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Frustrated business owners express concerns over public safety in Portland

Several business owners spoke at a town hall in Southeast Portland about public safety concerns.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Small business owners from across Portland expressed their concerns about crime and public safety during a town hall Thursday afternoon hosted by the group PDX Real.

Angela Todd with PDX Real said business owners want immediate action from elected officials. Mayor Ted Wheeler and Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega-Pederson were invited to the event, she said, but Wheeler was at a conference about homelessness and there was no word from Vega-Pederson.

"We have insufficient detox in this city," Todd said. "We have a problem with shelter. I have a list, it's just insane."

A business owner named Jocelyn, who did not want her last name used, shared her concerns in the meeting. She owns a business called "The Photo Booth Chick" with locations across the city.

"About a year ago, my photo booth started getting robbed," Jocelyn said. "Eight of them all in different locations across town. I have high resolution pictures because they took pictures in the photo booth as they were robbing them."

Edward Yazzolino, owner of Pizza Roma on Southeast Woodstock Boulevard, said he can't deal with the crime anymore.

"We've been broken into three times," Yazzolino said. "I had to put up a fence around my building."

Yazzolino mentioned hiring private security to watch over his restaurant at a cost of about $10,000 a month.

Many of the business owners in the town hall were longtime Portland residents who said the public safety issues had forced them to consider leaving the city.

"We need to go back to the simple things in Portland that create safety," Todd said.

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