Saturday, July 20, 2019

Friday, July 19, 2019

7/16/19 Minutes

Members: Barbara McReal 
Organizations: Sadie Blackhall and Sierra Langford, Gilbert House Museum; Raleigh Kirschman, UGM; Richard McGinty, McGinty, Belcher and Hamilton Attorneys, PC; Robert Chandler, Salem Downtown Rotary
City, County and State Representatives: David Smith and Zach Merritt, Downtown Enforcement Team
Guests: none

The regular meeting of the CANDO Board of Directors was called to order at 6:00 p.m., on Tuesday, July 16, 2019, at the First Christian Church at 685 Marion Street NE, Salem.  The Chair and Secretary-Treasurer were present.  

The agenda and minutes of the April and June meetings were approved.   

Officers Merritt and Smith reported increased complaints about urine and feces in alleyways, and encouraged businesses to consider installing cameras, as urinating and defecating in public is a law violation that police could investigate using video footage of the incident. They said there were no “missing kid” incidents during the City’s July 4th event at Riverfront Park, and the stabbing was most likely gang-related.  They said, as was usual, there was increased activity from competing groups in Marion Square Park. Asked about the frequency and nature of the contacts, Merritt responded that contacts always increased in summer, and were “highly situational”, but most often cooperative. Sometimes the officers don’t make contact at all, e.g., someone with emotional problems that could be triggered.   

In interested citizen comments, Robert Chandler shared information about the Third Annual Salem Rotary Multi-Sport Riverfest event and asked for volunteers (they need 200). Richard McGinty said he would like to know more about the proposed development of a 3-story building with a retail financial services branch on the first floor and offices on the second and third floor; a single-level parking garage; and a parking lot, all on a 1.46-acre parcel at 465 Division Street NE.

Mountain West Investment Corp. has abandoned the project to develop 280 Liberty Street (old Wells Fargo site) because, per Richard Berger, “The costs simply could not justify a development there at this time.” 

The CANDO board heard a presentation by Sadie Blackhall and Sierra Langford about the Gilbert House Museum’s $800K upgrade/renovation project.  The museum has 90K visitors a year. Plans include improving sight lines on the playground, so parents can more easily monitor their children from a distance.  Two-thirds of the funds have been raised. The plan is to complete Phase 1 in the spring of 2020, and begin Phase 2 the following fall. There will be an open house celebration when the project is complete.

It appearing to the Chair that a majority of board members are unable to attend the August meeting, the August meeting was canceled.   

There being no other business before the board, the Chair adjourned the meeting promptly at 6:30 p.m.

*** August Meeting Canceled ***

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Sit-Lie, Sit-Lie Jr, "Very Similar"

By Sarah Owens and Michael Livingston


Chief Jerry Moore at City Council, 25 September 2017
Chief Moore told us that this year's Ordinance Bill 10-19 "relating to conduct on sidewalks" is "very similar" to failed Ordinance Bill 22-17, "relating to promotion and preservation of safe sidewalks."  Our reading is that the two are virtually identical, with one exception.

For our analysis of the failed 2017 ordinance, see "City Council to Consider Sit-Lie Bill" (20 September 2017).

Both ordinances make it a crime (offense, infraction) to sit, lie down, camp or "abandon" property on sidewalks, with exceptions that mostly don't apply to the target population -- people living in the streets.  The new ordinance, however, would add the property crime to those that are punishable by exclusion.

Violation of an exclusion order can lead to arrest for criminal trespass, an additional 30-day exclusion, and possible jail.  

The City claims the the purpose of Ordinance Bill 10-19 "is not directed at preserving physical pedestrian access or public safety", even though that's exactly what its findings section suggests.  (There is no substantive difference in Section 1 of each bill.)  Ordinance Bill 10-19 thus does not, as alleged, "specifically address[] appearance and enhancement of community vitality."  See City of Salem Preliminary Review Draft "Fact Sheet" dated July 9, 2019. 

Below is a chart comparing the two ordinances.  As always, bear in mind that police have a great deal of discretion when it comes to enforcement.  In deciding whether this is the route one thinks the City ought to take, the focus should be on what the law allows, i.e., what could happen to a person when s/he commits the newly-invented crime (offense, infraction), and what unintended consequences there might be for the City's efforts to help get those this ordinance targets permanently off the streets. 

At this point, it would appear that the City is retreating from its announcement last week that the new ordinance will come before City Council at its next meeting, July 22, 2019.  We will know for certain when the agenda is published later today.  This post will be updated.  [Update:  per the City Recorder's Office, the ordinance "has been pulled from the July 22, 2019 City Council Meeting, and no date yet on when it might go before Council."]

