Eugene Legal Places To Sleep Ordinance: Musselwhite update 4-27

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Tue, 12 May 1998 10:34:52 -0700 (PDT)


FWD 27 Apr 1998 by Tom Musselwhite <pro_eco@efn.org>


UPDATE ON EUGENE'S NEW LEGAL PLACES TO SLEEP ORDINANCE


In a move that surprised Homeless Advocates, the Eugene City Council
Committee on Homelessness and Youth voted unanimously to recommend to the
full Council that Ordinance 20097 be extended for two years.  Although the
new ordinance has been received with broad based acceptance throughout the
community, activists had expected more of a struggle.

An early morning count on April 21 led activists to believe that about 265
people are effectively decriminalized by the new ordinance.  Charles Gray
of the Homeless Action Coalition (HAC) counted 71 vehicles parked in
industrially zoned areas that appeared to be occupied by homeless persons
utilizing them for shelter.  The new ordinance requires that vehicles must
be moved every 24 hours, and be legally licensed and insured.

At their April 23rd meeting the Council Committee listened to testimony
from  the Eugene Police Department, members of the Homeless Action
Coalition , representatives from Saint Vincent dePaul, and the comments of
homeless persons who were benefiting from the new ordinance before
arriving at their decision.

Police Officers reported no noticeable increase in their workloads and
operators of an industrial warehouse on West Broadway reported a decrease
in burglaries since the new ordinance had been enacted.  Though no direct
link could be established, it was suggested that the decrease in
burglaries might be attributed to the increased presence of vehicularly
housed people in the area.

A concern previously expressed by some industrial interest over the
camping ordinance's impact on long-haul truckers was dismissed after
operators of the St. Vincent dePaul warehouse testified that campers were
easier to get along with than the truckers.

Truckers have historically slept in their vehicles in industrially zoned
areas and are now finding that parking space is less available due to
presence of campers in some locations.  The Mayor pointed out that prior
to the enactment of the new ordinance, truckers who slept in their
vehicles overnight were in violation of the Eugene Code.

Councilor Bobby Lee argued in favor of making the new ordinance permanent,
but ultimately agreed on the two year extension.  No date has been set for
the full Council to consider the Committee's recommendation.

Chairman of the Committee, Councilor Pat Farr expressed concerns about the
impact of several events which have characteristic drawn large numbers of
campers to Eugene.  The Oregon Country Fair and the Resist and Exist
movement have both attracted large numbers of out of town visitors and
proven problematic to city administrators.

The new legal places to sleep ordinance contains three components; one
applies to camping in backyards of residential areas, another applies to
vehicular camping on church parking lots, and the third component which
allows vehicularly housed persons to sleep overnight in industrially zoned
areas.  About 60 persons benefit from the church parking lot program, an
estimated 100 persons benefit from the relaxation of camping prohibitions
in residential areas, and an estimated 105 persons are benefiting from the
legalization of overnight sleeping in industrial areas.

        **********************************************************************
                        Tom Musselwhite / PROJECT RECOVER
        'oIkos, Eugene's Journal of, for and about the Homeless
                PO Box 3789
                Eugene, OR 97403                    phone: 1.541.687.2438
                                458 Blair Blvd
                                Eugene, OR  97402
        email: pro_eco@efn.org  or world wide web http://www.efn.org/~pro_eco/
        **********************************************************************


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