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City council approves 'dawn-to-dawn' campsites on Highway 99

This action was in response to the Camp 99 site reaching the end of their 30-to-60-day allotment on Highway 99.

Posted: Dec 17, 2018 11:18 PM
Updated: Dec 18, 2018 10:22 AM

EUGENE, Ore. -- After a special city council meeting on Monday evening, a new camping program will be coming to Highway 99.

The Eugene City Council has voted to move forward with what they're calling a "dawn-to-dawn" program on Highway 99, now that the 30-to-60-day time frame for the Camp 99 site is coming to an end.

Assistant City Manager Kristie Hammitt said this program would be a modified version of the dusk-to-dawn programs that the city and St. Vincent de Paul currently operate.

"So, our proposal is to continue to move forward as we continue to look for a better plan to support this group," Hammitt said.

Now that the Camp 99 site is nearing the end of their temporary time allotment, the city council called an emergency meeting to make sure something is done for homeless campers after the gates are closed.

City staff proposed a "dawn-to-dawn" program in partnership with St. Vincent de Paul that would allow homeless campers to have their campsites near access to services.

"The proposal before you tonight is to expand 717 Highway 99 dusk-to-dawn site by 80 participants and provide daytime access to the site," Hammitt said. "In addition, provide the flexibility for St. Vincent de Paul to provide a micro version of the dusk-to-dawn program, and that would provide for campers to use their own tents and maintain their personal belongings while having day access to the site."

Councilor Mike Clarke did have concerns about this, saying it's only a band-aid to the larger issue.

"But I believe that the more we continue to create camps like this, it creates a reality for us to not look at long-term solutions to the problem," Clarke said.

City councilors will be meeting with county commissioners in January to discuss long-term solutions to house the homeless in Eugene and Lane County.

For now, the dawn-to-dawn, 24-hour access campsite near a current dusk-to-dawn site, and a site for 20 to 25 campers on the St. Vincent de Paul property on Highway 99 have been approved.

The city council also voted to spend $150,000 to make it happen.

City staff have said that those new plans will be put into place over the first couple of weeks of January, as they transition campers out of the Camp 99 site.

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