Homeless camp lawsuit settlement put off
The Portland City Council has postponed a vote, originally scheduled for tomorrow, on settlement of a lawsuit brought by homeless activists over the way police break up homeless camps. The settlement, as originally posted on the city's website, would have paid $30,000 to the plaintiffs and their attorneys (mostly the attorneys). But more importantly, the city would have agreed to new rules about camping, including the following:
A. The City will condition any funding of homeless shelter capacity on the contractual commitment of the shelter facility to allow meaningful access to the shelter by housing outreach workers.
B. The City will not enforce its camping law (PCC 14A.50.020 or successor) against persons who camp on public property or public rights of way that are open to the public if they comply with the following rules:
a. A camp may not contain more than four people after 10:00 p.m.
b. A camp must be out of sight and earshot or more than 50 yards away from any other camp.
c. Campers may not set up a campsite until 9:00 p.m.
d. A camp must be quiet after 10:00 p.m.
e. A camp must not cause any health or sanitation problems.
f. A camp must not draw significant complaints from neighbors.
g. A camp must be off the sidewalks and roadways and away from nighttime high volume traffic areas.
h. A camp must be packed up and removed from the site by 7:00 a.m.
C. The City will not enforce its prohibition against the erection of structures on public property (PCC 14A.50.050) against tents or other structures designed for the primary and limited purpose of protecting outdoor sleepers from the elements when the occupants of a campsite comply with the rules set out in subsection B and no more than two sleeping structures are present at a site.
D. The City will not enforce its camping law against people sleeping at night in vehicles as long as they comply with the rules set out in subsection B and the camp is limited to one vehicle and no more than two adults.
E. The City agrees that it will not consider sleeping in a bedroll, without more, to meet the definition of “camp” in PCC 14A50.020.
F. The City will conduct a pilot project to examine the feasibility and benefits of providing storage to homeless people living on the street. The City will issue a request for proposals for the creation and management of two types of storage: one for documents and other small valuables and one for larger items. The purpose of this effort will be to reduce the need for homeless people to carry large amounts of personal property through the community and reduce the potential for nuisances and conflicts with the police over nuisance abatement. The City will endeavor to establish storage capacity on both sides of the Willamette River. If the City is able to find contractors willing to run the pilot project, it will fund the project for at least two years. Continued operation will depend on whether, in the City Council’s judgment, the project proves to be practical and politically viable.
G. The City will review and improve the procedures used during the collection, storage and return of property found at campsites. The City will endeavor to better connect property owners who are not present when their property is taken with the process by which they can recover their property. The City will document more carefully what is collected at campsites and what is left behind or taken away as trash.No word on why the City Council vote has been postponed. But there is little doubt that the proposed new regime on camping will spark lots of discussion in the weeks and months ahead.
H. The City will continue with its effort to provide more public bathrooms.
I. The City will fund an outreach effort that is sufficient to consistently make contact with aggregations of campers before they reach a size of eight.
J. The City will not rouse non-obstructing, otherwise lawful sleepers before 7:00 a.m.
K. The City will make these guidelines available to the public, and the City’s police officers will tell potential campers and outdoor sleepers about these guidelines.