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Portland Oregon Using Boulders to Deter Homeless Camps

Portland Oregon Using Boulders to Deter Homeless Camps

“Boulders are our most effective method for keeping illegal campers out of areas marked no trespassing.”

Like many other cities, Portland, Oregon is dealing with a growing homeless problem. In some parts of the city, they are preventing the creation of tent encampments by installing lots of large rocks.

This method seems to be effective, but it isn’t cheap.

Rachel Monahan reports at Willamette Week:

Oregon Officials Deter Portland Homeless Campers With a Million Dollars’ Worth of Boulders

Last week, a public agency dropped boulders onto a former rose garden. Neighbors rejoiced.

As part of a campaign to keep homeless campers off Oregon Department of Transportation property, the state agency has spent more than $1 million since 2013 on “rockscape landscaping”—in the common parlance, boulders—in at least six locations across Portland since 2013.

The latest spot? A thicket of rose bushes in the Goose Hollow neighborhood, at the intersection of Southwest Montgomery Street and 14th Avenue, where hostilities have escalated between homeowners and the houseless.

Neighbors attribute ODOT’s decision to safety concerns in the area—and a potential liability risk to the department if it did nothing.

“ODOT, in our opinion, came in at the right time to deeming this area as a safety risk to all (campers and volunteers) and chose to boulder the area,” says Tiffany Hammer, an area property owner who also sought the city and county’s assistance.

Hammer and her neighbors planted 90 rose bushes to discourage people who were camping on ODOT property, as first reported by KGW-TV. She says she’ll move 60 of those bushes back to the property in September to beautify the boulders.

Here’s a video report from KPTV in Portland:

Timothy Meads of Townhall has more:

ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton told the publication that, “Boulders are our most effective method for keeping illegal campers out of areas marked no trespassing.”

“These areas, especially areas adjacent to major highways, are dangerous. Illegal campers have been struck and, in a few cases, killed while trying to cross an interstate highway,” he added. “And in about 2010, a car spun off the road and killed a sleeping camper along I-405.”

The rose bushes were originally planted by local homeowners in hopes of deterring vagrants, but that attempt failed completely.

This report comes just months after an investigation showed that Portland residents call 911 on average every 15 minutes to complain about homeless people.

Portland may want to follow San Francisco’s lead and create their own ‘Poop Patrol’ as well.

The Oregonian reports:

Portland has a plan for its human poop problem

$316. That’s the average amount Portland taxpayers shell out each time a crew is dispatched to clean up human waste from city streets, sidewalks or parks, according to a government analysis.

It’s a common problem, the city found. At least half of filings with Portland’s homelessness complaint system – as many as 450 a week – include reports of human waste, its report said.

A cleanup team is not dispatched to each call, and the city didn’t report the total amount it has spent on waste removal. But the report said disposal of more than 3,300 gallons of waste – not factoring in a $200 per incident dispatch fee and cleaners’ up to $104 per hour rate – cost $26,480 alone over one year. Cleanup costs are also factored into the city’s $3.5 million a year homeless camp removal program…

Portable toilets, wrapped in local-friendly patterns like the famed Portland airport carpet or Trail Blazers colors, will initially be placed in high-need areas in downtown, Southeast Portland and outer East Portland, according to the city analysis.

Why do the taxpayers of the city put up with this?

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California Attorney General Xavier Bacera needs to file an action in United States District Court to deter this inhumane practice (sarc). He would if Trump were doing it using one of his cities as a strawman.

Liberty Bell | June 21, 2019 at 7:06 am

Liberals love Illegal Aliens and the Homeless right up to the point where they move into their neighborhoods.

    Sanddog in reply to Liberty Bell. | June 21, 2019 at 9:10 am

    In 1999, Santa Fe became the 6th sanctuary city in the USA. They’ve been patting themselves on the back for the last 20 years for that status but when it was suggested they should take some of the illegal aliens that are overwhelming towns near the border, they shut down that idea in a microsecond. No, the mayor said, we won’t take them but we’ll organize a food and clothing drive and send stuff to help them.

“Why do the taxpayers of the city put up with this?”
Well, duh! Because diversity! Diversity is the rule of the times doncha know!

    notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to herm2416. | June 21, 2019 at 9:43 am

    Because the cities are run by their Globalist-loving Elitist who don’t have to live with it. They stay behind their gated walls and country clubs exclusions. Democrats all.

