Featured Stories

Business owners fed up with disruptive transients

Tualatin business owner Carl Goodspeed would like to see the city adopt an open-container law
by: Jaime Valdez, TARGETING BEHAVIOR, NOT PEOPLE — Business owners in dowtown Tualatin have been calling local police almost daily asking for help to handle loud and disruptive transients.

TUALATIN - A graffiti-type image drawn in cartoon fashion on a slip of paper shows a police officer giving the boot to a scraggily dressed man.

Words on the piece of paper, according to Capt. Jeff Groth of the Tualatin Police Department, read, 'No transients in Tualatin. No homeless in Tualatin.'

The image and message were jotted down by a local transient, Groth said. The image likely came about after recent steps taken by police officers to cut down on loitering and harassment by some homeless people in the city.

'But we're not concentrating on the issue of transients,' Groth said. 'It's the behaviors. Those won't be tolerated.'

Last week, Carl Goodspeed, owner of Tualatin Liquor on Nyberg Street, used his own words to paint a picture for members of the Tualatin City Council.

'I've been robbed a number of times in the last three or four weeks,' said the store owner. '(The transients) are a general nuisance. They're drunk…They throw beer cans in the bushes. They urinate on the walls. The police are called twice a day… These people are defiant. They swear at you. Customers are afraid to come in. One of them looks like Charles Manson.'

Goodspeed has owned Tualatin Liquor for 10 years. And he said in the last five years, problems with transients harassing customers have gotten worse.

And because of what Goodspeed sells, he believes he is usually a prime target for thefts.

"And I'm worried about him this fall when it gets dark early," said his wife Ann.

Goodspeed admits that he is not passive when it comes to dealing with mouthy patrons or harassing transients.

"I've really been aggressive when dealing with this," he said.

The issue isn't a new one. In the last few months the police department has heard from numerous shop owners about transients loitering in parking lots, defecating in public and "being loud and boisterous."

Groth said that such problems tend to peak in the city during summer.

The department recently undertook a new operation to crack down on transients who are harassing and menacing people. The department is working with property owners and business owners for mutual agreements that would allow police officers to stop transients from camping out on private property.

"Patrol units are really hitting it hard," Groth said adding, again, that officers do not set out to single anyone out. Inappropriate behavior is what prompts the attention of the police, Groth said.

But Goodspeed would like to see even more done by the city to help alleviate the problem.

"Tualatin does not have an open-container law," Goodspeed said, and he believes the word has gotten out among the transient community about the city's lack of a law on alcohol consumption in public.

Members of Tualatin's City Council seem sympathetic to Goodspeed's situation. Mayor Lou Ogden said that the council had not been aware of the problem with transients affecting businesses in the city.

Ogden noted that the council would likely try to find some way to address the issue.

City Attorney Brenda Braden said Tuesday that from brief discussions with the Police Chief Kent Barker, the city was not clear on what types of ordinances would address the issue. Braden added that the city would continue to research how other cities have handled this issue.