Pro-shelter protesters stand adjacent to busy Portland Arterial

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

SAFE STREETS AND HOUSING ADVOCATES RESPOND TO EMERGENCY DECLARATION: DO NOT USE TRAFFIC DEATHS AS JUSTIFICATION FOR ENCAMPMENT SWEEPS; MAKE OUR STREETS SAFER AND EXPAND HOUSING OPTIONS WITH URGENCY

To: Portland City Council
Cc: Local Media

February 4, 2022

This week’s release of the Traffic Crash Report by the Portland Bureau of Transportation shows the devastating reality of how dangerous our current streets, roadways, and other facilities are. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler shared on his own takeaway via social media: “Portlanders deserve safer streets, roads and freeways.” Indeed, all community members deserve better, which is why we strongly object to the emergency declaration to sweep encampments and further displace unhoused community members from alongside our most dangerous roads. The presence of unhoused people does not make our streets unsafe; rather, poor roadway design, ongoing neglect and deferred maintenance, recklessness in the form of speeding, operating a vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol, and other dangerous behavior are all well-documented reasons why there is this alarming uptick in deaths.

Portland is not alone in this upward trend, unfortunately: all across our state and nationally people are dying on roadways. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg acknowledges this national crisis and has taken steps to coordinate a response through the new National Roadway Safety Strategy. Nowhere in any transportation study, advocacy campaign or community forum seeking to address our roadway safety problems has it been suggested that unhoused people and encampments should be swept or outright banned as a partial solution to this crisis.

The deaths that our communities grieve over is a direct result of prolonged underinvestment, bureaucratic disarray, and broken promises that advocates for safe streets and those experiencing the brunt of our housing and economic crisis have consistently raised to decision makers at every level of governance. In June of 2021, Portland City Council unanimously passed the Paving the Pathway from Streets to Stability ordinance  (#190478), which codified our approach toward outdoor shelters and provided the regulatory tools we need to build six Safe Rest Villages (SRVs). City Council approved $24.9 million in the first tranche of ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) dollars to build up six SRVs around the city. These shelters remain unbuilt, and the demand for appropriate housing and shelter continues to outpace the availability of temporary, much less permanent options.

Even if we did have ample capacity to shelter everyone potentially displaced through this emergency order, the Oregonian reported this week that it’s unlikely that most people swept from their residences would even know they have an alternative: 95% of unsheltered Portlanders said city workers didn’t offer shelter before camp sweeps. City officials proposing this emergency declaration are fully aware of the 9th Circuit Court ruling in Martin v. Boise that unless there is enough shelter space for the homeless population of Portland, we cannot prohibit them from camping outdoors on public property. Sweeping unhoused people without viable options for them to safely relocate and shelter is inefficient, ineffective, and inhumane. 

We need to – and can – act urgently to save lives. The City of Portland’s elected leaders can take bold action to do that without further jeopardizing those living on our streets. Swift action can be taken to:

  • Issue an emergency resolution to close down high crash corridors and intersections to auto traffic and reduce speed limits to 20 MPH on all city-owned facilities and roadways 
  • Rebalance the city’s public safety budget to address the traffic fatality epidemic, beginning with reallocating funding set aside to hire 67 police officers to complete unfunded and shovel-ready projects in PBOT’s High Crash Network
  • Fully fund Portland Street Response citywide
  • Immediately fund, implement, and enforce the “vision clearance” of approximately 350 intersections citywide, beginning with those located on high crash network streets
  • Develop Safe Rest Villages (SRVs) quickly using a low-barrier model that is driven by the needs, hopes, desires and lived experience of people experiencing the trauma of homelessness. Ensure that the City develops SRVs equitably and that they are allowed throughout the city 
  • Move to expedite implementation of the “Nearer Term Recommendations” from the Pricing for Equitable Mobility Task Force
  • Quickly convert existing vacant structures into housing that would meet the needs of people sleeping unsheltered in places that pose a risk to their personal safety, following recommendations in the Here Together Coalition’s Road Map
  • Invest more boldly and urgently in Housing First and other proven models that quickly and humanely support people’s direct transition back into permanent homes. 

 

Sincerely, 

Oregon Walks
The Street Trust
Verde
OPAL Environmental Justice
Portland Forward
Getting There Together Coalition
Human Solutions
Imagine Black
No More Freeways Coalition
Street Roots Advocacy
Our Portland PAC
Portland: Neighbors Welcome
Northwest Pilot Project
Impact NW
Sunrise PDX
BikeLoud PDX
1000 Friends of Oregon
Right 2 Survive
Outside In
Urban League of Portland
Portland Jobs with Justice
Central City Concern
Transition Projects, Inc.

Alice Awards Block Party Recap + Photos

Last weekend, an at-capacity crowd gathered beneath beautiful trees with friends old and new to activate a public plaza, reclaim and reimagine West Burnside Street, and celebrate the transportation champions in our community.  

Coming together for a safe, joyful, inclusive celebration is central to our core work of building community for better outcomes in our streets. But more play means we have more fundraising work to support the organization. So if you weren’t able to join us or you just want to see more inclusive events like this, we need you to contribute $20, $50, $100 or $250 today.

