A state decision rejecting plans to move the Right 2 Dream Too homeless camp could also be bad news for a homeless shelter along the Willamette riverfront.
Portland leaders and developer Homer Williams want to turn industrial property at Terminal One into the state’s largest homeless shelter. But business owners along the riverfront plan to challenge that with the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals.
Their argument: Industrial land is a scarce resource in the Portland region and must be preserved.
“We just don’t think it’s the best place to use as a homeless shelter,” said Ellen Wax, executive director of the Working Waterfront Coalition, a collection of business groups. “It’s taking away job development opportunities and opportunities for industrial businesses to locate there.”
Wax said her group would object to other nonindustrial uses of the property, which the Bureau of Environmental Services was preparing to sell before the City Council intervened with plans for a possible shelter.
In a similar but unrelated case, the Land Use Board of Appeals ruled Tuesday that the Right 2 Dream Too camp cannot move out of downtown Portland to property near the new Tilikum Crossing bridge.
City leaders have been trying to find a new home for Right 2 Dream, now at the corner of West Burnside and Fourth Avenue, for several years. They voted earlier this year to relocate the camp to city land in the Central Eastside.
Businesses in that neighborhood objected. The Land Use Board of Appeals rejected several of their reasons for prohibiting the camp, but agreed with a big one: Right 2 Dream, though a collection of tents and tarps, still qualifies as a “mass shelter.” And city zoning rules bar those from property zoned as industrial.
The decision leaves the camp’s future in doubt. Portland leaders hoped to have it moved this fall, but they’ve struggled to find an acceptable location.