Baloney Joe’s move raises concerns

From The Oregonian, September 19, 1987

Trying to preserve a delicate truce between business interests and social service agencies, Mayor Bud Clark is trying to stop Baloney Joe’s planned move to Old Town.

The Burnside Community Council, which runs the Baloney Joe’s emergency shelter at the east end of the Burnside Bridge, has purchased a building on the corner of Northwest Eighth Avenue and Flanders Street, just a few blocks from the city-owned Beaver Hotel, a major outlet for homeless services.

Clark said he learned of the purchase Sept. 18 and thought the move would upset an agreement reached earlier this year between Roger Shiels, a planner who represents several of Old Town’s largest property owners, and Donald E. Clark, executive director of Central City Concern.

That agreement was put together because Don Clark and Bud Clark feared that rapid development in what the mayor has termed “north downtown” might wipe out the city’s endangered stock of single-room-occupancy hotels. Made formal by a City Council resolution supporting it, the agreement said the business people would accept the need for downtown housing for the poor, while the social service contingent would support business expansion, including the development of Union Station and the extension of the Portland Mall.

LIMIT SET: The accords listed specific numbers of single-room-occupancy beds that must be preserved, but it also added that the number of beds in mass emergency shelters should be limited to those already existing.

“This purchase by Baloney Joe’s threatens very much that agreement, that understanding,” Bud Clark said at a hastily called news conference Friday afternoon. “It’s a point of honor. The business community is very much alarmed.”

Clark acknowledged the need for Baloney Joe’s to expand, however.

“We still have a big homeless problem,” he said. “Our homeless shelters are all full. Here it is summer, and the shelters are full. What’s going to happen in the winter?”

The new agreement, reached in extensive negotiating sessions over the last few days, calls for the Portland Development Commission to find a suitable eastside space for Baloney Joe’s at no greater cost for purchase and rehabilitation than the $382,000 paid for the westside property.

The Burnside Community Council will go ahead with its closing of the westside property Monday but has agreed to sell that building “if an acceptable eastside package can be developed.”

The development commission will be given 90 days to come up with a plan.

A resolution supporting the agreement was introduced Friday by Clark and will be voted on Wednesday by the City Council.

In spite of the agreement, Michael Stoops, chairman of the Burnside Community Council, and Richard Meyer, the organization’s executive director, said they were keeping their options open. The new building is much nicer and would nearly double the size of their present space, they said.

`POLITICAL FOOTBALL’: Stoops is annoyed that the location of Baloney Joe’s is so politically charged.

“We’re like a political football between the east side and the west side,” he said. “The business people on the east side want us to go to the west side, and the business people on the west side want us to stay on the east side.

“We need the expanded services,” Stoops said. “We’ve been looking for a new building for a long time.”

The Burnside Community Council isn’t bound by the north downtown agreement, Stoops said. “We were never a signatory to that deal. We’re a private organization. Our primary accountability is to the homeless.”

Nevertheless, the mayor’s personal pull has Stoops and Meyer willing to listen.

“We’re willing to consider any idea this mayor has because he’s been nothing but a friend to the homeless,” Meyer said. “We’ll listen to anything he comes up with.”