Pamplin Media Group – Ellis and Maresh: We need a plan for RVs clogging the streets of Portland



Barbara G. Ellis, Ph.D., is a writer / editor and director of Ellis & Associates LLC based in Portland. Paul Maresh is a longtime Portland real estate agent and consultant. Both have been Portlanders and progressive political activists for decades.

With most RV sites in the Portland area at full capacity, recreational vehicles are increasingly being used as permanent housing by low- and middle-income people across the greater Portland area. It is becoming a very controversial neighborhood issue.

Main complaints are RV owners who are suspected of disposing of toilet litter / rubbish and pulling rat / pest infestation. Add blocking sidewalks and parking lots with cars, bikes, and household items. And there is a belief in the neighborhood that motorhome owners have “trailer trash” values ​​that bring with them noise, violence and crime. No mention is made of the view that RVs are unsightly and therefore reduce the value of neighborhood properties.

Tow trucks, as they found out, are not the police’s responsibility.

A sensible and inexpensive solution for the city is to use a portion of the city’s own flat golf courses (e.g. losses). The benefits are considerable, one of which is certainly a fairer use of the public commons for all rather than an elite minority. Further advantages would be:

• A zone change from open spaces to conditional living fits in with the declaration of a housing emergency by the city council.

• The city owns the property, so there is no need to buy land.

• Conversion costs would be minimal, as the basic infrastructure is available.

• The initial cost of 50-100 RVs would be minimal for the city: compacted gravel for the surface under each capsule and fences if necessary. It would save millions in the cost of building accommodation, renting motels, or renting high-rise buildings.

• The provision of space for RVs could be done almost instantly.

• Rent to the city would bring far more than falling golf revenues. Monthly rates of $ 500 per unit, for example, would add $ 600,000 to the city’s annual revenue while encouraging ownership and fellowship with the community.

• Rent would cover fire insurance, water and electricity connections, garbage disposal, sewage services for pumped storage and management salaries. RV owners would cover the electricity and broadband costs. A laundromat vendor providing facilities and equipment would pay the city water / electricity / sewage – and a percentage of the coin profits.

• A garbage pumping service now in use in Portland, Eugene and Seattle would provide regular services.

• Golf course pollution – pesticides / herbicides / fertilizers – would end. Likewise, toxic groundwater would flow into neighboring water sources.

• A six-person inspection team for RV owners, which changes weekly and is required by rental agreements, could carry out community policing to ensure safe, noise-free and litter-free premises. Leases would require the immediate eviction of offenders as part of a “1-strike = immediate eviction” policy used today under the “Unheard-of behavior upon termination of the tenancy” rules.

Eugene already has such a motorhome park in operation thanks to the St. Vincent DePaul organization. The overall goal is to help owners move out of the park to permanent, affordable housing.

This project required only minimal improvements to the infrastructure. Pumper trucks remove raw liquid waste, solving neighbors’ public health and hygiene concerns about RVs that dominate street parking – and millions of dollars spent building sewers. The space is free, which eliminates the usual private landlord-tenant conflicts. But illegal activities or violations of the park rules will result in immediate eviction. Former golf courses are certainly far more attractive and spacious for RV users than most upscale caravan parks. The area is scenic with lots of shady trees and picnic areas on the greens for families, sand bunkers and paddling pools for the children, which are converted into an ice rink in winter. Outdoor community activities like baseball and horseshoes, as well as clubhouses like card games, puzzles, and movies, are inexpensive, simple, fairly quiet, and would wisely be restricted to RV residents.

Also, most public golf courses are close to public transportation, so RV residents can drive downtown or nearby shopping malls to meet most doctor / dentist appointment needs, groceries, and entertainment.

The main initial barrier to conversion would be loud and violent complaints from golfers. It is possible, however, that the 94 affected Greater Portland Area Neighborhood Associations may have even louder and far more energetic support, who have certainly heard howls from local residents about RVs clogging their streets.

Golfers know that other public links are available, as are private golf courses.

Ultimately, it depends on a decision by the four Portland City Council commissioners and Mayor Ted Wheeler to clear the neighborhood streets of RVs as permanent housing.

Barbara G. Ellis, Ph.D., is a writer / editor and director of Ellis & Associates LLC based in Portland. Paul Maresh is a longtime Portland real estate agent and consultant. Both have been Portlanders and progressive political activists for decades.

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