They spend all that money to make the problem move somewhere else, instead of actually trying to solve it.
Incentives for job creation and incentives for affordable housing development come to mind, but since I am not a Liberal, maybe my logic does not apply.

    Tom Servo in reply to Exiliado. | June 21, 2019 at 12:31 pm

    Exactly what I was thinking – this was a really, really weak response. Rather than simply using police tools to move lawbreakers out of public spaces, they come up with “well if the homeless can’t have it, NO ONE can have it!!!”

    You think they won’t just move to some other spot? Are you going to cover the entire county in boulders?

    Mac45 in reply to Exiliado. | June 21, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    You make the mistake of believing that most of the homeless suffer from a lack of jobs or affordable housing. This could not be further from the truth.

    What the homeless actually suffer from is mental illness and uncontrollable, or uncontrolled, chemical dependency. They are literally too drunk or stoned to work and because they spend all of their money on drugs, including alcohol, they can not afford to pay rent. It is so bad, that most of these people are banned from the shelters that exist because they caused too many problems here.

    The homeless problem is the result of the liberal mindset which refuses to see the problems that exist and refuses to address the causes of these problems. 35 years ago, the liberal Progressives closed down almost all of the mental housing institutions in this country and turned mentally ill people, who were incapable of caring for themselves out onto the streets. For the last 15 years, they have been liberalizing the enforcement of drug laws as well as the drug laws themselves. This has simply increased the problem by adding even more people with significant chemical dependency issues to the mix. Creating more jobs and/or reducing the cost of housing will not effect the homeless problem at all.

    So, what to do? Incarcerate the homeless, either through commitment for mental illness or for violation of laws. The liberal courts will fight this, of course. Just as they fought vagrancy laws and ruled that governments can not control the property that they are entrusted with, by banning squatters from camping overnight in parks and on other public lands. Those with controllable chemical dependencies will have to control those problems or be incarcerated again. Those with untreatable mental illnesses, which place them at risk in the general population, will simply have to remain institutionalized.

    Ignoring the problems have led us to this point. Continuing to ignore them simply compounds the problem to the point where draconian measure will have to be taken to save the society. It is not pretty, but then refusing to treat an infection never is.

“Portland, Oregon is dealing with a growing homeless problem”

Not a homeless problem as such. It’s a drug problem. Yet another consequential, down-stream problem caused by leftism.

Treat the symptom rather than the cause. If your house fills up with smoke, install a window fan.

If the people doing this stuff are idiots, then what are the people who vote for them?

Alas! even today I recoil in fright at the enormous boulder I should have to move to clear my doorway. – Francis Ponge “Un Rocher”

Humphrey's Executor | June 21, 2019 at 8:11 am

Poverty should not be relieved. It should be punished.

    A handy mnemonic: CATO for the percentage of homelessness from four causes, only one of which, the last, responds non-perversely to help. 90% get worse with help.

    40% Crazy
    30% Addict
    20% Tramp
    10% Out of luck

It’s a homeless camp for mountaineers dummy.

    artichoke in reply to Mark. | June 21, 2019 at 10:37 am

    Yeah, some smart homeless person is going to realize that perfect drainage and waste disposal has just been installed and all they have to do is to lay a floor on top of those rocks.

Did Portland do an environmental impact study before they made this change. Perhaps it is time to invoke the “Endangered” Species Act. If water flow can be shut down to California farmers using a minnow as an excuse I am sure we can find some endangered creature somewhere for Portland.

$316 sounds amazingly cheap to send out a poop patrol, all-in cost. I wouldn’t go clean up someone else’s poop for that.

I’d guess the total burdened cost is much more than that. Or else they’ll unionize and the cost will go way up.

    venril in reply to artichoke. | June 21, 2019 at 11:42 am

    $316 Per incident? There are plenty of entrepreneurs who would be all over that. Do 10-20 a day and you’re talking real money. Just use the proper PPE and you’re fine. Hell a sole proprietor could rake up doing this and cry all the way to the bank. Sure it’s gross. But folks do gross jobs all the time for far less, ask Mike Rowe.

      amatuerwrangler in reply to venril. | June 21, 2019 at 1:44 pm

      Put it out to bid and you will see that $316 come close to being cut in half. Your 10 – 20 range might be conservative. At $150 per, that grosses at $1500 – 3000, not a bad day’s take.

