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City of Eugene increases penalty for willful violations of right of way on city streets

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Eugene City Council webcast
Eugene City Councilors at their Wednesday, April 27, 2022 work session.

Eugene City Councilors voted 6 to 1 Wednesday to increase penalties for willfully leaving property in the right of way on city streets.

This applies to construction materials, tents, and other debris that is in the right of way, even if it’s next to a sidewalk.

The council approved a maximum fine of $500, or jail-time, if an individual doesn’t move their property after being cited. Councilor Alan Zelenka clarified the intention is about safety.

“This is about willful refusal to comply after notice. And, it’s also not about camping everywhere,” he said. “It’s about camping in the street. Or other things in the street. In my neighborhood, some of the construction projects, I’ve had numerous complaints about safety issues around that.”

The amendment also allows the city to remove materials if necessary.

Councilor Claire Syrett said she heard from her constituents in Ward 7 who support the amendment, despite concern it could affect people who are unsheltered.

“Folks in my neighborhood have a lot of compassion,” she said. “They have a lot of tolerance. But there have been times and circumstances where these kinds of activities that this is trying to address have really just been untenable.”

Councilor Matt Keating opposed the amendment after sharing objections from the Human Rights commission who fear it could target people who are homeless. The ordinance does include community service as an alternative penalty.

Copyright 2022 KLCC.

Rachael McDonald is KLCC’s former News Director. Rachael has a BA in English from the University of Oregon. She started out in public radio as a newsroom volunteer at KLCC in 2000. After reporting for the Northwest News Network and KAZU, Rachael returned to KLCC in 2007 as Morning Edition host and a general assignment reporter covering politics, the environment, education, and the arts. She was hired as KLCC News Director in 2018. Rachael departed KLCC in June, 2022.