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Mayor Ted Wheeler, Commissioner Amanda Fritz attend town hall at Portland Community College.

TRIBUNE PHOTO: ZANE SPARLING - Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler addresses a crowd, including members of the Montavilla Initiative, during a legislative town hall at Portland Community College Southeast on Tuesday, Nov. 27. Folks fed up with crime and lessened livability crashed a recent town hall — bringing their concerns directly to the mayor and other Portland officials.

The Montavilla Initiative made headlines in September after they unfurled banners proclaiming "Enough is Enough" on an Interstate 205 overpass.

These protesters are still upset, but they weren't carrying signs, banners or wearing masks during a recent legislative town hall held at Portland Community College's southeast campus, 2305 S.E. 82nd Ave., on Tuesday, Nov. 27.

"We've seen a lot of changes, and the changes that are happening now are not so good," explained Julie McConnell, a member of the Montavilla group who has lived in her home near Montavilla Park for 33 years.

"I'd like to see more police, and I'd like to see the police empowered to enforce the law," she said.

McConnell says local anti-littering laws aren't being enforced in her neck of the woods.

Maria Sworske ownes two duplexes on 81st Avenue, just north of the Halsey Street overpass on Interstate 84 in the Madison South neighborhood. It's a spot where tents and other signs of homeless encampments frequently appear.

"Every time there are people camping there, crime increases in the neighborhood," she said.

Sworske says the no trespassing signs she's posted on her properties aren't working, and says her tenants are becoming worried.

The legislative town hall is designed so regular citizens can bring their concerns to local lawmakers preparing for the trip to the statehouse in Salem. Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Amanda Fritz sat in the audience while legislators such as Sen. Michael Dembrow and Rep. Diego Hernandez sat at the dais.

TRIBUNE PHOTO: ZANE SPARLING - Local community members attended a legislative town hall at Portland Community College Southeast on Tuesday, Nov. 27. The Montavilla Initiative's chairwoman, Angela Todd, says the group wants the laws already on the books to be enforced "regardless of people's housing status."

They also want the Oregon Legislature to erase a loophole in state law that allows car thieves to avoid serious charges, as long as they remember to tell police they didn't know the car was stolen.

"I've talked to countless minorities and refugees," added Benjamin Kerensa, "they're being victimized by people who are service resistant, who are committing thefts to support their drug habits."

Mayor Ted Wheeler pledged to listen to the concerns of those in attendance regarding trash, stray needles and graffiti.

"This is something that is very important to me. My administration is addressing this with a sense of purpose and a sense of urgency," he said. "This is why we're going full bore on getting people off the streets."


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