To see more photos from the 2021 Alice Awards, follow our Facebook page, check out board member Dr. A.J. Zelada’s website, or visit Bike Portland’s photo gallery.

Congrats to 2021’s Alice Award Winners!

The Bud Clark Lifetime Achievement Award Winner was Metro Councilor Bob Stacey who for nearly four decades has been an environmental advocate, a public servant, a trusted advisor to leaders, and a tireless voice for smart transportation choices for our future.

The Alice Award was presented to State Representative Khanh Pham (OR D-46) who accepted the award on behalf of the many parents, small business owners, community members, and activists who have fought for years to make 82nd Avenue a safe place where we can work, live, play, and pray. She called this just the beginning of a transportation transformation that we’re going to be making together to make sure these truly are all of our streets.

The inaugural Elizabeth Jennings Graham Transportation Justice Award was presented to BikePOC PNW for their leadership in actively creating intentional space for bike riders of color in our region. BikePOC PNW co-founder Will Cortez introduced the group as a collective of people in the community who bring trauma, joy, excitement, anger, sadness, and a vision for something that can be really great.

Thanks, BikePortland, for capturing video of the acceptance speeches. See the tribute to Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Bob Stacey who could not be present, Oregon State Representative Khanh Pham accepting her Alice Award, and the organizers of BikePOC PNW and the Chingonas Ride accepting their Elizabeth Jennings Graham Transportation Justice Award. Watch the video here.

About the Venue – Ankeny West

We were so pleased to celebrate under a beautiful blue sky block-party-style at Friends of the Green Loop’s new Ankeny West plaza in the Cart Blocks. The plaza provided ample space for our family-friendly gathering and reclaiming parts of nearby streets (thanks PBOT Healthy Businesses permit!) gave room for extra bike parking and the stage. We enjoyed lunch from the following food carts, permanently sited at Ankeny West: 

#1 Bento 

Anna Thai Basil 

Beijing House 

Fernando’s Alegria 

Hua Li House 

Kafta House 

KBap 

Shanghai’s Best 

Tito’s Burrito’s #2 

Villa Angel Taqueria 

Thank You Sponsors!

A huge thank you goes to all the organizations and businesses who made the event possible!

The 2021 Alice Awards stage was sponsored by Thomas, Coon, Newton & Frost. Our sponsors were Kaiser Permanente, Columbia Bank, David Evans and Associates, KPFF, and PBOT. Our “Picnic Table” sponsors were Randy Miller, The Foundry, and Nelson/Nygaard. A special shout out to Brew Dr Kombucha for supplying the delicious kombucha and Go By Bike for the bike racks. 

 

 

The Alice Awards are coming up fast! Our annual awards ceremony is this Saturday, October 2nd, from noon to 3:00 p.m. at the new Ankeny West Plaza in the Cart Blocks of Downtown Portland (770 W. Burnside). Celebrate community leaders over food, drinks, games, and live performances-Tickets are only $15!

Buy tickets!

 

This Year’s Winners

Metro Councilor Bob StaceyMetro Councilor Bob Stacey is the 2021 recipient of the Bud Clark Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes sustained work toward achieving The Street Trust’s vision of a complete, safe, low-carbon, multimodal transportation system that contributes to equity in access, opportunity, health, and prosperity for people and communities across the Portland Metro Region and beyond.

Councilor Stacey was the TriMet Executive Director for Policy and Planning during the construction of the Yellow Line MAX in the early 2000s and has always been a visionary, linking land use, transit, active transportation and community for urban sustainability. “Councilor Stacey’s impact on our transportation systems spans the lifetimes of some – such as myself! – who are current advocates for a more equitable, safe and just transportation and land use system,” says Vivian Satterfield, Strategic Partnerships Director at Verde. “He’s played a massive role in shaping our region, from fighting the freeway expansion of the Westside Bypass and in supporting the vision of our region’s first ever BRT system with the Division project. His style of leadership comes from a place of genuine curiosity in engaging the people around him as people first in order to find values and common ground.”

Representative Khanh PhamThe 2021 Alice Award recipient is State Representative Khanh Pham (OR D-46). Rep. Pham has a long history of community building along 82nd Avenue and in The Jade District, where she has championed safety for people who live, work, shop, and play along the street and across East Portland.

Khanh was a founding leader of and spokesperson for the groundbreaking Portland Clean Energy Fund Initiative, which passed in 2018. As a newcomer to the legislature, she has tirelessly forged connections to bridge divides. “Rep. Pham has a deep commitment to environmental and climate justice. This year, she demonstrated decisive, visionary leadership in securing emergency and long-term funding for the transformation of 82nd Avenue and its transfer to the City of Portland from the Oregon Department of Transportation,” says Kimberlee Stafford, Chair of The Street Trust Community Fund’s Board of Directors. Prior to the legislature, Pham served as the Interim Alliance Director at the Oregon Just Transition Alliance and was Environmental Justice Manager at the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO).