Ordinance Bill 10-19 (won't be in the SRCs)

Ordinance Bill 10-19 (the revisions to the Salem Revised Code)

Ordinance Bill 22-17

Sunday, July 14, 2019

City Scrambling to Save Son of Sit-Lie

By Sarah Owens and Michael Livingston

Email announcing Son of Sit-Lie on CC 7/22 agenda
Ever since the news of the City's stealth campaign to pass a new sit-lie ordinance leaked prematurely, City staff have been on their back foot.

Last Thursday afternoon -- after we published "Son of Sit-Lie to Return" -- the City sent out an email announcing that a new sit-lie ordinance would be going before City Council at its next meeting.  The email targeted those who'd been invited to, or had attended, the "recent collaboration conversations" and/or "contacted the City regarding behavioral issues."  On the list were six (6) homeless services providers and seventeen (17) downtown business people, about half of whom had served on the Downtown Homeless Solutions Task Force.

The email stated, "In 2018, a task force looked at specific impacts of homelessness in downtown Salem including perceptions of safety, trash, health and hygiene", which are still "being seen throughout our community along our streets and sidewalks."

The email did not state that the City had received increased complaints or reports of vandalism in recent months, nor did it make any reference to the establishment of a Downtown Good Neighbor Partnership.  (See DHSTF Rec #3 here.)

Two hours later, Salem Reporter published a story on the ordinance proposal.  See Brynelson, T. "Salem considers banning daytime sleeping on sidewalks."  (11 July 2019, Salem Reporter.)

On Friday, The Statesman Journal published a similar story.  See Bach, J. "Salem considers sit-lie ordinance to limit sidewalk camping -- again."  (12 July 2019, The Statesman Journal.)

Friday, four hours after The Statesman Journal article was published, the City sent out another email over the subject line "Downtown Homeless Solutions Task Force update" to blind-copied (unknown) recipients.  Attached to the email was a five-page, untitled, document outlining recent "steps" taken to implement the DHSTF's recommendations.  The email stated:

Over the last several months, concerns and complaints from business owners have increased as have reports of vandalism. In response to these growing concerns and demands that the City take action to address behaviors, on July 22, the City Council will be considering an ordinance relating to activities within the public right of way. 

No other information about the alleged rise in "concerns and complaints" and vandalism.  Accordingly, many are questioning the accuracy of this claim -- which was not made in the City's initial back-footed email announcement of July 11.

The attached document stated:
The City has initiated collaboration meetings between staff, Salem Police Department, service providers, and downtown business and property representatives to provide updates on efforts and improve communication between parties. This informal group is...intended to function as the good-neighbor partnership described in Recommendation [3].
Under Recommendation [3], the document stated:
The City has initiated good-neighbor partnership meetings to support communication among stakeholders. It is expected that this partnership will evolve over time as will the make-up of up of those participating. After it is fully established and meetings have occurred for a few months, the City will invite participants to rotate the role of host and convener to help assure that this is truly a community-driven partnership.

As discussed in "Son of Sit-Lie to Return", this is the first time that the City has claimed to have created the Good Neighbor Partnership recommended by the DHSTF.  Previously, the City consistently referred to the work group as the "Follow Up Homeless Task Force Meeting" or "the collaboration" group.  The City made no mention of either the Good Neighbor Partnership or Recommendation 3 in any of the emails setting up the group, and most notably, Christy Wood, owner of Runaway Art Studios and member of the DHSTF, who said repeatedly that she was interested in forming a GNP, was not invited to join. 

For a deeper appreciation of these bizarre developments, see our account of the City Council's last work session on implementing the DHSTF recommendations:  "Bureaucratic BS Burying Good Nbr Pship" (27 February 2019). 

There are a couple of ways to interpret the City's actions.  One, the City sincerely, but imperfectly, implemented Recommendation #3, by creating a work group, holding one meeting, and, a month later, proposing a code revision.  But, even if you believe that the City's actions were sincere, they did not satisfy the DHSTF's recommendation, which was that City staff assess the need for code revisions "in conjunction with the establishment of" the Good Neighbor Partnership.  Plainly, the GNP has not been "established" within the meaning and intent of Recommendation #3.  Not after one meeting. 

Another interpretation is that the City was pathetically repeating its 2017 strategy, ignoring or disregarding Recommendation #3 because they feared an established Good Neighbor Partnership would never approve it.  And, when it began to look as if the 2017 strategy wasn't going to work, the City began trying to manipulate the facts to make it appear that they had faithfully executed Recommendation #3, and that Sit-Lie Jr. was its legitimate offspring. 

