Street closures = less crime, but also = less business, bar owners say

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Police, and even bar owners in the Old Town Entertainment District, say crime is down dramatically since the street closures went into effect.

Police say the drop was 30 percent by last October when Portland's City Council extended the closures for a year, following a trial run last summer.

But the owner of Hobo's says the street closures have done more than cut crime, they've cut into his business.

"The numbers are down, because the numbers are down in general," says Hobo's owner, Andrew Guthrie. "There's less people in Old Town so of course the numbers are going to be down. When it was just jamming on Friday and Saturday nights before the street closure, that made a big difference. That made a big difference. I'm no statistician, but if you have less people, there's going to be less issues."

The head of the newly-formed Old Town Hospitality Group says businesses have been talking to the mayor's office about modifying or doing away with the street closures ever since the Council decided to leave them in place until next fall.

Dan Lenzen, who also runs the Dixie Tavern, says the eight businesses that are in the group are now speaking with one voice and should be able to address Old Town security as a group too without street barricades.

"We haven't had a chance to test it out to see if it would be successful without it," says Lenzen. "However, if we do remove it, the bar owners don't believe the WHOLE thing should go away. Most of it should. Some of it should stay, but we should also have some traffic management included in the plan."

Lenzen says barricades may make people believe the area isn't as safe as it really is.

The bar owners want more crosswalks and stop signs to slow down traffic.