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City, group look at moving Old Town homeless camp to new site

Police say no officers have been dispatched to Burnside group
by: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT About 100 Occupy Portland demonstrators marched  
in support of the Right 2 Dream Too homeless campers two weeks ago, but the fates of the two sites appear to be on different paths. Church leaders and public officials this week continued to explore the possibility of moving Right 2 Dream Too to another site.

With signs that the Right 2 Dream Too homeless encampment on West Burnside Street is taking on the look of a more permanent development, Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish will meet this week with clergy to discuss the possibility of moving Right 2 Dream Too to a church property.

City development officials have notified Right 2 Dream Too that its tent city probably violates city anti-camping ordinances. The group is leasing private property for the camp.

Last week, a number of people involved in homeless issues, including representatives of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon and the Old Town Union Gospel Mission, discussed the possibility of a move for Right 2 Dream Too.

That would necessitate a city resolution similar to those in effect in Seattle and Eugene, which allow churches to host homeless encampments on their properties. Fish said he would meet this week with David Leslie, executive director of Ecumenical Ministries, about the issue. Leslie said last week that he likely could find churches willing to host Right 2 Dream Too if the resolution were passed.

Meanwhile, 12 blocks to the south, early Tuesday morning Portland police arrested 10 Occupy Portland demonstrators who tried to expand their encampment to the federally owned Terry D. Schrunk Plaza. According to the city, more than $186,000 in police overtime has been spent on Occupy Portland and more than 50 demonstrators have been arrested. Fish also warned that Occupy Portland campers had caused more than $19,000 in damage to two downtown squares.

Police say there have been no dispatch calls to the Right 2 Dream Too camp in Old Town.

Nationally, a number of Occupy encampments have found homeless men and women joining their campsites, but Mike Dee, president of Right 2 Dream Too, said on Tuesday that the people camped on West Burnside appeared to prefer their own site and saw no need to join Occupy Portland campers.

'We've got a little more control of our situation,' Dee said. 'They like it here. They know who their neighbors are. These are people they've been seeing on the street for years.'

Dee noted that Right 2 Dream Too adopted a strict set of rules governing behavior even before Occupy Portland, which preceded Right 2 Dream Too. For example, the camp has set 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. as its quiet time. Dee said that 'a handful' of Right 2 Dream Too campers had been asked to leave because there was reason to believe they might have drugs, alcohol or weapons, or because they treated other campers with disrespect.

Enforcing a code of conduct, Dee said, might be 'a little more challenging' at the larger Occupy Portland site.

On Tuesday, visitors to Right 2 Dream Too were greeted by a new sign with a professional architectural rendering of how the camp is intended to look in time, with trees and a more centrally located common area. But that sign ignores pending action by the city's Bureau of Development Services, which could fine property owner Michael Wright for allowing the encampment.

At the same time, the bureau also notified the city's parks and recreation bureau that the Occupy Portland campsites were violating city code. A bureau spokesman said that the parks bureau was 'evaluating the situation and will follow up with BDS.'