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'The property's really being used as a toilet': Homeless camp brings poop, high crime, and constant danger — and leads to shutdown of iconic burger joint

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Image source: KOIN-TV video screenshot, composite

Tom Burke owns a Portland bowling alley that sits right next to one of the iconic Burgerville restaurants that pepper the Pacific Northwest — and he's seen trouble mounting in the area for quite some time.

"We have put our life and soul into these businesses here and to see Portland go from where it was even as little as five years ago to where we are today, there's no question, its disheartening," Burke, who owns a pair of King Pins, told KOIN-TV.

'The property's really being used as a toilet'

A homeless camp has been operating this year right by the Burgerville and King Pins — and has brought with it nothing particularly appetizing.

Image source: KOIN-TV video screenshot

"The environment around the restaurant has deteriorated seriously," a Burgerville spokesperson told the Portland Tribune, according to KOIN. "Police are now being called daily. Burgerville employees have found weapons, drug paraphernalia, and human waste on the property."

Burke put it more bluntly: "The property's really being used as a toilet," he told the station in regard to Burgerville. He added that King Pins — and its family-oriented customer base — is suffering the same indignity, the station said.

Image source: KOIN-TV video screenshot

"And the unfortunate thing is, you know, you have families and children that are walking up the path, and at any time you can find hundreds of needles," Burke added to KOIN. "Any time they come out and clean up ... they are able to find so many needles and feces."

Burgerville closes, gets boarded up

Burgerville — a 60-year-old restaurant chain with 1,000 employees and around 40 locations — decided the problems were getting too out of hand and boarded up the Lents area eatery at 3504 S.E. 92nd Ave. in what's being billed as a temporary closure, the station said.

Image source: KOIN-TV video screenshot

The chain told KOIN it hired private security to try improving employee and customer safety — but no dice.

Image source: KOIN-TV video screenshot

Burgerville CEO Jill Taylor told the station that all employees at the closed restaurant have been offered jobs at nearby locations.

"It is not just Burgerville," Taylor added to KOIN. "Other businesses are being impacted, too. There is a humanitarian crisis happening throughout our region, and we need to come together around solutions."

Burke told the station that Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson have been contacted about the problems — but no responses from them thus far.

"The homeless crisis is certainly a very serious situation in Portland. We all know it, we've all been impacted by that, but this is really not the place to have a homeless camp right next to our businesses," Burke added to KOIN.

He told the station he wants Wheeler and elected leaders to come out and see for themselves what the area looks like before the occasional cleanups and sweeps take place.

"We've put our life into this, but we don't really think that we're getting the support that we need from a business standpoint," Burke noted to KOIN.

Anything else?

The station said Wheeler's office provided a statement on the matter: "We take situations like this very seriously. Community safety is one of the mayor's top priorities, and it's unfortunate anytime people and businesses in our community feel unsafe. We continue working with the Portland Police Bureau to identify resources and solutions to improve safety citywide."

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