North Portland business pleads with city after massive encampment grows

Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 6:52 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - A family is pleading for city officials to get a growing homeless encampment under control after they say they’ve dealt with stolen property, threats and massive financial losses in recent months.

Family-owned Curt’s RV Storage has called N. Columbia Boulevard home for years. But one of the owners, Jeff White, says in recent months, a massive encampment has sprung up in an empty plot of land owned by the city right behind the RV lot off City Dump Road and Columbia.

“It started small with batteries being stolen, then propane tanks started being stolen, now catalytic converters are being stolen, gasoline is being siphoned out of tanks,” said White.

White and his family have dozens of customers who pay them to park their RV’s in a safe location. White has other family business operations out of the lot involving auto repair and vehicle maintenance. He says he and his family have been pleading with the city to do something.

“We’re hearing gunshots, we’re telling them that stuff is being stolen, we have video of people on our property.”

The plot of land is owned by Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services. The camp includes dozens of people living in tents, cars and even boats. An agency spokesperson sent the following statement to FOX 12 regarding this situation:

The City is aware of the encampment located at N. Columbia Blvd and City Dump Rd. We recently performed a complete site assessment on September 9, and it was determined that this site poses high health and safety concerns for the community. This site is on our list to be posted for removal, but we do not currently have an estimated timeline for when that may occur. Due to the high number of high risk camps currently located throughout Portland and our need to prioritize encampments located in both high crash corridors and along Safe Routes to School per the Mayor’s emergency declarations, we are working at full capacity and prioritizing projects as quickly as we can to meet the high demand for our services.

Because the primary issue at this particular site entails vehicles and not tent camping, we will need to work closely with the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Parking Enforcement Division to make arrangements for vehicle towing.

The city is not sure when the camp will be removed because of limited resources. But for White, this issue keeps getting worse.

“None of the problems existed beforehand, and now it’s out of control,” said White.

Time and time again, White says police have been called after reported break-ins and possible shots fired on the other side of the lot’s walls. With no immediate solutions from the city or police, White and his family say they simply do not know what to do but hope for the best.