‘Crime’ cited for closing of Lents Burgerville

Concerns about “crime and vandalism” cause managers to close this long-time outer East Portland fast-food restaurant …

Most of the glowing neon of this Lents neighborhood Burgerville restaurant is now dark, after the company shut the fast-food drive-in about “crime concerns” in the area.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

“Temporarily Closed” is the term the ownership of the Lents Burgerville use to describe the status of their place, situated at the high-traffic intersection of SE Powell Boulevard and 92nd Avenue. The doors were shut on August 3.

“My hope is this will be a temporary closure, and that we can work with the leaders in Multnomah County, the City of Portland, and the State of Oregon to improve conditions in communities throughout the Northwest,” Burgerville CEO Jill Taylor said in a release to media outlets.

“It is not just Burgerville; other businesses (in the area) are being impacted too,” Taylor added. “There is a humanitarian crisis happening throughout our region, and we need to come together around solutions.”

Once a popular ride, few bicyclists pedal along the I-205 Multi-Use Path these days, due – they say – to the growth of encampments like this one, directly east of the Burgerville property.

Asked for more details, the Vancouver-based company said that the environment around the restaurant had seriously deteriorated; that Burgerville employees have found human waste, drug paraphernalia, and weapons on the store’s property.

Neighbors not surprised about closure
While it might have been a bombshell to the unionized employees working at the Lents neighborhood Burgerville, neighbors said they weren’t at all surprised that the restaurant had been boarded up.

Along the fence line of the Burgerville property, this portion of the homeless encampment continues to grow.

“Homeless ‘campgrounds’ along the I-205 Multi-Use Path have grown in size, as has crime, trash, and deposits of human waste in the past few months,” said neighbor Patty Ling, who said her home is a couple blocks south of the intersection, abutting the path.

“When we first moved here, we considered the Multi-Use Path a lovely neighborhood amenity; now it’s the bane of our existence here,” Ling told East Portland News. She told of screams piercing the darkness, almost every night; the stench of human waste; and the theft of anything left out in the open.

“We, and our neighbors, want to move – but we can’t; our retirement is tied up in our houses, sadly,” Ling said. “It’s no surprise to us that Burgerville closed.”

Now surrounded by tall, steel fencing, no “Walla Walla Wonder Burger” meals are being served at this Burgerville.

When, or if, it reopens is unclear
The company declined to speculate about when this Burgerville location might reopen. “We have no other recourse now but to shut down temporarily, to ensure the safety of employees and guests,” a spokesperson later told reporters.

© 2021 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™



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