Eugene to end temporary urban camping policy on March 19


Eugene Police patrol the Washington Jefferson Park in Eugene as the city works to relocate campers from the park.

A little after a year of implementing a policy allowing for urban camping, the city of Eugene is revoking those temporary rules on March 19.  

Staff shared the news Wednesday during a City Council work session.

“In consultation with Lane County Public Health, we plan to lift our COVID temporary camping stay in place criteria in conjunction with the governor lifting the indoor mask requirements,” said Matt Rodrigues, the city’s Public Works director. “Our intention in sharing this information is to provide the community advance notice of this change and clarity on the plan transition.”

The state initially announced it would lift the indoor mask requirement by March 31. That timeline has now moved up to March 19, state officials announced Thursday, as hospitalizations have dropped and “are projected to reach levels below those at the start of the omicron surge.”

Read more::Oregon to lift school, indoor coronavirus mask mandates March 19

Kelly McIver, the city’s spokesperson for unhoused response, said Thursday that means the city’s policy will lift March 19 as well.

City staff said at the work session 1,023 shelter units are available and they hope to add 115 more in the next six months. In January, there were at least 3,136 people experiencing homelessness in Eugene, according to data from Lane County’s Human Services Division. 

In late December 2020, the city shifted its policy from a ban of urban camping to temporarily allowing people to camp in city parks, as long as campers followed a set of rules.

The change came in the wake of public pressure after the city removed at least 100 people living beside the Interstate 105 bridge near the Whiteaker neighborhood with no alternatives to offer and discarded all belongings that remained. The decision drew attention and criticism, as it bucked Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance that encourages local governments to allow people to stay in place to minimize the spread of COVID-19. 

The city’s sanctioned camp in Washington Jefferson Park will close March 16, and its only other sanctioned camp closed in January.

The city’s policy has changed in practice incrementally through the past year. Currently, the city outlines the many rules urban campers must follow, including not disturbing vegetation or camping in neighborhood parks, at a webpage entitled “Report Concerns.”

Eugene Police patrol the Washington Jefferson Park in Eugene as the city works to relocate campers from the park.

While the policy has been in place for over a year, activists, nonprofit service providers and some people experiencing homelessness said the policy still left many in limbo as there was no place to go where they were sure they wouldn’t be moved. 

Policy vs. practice:A year later, Eugene allows people who are homeless to camp in policy, but not in practice

McIver said officials know the policy has been tough for people to understand at times.

While the stay-in-place order allowed urban camping, he said, there were still places people couldn’t go — such as riparian areas — and times when the city had to intervene, such as when encampments were causing health and safety issues.

“It did continue to be, I think, confusing for members of the public who didn’t well understand what was allowed and wasn’t allowed,” McIver said.

In a previous interview, McIver said enforcement of the city’s camping ban is “more likely” to happen if people violate the city’s camping guidelines. But “prioritized enforcement” didn’t mean camping by people who followed the city’s urban camping criteria was sanctioned, legal or protected.  

On Wednesday, Rodrigues said the city will continue to use its prioritization framework.

“It’s unlikely the community is going to see an immediate difference in the number of people camping,” once the guidance is lifted, he said. The city will work with outreach teams to provide assistance to people experiencing homelessness, Rodrigues said.  

McIver added enforcement is likely to look the same as well because of city staff’s limited capacity to respond after a request for service or similar complaint or observation of behavior.

“We will continue to respond based on priority around the situations with the greatest health and safety impact,” he said. “And the preference will continue to be asking for voluntary compliance with whatever prevailing rule is for whatever the situation that’s happening is.”



  • March 17: Lane County Public Health announces first COVID-19 case in the county.
  • March: The city of Eugene suspends its usual enforcement of illegal camping, per CDC guidance.
  • June 5: Regular enforcement of the city’s camping ban returned, CDC guidance remained the same.
  • Dec. 2: At least 100 people are removed from land beside the Interstate 105 bridge on the border of the Whiteaker neighborhood. Displaced campers were given no alternate shelter.
  • Late December: City changes its policy, following public pressure, to temporarily allow for urban camping and shared a detailed list of criteria residents of city parks would have to follow to be allowed to stay. 


  • March: City gets involved with volunteer-supported camp on West 13th Avenue and Chambers Street, installing services and surveillance. 
  • Oct. 4: City opened first Safe Sleep site at 310 Garfield St. 


  • Early January: Safe Sleep site Everyone Village opens. 
  • Jan. 18, 2022: City closed its supervised sanctioned outdoor camp at 13th and Chambers. Most residents are given the option to relocate to programs at St. Vincent de Paul.
  • Feb. 16: City announced its last supervised sanctioned outdoor camp will close March 16.
  • Feb. 22: City opened third Safe Sleep site at 410 Garfield St. with 86 indoor, heated spaces. 
  • March 19: Temporary urban camping policy will lift.

This is a developing story. 

Contact reporter Tatiana Parafiniuk-Talesnick at or 541-521-7512, and follow her on Twitter @TatianaSophiaPT. Contact city government watchdog Megan Banta at and follow her on Twitter @MeganBanta_1. Want more stories like this? Subscribe to get unlimited access and support local journalism.


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