Whichever interpretation you like, the remedy is the same:  City Council should table the proposed sit-lie ordinance until the GNP has been well and truly established, and has assessed the need for it in conjunction with City staff.  (To read more about what the DHSTF envisioned for the GNP, see "DHSTF Calls for 'Ongoing Conversation'.") 

Contrary to what the City seems to believe, the public are not idiots and are not indifferent.   

Contrary to the City Manager's belief, Salem's homeless are the City's obligation, and it's not an obligation somehow to be counterbalanced by the "rights" of downtown business owners not to be "impacted."

Contrary to the Police Chief's belief, our empathy is not properly 50% with our neighbors experiencing homelessness, and 50% with business owners who prefer enforcement tools to relationship tools as a means of addressing conflicts.

Contrary to the Mayor's belief, the Good Neighbor Partnership is not to be dismissed as some kind of "can't we all just get along" sentiment.        

The City has made a dog's breakfast of policy in this area.  They've made some good decisions, but this fixation with enforcement options shows they don't really know or understand the territory, what's important, what's not, and least of all, how to handle conflict.  The Council should first, do no harm.  Table the proposed ordinance (the text of which has still not been released) until a functioning Good Neighbor Partnership has assessed the need for it in conjunction with City staff -- just as the DHSTF's recommended a year ago.        

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Son of Sit-Lie to Return

By Sarah Owens and Michael Livingston

Downtown Homeless Solutions Task Force Recommendation 3

Look for son of Sit-Lie (restrictions on daytime camping/storage on downtown sidewalks) to return to City Council soon -- maybe as soon as its next meeting on July 22 --  despite the recommendation of the Downtown Homeless Solutions Task Force that any ordinance proposals should be assessed "in conjuction with the establishment of a Downtown Good Neighbor Partnership."  See "DHSTF Calls for Ongoing Conversation" and "DHSTF Recs Update." 

The City Council never formed the Good Neighbor Partnership, even though the Task Force gave it third highest priority, after toilets and hygiene facilities.  See "Bureacratic BS Burying Good Neighbor Partnership."

The City did, however, convene a work group called the "Follow Up Homeless Task Force Meeting" (referring to the Downtown Homeless Solutions Task Force) consisting of Neal Kern (CANDO), Cara Kaser (Salem City Council - Ward 1), Nicole Utz (Salem Housing Authority), Kevin Hill (Salem Police Department), Tom Hoffert (Salem Area Chamber), a representative from Salem Main Street Association, Dan Clem  (Union Gospel Mission), Paul Logan (Northwest Human Services), and Ashley Hamilton (The ARCHES Project of the Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency).

As originally conceived, the work group was to meet quarterly, but at the first meeting on June 25, the group decided to meet monthly.  According to CANDO's Chair, Neal Kern, they're supposed to generate ideas, but not make decisions (that's what makes it a work group -- which the City believes is not subject to public meetings laws).  Kern reported that, at the first meeting, the discussion focused on White Dove Clinic's CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets) program in Eugene.  (Find news articles about CAHOOTS at the link.)  Asked if the group discussed a a sit-lie/camping ban or other "enforcement" measure, he responded that "[t]here was no specific mention of sit/lie.  One business owner spoke briefly on a vagrancy ordinance but did not specify what that would entail and there was not much follow up discussion on that topic."

However, in a recent email responding to questions about the City's plan to revisit the sit-lie/camping ban, Urban Development Director Kristin Retherford, who leads the "Follow Up Homeless Task Force Meeting", implied that the group (which she referred to as "the collaboration") had discussed the new ordinance, but could only state that "The subject of what comes next was floated" during the meeting.

Over the last several months, City  staff and Councilors have heard increasingly from community members asking for tools to help out with behavioral issues during daytime hours. By September, the City will have implemented most of the recommendations that came out of the Downtown Homeless Solutions Task Force. The subject of what comes next was floated recently during the collaboration meeting between service providers, businesses, and city staff.  

The conversation explored what tools would be the most helpful, with a focus on daytime hours when businesses are most impacted and when other locations are available to access resources and services. Much thought and care is being given to assure that an ordinance to provide additional tools to help residents and businesses will not create a barrier to receiving services at ARCHES, the UGM, or other service providers in and around downtown. Since the collaboration group discussion, there have been additional conversations with service providers to further discuss the concept and concerns. The City Manager intends to present an ordinance to address daytime behaviors in the public right of way to Council for their consideration on July 22nd.

