Homeowners in the city of Portland, Oregon say a group of homeless people built their own makeshift shacks overlooking the scenic Willamette River without any building permits.
The rickety huts and tents are built on a stretch of sand that is considered no man’s land and is next to the Union Pacific rail yard.
But for those who live across the river and have paid up to a million dollars for what should be a beautiful uninterrupted view, the setups are a blight on the landscape.
One of the main problems is that the area is challenging to reach and because it is not directly on land owned by the emplacement, it is also not clear who is in charge of the shoreline.
Some property documents show that part of the beach does in fact belong to the railway yard, but there seems to be little to no inclination to do anything about it.
Homeowners in Portland, Oregon complain about a group of people who built makeshift huts and tents on a stretch of sand overlooking the river
The luxury apartment blocks are also clearly visible from across the riverbank
Huts are set up in a no man’s land that is difficult to access
Tents have also been set up, but it is unclear who is responsible for the shoreline
Larry Purtle and Ric Scaramella have watched people set up about nine makeshift shacks across from their own apartments over the past five years and say they have complained to authorities about 40 times.
The couple say they are “concerned” about the people living in the huts and are concerned about pollution flowing into the river.
“These are not tents. These are structures. Pretty much everyone comes back and says they don’t have jurisdiction because it’s Union Pacific, it’s a railroad,” Scaramella told KOIN.
The community of shacks built from driftwood almost resembles a slum without bathroom facilities or running water – but some even have solar panels to power the residents. Garbage is left along the coast.
One of the residents of the huts is Paula, who prefers it to a shelter.
“There are a few hiding places I like. They would have been great except there was no drugs. That sucks. I don’t think drugs are my problem,” Paula said KOIN News.
“I think my problem is that I don’t have a place to wash my hair and go to the bathroom.”
Larry Purtle and Ric Scaramella have expressed concern about pollution and the lack of amenities for the people living in the area, but no one is taking responsibility
Purtle and Scaramella live in luxury apartments across the river and want the authorities to take charge
Garbage is strewn along the shoreline and no one is taking responsibility
The settlers seem to have been building homes for themselves for the past five years
The area has also become something of a landfill
A map showing where homeless camps have been reported in the city of Portland – with many scattered along the river
Recently, the City of Portland, the Oregon Department of State Lands, the Oregon Marine Board, Metro, and the Port of Portland recovered 10 tons of debris and two abandoned boats from the area called Lindbergh’s Beach, owned by the Port of Portland.
Union Pacific spokesman Daryl Bjoraas said when it comes to ownership of the land, it’s complicated.
‘This area is extra challenging to maintain, because cabins are on the water’s edge. Under the common law of the common flood mark, the boundary between public land and private land is determined by natural fluctuations of the water, making it a legal gray area’, explains Bjoraas.
Similarly, the Oregon Department of State Lands, which regulates rivers, is also taking a hands-off approach to the issue.
“The bad news is that at this point it’s hard to say if we have a role. Where public ownership of the riverbed/shoreline ends and ownership of the highland begins is complicated,” a spokesman said.
Multnomah County funds nonprofits that provide assistance to the homeless, but it’s unclear if the people living in the shacks have been addressed.
“There are a few hiding places I like. They would have been great except there was no drugs. That sucks. I don’t think drugs are my problem,” a woman named Paula, who lives in a cabin, told KOIN News. “I think my problem is that I don’t have a place to wash my hair and go to the bathroom.”
Some cabins even seem to have solar panels to provide electricity
Those who live across the river now have a view of the coastal wasteland
The riverside camps are just the latest problem in Portland, which has suffered from rising crime and homeless camps that have spread from downtown to the suburbs, displacing countless businesses and residents.
Dilapidated RVs are used throughout the city by homeless people and are often parked near encampments.
The Democratic city has one of the most desolate boroughs in the United States, where rising crime rates and homelessness scare locals and tourists alike.
In 2021, there were 90 homicides amid a wave of gun violence, breaking the previous record of 66 set more than three decades ago.
There will be 101 homicides recorded in 2022 – a new record for the city.
Portland currently has more than 700 homeless camps scattered throughout the city within a radius of less than 250 square miles.
Some of the Pacific Northwest city’s most charming, trendy and expensive neighborhoods are now overrun with tent cities crowding residential sidewalks and littered with trash — and the problem is scaring away locals and tourists alike.
Portland currently has more than 700 homeless camps scattered throughout the city within a radius of less than 250 square miles, and the ordeal has also led to skyrocketing crime in the area
Some of the Pacific Northwest city’s most charming, trendy and expensive neighborhoods are now overrun with tent cities crowding residential sidewalks and littered with trash — and the problem is scaring away locals and tourists alike
The Portland City Council rushed to pay back the police in November 2021 after waiving them by more than $15 million in 2020. Officials instead voted to add $5.4 million to the police budget.
When the police department was relieved in 2020, the Portland Police Department suffered a wave of retirements and layoffs.
Portland saw a dramatic increase in shootings and homicides following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The city saw a 250 percent increase in homicides in the first six months after Floyd’s death and a nearly 175 percent increase in shootings.