At our January 9th board meeting we hosted several representatives from the city as well as business owners and neighborhood representatives to discuss the proposed homeless shelter at 6144 SE Foster Road. We would like to thank everyone that attended for engaging in a constructive conversation.
We recorded the shelter discussion for those that couldn’t attend the meeting:
We have sent a followup letter to ask for written answers to the questions that were asked at the meeting, which is posted below.
January 19, 2018
Mayor Ted Wheeler
Portland City Hall
1221 SW 4th Ave, Room 340
Portland, OR 97204
Dear Mayor Wheeler,
I am writing on behalf of the Foster Area Business Association (FABA) regarding our meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 9th at 6pm at Pieper Café (6504 SE Foster Rd).
We welcomed the opportunity to meet with your advisors Seraphie Allen and Burke Nelson, as well as representatives from JOHS, PPB, and Transition Projects. Several FABA members who are facing the prospect of a direct impact to their businesses, including Curtis MacDonald of Mac’s Radiator and Tom DeJardin, Executive Director of Mt. Scott Learning Center, had the opportunity to relay their concerns directly to the experts in the room. Everyone involved deserves credit for the calm and informational tone of the evening.
Although your representatives provided spoken answers to our previously submitted questions, words spoken at a community meeting are all-too-easily misheard, misunderstood or walked back. In order to provide the most accurate information possible to our members, please provide a written response to the following:
1. How does this shelter fit into the City’s investment strategy in this area (Council approved Foster Transportation and Streetscape project, Lents Town Center URA, and the Catalytic Investment Initiative)? Does the funding for the shelter include resources for safety and livability (litter removal, graffiti abatement and consistent community policing)?
2. What studies on the economic impact of this shelter on area businesses were completed? What feasibility studies and due diligence were done on this location? Will you make those studies publicly available? What are your estimates for impact on neighborhood businesses and how will you and JOHS mitigate them?
3. Foster Area businesses are already burdened by a significant level of crime, with 1,504 offenses reported in our district (Foster-Powell/Mt. Scott) in the past year. In comparison, NE Broadway (Irvington, Grant Park and Sullivan’s Gulch) had only 1,388 offenses over the same period. The Southwest Hills had less than 250. Has JOHS seen crime levels rise around shelters in other neighborhoods? What follow up can FABA and district businesses expect if they report an increase in crime in the district? Will the number of police foot patrols be increased in the area?
4. Many area businesses have expressed concern about needles and other biohazards keeping customers away. Will there be sharps containers or safe injection/safe consumption sites? What follow up can FABA and district businesses expect when they make a complaint about health/safety hazards?
5. The FAQ mentions that “[behavioral] expectations will be set in cooperation with the school and will be strictly enforced.” How is the city reaching out to nearby schools and preschools (including FABA members Arleta Elementary, Green Tulip Peace and Nature School, Junior Achievement, Mt. Scott Learning Center, and Wild Lilac Community Development) to help set behavioral expectations? How will other district businesses that can expect an impact (including businesses that sell alcohol and businesses close to the shelter like 7-Eleven, Bar Carlo, Bar Maven, FoPo Tavern, Mac’s Automotive, N.W.I.P.A., Starday Tavern, Tango Berretin, TVG Volvo, and others) be involved in setting appropriate behavioral expectations? What follow up can FABA and district businesses expect when behavioral expectations are not met?
6. At the 12/18 community meeting, you brought up the possibility of designating the Foster shelter “High Barrier” as a way to mitigate potential disruptions in the heart of our business district. What changes are entailed in making the shelter “High Barrier,” and how do you expect that to mitigate potential economic impact on the street? How will your office and JOHS ensure that Foster Area businesses remain involved in changes to the shelter plan?
7. Will you provide more data around crime statistics before/after shelters in other areas have opened, data on where exactly in SE most homeless people are and data on whether or not temporary low barrier shelters work towards ending homelessness as opposed to permanent housing?
Your representatives generally expressed the opinion that the Foster location would not see the same negative effects that businesses near other shelters have seen. We strongly request that resources be allocated proactively instead of waiting for problems to occur. As you well know, it is past time to move beyond governing reactively in East Portland.
If the Foster shelter is to be as successful and non-disruptive as described, it is vital that JOHS and your office continue to engage meaningfully with FABA and the business community. The heart of our emerging business district, where the proposed shelter will be located, includes businesses bringing revenue into the local economy, employing dozens of residents, developing at risk youth and generating revenue for City government, together forming a fragile micro-climate of sustainable growth. We urge you to ensure FABA has a seat at the table when decisions are being made and follow through on your promise to engage one-on-one with those businesses that will be most affected by this proposed shelter.
Thank you and I look forward to your answers to these questions
Matthew Micetic, President
Foster Area Business Association
1125 SE Madison Street, Suite 112 Portland, OR 97214