This Friday at 4:20 pm, the conversion of Rumpspankers cafe in NE Portland to an entirely different kind of joint is supposed to be complete. As detailed in the paper this week, the cafe on NE Dekum will become a private pot-smoking club for members of Oregon NORML.
Some Dekum neighbors are fine with the cafe opening up. But in a heated meeting last week, the owners of Rumpspankers cafe faced off against neighborhood association members who are upset about the planned pot cafe as well as the noise and nature of erotic parties (like Leather Alliance events and a "Pants Off Dance Off") the building has hosted frequently over the last six months.
Woodlawn Neighborhood Association Secretary Anjala Ehelebe hoped that the board could agree on an official position stating they would like to see more "thriving businesses" in the area rather than a Cannabis Cafe. "The occasional staging of adult erotic events and the establishment of a proposed Cannabis Club and Cafe where there once was a family-friendly restaurant are not activities that improve or enhance the physical and social conditions within our boundaries," read one of the suggested positions.
The cafe's immediate neighbor complained that the smell of pot hanging in her front yard during Oregon NORML meetings in the building kept her from working in her yard. But though the board was upset that they found out about the cannabis cafe through media calls rather than conversation with the Rumpspankers managers, the board could not agree on supporting any official position against the cafe.
"If they run a tight ship, it could be run invisibly and seamlessly," notes Ehelbe.
Rumpspankers owner Solomon says the neighborhood association board is trying to run him out of the neighborhood. "They don't like that we have big queer dance parties. They don't like that we have an event called 'Dinner and Porn,'" says Solomon. He attributes the recent uptick in noise complaints to "West Side sensibilities" and described last week's meeting as a "vicious, vicious, despicable, vicious attack."
The neighborhood association is hoping the Solomon will sign a Good Neighbor Agreement for the space, but that doesn't seem likely. Rumpspanker's co-owner Shelly Solomon resented the neighborhood's suggestions for how to run their cafe and ballroom differently. "We are business owners, we can decide how to run a successful business in our own space," she says. "If neighbors have these issues, they should bring them straight to us."
Not all neighbors are up in arms about the cafe. "A marijuana bar is probably far safer to have in there than any bar that serves alcohol," says Woodlawn resident John Graeter. But it would be nicer to have something more inclusive than a private pot club on the neighborhood's prime business stretch, says Graeter. "If a golf club store were to move in there, I would probably feel the same way."
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