PORTLAND -- There's a new crackdown on crime after years of complaints by neighbors and police along the strip of Hayden Island businesses called "Lottery Row."
"The crime that's in the area has turned into a culture," said island resident Jeff Geisler, who is sick of it. "I talked with one person who went to one of the bars and watched five drug deals happen inside. I actually saw a guy standing there trying to prostitute this girl, and was like, 'This is even obvious to me.'"
Now, owners of those island strip mall businesses that straddle the Oregon/Washington border have gone on a security blitz trying to clean things up. Security guards and a drug-sniffing dog have been patrolling the parking lots every night for the past three weeks.
"You come in, you attack it hard, be aggressive with it, and then you can maintain it," said Pacific Response owner Dustin O'Brien.
Before this security blitz, police got three calls a day about the strip mall. Within the first two days of the blitz, the security officers made two drug busts.Three weeks later it was up to six.
Dan Fischer owns six of the 12 lottery row businesses and says most of the problems aren't coming from paying customers. He said this area has become a prime meeting location for drug deals and loitering.
"They're on the property and that's the issue. If they're carrying an illegal drug or want to do anything, we inherit the responsibility," said Fischer.
He paid for five security guards and 24 exterior cameras at an estimated cost of $30,000.
"We've been asked if we're going to reduce the security effort and the answer is no," he said. "It's probably a 60 to 90-day commitment, and then back it down to the right maintenance level."
Police said it's too soon to know if the blitz has made any real impact. It will take a few more months, they estimated.
And to add fuel to the fire, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales was recently quoted as saying he hopes that "Lottery Row is condemned soon."