Portland mayor bans camping ban along school routes


The order expands an existing ban on camping in high crash corridors to include areas around school buildings and on ‘priority routes’ for walking to schools.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler announced an emergency declaration Friday to ban camping near school campuses and along walking routes leading to and from schools.

“With the start of the school year approaching, I am taking this additional action to help ensure the safety of school-age children, especially those in elementary and middle schools, as they travel to and from local schools,” he said in a statement. “School-age children should be able to walk, bike, and ride buses to get to and from schools without potentially dangerous hazards as a result of encampments, including trash, tents in the right-of-way, biohazards, hypodermic needles, and more.”

Wheeler’s office said he would be unavailable for comment Friday.

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Wheeler’s office describes the ban in a news release as an expansion of a prior emergency order that the mayor enacted in February to ban camping along high-crash corridors after a report revealed that 70% of the city’s pedestrian fatalities last year were homeless residents.

The updated declaration prohibits camping within 150 feet of school buildings and along “Primary Investment Routes,” which refers to a network of streets and corridors identified as likely to have a high density of students walking to and from school.

The routes were identified in 2016 by Safe Routes to School, a program developed as part of the implementation of a gas and heavy vehicle tax that Portland voters passed that year to raise money for street maintenance.

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The city’s map of the Primary Investment Routes is embedded below. Schools are marked in purple and the Primary Investment Routes are highlighted in gray (the map needs to be zoomed in to a certain level for the routes to be visible).

The declaration will prioritize the removal of camps in those areas, according to the news release, and will enable staff to keep the sites free of camping with no right of return.

The expanded version of the declaration takes effect immediately and is set to expire Aug. 31, but a spokesperson for Wheeler said the mayor’s office intends to renew it every two weeks.

The original version of the high-crash corridor camping ban was similarly scheduled to only last about two weeks, but was repeatedly renewed and has remained in effect constantly since it was first implemented.


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