Mayor lures downtown shoppers after protest losses top $3M
While the hype ended up outpacing the reality on the ground on Saturday, Aug. 17, many retailers and restaurateurs closed preemptively — and many potential customers stayed away too.
"I cannot stress enough the impacts our businesses felt this Saturday," said Portland Business Alliance CEO Andrew Hoan, citing foregone revenue and added expenses. "I will say this: All of our employers stepped up to pay their employees" during their missing shifts.
To that end, the city has declared a free parking holiday for Saturday, Aug. 24 for metered street parking and SmartPark garages on both sides of the Willamette River. Portland Streetcar will be offering free rides all day, and Biketown's orange cycles will be free to rent as well.
Various electric scooter, ride-share and taxi companies will offer discounts using promotional codes worth about $5. Click here for details.
During a Wednesday, Aug. 21 press conference, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said he heard that one vendor at the normally-bustling Saturday Market made only $60 because of the demonstration.
"It wasn't just government agencies that incurred costs to taxpayers. This had a human element to it as well," Wheeler said. "We're telling people: let's get Portland back to being Portland."
The festivities planned include a grand opening celebration for the new Visitor Center operated by Travel Portland at Director Park, 815 S.W. Park Ave.
A spokesman for the Portland Police Bureau said officers are still tallying the final cost of policing the protest. Kim Malek, the founder of the popular ice cream parlor chain Salt & Straw, said her company lost thousands of dollars after closing its Wiz Bang Bar on Southwest 2nd Avenue.
"We felt really afraid," Malek said, noting that her downtown properties had only closed once before during a severe snowstorm. "I felt afraid for my team, I felt afraid for my family, I felt afraid for our police and the community."
In an interview, City Commissioner Amanda Fritz praised the police response to the swell of protesters, as well as those in the crowd who sought to diffuse the situation through humor and colorful costumes.
"I loved the dancing bananas and the unicorns, and everybody who was really taking the mickey out of the alt-right white supremacists," she said. "I think that's exactly a Portland way to do it."
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