Homelessness in Portland is way beyond what the current shelters/funding can handle. There's plenty of people looking for a cheap way to shelter (and some that are just looking for a rogue way of life).
Boats that have not been properly registered, titled, etc. for a few years get handed around from person to person (some sold for as cheap as a hundred bucks). Tracing the temporary owners and even finding the original owner is a somewhat monumental task and, often, the hull ID has been removed. And, evidently, there is a "dealer" out there who specializes in finding these boats for folks. Bottom line, there's a supply.
DSL (Dept of State Lands) owns the land under the Willamette River. They supply permits for docks (it's kind of a lease agreement in a way), but allow boaters to anchor without permit as long as they stay no longer than 30 days in one spot. After 30 days, the boater must move at least 5 miles and not return to the same area within a 12 month period. This rule is being looked at for potential change. Problem is, there's a rule, but DSL has no enforcement arm to their agency, so if someone disobeys there's no consequence via DSL. DSL does not track who is parked where, etc, etc. They rely on the River Patrols, who, quite frankly have their hands full. River Patrols are funded by OSMB (Oregon State Marine Board) and do the best they can to track these boats but it's a monumental task for a small group of Deputies. (For instance, the Multnomah County River Patrol is in charge of 120 river miles). And of course the boaters know exactly where they can push the law limits.
Downtown Docks. The Boathouse dock is owned by PDC, the Duckworth is DOT controlled, Riverplace and Willamette Park belong to City Parks. Any dock owner may remove a trespasser under recent legislation. This does not mean they have the ability to do so.
Duckworth. After Fleet Week, when the transients tied up on the dock caused a security issue, the cleats were removed and the dock was shut down. As that dock was constructed with grant monies, it must operate under grant rules. OSMB was approached for a rule change that would allow them to reopen the dock but no longer allow overnight traffic. There is work in progress to get signage, etc. at when the cleats will be reinstalled and the dock reopened as a day use only dock.
PDC. Issue here is, of course, the swimmers. However, we have a flotilla right off the dock, which means it's on DSL property. PDC has yet to be challenged to remove anyone tied up to our dock since nobody has tried and tested this yet (let's hope they don't).
Willamette Park. City Parks owned. Currently has a "resident". Parks Rangers can ticket, fine, whatever but they have no way to remove the boat. And, there can be up to a 30 day time frame before the receiver of the ticket has a hearing.
Riverplace. Wow, out of control. Again, Parks Rangers can ticket all they want but the boaters know there are not currently any consequences of any big deal coming their way. The Rangers could really use some help from the City of Portland on this because they sure would like to see the problem fixed.
So, bring on the Task Force!
A Task Force has been assembled to find some solutions. The group consists of all sorts of agencies. Governors office, Mayor's office, OSMB, DSL, JOIN, DEQ, DOJ, Parks, Multnomah County RIver Patrol. I have been following the progress of the group, and I will say, it is painfully slow but moving along. So many layers of law and inter-agency dealing to get this solved! And, as with all problems, where's the money going to come from? Lots to figure out.
We need to be patient. I know, it's not like we haven't been already, right? When Duckworth shut down it sent everybody our way which in the end may have been the only reason the Task Force got put together - because so many people complained and got upset about the deluge of derelict/transient boaters.
I will continue to inform when solid outcomes are in place. In the meantime, feel free to send any questions my way. If I can't answer them I will refer you to a Task Force member who can.