EUGENE, Ore. — Eugene City Councilors returned from summer break to some tense and frustrated people, many with the SLEEPS group, who spilled into their first council meeting.
More than 50 people signed up to speak at the meeting and more than two dozen talked about homeless issues. Many talked about the pressing need to ease camping restrictions as the calendar creeps closer to winter.
At one point during the meeting, one of the people who signed up to speak climbed onto the table set aside for public comment and yelled at the councilors, “We will not leave until everyone has a safe place to sleep.”
Mayor Kitty Piercy immediately called for a break, rushing councilors into a back room. When they returned she urged the people speaking at public comment to be respectful.
Councilor Alan Zelenka understands that emotions can spill over, but urged people to be patient.
“We can’t solve the problem all at once,” said Zelenka. “If I could snap my fingers and have it go away, I would. But we can’t. So it’s what incremental steps can we take to make this better.”
The city didn’t take any action at the meeting. Councilors are considering another pilot program that would allow people to sleep at a rest stop. That’s scheduled for later this month.
There’s no immediate plans to address the camping ordinance.