This Week in the Mercury


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Last Thursdays To Close Earlier Under New Proposals

Posted by Dirk VanderHart on Tue, Jul 9, 2013 at 5:21 PM

Portland's popular Last Thursday street fair will continue in July, probably under the supervision of the volunteer organization that resigned last month, according to a set of proposals from Mayor Charlie Hales' office.

But the event will include at least some new strictures, including shutting down a half-hour earlier, at 9:30 pm. The city will also make businesses more accountable to noise violations from bands and DJs using their power outlets, and volunteers will go through specialized training.

The announcement comes after two meetings Hales' office held with Alberta Street stakeholders beginning last week.

"I want to be clear that at this point nobody has signed on for a permit yet," Chad Stover, a policy assistant for the mayor's office, said in an e-mail. "Friends of Last Thursday spoke optimistically about returning to the table, but that remains to be seen."

The tentative agreement comes just over two weeks after Friends of Last Thursday—which has coordinated the event since 2011—announced it was resigning amid suggestions from Hales' office that Last Thursdays close at 9 pm and have more portable toilets and security. The arts fair has drawn criticisms over the years that it leads to unruly behavior, claims quantified to some degree by new block-by-block crime spotters.

FoLT made the announcement just three days before June's event, and left the city scrambling to coordinate road barriers and toilets so the street festival could take place.

The announcement amounts to a compromise between Hales' initial suggestions and what FoLT had asked for. It backs off a bit on the early closure (though the mayor told me during June's Last Thursday "I think ten o'clock is the time" it should close) but allows for a multi-month permit, rather than the month-to-month process the city had dictated this year.

"My feeling is that these are reasonable steps in the right direction that would help Last Thursday be a more viable arts fair and would support FoLT or whoever the permit holder may be," Stover said.

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