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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Even smarter meters

Yesterday we noted that when it comes to offering meaningful opportunities to young adults, Portland was in the lower middle of the pack among American cities, next to Orlando, Fla. Perhaps it was that mention of Orlando that led a reader to send us a link to this story, about how that Florida city has joined Denver, Indianapolis, and a half-dozen other cities in installing "meters" on its streets for contributions to fight homelessness. Rather than hand cash to a stranger whose use of the money is questionable, shoppers and business people are urged to drop their spare change in a more controlled place to provide aid to those who are struggling to survive.

In reading that article, we discovered another fascinating feature of Orlando's relationship to street people: It restricts panhandling to designated areas on the streets that are marked with blue boxes painted on the pavement. It also forbids public begging after 7 p.m. These sound like eminently sensible ideas, but of course in Portland they would immediately be shouted down. Someone would surely say that the state constitution forbids anything like that. And even if such a regime survived a legal challenge, you'd have to get the police motivated to enforce it, which seems unlikely.

Which is why, unless you like bucket drumming and aggressive punks with dogs, the private-property mall will remain a preferred way to shop in Portland for many years to come.

Comments (4)

Maybe we could at least get those blue boxes painted downtown to limit where the cops can beat mentally ill homeless people to death. Put a bird of prey on it. Or, a bluebird of happiness.

Supporters of communal living will always throw rocks at the concept of private-property malls. When you strip away the activist rhetoric, it's the private property aspect that really irritates them.

Of course if Randy got the money he would just build more useless loos for the street people where they could do more drug deals. Or buy more guns for his water cops.

YES! We don't want the moderately affluent to have to, you know, actually rub shoulders with THOSE people. Squeeze 'em into a box, and make sure they can't bother us after 7:00.

That will solve the problems of homelessness. Outta sight, outta mind.

I have some additional suggestions: Maybe they could wear an "H" on their jacket so that we know for sure who they are and can take steps to avoid them. Pass a law that they must step off the sidewalk into street and let productive people hurry by with their important business. Oh, no eye contact- they should stare fixedly at the ground. Lets also require them to wear decibel meters and require that their voices not exceed 5 dB. Don't want their plaintive pleas disturbing us. How can they be allowed to harsh our little bubble? What if they interrupt our thinking about the truly important issues of the day: like who is Trig's real mother?

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