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Eugene ordinance would overhaul public camping restrictions

Melorie Begay
Eugene city officials perform a sweep on a homeless encampment in December 2020.

Eugene’s City Council is considering an ordinance that would make camping legal in some public spaces.

Currently, Eugene bans camping on public property without prior approval. But a recent state law says the city must account for homeless people seeking shelter.

Under a new proposal, camping on sidewalks would be allowed when enough space is left for pedestrians. And a sleeping bag alone would not trigger campsite restrictions.

The city would ban camping in proximity to the Willamette River, other waterways and educational facilities. Public parking lots would also be off-limits, and officials would enforce the boundaries with new fines.

At a meeting Monday night, Councilor Emily Semple said, for better or worse, the revised laws would be less vague than the existing ones.

“We are putting down lines as to where we're going to come after you and where we won't," she said. "So we want to make sure that we're okay with where those lines are.”

A public hearing for the ordinance is scheduled May 15.

Nathan Wilk joined the KLCC News Team in 2022. He is a graduate from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. Born in Portland, Wilk began working in radio at a young age, serving as a DJ and public affairs host across Oregon.
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