The good business-people of Portland have enacted an ordinance making it illegal to sit, lie, or obstruct sidewalk traffic in any manner. I think that's a great idea. I mean, when I wanna stroll downtown from one repository of commerce to another, I want my path clear, dammit. Fuck this idea of common, public space. I say, if you're not traveling from shop to shop with open wallet in hand, then who needs you. You're merely interfering with the real purpose of tax-funded roads and sidewalks, which is to transport your cash from one business to another.
That's why I was horrified to discover that the Downtown Deli and Greek Cuisina on 4th and Washington, as well as the Starbucks on 6th and Alder, are in direct violation of this fine ordinance. In fact, trendy cafes and microbreweries all over this town are in violation. If I wanted to go to Nordstroms -- and who after all wouldn't want to go to Nordstroms -- I would be obstructed by a little fence and fat little tables all placed right out in the sidewalk outside the Greek Cuisina. If I managed to get past that obstacle, I would be obstructed again by tables and chairs outside Starbucks. Then, I would have to pass the gauntlet of flower carts and espresso bars around Pioneer Square. Someone ought to do something about this.
I took a walk through town to see how many businesses are in violation of this ordinance, and the list is long indeed. Up on 21st and Glisan, I was not only obstructed by picnic tables placed in the sidewalk by Silver Dollar Pizza, I was actually told that I couldn't be out there with my son, a minor, because they serve alcohol in that establishment. This was on a public sidewalk, I hasten to repeat. There are many businesses like this one, where private business trumps common sidewalk, and the police state turns it's blind eye thanks to the protection money doled out by the PBA each year. I actually clocked several businesses to see how long their "nuisances" were left in place, and I found they clearly violated the letter of the ordinance, if not its intent.
I say businesses should be held to standards of decency at least as high as those they ask us to enforce against the homeless people in our city.