Eugene Approves Parking Restrictions Aimed At People Living In Vehicles
Eugene city councilors passed an ordinance, 7-1, Monday restricting how long people can park in one spot. The move is meant to deter people living in vehicles from staying more than three days in one area.
The ordiance was spurred in part by complaints given by business owners in West Eugene and residents who have claimed people living in vehicles have become a nuisance to their business or neighborhoods citing waste, drug-use, and alleged crime.
New changes to city code prohibit vehicles from parking within the same block for longer than three days. Vehicles must be moved at least two-blocks away. Once moved, vehicles can't return to the same area for another three days. The ordinance redefines a block as encompassing both sides of a street between the two nearest cross streets.
The ordinance also includes recreational vehicles as a type of vehicle that's now prohibitted from parking overnight in front of places where people sleep including residences, apartment complexes, hotels and motels between the hours of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Councilors are expected to review the effectiveness of the ordinance in the fall.
The lone dissenting vote came from Councilor Matt Keating who said councilors are putting the "cart before the horse." He asked if they could amend the ordinance so that changes would apply only to industrial areas in West Eugene. Keating told councilors he has a neighbor who lives in an R.V. in his community and said she would be negetively affected by the ordinance.
"The argument would be 'well we're not necessarily targeting her, we would be focusing on this problem part of town,' that's not how it's written, and that equal application is important to me. I'm cautious and deeply saddened by how this disproportionately affects lower income people in our community," he said.
City Attorney Kathryn Brotherton said amending the ordinance Monday night was not possible. But, she said councilors could reject the ordinance on the table and direct staff to create a new ordiance.
Councilor Jennifer Yeh was among the seven councilors who voted yes. She said she understood the hesitancy of voting on the ordinace as is, but said vehicle camping is out of control.
“We’re working on this on two different fronts, right, we’re working on addressing these very problematic behaviors that are not acceptable and we can’t just move around the community and we’re working on things, places for people to be where they’ll be safe and they’re working together and they have to be seen together,” Yeh said.
Advocates have argued the move criminalizes homelessness and leaves the unhoused without a place to go. Councilors in support of the ordiance pointed to ongoing efforts to increase the number of Safe Sleep Sites, as a solution.
Councilors will meet Wednesday, June 23 for an update on homelessness.
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