|Lownsdale Square: BEFORE
–And also how slow on the uptake our local media are. When Bruce broke this story on The Victoria Taft Show on October 21st it was a shocker. He’d just come from the City offices shaking his head. As we spoke about it on the air several times thereafter KATU finally became clued into the story and after I’d blogged it and sent in my op ed to the Zero mentioning this, editorial poohbahs apparently still didn’t want to believe the City would be so duplicitous–or they didn’t want to hear it from their ‘favorite’ ‘radio polemicist,’ accurate though she may be.
So Bruce simply wrote them an opinion piece which the Zero printed yesterday. Now *EVERYONE* has discovered the hypocrisy and duplicitousness of the City of Portland. Here’s his piece in its entirety:
Thinking about taking out a permit to use Portland’s Lownsdale or Chapman Squares anytime in the next year? Forget about it, says Portland Parks & Recreation. Those two public parks are indefinitely off limits to anyone but Occupy Portland. While much attention has been given to the city’s anti-camping ordinance under Title 14, little attention has been paid to Commissioner Nick Fish’s PP&R bureau effectively granting to Occupy Portland a waiver from complying with the permit application and enforcement provisions of Title 20 of the city code.
On Friday, October 21 I went to PP&R’s office in the Portland Building to check out obtaining such a permit. I was met and helped by a polite and professional bureau employee who made some initial inquiries into my plans. Without initially disclosing my targeted parks, I describe my purposes as expressing free speech and assembly rights. Without mentioning Occupy Portland, I described the planned activities as having more than 150 persons, setting up tents, fencing and other structures, cooking and serving hot food, using amplified sound devices and staying overnight. The PP&R rep only balked at the last activity, reminding me with a straight face that is was illegal to camp in a Portland park – as the lunchtime Occupy Portland rally could be heard across the street. But I would definitely need a permit.
In order to obtain such a permit, I would have to pay an application fee, and daily use fees if approved. I must obtain prior approval from PPB Central Precinct, Portland Fire Bureau, Multnomah County Health Department and the downtown neighborhood association. I must also obtain a noise variance from the Bureau of Developmental Services and provide sufficient ADA compliant portable toilets. Finally, I must provide a $1,000,000 liability insurance policy and an additional insured endorsement that is acceptable to the city attorney. The approval process would take up to 30 days, unless I wanted to double or triple the costs for an expedited approval.
Then came the moment of truth, when I told the PP&R employee I wanted to apply for a permit to use Lownsdale and Chapman Squares, since apparently no one else had done so since the Portland Marathon. I was politely told that PP&R is not even accepting, let alone reviewing, any permit applications for those two city parks for at least a year. The reasons for this stunning and unpublicized city decision are twofold: the mayor’s office has granted Occupy Portland exclusive and indefinite use of the squares; and it will take PP&R at least that long to restore and rehabilitate the parks once and if Occupy Portland vacates.
The city’s favored treatment of Occupy Portland is an insult to all law abiding citizens. It also guarantees that all costs associated with liability claims, property damage and park restoration will not be borne by the “99%” who create the harm. Instead, such costs will fall upon the 100% of Portland taxpayers denied the use of these parks until November 2012 – Occupy’s Portland’s stated departure date.
Bruce R. McCain is a Portland lawyer.
Tell ’em where you saw it. Http://www.victoriataft.com