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Eugene Considers Ways To Restrict And Expand Where Homeless People Can Go

Rachael McDonald

The Eugene City Council heard public testimony Monday night on a proposal to expand places for people who are homeless to park and tent-camp.

The proposed ordinance would allow temporary establishment of “safe parking” and “safe tent” sites that are larger than what’s currently allowed under city code.

Erin Grady was among several speakers who urged the city to involve homeless people in decisions around where they’re going to go.

“So if you don’t have the unhoused help you create alternatives and instead you have city employees with masters degrees, as these other people put it, you’re likely to create a solution that no one will want to go to,” Grady said. “If that happens, you will waste 9-million dollars. Your solution will not work. And you will also do several large and violent sweeps of the camps that currently exist.”

Credit Rachael McDonald
Screenshot of map of West Eugene where parking restrictions could be put in place to discourage vehicle camping.

After a nearly four hour meeting on Zoom, the council decided to table a decision on the ordinance until their Wednesday work session. 

Earlier in the evening, councilors heard from city staff on a possible ordinance to restrict some parking in west Eugene to limit overnight vehicle camping in industrial commercial areas.

The proposal would make some streets no parking zones. Some property owners in the area have complained about overnight vehicle campers leaving trash and waste. Councilor Alan Zelenka said this remedy would simply move the problem somewhere else.

“This does smack a lot like we’re fixing one problem area and people are just going to move to another area because we’re not solving the problem,” Zelenka said. “Simultaneously, trying to solve the problem but we’re not going to get there. So this is clearly going to be, I think, a whack-a-mole problem.”

Other councilors said the city should provide legal places for vehicle campers to stay, and that restricting overnight parking is a slippery slope. The number of people without houses who are living in their vehicles has surged in Eugene this past year.

Copyright 2021 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.
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