July 26: Portland City Council moves forward with plan to remove the houseless population from Laurelhurst Park
The eviction is led by the Homelessness and Urban Camping Impact Reduction Program (HUCIRP). HUCIRP posted 72-hour eviction warnings around the camp on July 26. The HUCIRP is a municipal group established not to solve houselessness, but to create “service navigation opportunities” for unhoused individuals. The HUCIRP’s recent plan came after rumors that a firearm was found in the camp, which has been disputed by residents of the camp and considered false by Stop the Sweeps PDX, a group dedicated to stopping these types of evictions.
July 27: Environmental activists protest Zenith Energy expansion
After Zenith Energy, an oil transport facility in northwest Portland, requested authorization to secure a potential expansion, groups of protestors in kayaks paddled to the company’s facility in opposition to their request. The document in question is a Land Use Compatibility Statement (LUCS), which is an assessment of whether any proposals for expansion or construction are compatible with Portland’s land-use policies. Zenith is requesting the LUCS in order to build two new railcar unloading platforms. If this were to be approved, the company would then need to request an air permit from Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality. The protestors opposed the proposed expansion due to the already high volume of oil trafficked through the region by Zenith. Protestors also highlighted the risks associated with that oil transportation, including unprecedented oil spills in the event of an earthquake, which the region is overdue for.
July 28: City of Portland bans unhoused people from sleeping in forested areas
With wildfires once again gripping the state this summer, the City of Portland and Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty have declared it illegal for Portland’s houseless population to sleep in forested areas. The HUCIRP will be employed to enforce this declaration. Hardesty’s decision was made with the intention of keeping the city’s unhoused people safe from the dangers of wildfire season. With the Bootleg Fire burning over 400,000 acres of Oregon, Portland city officials fear an urban forest fire. This concern led to increased funding for fire management and talks among city officials and Portland General Electric regarding safer protocols in the event that Forest Park were to set fire. Unmanaged underbrush, potentially toxic building materials in the area surrounding Forest Park and human activity all contribute to the concerns being raised about the potential of a fire.
July 29: Governor declares heat wave state of emergency
Under pressure from Portland’s recent heat wave, Governor Kate Brown declared a state of emergency for 23 counties, including Multnomah and Washington counties. Following this declaration, five cooling centers were opened from 12–9 p.m. on July 29 and 30. These cooling centers changed locations, after the June heatwave, in an effort to prioritize residents put at risk from the heat. One cooling center was established in north Portland, one on the central east side, two in east Portland and one in downtown. TriMet offered free bus rides to passengers traveling to these cooling centers, but only if temperatures reach 100°F. Temperatures had only reached 97°F on July 29 and 99°F on July 30.