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City tries no-parking zone to reduce crime

Road construction, crackdown improved life on 190th
by: Jim Clark Chuck Pearman has managed the Grant View Court for 17 years and thinks the no-parking zone on 190th Avenue penalizes residents.

A stretch of Southeast 190th Avenue in Rockwood is now a no-parking zone in an attempt to curb criminal activity and improve livability.

Beginning Tuesday, Nov. 15, no parking is allowed on either side of 190th between Stark Street to the north and Yamhill Street to the south.

It's a bit of an experiment to see if the city of Gresham can recreate a drop in crime that took place this summer when street resurfacing restricted parking on the same road for 10 days, said Police Chief Craig Junginger.

During the roadwork, police noticed a significant drop in crime on 190th Avenue - crime that began to heat up about six to nine months ago, he said.

'This is one of our most challenging locations,' said Lt. Mike LeDuc. 'Lots of drug trafficking, prostitution, strong-arm robbery, assault, you name it. And when it gets dark at night, anybody who's walking by is fair game.'

Police spent September cracking down on the area with more high-visibility patrols and undercover work. They determined that the bulk of criminals that hit 190th Avenue didn't live in the complexes lining both sides of the street, but were instead 'associated' with tenants, LeDuc said.

Property owners and merchants were thrilled by the increased police response.

'They've been trying to get these people who were not residents there but causing most of the problems to move on,' LeDuc said.

But the department could no longer afford the overtime or shuffle assignments to support the crackdown.

'Enforcement only isn't going to do it,' LeDuc said. 'We needed to change the environment.'

With the no-parking zone in place on 190th Avenue, 'it's wide open now,' he added. 'We can see what's going on.'

'It's a proactive enforcement that we're doing to try to improve the quality of life in the neighborhood and lower the number of police calls,' Junginger said.

So far, community feedback is good, LeDuc said.

Police sent letters to property owners so they could notify complex managers about the no-parking zone. They also circulated bilingual fliers, complete with a phone number to call to voice concerns or comments, to residents in nearby apartment complexes.

'And we didn't get any,' LeDuc said.

But now that the no-parking signs are up, some tenants worry their visitors will have nowhere to park.

At the Grant View Court, formerly known as the Riviera Gardens, Mary Grooms said the no-parking zone is 'going to be a problem in our complex because visitors have to park on the street. We only have one parking space per apartment, so I don't think that will work.'

She's also doubtful that the zone will help fight crime.

'In this neighborhood, there's probably going to be crime anyway,' Grooms said. 'It will either move into the parking lots or side streets, because unfortunately the people committing the crimes live in the neighborhood.

'We'll see.'

Chuck Pearman, who manages the complex, said he oversees 80 units and some have two cars. With only one parking spot per unit in the parking lot, some tenants have no choice but to park on the street.

'I've been here 17 years and that's gonna cause me more problems than anything,' he said of the no-parking zone. 'Their visitors are just gonna grab any parking place they can in here.'

And that will leave fewer spaces for residents.

'It's more of an inconvenience,' he said, adding that he fears some tenants might move because of it. 'To take the parking completely off the whole street, they're penalizing good people.'

LeDuc said officers are keeping an eye out for any 'negative spill over,' from the no-parking zone.

He also encouraged residents with concerns or feedback to call the police department's tip line at 503-618-2719.

If crime moves to apartment complex parking lots or nearby side streets, the police want to hear about it.

'We're not going to simply turn our head from it,' LeDuc said. 'That doesn't serve anybody any good.'

In addition, every few months the department will review crime reports and police calls in the area to see if the no-parking zone is having the desired effect, Junginger said.

'It may not continue forever,' he said. 'We'll see if it works.'