BikePOC PNW logoBikePOC PNW will receive the inaugural Elizabeth Jennings Graham Transportation Justice Award for their leadership in actively creating intentional space for bike riders of color in our region. BikePOC PNW co-founders Will Cortez, Silas Sanderson, and Sukho Viboolsittiseri formed the group in early 2021 to create a community for bike riders from Black, Indigenous, and Communities of Color in our area and it has grown quickly. “We appreciate their investment in creating a new, vibrant, and inclusive community for BIPOC cyclists in the Portland metro area through organized rides such as the ‘Chingona’ and ‘Party Pace’ rides,” explains Thomas Ngo, Chair of The Street Trust Action Fund’s Board of Directors.

“The Street Trust is excited to recognize three amazing community members and organizations for their activism and commitment to equity. Their drive and determination are inspirational and lay the groundwork for a better transportation future,” says Sarah Iannarone, Executive Director of The Street Trust.

Live Entertainment

DJ ALoSo will kick off the block party at noon as well as play sets throughout the day, culminating in a dance party at the end.

DJ ALoSo is a passionate music curator who believes in community, diversity and inclusivity. His musical influences range in appreciation for eclectic, world inspired, tribal influenced genres that journey through the soundscapes of both light and dark aspects of sound, vibration and rhythm. His artistic Latin influence emerges through a primordial essence, and is expressed through the sharing of music–intended to bring people together through the energy of love and balance.

At 1:00 p.m., Son de Cuba will take to the stage. Son de Cuba is a quintet of musicians from Cuba, Chile, Mexico, and the US. They have roots in Latin, African, and jazz rhythms and blend their vast knowledge of different beats together in classic and modern Latin songs, exuding energy and happiness. Dancing is encouraged!

At 2:00 p.m., take in an exhilarating performance by White Lotus Dragon & Lion Dance. The largest dragon & lion dance team in all of Oregon, White Lotus brings a unique approach to a centuries long tradition, continuously exploring new and creative ideas.

About the Event

Alice AwardsIn line with a greater focus on equity and inclusion, The Street Trust has transformed this year’s Alice Awards from a high-ticket-price dinner to an outdoor, community-oriented block party at Friends of the Green Loop’s new Ankeny West plaza. Live performances will include DJ ALoSo, Son de Cuba, and White Lotus Dragon & Lion Dance. The party will also feature food trucks, a beer garden, a swag table, a raffle, and a dance party. Attendees will get an exclusive preview of The Street Trust’s #OurStreets Campaign, which launches this fall.

In addition to the awards ceremony and live entertainment, the event will feature a raffle, the food carts of the Cart Blocks, a beer garden, ring toss–to win bottles of local wines for adults and candy and/or comics for kids, a blender bike to pedal your own non-alcoholic piña colada, limited-edition t-shirts, and a photo booth!

Volunteer shifts are still available to help make this event the best it can be! Sign up here.

SAFETY DURING COVID-19

Based on the latest public health data and analyses, we are reasonably confident that it will be safe to gather with a limited size group in Multnomah County on October 2nd and are designing our outdoor location to maximize social distancing. However, it will only be safe if people who attend are fully vaccinated and wear a mask except when eating or drinking. We are requesting that people who are not vaccinated, unable or unwilling to wear a mask, or who have been in close contact with someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, please refrain from joining in person and instead tune into our streams via social media and send a financial contribution to keep The Street Trust’s important work going.

 

Buy tickets!

 

Multimodal Transit Street

 

The Street Trust’s 2021-2023 Strategic Plan calls for “a complete, safe, low-carbon, multimodal transportation system that contributes to equity in access, opportunity, health, and prosperity for people and communities across the Portland Metro Region and beyond.” It all sounds great, but what do we mean by multimodal?

 

For many people the concept and characteristics of a multimodal transportation system is new and sometimes unclear, which is why I, your new Street Trust Policy Transformation Manager, am here to offer some insight as to what we mean when The Strust Trust demands for a “multimodal” system and why we think it’s important. 

 

A multimodal transportation system is one that offers more than one way to move around. For example, in the Portland Metro region there’s already a diverse suite of modes people use to get around. People can drive, walk, ride the streetcar or bus, hop on a scooter or one of Biketown’s shared electric bikes. However, not everybody has equitable access to all these different modes, and the ease of use and efficiency of each mode is affected by a history of disproportionate investment in infrastructure centered on private automobiles. 

 

Having multiple modes at hand is only one small piece of the multimodal pie. Another critical (and historically underfunded) piece, is infrastructure that allows for convenient, safe and accessible use of other modes. The cost and impact of these investments vary tremendously from mode to mode, but in a complete multimodal system, a single investment or piece of infrastructure can have a positive impact on many modes. For example, look at mobility lanes, which benefit cyclists, skaters, scooterers, and people with limited mobility.

 

Street users deserve a robust and connected suite of transportation options that allow them to safely travel anywhere they need to go. After more than a century of dominating our streets we think it’s time for cars to make way for the future and share the road.

 

If you live in the Portland metro area and want to improve multimodal transportation in your neighborhood, become a member of The Street Trust or volunteer with us when we hit the streets to improve the road network.

 

Image Source: Wikipedia Commons