Vancouver council member Bart Hansen and his son fix a problem first, then questions can be asked
A small business owner received a complaint about the sidewalk right next to his restaurant.
Yes, he noted, there was some debris but just temporarily. He and his staff clean up the area every day, bringing garbage to the dumpster at closing time.
His sidewalk has always been passable and the area around it has always been maintained.
Unlike the sidewalk just across the street.
That fired-up business owner made a video, comparing his sidewalk with the one across the street. It was really no comparison. The one across the street was overtaken by bushes. In some stretches, one could not even see the sidewalk.
The video gained traction on Facebook. Two days later, two people, on their own, showed up to take care of the problem. For hours, using machetes and weed eaters and other equipment, they cleared a path. They also called authorities to get rid of the dozen or so hypodermic needles they found.
While still in need of some TLC, the sidewalk is now usable. Thanks to two men: Vancouver council member Bart Hansen and his son Louis.
“When folks reach out to me, I want to make it very clear that I work for the citizens of Vancouver, not the city of Vancouver,” Bart Hansen said.
Hansen was “tagged” on the video, someone asking what he could do about it. Hansen said he was disappointed that Charles Bibens, owner of Goldies Texas Style BBQ, was receiving notifications regarding his sidewalk. He appreciated how Bibens stood up for how his sidewalk is maintained while wondering about the wreck that was just across the street.
“His sidewalk looks absolutely immaculate,” Hansen said. “Then he’d point out the hypocrisy of it all. He has a great illustration of hypocrisy right here. Those are the stories council members need to be hearing. When I get the inclination that small business is not getting a fair shake, I want to hear their stories.”
For Hansen and his son, this was not the time to figure out who was supposed to maintain the other sidewalk. It turned out, Hansen said, the sidewalk is in city limits. The fence and the development on the other side of the fence is county. This is on NE 156th Avenue, just north of Fourth Plain Blvd.
Hansen said he could “dilly-dally” all day trying to figure out who should be responsible for maintaining the sidewalk “or I can just come out and do something about it. I chose the latter,” he said.
Hansen also did a similar clean-up on 38th and Main after another Facebook post asked him if the city was supposed to be maintaining that area.
“Instead of going through bureaucracy, let’s just start off with weed eaters,” Hansen said. “Then figure out where to go from there. Let’s get it done first.”
Back across the street from Goldies, it took Brad and Louis more than three hours to clear a path. Some of the blackberry bushes were 3-, 4-feet high. Louis declined money from his father, saying that would defeat the purpose of volunteering.
Bart called the non-emergency line when he found the needles. Interestingly, Hansen said, the person on the other line actually asked, “Are you at Goldies?” That video had become that popular.
Vancouver Police showed up soon after with a kit to collect the “sharps.”
There is a new development going in about a block north of what was the problem area. The sidewalk will be used.
Thanks to a video produced by a small business owner, and to those who tagged Hansen on Facebook, that sidewalk is now passable. Oh, it still needs work, but this was a start.
“I appreciate being tagged,” Hansen said of notifications on social media. “If I don’t know about it, I can’t address it.”