PORTLAND -- Organizers of the annual Hawthorne Street Fair, scheduled for August 18, are upset that the city of Portland has denied a request to close the street to vehicles.
Organizers point out that the city allows street closures for a variety of events, from similar neighborhood street fairs, up to Rose Festival parades.
"There's an apparent disconnect between the community and the City of Portland elected officials," Hilda Stevens, fair chairwoman said in a prepared statement. “I’ve lived in the neighborhood for nine years and the street fair keeps growing in attendance, which is great for our local businesses and our neighborhood as a whole. Yet, year after year, we are one of the only streets to be denied full closure.”
She described the mix of fair attendees spilling out from the sidewalk and dodging cars unwilling to slow and yield as a "public safety nightmare."
Stevens said she was told by city officials that traffic simply needed to keep moving on Hawthorne on that day.
"The Hawthorne Street Fair is a wonderful event and the city supports the businesses and neighborhoods in coming together and creating a festive event," said Portland Bureau of Transportation spokeswoman Diane Dulken. "We also are balancing the needs of the traveling public."
The east-west arterial to the south, Division Street, now has closures for major sewer improvements and street landscaping.
"Both the parking lanes and two travel lanes will be traffic-free for the event, with one travel lane in each direction available for driving," Dulken added. "That one lane in each direction is needed because construction is closing Division Street and the only other routes for east west through traffic are Powell and Belmont, and Belmont can only handle a limited amount of traffic."