Safe Rest Village construction causes concern for North Portland homeowners

Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 5:23 PM PST
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - The Peninsula Crossing Safe Rest Village has officially entered its second phase of construction, according to Portland city officials. This means sleeping units and other amenities like bathrooms, kitchenettes and laundry facilities will now be built.

Safe Rest Villages are outdoor shelter areas where people experiencing homelessness can live in cleaner, safer conditions and have access to meals and hygiene, according to the City of Portland.

But one longtime Portlander is concerned for his and his wife’s well-being now that the Safe Rest Village along the Peninsula Crossing Trail is starting to take shape.

“We never knew what was going on until we have seen the map that they will install toilets and kitchenettes right under our living room window,” said George Siebert.

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Siebert has owned his home along N Syracuse St. for over four decades after immigrating from the Czech Republic. He says the last few years have been bad in his neighborhood with large encampments, crime and vandalism. He says he does not want to get in the way of the city helping those living on the streets but was shocked when he found out the Peninsula Crossing Safe Rest Village’s bathrooms and kitchenettes are being built just steps from his windows.

Safe Rest Village construction causes concern for North Portland homeowners.
Safe Rest Village construction causes concern for North Portland homeowners.(KPTV)

The map provided by the city above is what Siebert is referring to. It shows the area of the bathrooms and kitchenettes right next to what appears to be his property.

“My wife is not happy, I’m not happy,” said Siebert. “She’s crying a lot because of this. It doesn’t look good, and I am hoping that we could find some solution because the area is so large.

A spokesperson for the Safe Rest Villages program says the placement of the bathrooms and kitchenettes at this Safe Rest Village falls in line with city code, and will be similar to fully enclosed bathroom, laundry, and kitchen facilities at other Safe Rest Villages. There will also be a 7 ft. tall wooden fence built around the village for residents’ and homeowners’ privacy. The same spokesperson says the specific area for kitchenette and bathroom locations was chosen because it is closest to existing water and sewage connections. But for George Siebert, he feels the life he has built for himself over decades of hard work in the hospitality industry is crumbling because of the construction site next door.

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“The dream that I accomplished is going away,” he said. “It’s deteriorating, I feel ignored.”

Siebert says he has tried to reach out to city officials but has not gotten a response. After FOX 12 pursued this story Monday, a city official tells says project staff for this construction site will plan to visit with Siebert and hear his concerns.