PORTLAND, Ore. -- The RVs lining North Lombard Street in North Portland are a very visible sign of a growing problem in the city. Some are burned-out hulks. Others have people living in them. On Friday evening, they numbered ten.
“We’ve been there for 24 years and it has not ever been as bad as it is now,” said homeowner John Manser, who lives nearby.
He and his wife Diane say they are fed up with the RVs, which sometimes are moved out but always seem to return to park along the busy street.
“You get up and you look out the window in the morning - we pay high property taxes to look at a park, not to see somebody urinating across the street in front of their mobile home,” said Diane.
Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman is in charge of the Bureau of Transportation, which regulates such things.
He said the city has hired more inspectors to check on abandoned vehicles.
“Part of the issue is there are so many we don’t have a place to store them right now. Our towing contractor is literally full with RVs and abandoned autos,” said Saltzman.
He said he worries about lawsuits if the city moves too fast against the homeless in the RVs.
But he has taken action in Southeast Portland. He ordered “no over night parking” signs installed around Lents Park, which has significant problems with RVs.
One neighbor said he grows wary every time a new RV shows up along side the park.
“Well, I wonder if we’re going to have thievery,” he said.
The neighbor did not want his name used because he worries about the people in the RVs.
“I think the city is overwhelmed with the homeless. And they don’t know where to put them or do with them," he said.
The problem spreads around the city, not just north or southeast but also close in northeast. We were told about a rundown trailer at Northeast Ivy and MLK with tags that expired more than 20 years ago.
In a city known for tolerance, patience is growing thin.
“It just isn’t fair anymore and I feel like our rights as citizens are being pushed aside. And it’s the people who are less fortunate who somehow have more rights than we do,” said Diane Manser.