PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Portland City Council held a public comment window on Wednesday morning, giving community members the opportunity to speak out about ongoing issues.
Four people used Wednesday’s public comment window to talk about the violence, vandalism and trash they are seeing pile up in central Eastside neighborhoods of Portland.
“Truly unbelievable scenes right outside our building, ranging from individuals walking down the streets with machetes, to being directly harassed by people in an altered state,” said Lindsey Crawford with Stumptown Coffee Roasters.
According to the Portland Police Bureau, neighborhoods just north of the Central Industrial District have seen 55 shootings over the last year. On Tuesday, an investigation into a suspicious death was launched after detectives found the body of a man near Holladay Park.
With the rise of violence and destruction, a coalition of local business leaders is urging the City Council to fund homeless services and improve 911 responses.
“My team members have been held up and assaulted multiple times, their cars have been broken into and vandalized, I’ve had people leave their shifts owing more money for repairs than they made that day or even that week,” Kim Malek, the co-founder of Salt & Straw said.
Councilman Mingus Mapps said he’s not surprised by what the businesses had to say and thinks City Council needs to take action. He wants to rehire 100 officers to the PPB, expand their behavioral health unit and Portland Street Response.
“I understand the impatience Portlanders have with our current situation,” he said, “and I agree with them. We need to do more. I can reassure — I think every elected official, none of us live in a bubble. We see what’s going on.”
Mapps is asking those who attended Wednesday’s session to come back next month to further discuss the issues.
“I believe we can make significant progress on all of these as part of our fall BMP process,” he said. “I would like to invite all of the speakers who testified today to come back in early November and share these stories again so we can decide how to invest the resources that we have.”
Earlier this year, the city council announced they had a budget surplus of $62 million.
A vote on a budget adjustment to possibly include funding for more police officers and an expanded Street Response Team was planned for Wednesday — but as he said, Mapps expects hearings and a decision to come early next month.