I own a small service business in downtown Eugene. I have done so for 19 years and mostly enjoyed being located near the center of downtown—but I have to say we are looking into other locations for a variety of reasons. The following are a handful of the reasons:
-Daily, or nearly every day, bike riders stream through our neighborhood on sidewalks—scaring pedestrians—or riding against the traffic on one way streets—scaring motorists, and running full speed through stop signs. Dare say a word to these folks and they will curse you, pound their fist into your car or spit at you! They believe (I guess) they have the right to be where ever they please because they are not burning fossil fuels. And, if you happen to be in this vicinity at night or early morning, they can (almost) be seen riding around with dark clothing and no bike lights. Another annoyance is the removal of street signs in the area.
-In the summer, I routinely find people sleeping on the front porch of my business—and have to shoo them away. Most are polite, but some are not. They almost always leave debris (and sometimes bodily fluids) behind.
-There are “packs” of youth who parade through the neighborhood cursing at cars, throwing things at each other and causing business owners concern. Imagine if your mother was a client of mine and she encountered this on her way to an appointment! NOT good for business!
-We have found drug paraphernalia (needles) in the shrubbery around our building.
-There is a “soup kitchen” or some other social/welfare handout thing located on the corner of Lincoln and 8th Street. People line up hours before they open to wait for food. Most are polite and not bothersome. Some are the opposite. I’ll bet you wouldn’t walk through the alley between that establishment and the Broadway parking garage by yourself when they are mingling around there! There are uniformed security folks who sometimes show a presence, but why should we have to go to that extreme just to ensure a safe zone for the non-recipients?
-One of my co-workers parks his car in the parking garage. Entering and leaving there, he routinely runs in to panhandlers and vagrants who block the driveway meant for cars.
-We routinely have vagrants coming in the front door of our business asking for money or work.
-The WOW Hall attracts a crowd of its own—best for us not to be around when those folks are there!
-Venture south to the Library and you’ll encounter a counter-culture group ready for the next Mad Max movie. Delinquents, pan handlers, smokers, intimidators, and loud cursing types loiter around the building making entry somewhat daunting. Easier to go somewhere else if one wants coffee or a book. Ever wonder why Valley River is so popular? It SAFE!
-The downtown liquor store is a complete magnet for most of the types I’ve described above. They hang out on the sidewalk, in the parking lot, and across the street. One feels the need to hold on to your wallet firmly and practice saying “NO” to those who will almost surely approach you asking for money or booze.
-Outside my business and others nearby, transients routinely dig through our garbage cans looking for empty bottles and cans.
-The corner of 7th and Washington is a haven for beggars. The signs change and occasionally the faces, but there are folks there EVRY day! What kind of a image for downtown does the present?
Yeah, I’d like to stay downtown in my old house, but I am growing intolerant—as the city seems to grow the other direction. The message that the police department is moving out is a total vote of NO confidence in the downtown area. Patrolling (what we had) will be even less. It is embarrassing to be located in what was considered once a business district but is no longer a safe place. Sorry, but I can’t wait for you.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009