PORTLAND, Ore. — In early September, 10 Portlanders with mobility disabilities sued the city of Portland over homeless tents and debris blocking city sidewalks. It’s the first lawsuit of its kind in Portland.
“I have to sometimes go in the road to get around them and I don’t like it. It’s terrifying,” said Pauline Long one of the plaintiffs in the case who uses a motorized chair.
Long and the others argue the city is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Federal Rehabilitation Act. They are asking the federal court for a few things:
- A mandatory injunction requiring the city to remove tent encampments and debris from all city sidewalks
- Requiring the city to construct, purchase or otherwise make available sufficient shelter space for those persons who are displaced from the sidewalks.
The city originally responded to this lawsuit by requesting Multnomah County, the state of Oregon and Metro also be included as defendants.
According to court documents obtained by KGW, last week the city attorney’s office asked for an 85-day extension before filing a responsive pleading or motion.
They said they needed this time because "the parties are currently conferring on a resolution in this matter, which may render a responsive pleading or motion unnecessary. Given these ongoing discussions, counsel for the City requires additional time to prepare and file Defendant’s responsive pleading or motion should it be necessary."
Since the lawsuit was filed, the attorneys on both sides have met three times. They are scheduled to meet again on November first.
Both parties have agreed to mediation, meaning they won’t be taking this to a federal courthouse. There are already a number of settlement meetings scheduled between now and January.
RELATED: New details on ADA lawsuit against Portland finds Multnomah County gave thousands of tents and tarps to homeless campers
Meanwhile the attorneys representing the Oregonians with mobility disabilities found Multnomah county’s Joint Office of Homeless Services gave 6,550 tents and 27,000 tarps to the homeless last year. Many of those tents and tarps are now blocking ADA access on the sidewalks.
City records show Portland made its quarterly payment of more than $9 million to the county’s Joint Office of Homeless Services, which was due on November first. The Joint Office received the payment on October 28th. The attorneys representing the plaintiffs argue, it’s that money which continues to allow the county to provide the tents and tarps which ultimately end up blocking the sidewalks.