Lawyer for Old Town Camp Asks City to Make It Legal, Like Dignity Village
On the same day the Portland City Council approved another contract extension for Dignity Village, an attorney with the National Lawyers Guild sent Commissioners Dan Saltzman and Nick Fish a letter demanding that they offer the same legal status to Right 2 Dream Too—the "rest area" for the homeless that's been operating since October at NW 4th and Burnside. The letter is signed by the lawyer, Mark Kramer, and R2D2's vice chairman and lead spokesman, Ibrahim Mubarak. It notes that state law says cities may set up a total of two "transitional housing campgrounds," and it asks for a meeting to start the process. It went to Fish because he oversees the housing bureau and to Saltzman because he oversees the city's code enforcement bureau. The letter about R2D2 comes not only amid discussions about Dignity Village, but also during a high-profile hunger strike by former mayoral candidate Cameron Whitten, who's made the fate of the well-regarded rest area one of the central themes of his protest. The city has declared the site an illegal recreational campground and has been fining its landlords since the winter. The landlords, Michael Wright and Dan Cossette, have so far made R2D2 come up with the scratch for the thousands in fines they've incurred. According to the letter, the landlords have been fined more than $6,000, with one of the co-owners giving the city $4,000 so far. "Portland has been a leader in acknowledging and addressing the needs of the homeless," the letter says. "It has been creative in meeting the city's health and safety needs, while at the same time allowing for necessary programs to assist the homeless. We hope and trust that history continues and look forward to meeting with you and your staff to resolve this issue." The letter also sees a model in the deal that led to the city's new car-camping experiment in church and nonprofit parking lots. In that case, Fish and Saltzman stopped short of making car-camping legal but did get council to approve a resolution directing the city's code enforcers not to enforce city code. [ Subscribe to the comments on this story ]
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July 11, 2012
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