      Of course the public employee union there would have something to say about that, the city being run by progressives as it is.

A physical barrier to block people from accessing a specific area. Sounds a lot like a border wall, which the left is overwhelming against. But when the problem is in their backyard, I guess it’s ok. The left is absolutely bat sh/+ crazy.

Remember when Oregon spent all that money on the “Make it green”campaign? Guess we are going for the Arizona desert look now. If I was still homeless I would start using those rocks to build a shelter. (By the way, I could have done that job for less than half of what they paid.)

Remember when liberals were complaining about a medieval solution to the border crisis? Here’s a solution that looks like one right out of Game of Thrones. Maybe they could also dig a ditch and set it on fire instead of planting roses. Maybe they could find a Queen with a fire-breathing dragon on Emily’s List.

judgeroybean | June 21, 2019 at 12:21 pm

Nothing cures liberalism faster than becoming a victim of their own belief. Move free range drug addicts, bums, and other democrats into liberal politician’s neighborhoods.

Passive-Regressive response.

LeftWingLock | June 21, 2019 at 1:04 pm

Sounds unconstitutional to me. Saying “No Tresspassing” in certain areas is fascist on its face. PLUS, thoserocks look likethey have a lot of sharp corners — a danger to drunks and drug addicts.

“35 years ago, the liberal Progressives closed down almost all of the mental housing institutions ”
And State Legislatures with significant numbers of financial/social conservative members were happy to help and they willingly closed what they saw as an un-needed tax payer expense. Win win cooperation between Liberal and Conservative social forces and Joe Q Public takes it up the a**.

    Mac45 in reply to SHV. | June 21, 2019 at 3:31 pm

    Not quite accurate. The institutions housing the mentally ill were shut down, not to save money, but because the courts would no longer allow the long term institutionalization of the mentally ill. The courts required that the mentally ill be reintegrated into society unless they were adjudicated of a violent criminal offense. Many institutions providing long-term care were not pleasant places. Why? Because they housed severely mentally ill people. Just look at the conditions that the mentally ill choose to live in when they live on the streets.

    The problem that exists now is that there are no longer very many places to place the mentally ill. And, case law requires that they be returned to the general population as quickly as possible. And, when you have cities which ignore the homeless and their activities and make drugs plentiful, either through failure to enforce drug laws or legalizing additional drugs, the homeless will flock to these locales.

It takes big stones…to keep out the stoners….

Defensive landscaping in Portland is an art. Local bank pulled up all the grass patches near its building and replaced with that really nasty red pumice with a 200 lb round boulder in the middle of each section. I myself prefer the organic approach, as in bird seed. In bulk the cost is about $1/day, with a mix that brings in crows, squirrels, and lots of songbirds. After a week the rats move in too, but they then dissipate when food is withdrawn.

Well, I guess the strategy would work if they dropped them from a high enough altitude. (Kidding, kidding. Obviously a joke.) Serious issue, very unfortunate.

The local formula is to create a problem, then spend a lot of money appearing to solve the problem, which then creates a newer version of the problem, which then requires spending more money, … If you solve a problem, the money dries up. The homeless have been made a full member of the disenfranchised minority group culture, so an attack on them is an attack on all. Keep in mind that jail is not a punishment for them, it is an improvement. Shoplifting from grocery chains has gotten so bad that one of them just up and closed a store in one neighborhood. At some point I see them having to go the membership route like COSTCO, where one needs a verified job or bank account to join. And in this age of facial recognition, how hard would it be to add a database of known thieves to the surveillance cameras at the entrance. Steal from one store, banned from all. If I were God, things would be different, that is for sure. 😉

Goose Holla | June 27, 2019 at 8:35 pm

I posit that tramps/travelers who choose vagrancy as a way of life and junkies as causing 80% of the problems. The city is wrapping them all into the “homeless” category and they’re glossing over the harmful effects of criminal vagrants. Fences that separate the state highway department property from the city streets and neighborhoods are regularly getting cut by criminal vagrants nesting in natural areas on highway property along the roadways. They’re constantly roaming around neighborhood when nobody else is around in the hours of 2-5AM. I’m regularly finding drug debris in the neighborhood.