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Safety issues continue to plague Springwater Corridor Trail

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Arson investigators say evidence shows a morning fire Monday at a lot holding dozens of old cars and trucks along the Springwater Corridor Trail started outside the lot.

This could mean someone staying at a nearby homeless camp might be connected to the fire. No one was injured, but the cause remains under investigation. The flames shut down 82nd Avenue for some time.

Safety issues have been plaguing the Springwater Corridor Trail for months. People who use the trail to exercise and those who live near it -- have had to alter their daily lives.

For example, David Abts is house-sitting a property near the trail. The homeowner created a fence of old doors to keep homeless individuals away from his backyard.

"There has to be some sort of city help... have a block for them to go or somewhere to go or otherwise they'll just keep trickling back every time you move them," Abts said.

Portland Police deny reports that officers are telling people to carry mace while walking or biking the trail because of the growing homeless camps.

A spokesman told KATU News the bureau's only advice is the same as any other part of the city -- be aware of your surroundings.

Lents Neighborhood Association Public Safety Chair Robert Schultz doesn't see it that way.

"If you're a young female, don't go on the trail at night alone. That's the simple, simple thing. I hate to say that because I have a daughter," Schultz said.

Schultz says many rapes, especially inside homeless camps along the Springwater Trail, aren't being reported to police.

He added it's not just about kicking homeless campers out of the area.

"There's 15 shades of homeless. The criminal, drug-dealing, stealing, in my backyard, that guy I don't like. The guy in his car, living in his car, trying to get back on his feet . That guy I want to see supported. So we're in these pinch points where nothing is happening. Nothing. Nothing but a lot of conversation," Schultz explained.

A group called Oregon Consensus, based at Portland State University, has a $40,000 contract with the City of Portland to study ways to deal with safety issues along the Springwater.

The group is supposed to deliver its final recommendations to the city by the end of July.

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales' office says the city already started two of the group's preliminary recommendations last week: increasing police patrols and increasing homeless outreach along the trail.

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