Small business owners say Portland is ‘lawless’

Mayor's representative met with group in the Pearl District

About 20 small business owners in the Pearl District met with Mayor Wheeler's representative about escalating crime, November 28, 2017 (KOIN)
About 20 small business owners in the Pearl District met with Mayor Wheeler's representative about escalating crime, November 28, 2017 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — About 20 small business owners in the Pearl District got together Tuesday to let City Hall know they’re fed up with what they feel is no solution to escalating crime and hostility in their area.

About 20 small business owners in the Pearl District met with Mayor Wheeler's representative about escalating crime, November 28, 2017 (KOIN)
About 20 small business owners in the Pearl District met with Mayor Wheeler’s representative about escalating crime, November 28, 2017 (KOIN)

Boutique owner Anne Bocci recently had her life threatened by a man who’s been arrested dozens of times for similar crimes. Another nearby store owner had her business broken into a few weeks ago. And Kevin Pilla’s store, Budd and Finn, was broken into a few nights ago.

Pilla said the crime “is literally killing my business.”

Bocci said that even if police did find and fingerprint the criminal, “it would be less than 4 hours for him to go through the system and back.”

“There are no consequences,” Pilla added.

Those crimes are just several of many the group shared with Berk Nelson, a senior adviser to Mayor Ted Wheeler.

The word many of them used over and over was “lawlessness.” That’s how they say Portland is beginnin g to feel because there seems to be few — or no — consequences for the repeat offenders committing crimes and intimidating both employees and customers.

Berk Nelson, a senior adviser with Mayor Wheeler, met with about 20 small business owners in the Pearl District about escalating crime, November 28, 2017 (KOIN)
Berk Nelson, a senior adviser with Mayor Wheeler, met with about 20 small business owners in the Pearl District about escalating crime, November 28, 2017 (KOIN)

“The reality is nothing ever gets done,” Pilla told Nelson. “I don’t think you even answered my question: Why can’t we simply tell people you cannot camp or sit on the sidewalk?”

Mayor Wheeler fielded complaints recently and promised to ramp up policing in the area.

“We’re trying to figure out which spots are most important where we can start deploying more police officers to do community policing,” Nelson told the group.

He said the city also hopes to expand its effort to address chronic offenders. He also offered to explore city-sponsored security training for business owners and asked if the business owners would be “open to security training when you guys shut down your stores, at whatever time is convenient for everyone?”

A unanimous Yes from the group prompted Nelson to try and set up the training for the owners who are feeling vulnerable.