Jaywalkers often can’t find crosswalks, and they hardly represent a ‘scourge’


I am responding to the article written by Chris Shorr titled, "Walking Back a Panhandling Ban" (columns, Sept. 17 Phoenix). I find it a huge and gross overstatement to call jaywalkers "the true scourge of our fair city." There are plenty of more detrimental and obvious offenses that happen in Portland everyday like physical assaults and robberies which I do think that the individuals committing those crimes are truly more in the "scourge" category then jaywalkers.

Personally, I will stop jaywalking when the city of Portland will have more feasible and plentiful crosswalks. Granted, people can and definitely do jaywalk in Portland and have no idea how to accurately use their street smarts in order to jaywalk. Yet, there are so many more who jaywalk out of pure necessity to get to their destination as sometimes it may be incredibly difficult or nearly impossible to get to a proper crosswalk in order to cross the street.

I find it ironic to have the cover story about "gentrification" of Portland and to have an article in there about jaywalkers and panhandlers. Maybe someday Portland will be at the point where there are no jaywalkers or panhandlers and the pedestrian walkways will be a place of organization devoid of those "beggars" (which is an archaic, offensive and outdated term that should only be reserved for the writing of Shakespeare) but the city isn't quite at that utopian gentrified place yet. Panhandling seems like an "easier fix" in my opinion as there seems to be repeat panhandlers in certain areas of the city which the Portland Police could target and assist, perhaps giving them the information to utilize organizations such as Preble Street Resource Center, etc.

Yet, for those who jaywalk, how can the Portland Police enforce a stricter ban on that? So many more people jaywalk then panhandle, I didn't do the math but I am absolutely positive of that. There is probably a reason why Portland Police are not putting enforcement on jaywalkers and that is because there are a lot more important things to be policing and keeping the city safe from like those who commit violent crime.

April Mulkern


Brooklyn comparison refers to quality of life, affordability


In response to the column "Is Portland Really the New Brooklyn?" by Christopher Papagni, Sept. 17:

Dear Mr. Papagni,

Congrats on rebutting arguments that no one is making. When someone says "Portland is becoming Brooklyn north," it's not because of a comparison in population, because anyone thinks Portland is the center of the financial world, or because "look, we have bars, too, we must be Brooklyn."

You feel compelled to argue against homogeneity, that people should not want Portland to become like Brooklyn. Again, that's a response to an argument that no one is making. When people say Portland is like Brooklyn, it’s not out of a hope to flatter ourselves in seeing Brooklyn when Portland looks in the mirror. The comparison comes as people look at the life they have come to like in Portland, Maine and see it disrupted by a new influx of wealth that is pushing up prices and driving out the very people who give Portland its soul. You don't need to talk me into liking Portland. Like many others, I live here because I love it, not because it is convenient. It's arrogant that you think Portlanders need to be told to take pride in their city and that they need not aspire to be like Brooklyn. Who says we want to be like Brooklyn?

As someone who moved from New York City, perhaps a 17 percent increase in rents does not phase you, but not everyone in Maine is acclimated to a New York City-level cost of living. Unfortunately we are growing closer to that. Young people, creative people, or anyone with a middle class income are finding it increasingly difficult to settle here.

And while there are plenty of easy observations to make of things that are different between Portland and Brooklyn (Jay-Z does not live here, the Nets don't play here, and "wow, you're right! We don't have a subway!!"), all the things that Brooklyn embodies in national and international culture are trends that one can see taking place in Portland right now. Though many of these trends are to be celebrated (increasing cultural diversity, creative food, emphasis on locally sourced foods, DIY culture, etc.), Brooklyn is also emblematic of a place where creativity used to happen and those who made it cool got priced out by those with money who swooped in from outside.

Just as artists who once set up shop in Williamsburg couldn't dream of settling there now, one can see Portland heading down a path where those who have made this city's culture so attractive will no longer be able to afford to live here. And with the wealth coming here from places like, yes, Brooklyn, the price of even the most dilapidated housing here has become out of reach for most middle class people.

When I compare Portland to Brooklyn, it’s about seeing Brooklyn turn into a place where working class and creative people can't afford to live anymore, and worrying that the same thing is happening in Portland, too. But let's agree on one thing: Portland is not physically adjacent to the borough of Manhattan. I guess that means we're not Brooklyn, and we have nothing to worry about, right?

Joe Walsh