This comes after protesters with the group SLEEPS set up tents at the plaza to protest the lack of housing for the homeless.
The protesters moved out after the Board’s meeting.
Health concerns were among the biggest issues for the Board. The closure enables crews to clean up the area. But protesters say they’ve cleaned up their act.
“What I’ve invited people to do is come see,” says demonstrator Angie Bartow. “Even to the county commissioners, I would ask that they would come in and see what’s going on, not just kind of take everyone else’s word for it.”
Lane County’s public health officer did tour the site recently and declared it a public health risk. Police reports also reveal that the area has recently seen a 20-percent increase in serious crime, including drug overdoses and sex abuse.
The last time the county cleared out the plaza was when it was sued and the judge ultimately ruled in favor of the protesters. That’s why, this time around, the county is making sure that this is a public process. Commissioners say they’ll also look at updating the county code with details on how the Free Speech Plaza can be used. The Board will take up the issue at another meeting in a couple of weeks.