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People living on the streets, business owners have mixed reactions to Portland daytime camping ban

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Jun 10, 2023, 3:43:50 AM6/10/23
PORTLAND, Ore. — Reactions are mixed for a new daytime camping ban that
passed 3-1 by the Portland City Council on Wednesday.

The new ordinance, which was proposed by Mayor Ted Wheeler, bans camping
on city property between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. — requiring that tents and
other belongings be dismantled and removed by those daytime hours.

The ordinance also creates a complete camping ban on parks, within 250
feet of schools or childcare centers and along city-designated high crash
corridors. It includes sidewalks as well, to keep them clear for

People living on the streets can be warned to move their tents twice, but
on the third violation they can be fined up to $100 or face up to 30 days
in jail, or both.

"I don't want to go to jail, plus there's other reasons I don't want to go
to jail,” Lion Ryan, who is homeless, said. “Because it's dangerous in

City officials said the ordinance will focus on members of the homeless
community that refuse services.

But some people worry the ordinance will greatly affect their lives.

"I'm not too sure what I'm actually going to do," Ryan said.

Ryan is one of thousands of homeless Portland residents trying to navigate
the new ordinance.

"My thoughts really is... I'll comply and not live on the streets in a way
that they will catch me," Ryan said.

Commissioner Rene Gonzalez said Wednesday that almost no one will go to
jail due to the ordinance.

That’s led downtown business owners to question if there are "teeth" to
the punishment for those who violate the ordinance.

"That just means there's no teeth,” Bob, a downtown business owner said.
“I mean they don't have $100 to pay so they just won't pay it. So, what's
there going to be, a bench warrant? It doesn't make any sense, it'll be
ineffective, completely ineffective."

He said sales from his store have dropped 20% in the past year. Bob said
that’s due to people being afraid to visit his downtown location.

"I don't know why it's taken so long for the city to start addressing this
problem. It's just been getting worse and worse. We actually have a
maintenance person that hangs around here, and he's got two five-gallon
buckets full of used needs that he's picked up in the last two years."

He said the ordinance should be for 24 hours a day instead of 12 hours,
which was approved.

Bob believes there is too much government funding being allocated to
resources to help those experiencing homelessness.

Day shelters like Rose Haven don’t believe there is enough funding.

"This is going to be really hard for us as a day shelter,” Rose Haven
Development Director Liz Starke said. “Which, the city doesn't fund day
services currently. And we are already serving 120-150 people a day here."

Starke expects there to be severe repercussions from the ordinance.

"Many of the people that we are serving are already experiencing
intersecting physical and mental health issues," Starke said.

Starke said Rose Haven ordered 200 "shelter bags" to give to people living
on the streets. The bags can unzip for people to sleep in and have a hood
to protect people’s heads. They also have pockets where people can put
their belongings.

The city said it will begin implementing the ordinance in July, in a
“phased in approach”.

Multnomah County officials said they are also looking into the ordinance's
impact on county libraries, where many people who are homeless congregate.
Officials said it is too early to know the extent of the impact.
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