Overlook neighborhood sinks into turmoil over Hazelnut Grove
The controversial bylaw revision that the Overlook Neighborhood Association proposed to exclude homeless people from being members ultimately won't be adopted.
Board members met ahead of a neighborhood meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 15, to discuss the revision, when they decided to abandon the idea.
"It was a reaction to the threats from (Commissioner Chloe) Eudaly," said Chris Trejbal, Overlook Neighborhood Association chair. He says that the association is being bullied by the city. Eudaly oversees the Office of Neighborhood Involvement (ONI), which threatened to stop recognizing Overlook as a neighborhood association if it adopted the bylaw revision, saying that it was discriminatory to those without a home.
That neighborhood is where the tiny home village of Hazelnut Grove is located, and for two years since its establishment has been at odds with the neighborhood association.
The groups are in the midst of mediation facilitated by the city to work on establishing a Good Neighborhood Agreement.
However, later in the Tuesday meeting, after some had already left when the bylaw revision was abandoned, another resolution was brought up to vote in what advocates are calling a sneak attack.
Four members of the association put forth a different agenda item for a vote that had to do with the Good Neighborhood Agreement. It called for a vote that if no agreement was made between the two groups by Oct. 1, then Hazelnut Grove would need to be relocated by Nov. 15.
However, the vote didn't pass, with 49 against and 38 in favor.
"We won, but narrowly, and wouldn't have if the Grove residents had been disenfranchised," Vahid Brown, long-time homeless advocate wrote on a public Facebook post. Brown helped establish Hazelnut Grove.
Eudaly commented on the post calling the move a "total abuse of the process."
Trejbal then spoke on Oregon Public Broadcasting's "Think Out Loud" for an interview after the vote and advocates claimed on a separate public Facebook post by Brown that Trejbal wasn't speaking truthfully on the air.
OPB then commented that they were asking Brown to come onto the show after being criticized for only presenting one viewpoint.
Meanwhile, Trejbal believes Hazelnut Grove residents and advocates aren't taking everything into account.
"I think Hazelnut Grove wants to try and wash the history of what went on there. There's two years of history and it's not good history. It's the history of the city making promises and breaking them … that all created a toxic environment that's been really hard to overcome as neighbors," Trejbal said.
He's not optimistic that the groups will reach an agreement soon, and still wants the city to issue an official permit for the grove.
The city has said that they're looking to Dignity Village, which operates on a contract with the city, as a potential long-term model for the grove, but are waiting for the groups to come to an agreement before moving forward.