PORTLAND, Ore. -- Driving west along I-84 into Portland on a recent morning, overpasses and vegetation obstructed the view at first.
But eventually a pair of black and green tents, tied down with ropes and bungee cords, came into plain sight for countless drivers and passengers cruising by, under the NE Halsey overpass.
Presumably, at least some of them would end up calling Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office to report the camp.
It happens a lot.
“When folks are coming to visit the city of Portland, and they fly into the airport and they drive into downtown, they do so on Highway 84. That’s sort of our welcome red carpet,” said deputy chief of staff Michael Cox. “However, anybody who drives that stretch of road will notice occasionally a lot of trash and debris on the side of the highway or the hills back there.”
But the city can’t do anything about those camps. That could change with a proposed state law that would impact the jurisdictional stalemate that has prevented more action.
“That land is actually not owned by the city of Portland, and therefore we have limited action when it comes to cleaning that up,” he said.
That small patch of grass, like most interstate-adjacent properties across the state, is owned and maintained by the Oregon Department of Transportation.