EUGENE, Ore. -- The Eugene City Council will be holding a public hearing Monday evening to continue their discussion about designated camping and parking spots for those experiencing homelessness.
This comes after a motion was unanimously passed on April 12 to hold a public hearing on an ordinance to create more safe and lawful places for people to sleep. “Safe parking” and “safe tent sites” would be established temporarily where people would have options to legally park their vehicles or sleep in tents.
The goal is to transition current campers to legal spaces that are managed and monitored for health and safety concerns. Under this ordinance, sites would be immediately established and would remain in effect until May 1, 2023.
In addition, a motion was also passed to talk about vehicle camping in commercial and industrial areas. 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.
KEZI 9 News talked to Randy Groves, Eugene City Councilor for Ward 8.
“We have a need to provide a place for people to go,” Groves said. “Everyone should have a right to sleep safely. Part of what we’re trying to do with this ordinate shift is to create safe parking and safe tent sites.”
He said solutions are needed for this growing problem, but it’s going to take the entire community’s help.
St. Vincent de Paul Executive Director Terry McDonald shared his thoughts.
“An unregulated non-system of allowing the unhoused to find a place to sleep overnight simply doesn’t work,” McDonald said. “We’ve seen the evidence of that over the last couple of years."
He said the unhoused should be able to remain in a stable place.
“I applaud the efforts that Eugene-Springfield and Lane County have taken over the last year to find in the difficult times of COVID-19 a way for more unhoused people to have a regulated system of housing," he said.
He believes things are moving in the right direction, but they need to continue and expand.
“Finding a way to bring those folks into some kind of system that is sponsored by the city, county or jurisdiction would be better ... especially in a period of COVID-19 when we want to protect people as best as possible,” McDonald said.
Others feel much differently. Aaron Crowley used to own a business in Eugene but moved it to Junction City.
“I think our jurisdiction, cities and states need to do a better job at getting to the root of the problem and making it harder for them to be homeless,” Crowley said.
Adam Brown agreed.
“I don't think that our tax dollars should be working to support it and encourage it,” Brown said. “Why is the city providing porta-potties for homeless people and encouraging it. That makes absolutely no sense.”
KEZI also spoke to Eugene resident DeAnna Manske. She said that as a therapist she has a lot of empathy for people, but something needs to be done. She describes the site at West 11th Avenue and Beltline in Eugene.
“It looks like a public health issue,” Manske said. “There’s no restrooms there. There's dirt and debris and garbage strewn from one end almost a block.”
The public hearing on the ordinance will be held in Monday's city council meeting at 7:30 p.m.
The Lane County Homeless By Name List (HBNL) shows 9,107 people accessed homelessness services in 2020, with an average of 2,586 people living in Eugene accessing these services per month.