PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) – With Thursday’s big vote by Portland City Council on the camping ban and designated camping zones, Portlanders on both sides of the issue are reacting.
Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Dan Ryan have preposed a ban on homeless encampments while designating camping areas and bolstering resources for those experiencing homelessness.
For Old Town business owner Levi Martinez of Orox Leather, the proposal is a breath of fresh air.
“I think any type of effort that goes along trying to clean the streets, make sure they’re clear for people to walk through them, and make it seem like there’s businesses available and open will be very beneficial,” Martinez said.
Martinez said camping in Old Town has at times blocked his store off from prospective customers.
“We deal with it on a daily basis, we have to clean our front entrance,” Martinez said. “Whether that’s people defecating there or people leaving trash behind or people leaving drugs behind.”
On Thursday afternoon at Portland City Hall, Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty tried to amend Mayor Wheeler’s camping ban before the vote was taken. She said the city could move forward without a ban, and should work with community groups to point those camping on the streets to safer areas.
“I believe the city’s limited resources would be better used developing a plan to limit unsanctioned camping in collaboration with groups representing all Portlanders,” Hardesty said.
But no one on council wanted to move forward with Hardesty’s amendment, which was a pivotal moment for the ban on camping to move to a vote.
Hardesty said the Portland Police Bureau won’t have the resources to help enforce a camping ban if passed.
“Even if a ban policy is ultimately developed, we do not have enough resources to cite, arrest, jail, or process through the criminal justice system, anyone who does not have access to a camp,” Hardesty said.
Mayor Wheeler has outlined a timeline of a year and a half for the ban to go into effect and camping areas to be set up once funding is secured.
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