‘I’ve never seen the cleanliness in downtown worse than it is now’: Portland Property owner asks city leaders to clean up city in letter
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) — Greg Goodman walks through Downtown Portland several times a week. Every time he takes these walks, he says he sees littered trash and graffitied benches.
Seeing the state of Downtown Portland eventually took a toll on Goodman, who was inspired by the trash to write to Mayor Ted Wheeler and other city leaders to do something.
“In a time like this, it’s important for the small businesses and retailers to know the city has their back. A part of having their back, is, number one, communicating with them, which they haven’t been communicating with them. Number two is keeping our downtown clean,” Goodman said.”
Goodman’s full letter reads:
Dear Mayor Wheeler and city council members;
I have attached an article from a recent Business Journal relating to Standard Insurance, the largest private business in downtown Portland, moving their employees to their Hillsboro campus for safety reasons. A larger number of businesses are moving out of or locating outside of the Central City. These companies include, Daimler Chrysler (subleasing 100k SF), Air B&B, Banana Republic, Microsoft (80k SF, plus permanently closing their retail store), Saucebox, etc. Google, who leased 90k SF in the Macy’s building has stopped construction of their improvements. The list goes on and on. If you know a retail or office broker, give them a call and ask them how many clients they have are trying to leave. The number is like nothing I have seen in 42 years of doing business in downtown.
Their departure has absolutely nothing to do with Black Life’s Matter movement (which has been a positive) but does have most everything to do with the lawlessness you are endorsing downtown. You are doing an excellent of enabling people who don’t know or care about George Floyd to ransack our city at the expense of the people you are trying to help. Think how many jobs have been lost by people of color in our city, not through protest, but from vandalism. I would make the case that your actions have hurt those you have intended to help.
I would encourage each of you to walk around downtown Portland in the morning. Name the time and I will give you a tour. You aren’t sweeping the streets, needles are all over the place, garbage cans are broken and left open, glass from car windows that have been broken out is all over the streets, parks are strewn with litter (their fountains turned off) weeds are taller than the plants in the planter boxes, graffiti is on sculptures, etc. You are willfully neglecting your duties as elected officials to keep our city safe and clean.
What outreach have you had to small business and retailers to tell them that you have their backs and are going to help them. Your actions, or lack thereof, have been to the contrary. You have shown them you don’t care and as a result a huge number of innocent and hardworking people have been victimized with some being placed on the street.
I suggest all of you walk downtown and when you see a shop or business that is open and not boarded up, stop in and talk to the owner or worker. Hear what they have to say. Ask what you can do for them. Let them know you care. As importantly, get going on cleaning things up. Get the streets swept, double down on sidewalk washing and cleaning, replace the burnt-out newspaper boxes, paint the light standards, get the parks in order, etc.
Most importantly, show some pride. Own the situation and make it better. If you lead, others will follow. They just want to know you care and are doing something about it. Let them know we will get through this together and this is how the city is going to lead.
Thanks for your consideration of my comments. Let me know how I can partner in your efforts.
Standard Insurance confirmed they have temporarily moved employees out of their downtown office, saying:
“Several employees and security contractors have been assaulted near our downtown offices in recent weeks and months, and that contributed to the decision.”
“There’s been so much frustration and so many small retailers and businesses that have closed and big businesses are leaving downtown because they don’t think our elected officials don’t care,” Goodman said.
Goodman is the co-president of Downtown Development Group which owns several properties in Portland. He said in over 40 years working downtown, he’s never seen it look this bad.
“I’ve never seen the cleanliness in downtown worse than it is now,” Goodman said.
However, Goodman wants to be clear: he doesn’t think any of this mess has anything to do with the Black Lives Matter protests. He does say this has everything to do with the “lawlessness you are endorsing downtown.”
Fox 12 reached out to Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office for a response to this letter. They sent a statement that reads:
“We’ve redirected graffiti abatement downtown, we are addressing policing with our 19-point plan, we are activating a retail response lead by Prosper Portland. We have also adjusted our response to those who are houseless through guidance from both Multnomah County and the Centers for Disease Control, all while working to change and reimagine what public safety looks like in our community. We welcome all Portland residents to join us in creating a safer Portland, denouncing violence and destruction, and supporting the movement for Black Lives.”
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