Portland/ Politics & Govt
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Published on February 28, 2024
Portland Settles Lawsuit, Commits to Improved Sidewalk Accessibility for Disabled ResidentsSource: City of Portland

The City of Portland has been slapped with a lawsuit by a group of citizens with disabilities, leading to a settlement agreement aimed at clearing the pathways for those with mobility difficulties. The legal tussle, which started back in September 2022, when nine individuals challenged the city's maintenance of its sidewalks, has ended with the city vowing to clean up its act—literally.

According to the settlement documents, the plaintiffs, which included individuals with mobility and vision disabilities, accused Portland of not keeping sidewalks clear of debris and tent encampments. The settlement, which was made public by the City of Portland, mandates that the city maintain a reporting system for such obstructions, and prioritize the removal of campsites that get in the way of pedestrians with disabilities. The city is on the hook for these changes until June 30, 2028, but there's no specific deadline for when the obstructions must be removed.

This legal agreement doesn't go all the way, though. It doesn't force the city to remove every last obstruction or set a rigid timeline for when they need to clear the sidewalks. What it does do, is force the city's hand to pay closer attention to campsites that cause barriers to those who navigate the terrain on wheels or with white canes. It's a win, albeit a limited one, for those who demand the basic right of accessibility to public spaces.

The case, Tozer, et al. v. City of Portland, was brought against the city under allegations that it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, alongside Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. While the agreement may seem a step in the right direction, the lack of concrete removal deadlines could leave some room for the city to drag its feet. Residents with disabilities, are cautiously optimistic, hoping that the deal will pave the way for a more navigable city.