Kern and Clem have been very clear that the sit-lie ordinance was not discussed at the meeting on June 25, and there have been no subsequent meetings of the group.  Logan did not attend the June 25 meeting.  Stephen Goins (Northwest Human Services' HOST and HOAP) says he was not consulted about the ordinance.  LEAD navigator Josh Lair (who knows by name virtually all those living in the streets downtown) says he was not consulted about the ordinance, which he referred to as "crazy."  In fact, the only "additional conversations with service providers" the City held was with Hamilton and MWVCAA's Executive Director, Jimmy Jones.  

The meeting with Jones and Hamilton took place last Monday, July 8.  Why hold a special meeting with MWVCAA?  Call us cynical, but MWVCAA needs the City's CDBG and Urban Renewal dollars to finish renovating the Golden ARCHES Project that was supposed to have been completed in November 2017, and to relieve the burden of having to make substantial mortgage and balloon payments.  (See "Urban Renewal to the Rescue" and "MWVCAA Pays Mortgage Debt with Hless Assist $$.")  Otherwise, he might be expected to oppose the City on policy and process grounds.  Jones was a member of the DHSTF, which disbanded last August 2018.  Jones has been noticeably restrained in his comments about the ordinance to the press (see updates below).  He is known to be opposed to sit-lie ordinances as they stigmatize if not criminalize homelessness.

Needless to say, the City did not attempt to consult CANDO's board.  The City didn't consult CANDO in 2017, either, even though the targeted area is within CANDO, and the people most likely to be affected by any decision are CANDO members.

One might be forgiven for concluding from all this that the City views its task forces and neighborhood associations as rubber stamps, not sources of valuable information that should inform its decisions.

[7/14/19 Update: in a document issued Thursday evening, three days after this post was published, the City claimed -- for the first time -- that the group it had previously referred to as the "Follow Up Homeless Task Force Meeting", and "the collaboration", is in fact the Good Neighbor Partnership.] 

The City claims that the ordinance is needed "to provide additional tools to help residents and businesses."  "Residents" here, one may assume, does not refer to the ones living in the streets.

When will we learn that “You can’t solve homelessness by addressing housed people’s complaints, you solve homelessness by addressing homeless people’s needs” (Jeff Kositsky)?  Ah, but is the City really trying to solve homelessness?  "Homelessness is not the City's problem", said City Manager Steve Powers at a recent City Council meeting, "It's the community's problem."  Mmm-hmm.  Bet he doesn't try to tell that to the "community members asking for tools to help out with behavioral issues during daytime hours.They get an ordinance.

No one we contacted had seen the text of the new ordinance bill, but the City has assured Councilor Hoy that "the problematic pieces" of Ordinance Bill 22-17 have either been removed or altered.  For a discussion of those "problematic pieces", see "City Council to Consider Sit-Lie Bill."  We shall see.  If it's to be presented to the City Council on July 22, it's probably been drafted, but the public probably won't be allowed to see it until the agenda comes out, probably on July 18. See Brynelson, T. "Salem considers banning daytime sleeping on sidewalks."  (11 July 2019, Salem Reporter.)    Bach, J. "Salem considers sit-lie ordinance to limit sidewalk camping -- again."  (12 July 2019, The Statesman Journal.)

United Way's mobile shower/laundry unit, ready for wrapping
The mobile hygiene unit that will soon be touring United Way's tri-county service area is ready for wrapping, according to Ken Houghton, outreach specialist with MWVCAA's ARCHES Project.  MWVCAA has agreed to assume ownership and management of the mobile hygiene unit.

Houghton told us Monday that he is currently in the process of securing  locations that can accommodate the unit's water/sewer hook ups, and has several in mind.    

The trailer cost about $51K, the truck to haul it cost $31K,  and annual operating expenses are estimated to run in the neighborhood of $74K.  See below for breakdown (just in case other orgs are thinking to replicate, hint hint).  The budget accounts for the likelihood that some supplies will be donated.  Thanks to Ashley Hamilton, Program Director for The ARCHES Project for the detail.

Estimated annual expenses for a MHU
Finally, the Oregon Health Authority has approved PacificSource as Marion and Polk counties' sole Medicaid insurer for the next five years.  PacificSource will replace Willamette Valley Community Health.  Marion Polk Community Care, created to replace WVCH, was not awarded a contract.  For details, see the Summary of CCO 2.0 Contract Award Decisions
Under the new contracts, coordinated care organizations will be required to advance the Medicaid agenda of Gov. Kate Brown. Her priorities include improving access to behavioral health care, keeping cost growth below 3.4 percent, shifting to a payment system that rewards positive health outcomes instead of paying per procedure and investing in social determinants of health such as housing and education.

