The Fred Meyer grocery has been an anchor on our vibrant Hawthorne Boulevard for over 70 years with a main entrance opening onto the street. But in the last 6 months the Fred Meyer Hawthorne grocery, owned by Kroger, has closed or restricted the use of its only entrance onto Hawthorne Boulevard.
As a “Transit Street Main Entrance”, these doors are required to be open onto the sidewalk (for entry and exiting) by Portland’s Zoning Code to “promote walking and the use of transit.” The closure is burdensome for all users, but is especially inequitable and concerning for seniors and disabled people. The only entrance is now on the opposite side of the building–through the parking lot. In addition, this closed entrance has created a “zombie block” which significantly reduces foot traffic and has a negative effect on the vitality of the Hawthorne shopping district.
The city has notified Fred Meyer that this closure is a violation of city code and started fining them $700 a month since May. After the notice of violation, Fred Meyer submitted an application to permanently close the Hawthorne pedestrian entrance.
Inner Southeast Action (ISEA), a local community group focusing on land use, transportation, climate and equity, along with Oregon Walks, a state-wide pedestrian safety group, met with Fred Meyer local and corporate management about alternative solutions. One suggestion was to post a security guard at the entrance, but Fred Meyer insisted closure is necessary to stop theft and for “safety concerns”. It is interesting to note that both the New Seasons and Safeway grocery stores have managed to keep multiple entrances open onto the Hawthorne sidewalk.
ISEA and Oregon Walks have launched an awareness and advocacy effort to persuade the city to deny Fred Meyer’s application to permanently close the pedestrian entrance and to persuade Fred Meyer to fully re-open this entrance. The groups have launched a petition to get the doors reopened. The petition has over 425 signers so far, and will be sent to the Mayor, Commissioner Ryan and the Director of Bureau of Development Services. You can add your name to it here: https://bit.ly/3CWjH2N
The Sunnyside Neighborhood Association will discuss the situation and a possible neighborhood response at their next meeting on October 14th.