Over the weekend, organizers for Right 2 Dream Too—the "rest area" for the homeless flourishing on some vacant parcels at NW 4th and Burnside—took to Facebook and posted their latest assessment from the city's code enforcement bureau.
The bill is part of a yearlong city crackdown, since spun out into a court fight, that accuses the site of illegally operating as a "recreational" campground. And, according to a high-resolution copy of the bill obtained this afternoon, some big numbers pop out.
The overall amount owed by the group and its landlords—who are leasing out their prime downtown property for pennies a year? $12,592.02, including interest payments and other late fees. The monthly fine? More than $1,400. And how much has R2DToo and its supporters sent the city so far? $3,833—putting the total fines/penalties levied by the city at more than $16,000. Court papers filed last month said the amount owed, as of September, was about half as much.
The group has been quietly helping scores of Portlanders with its low-drama, low-to-no-cost model of success and empowerment since it opened in October 2011. Meanwhile, developers and other powerful downtown voices, like the Portland Business Alliance, are trying to persuade city officials to shut the place down.
They've even been playing dirty. The PBA sent a letter, for instance, accusing the camp of seeding a crime spike in Old Town. But as we reported last month, the police bureau—after looking at the statistics when we asked for them—said that couldn't be proven true.
This bill also raises some questions. Where does all that penalty money go? Will the city donate it to social services agencies doing similar work? And why is Right 2 Dream Too, and not its landlords, named on the bill. The city has routinely taken pains to try and distinguish between the two when it was making, before the lawsuit silenced them, its more bellicose comments.
All the same, I've phone up Ross Caron, spokesman for the Bureau of Development Services, and I'll update if I hear back.
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