behind.”
Aside from safety, others said they were concerned about maintaining cleanliness in the area if the homeless camp gets the green light to move there. It’s also unclear how much of the parking lot would be allocated for R2DToo to use.
Some who live near the potential new R2DToo location want the city to focus on a permanent solution, not just moving the 70 people already living at the current camp.
The city is under pressure to find a new home for the camp after an attempt to move it across the river to an industrial spot near OMSI failed.
Developers of a 9-story hotel under construction across from R2DToo’s current site on W Burnside Street and 4th Avenue filed a lawsuit that claims the homeless camp violates city zoning codes and is blocking redevelopment in Chinatown.
KOIN 6 News asked city and R2DToo leaders for comment but did not hear back.