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Hales urges homeless camp to move indoors

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - The Old Town homeless camp Right 2 Dream Too could be forced off its private lot near the Chinatown Gate by city officials who want the group to move to a warehouse for at least 15 months.Portland Mayor Charlie Hales says the controversial Right 2 Dream Too homeless encampment eventually has to leave Old Town.

Right 2 Dream Too representatives say they will leave their current location next to the Chinatown Gate on West Burnside Street only when they have a commitment that a permanent new location or locations is offered.

The city's development commission has offered owners of the property where Right 2 Dream Too resides enough money for the land to make it likely a deal will be struck and Right 2 Dream Too might eventually be evicted.

This may be as close to the definition of a civic standoff as you’re likely to see.

On Wednesday, Hales sent a letter to Howard Weiner, chairman of the Old Town/Chinatown Neighborhood Association, outlining his position that Right 2 Dream Too should be moved to a vacant warehouse on Northwest Hoyt Street and Fourth Avenue that is available for 15 months beginning Jan. 1. But in the letter’s second to last paragraph he writes: “I will not support a solution that includes the permanent location of Right 2 Dream Too within Old Town.”

Right 2 Dream Too organizer Ibrahim Mubarek has repeatedly said that his group aren’t going to move unless there are some permanent guarantees. That's still the bottom line, says Mark Kramer Right 2 Dream Too's attorney.

“If that issue is not addressed, what happens to Right 2 Dream Too after the 15 months, then Hoyt Street is not a viable option,” Kramer says.

Kramer says that last Friday he sent a letter to the Hales outlining his concerns and principles, but that he has not heard back. “I am awaiting an open, direct and honest communication to see if those concerns can be addressed,” Kramer says.

Meanwhile, the Portland Development Commission has finished its appraisal on the West Burnside property it hopes to buy from owner Michael Wright and investors. PDC claims the property is worth $1.2 million. Wright in the past has said he hoped to get $2 million. If he sells, Right 2 Dream Too might have to move, but attorney Kramer says he's not too worried about that.

In October, City Commissioner Amanda Fritz reached a deal that had Right 2 Dream Too moving to city-owned property (Lot 7) under the west end of the Broadway Bridge in the Pearl District. Pearl District developers of a nearly completed Marriott Residence Inn nearby say they have a signed development agreement that says the property would remain a parking lot. Developers and the Pearl District Neighborhood Association have threatened to sue the city if necessary to stop the move.

But Kramer says Right 2 Dream Too is prepared to sue, if necessary, to make sure the city follows through on Fritz' agreement.

“We have a contract signed by commissioner Fritz committing the city to relocate Right 2 Dream Too to Lot 7,” Kramer says.