PORTLAND – Big crowds to the tune of 10,000 showed up for Last Thursday in Northeast Portland, but for some it brings big headaches, too.
“The city’s job to maintain the neighborhood, not to promote festivals,” said upset neighbor Steven Gilliam.
“The problem is, this event doesn’t end at 10:00, it ends at 1 am or even later with people in the yards and drinking.”’ Gilliam is one of three area residents testified before Portland city commissioners Wednesday, asking for more regulation of the monthly event.
Opponents said that the crowds sometimes get unruly, including back in 2007, when police had to get involved to calm things down.
They want the city to require new permits for vendors.
“Last Thursday has made the whole neighborhood flourish, these businesses wouldn’t be here without the traffic from this event,” said Bill Rollins who helps to run a co-op art gallery on 15th and Alberta.
He reminded those upset neighbors that the event has not had any major problems in recent years and they believe there would be no reason to re-evaluate the permit process.
Background: Group tackles Last Thursday complaints
A group called “Friends of Last Thursday” have formed to address these negative issues. Volunteers now patrol the streets, keeping the peace
“We’re really planning to take, good full stewardship of all the pieces that the community possibly can,” said FOLT director Rochelle Saliba.
“We are having people clean up actively on the day and the next day we have community service crews come and help us clean, and leave it in better condition than before.”
The monthly festival brings crowds and business to Northeast Portland, but also problems. Excess noise, garbage, and parking in driveways have long frustrated some neighbors there.
One of the biggest issues is paying for all the required security. City commissioner Amanda Fritz says, right now, taxpayers are footing the bill for police enforcement.
So far, commissioners have not been tasked to make any formal decisions on the matter.
Meanwhile, Portland Police told KGW Thursday afternoon that they had a budget for two sergeants and 10 officers to patrol Last Thursday. They said there have not been any recent problems and the patrols were standard for the event, which has matured into a more peaceful gathering.