Terry, L. "Breaking News: Health Authority Approves 15 CCO Applications" (9 June 2019, The Lund Report).

Friday, July 5, 2019

Area Leaders Forming CoC Development Council

By Sarah Owens and Michael Livingston

Jan Calvin updates MWVCOG Board on CoC formation progress
The Yamhill County reps present at the June 24th meeting of the Mid-Willamette Council of Governments Board of Directors (Newberg Mayor Rick Rogers, Chehalem Parks & Rec Director Lisa Rogers and Amity Mayor Michael Cape) had to hear it from Yamhill County Commissioner Casey Kulla that another Yamhill County Commissioner (unnamed) was perhaps reconsidering his vote to keep Yamhill County in the Rural Oregon Continuum of Care (ROCC), and was planning to meet with Yamhill County mayors "in a few weeks" to discuss.

The other commissioner is, of course, Board of Commissioners Chair, Rick Olson, as reported here several weeks ago.  All four Yamhill County representatives seemed skeptical.  "We'll see if the promised meeting materializes", Rick Rogers later commented.  For now, however, the regional CoC formation efforts are focused on Marion and Polk counties.

Kulla's comments about Olson's possible change of heart followed a presentation to the MWVCOG board by Jan Calvin, who is under contract with MWVCOG to serve the Mid-Willamette Homeless Initiative Steering Committee, who is leading the effort to re-form the regional CoC.  Calvin's presentation was basically a repeat of the report she gave to local providers on June 17, 2019.  See "HUD Joins 2d Regional Providers Convo" (providers who'd seen Calvin's first presentation said of the second presentation that there was "nothing new").  It's expected that, at its next regular meeting on October 16, the MWVCOG board will be asked to house the regional CoC's Development Council and governing board and to act as the CoC's unified funding agency.  

MWHISC June 2019 Meeting
The next day, the MWHI Steering Committee met in the very same room with non-member "guests" to nail down the details of a "Memorandum of Agreement Relating to the Creation of a Development Council to Form a Continuum of Care Collaborative Governance Structure for the Marion and Polk County Region."  (Around the "u" table in the photo at right, starting far right: Jimmy Jones (MWVCAA), Colm Willis (Marion County), Sean O'Day (MWVCOG), Scott McClure (Independence), Kristin Retherford (Salem), Kathy Clark (Keizer), Jan Calvin (MWVCOG), Ron Hays (United Way), Christy Perry (SKSD), Chris Hoy (Salem), Tom Pessmier (Monmouth), Denise VanDyke (MWVCOG).)  Notably absent: anyone from Polk County.  Notably present in the audience: Robin Winkle (Shangri-La). 

Development Council members are expected to make a "substantial contribution" over two years, cash or in-kind, to the cause of reforming the regional CoC.  Cash contributions are needed to cover administrative costs until HUD funding comes available in 2021.  As of now, the members are expected to be Marion and Polk counties, the cities of Salem, Keizer, Silverton, Monmouth, Independence, the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon, the Salem-Keizer School District 24-J, the Mid Willamette Valley Community Action Agency, the United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley, and the Union Gospel Mission (all voting members) and MWVCOG (non-voting member).  The chart below indicates what each entity is being asked/has agreed to contribute and, in most cases, how the contributions were calculated.  Christy Perry indicated that the school board had not yet approved the $23,000 contribution shown in the chart.  UGM's contribution has not been determined/defined.

CoC providers were told at their June 17, 2019 meeting that "there's no process" for getting a seat on the Development Council (see "HUD Joins 2d Regional Providers Convo").  Strictly speaking, that seems to be true.  However, as always in this town, a little cash in hand and a whisper in the right ear would seem to be a good place to start.

Page 1 of draft MOA re Development Council
A great deal of meeting time was spent discussing whether those contributing >$40K in a given year should have two votes during that year, with Colm Willis pressing in favor, and Ron Hays raising equity concerns (United Way has committed to contributing $20K this year and $40K next year).  Ultimately, the committee decided to give Salem and Marion County two votes/two people on the Development Council, irrespective of the amount of their contribution.    

The Development Council is expected to complete its work over the next six months.  That work includes developing a charter and bylaws for the regional CoC and its yet-to-be elected board of directors, a conflict of interest policy, some sort of electoral process, committee structures, a budget and funding strategy, position descriptions, and establishing a unified funding agency, all of which are subject to HUD's approval.

The MWHISC will not meet in July.  Its next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, August 29, 2019, from 3-5p at the MWVCOG offices.