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Hales postpones Springwater Corridor sweep until Sept. 1

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PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: ZANE SPARLING - Robert (declined to give his last name) said a bad breakup left him living on the Springwater Trail. His camping area will likely be cleared in September. About 36 people were living at the illegal campsite.Mayor Charlie Hales said late Wednesday afternoon that he was postponing the homeless sweep of the Springwater Corridor until Sept. 1.

Hales said he delayed a sweep of the 21-mile corridor between Portland and Boring for a month because social service providers have told him they cannot accomodate the 500 homeless people estimated to be displaced from it.

“I said before that we resisted moving campers from the area because we don’t yet have good options for all the people living there. That continues to be true. Recognizing that, I want to ensure this cleanup was is humane and compassionate as possible. Adjusting to social service providers’ requests is part of that," Hales said in a July 27 press release.

TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - Mayor Charlie Hales has postponed a sweep of the Springwater Corridor until Sept. 1 to accommodate social service providers.Hales ordered the sweep on June 15, saying it is necessary to solve livability and health problems caused by the campers. “I know neighbors to the Springwater are dealing with very real problems, and I hope that initial steps now and a major cleanup in one month will balance our need to treat people humanely, with our need to restore the Springwater to a public asset,” Hales said.

The release also said the delay was negotiated with a the Oregon Law Center, a law firm representing the homeless. According to the release, recognizing that urgent public safety issues and environmental damage are occurring, the Portland Police Bureau will increase patrols along the corridor. The city will provide biohazard cleanup, will begin placing dumpsters along the corridor, and work with advocates on some garbage cleanup prior to Sept. 1.

“I said before that we resisted moving campers from the area because we don’t yet have good options for all the people living there,” Hales said. “That continues to be true. Recognizing that, I want to ensure this cleanup was is humane and compassionate as possible. Adjusting to social service providers’ requests is part of that."

The delay pushes the cleanup past the annual Hood to Coast Run, which is scheduled to send more than 10,000 runners along the corridor on Aug. 26. Some homeless advocates had accused Hales of timing the sweep to accomodate the run, an accusation his office denied.

Some homeless advocates have urged civil disobedience against the sweep, including refusing to leave and moving into the upscale Eastmoreland neighborhood where Hales lives.

The delay will give the City Council time to debate opening a large homeless shelter in a former warehouse at Terminal 1. That hearing is scheduled for Aug. 10. Commissioner Dan Saltzman has made the proposal, which is opposed by Commissioner Nick Fish, who oversees the Bureau of Environmental Services, which owns Terminal 1. It is for sale and bid are scheduled to be received by Aug. 15.

See a related story: portlandtribune.com/pt/9-news/316485-195717-opposition-surfaces-to-idea-of-using-terminal-1-for-homeless-shelter.