New Portland Design Guideline Will Place Responsibility for Homeless Crisis on Private Property Owners

By Rachel Dawson

There is a homeless crisis in Portland. According to a recent count by Portland State University, the number of people found living in “unfit” conditions, such as in a tent outdoors, under a bridge or overpass, or in their car, has increased by 20% between 2017 and 2019.

Instead of providing sound and beneficial policies to help get homeless individuals on their feet and off the streets, Portland officials are pushing the issue onto private businesses.

The Portland Planning Commission recently affirmed a proposal submitted by Commissioner Oriana Magnera that would require new private downtown buildings, including stores and apartment complexes, to have a space where Portlanders can “rest,” including pitching tents and sleeping. She stated in a November meeting that current buildings may have “benches but not a lot of place to pitch a tent.”

Magnera blames the current homeless crisis in part on a housing shortage. It would thus make sense to provide shelter to those living on the streets and reduce restrictive city codes and laws that make it difficult to build homes in the Metro region. One such change could include enlarging the current Urban Growth Boundary that limits the amount of land available for new homes and artificially raises prices.

Portland officials should not place the responsibility for the homeless crisis on developers and private property owners. They should remove this new design guideline language and create policies that will tackle the root of the homeless crisis.

Rachel Dawson is a Policy Analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

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Comments 7

  1. Avatar for David Wiltsee

    David Wiltsee

    1:11 pm - January 3, 2020

    Does this requirement include new and expanded public buildings, such as city hall, fire stations, and schools?

  2. Avatar for Rene Schifano

    Rene Schifano

    1:53 pm - January 3, 2020

    Are all of you people NUTS ????
    We need to clean House in Oregon…………

  3. Avatar for Bob LeFeber

    Bob LeFeber

    7:49 pm - January 3, 2020

    I own a bldg at Interstate and Lombard. The building had large overhangs where the homeless gathered and slept. The tenant urged us to do something as it was driving away business. We installed a fence which prevented access to the area under the overhang. Only then did the homeless move on. If we were prevented from fencing this area or required to install the overhang clearly the business would have suffered and may have failed.

  4. Avatar for Jon


    11:15 pm - January 3, 2020

    I feel as if I were more intelligent before I read the article…

  5. Avatar for Michael Runyon

    Michael Runyon

    12:31 am - January 4, 2020

    Maybe Portland State University ought to provide one of their Dorms for the homeless and have the students find somewhere else to like I did when there was no student housing in the early 1960’s.

  6. Avatar for Laurie


    1:36 pm - January 10, 2020

    The taxpayer has been taxed to the point of no return on the issue of homelessness. As I told a cement camper the other day, when I was approached for spare change…I can offer you a sandwich and a pair of gloves that are in my car but if you want money, you will need to get a job just like I did. He told me to f**** off. For this reason and many others, I will never allow someone to “rest” on my property that doesn’t aim to help themselves. Use only taxpayer buildings to provide “rest” areas and quit asking for more from the taxpayer!

  7. Avatar for Sondra farmer

    Sondra farmer

    6:01 pm - January 11, 2020

    I am very angry that by pouring cement and putting huge boulders in to keep the homeless people out, they have driven the homeless into the neighborhood. MY neighborhood!!! Check out around the old Taco House on 82nd and Klickitat. It’s awful. And probably will become worse. And, the city and/or county have whole buildings that could house the homeless.

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