Group suing Portland says city is violating ADA by allowing tents on sidewalks

Published: Sep. 7, 2022 at 10:28 AM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - The City of Portland is facing a class action lawsuit over its lack of response to homeless camping issues.

A group of 10 Portlanders with disabilities listed as plaintiffs in the case argue that the city is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by not making sure its sidewalks are accessible for those with mobility issues.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court on Tuesday, is asking a judge to order the city to clear all its sidewalks blocked by tent campers and keep them clear. The plaintiffs are also requesting for a court order requiring the city to build emergency shelters for people to safely sleep and rest indoors.

Pauline Long, one of the plaintiffs, said she has consistently had trouble navigating sidewalks where people are camping.

“I’ve tried to cooperate with them, saying, look, just give me three feet of space, but they build these super structures that you can’t get around,” said Long.

Steve Jackson, who lives in the Woodlawn neighborhood, is legally blind, and has to walk from his bus stop to get to work.

“Often there’s tents blocking the entire sidewalk where I don’t see them because they weren’t there the day before and I hit them and then people are mad at me. They might think I’m attacking them but really I don’t see them, so I have to go into the street to get around them. And then I’m in traffic,” said Jackson.

Asked for comment about the lawsuit and current homeless camping situation, a spokesman for Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said he will be consulting with his colleagues and the city attorney before issuing any statements.