EUGENE, Ore. – In an effort to provide space for a ballooning homeless population, Eugene City Councilors are moving forward with plans to relocate homeless campers out of city parks and streets to designated lots with access to services.
During a city council meeting Monday, councilors voted unanimously to hold a public hearing on April 26 about a new ordinance. The proposed ordinance would allow for the temporary establishment of “safe parking” and “safe tent” sites that could provide options for individuals to legally park their vehicles or sleep in tents. The city said the sites would have a bigger capacity than otherwise allowed under current city code.
“The intent of the additional sites would be to transition individuals currently camping in areas throughout the city, including in parks, open spaces, rights of way, and city property to legal spaces to sleep that are managed and have services to ensure health and safety,” the city said in a news release.
The ordinance would allow the sites to be immediately established and would remain in effect until May 1, 2023.
Following Monday’s work session, the city council received an earful from residents and businesses frustrated by the growing unhoused population and associated criminal activity.
Amanda Schlumpberger, owner of Sola Salon on W. Sixth Avenue, was one of several who expressed concerns about the impact it’s having on her business. Schlumpberger said the homeless camp in Washington-Jefferson park has grown out of control.
“The individuals living in the camp across the street from us - who loiter and trespass on our property, debris, drug paraphernalia, human feces and urine, verbal harassment, banging on windows and our doors and yelling - are only some of the things we as a business deal with,” Schlumpberger said.
Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Brittany Quick-Warner said the business community stands willing to work with the city on a solution, but called for tough action against those who refuse to move.
“If we have safe, appropriate places for individuals to shelter, and they refuse to go to those spaces, then we have to cite them, arrest them if they're committing crimes or work with them to find a place where they can get support outside of our community,” Quick-Warner told councilors.
Separately, the council is considering another proposal related to no parking zones and limited duration parking in industrial areas to address commercial access. That proposal is in response to a growing issue regarding RVs and homeless who are gathering near businesses and blocking access for workers who need to get to their buildings. The city expects that information will be presented at an April 26 work session.