PORTLAND -- Neighbors in Hayden Island say a string of problem bars and lottery outlets have ruined their community and the issue has made it to the Oregon Legislature.
"Lottery is bringing a criminal element," said North Precinct commander Mike Leloff. Hayden Island neighbor Jeff Geisler called it "a cancer that needs to be stamped out."
Oregon House speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, has gone on the offensive with two bills.
"Do we want casinos? Because that’s what we have now," said Kotek in front of the House Business and Labor Committee. "We have retailers who pretty much just make money from lottery."
Kotek's district includes Hayden Island and its infamous Lottery Row.
On Monday she introduced House Bill 2007 that would define any business that makes more than half its profits from lottery games as a "casino," which would be prohibited by law. The bar would need to change its business practices or shut down.
The second bill, House Bill 2008, gives city councils and police chiefs across the state the authority to shut down a bar for 72 hours in the event it's the scene of a dangerous incident like a murder or shooting. Right now, only the OLCC has that authority.
"OLCC and us, we can't communicate because we have a very confidential investigation within a homicide and we're not able to release details, and so OLCC is resistant to closing that bar down," said Commander Leloff.
Police said they would like more control of a problem that's only festering. The small strip of land on Hayden Island now accounts for more than 40 percent of all the island's crime. Owners recently enacted a security blitz, hiring extra security and installing better surveillance equipment, but police said it's too early to tell if it's working.
For their part, business owners like Dan Fischer said Kotek's proposals might put people out of work.
"If HB 2007 were enacted, many retailers would simply go out of business and many Oregonians would lose their jobs," Fischer said. "This policy is being pushed by a neighborhood association that is only interested in closing businesses. We would support HB 2008 if the right parameters were placed around the rule."
All of the liquor licenses for the Hayden Island Lottery Row are up for review in April.