Council to establish camping rules

 

Last updated 4/18/2023 at 12:23pm



Sisters City Council is working on defining camping regulations on city-owned property. With an increased number of houseless people and more tourists coming into Sisters in the summer for events, camping regulations seemed like a natural next step to maintain public property including parks throughout Sisters.

City Attorney Jeremy Green walked the Council through the subject areas of the draft ordinance. The staff reached out to stakeholders and others who work with the houseless community, who viewed the proposed draft of camping regulations.

The ordinance comes from a state mandate requiring cities to have regulations in place for camping — defined as stated in the draft: “ORS 195.530 requires that any city law that regulates the acts of sitting, lying, sleeping, and/or keeping warm and dry outdoors on public property that is open to the public must be objectively reasonable as to time, place, and manner; and WHEREAS, the Council and City staff solicited input concerning City camping regulations from members of the community, including interested stakeholders and organizations that assist low-income and/or homeless members of the community.”

It is important to remember this ordinance presented is a draft, and will continue to be put forward to stakeholders, and will be word-smithed before the ordinance is officially adopted.

State statutes are put in place to give boundaries and regulations on public property. With an influx of houseless people and more people camping on public property, certain regulations must be put in place to establish what is allowed to prevent littering, danger to property and the public, etc. According to the draft, the ordinance is created to “maintain streets, parks, and other public areas within City in a clean, sanitary, and accessible condition, and adequately protect the health, safety, and public welfare of the community.”

The ordinance defines different areas that will be considered public property, which the City Council discussed. Councilors brought up the question as to whether the School District should be looped into these regulations, but that would have to be separately discussed and/or added in, as the School District owns all their property throughout the city.

The draft defines health and safety fees as well as fines if any regulations are violated

Essentially, these regulations need to be put in place to define what’s allowed, but it is up to the discretion of the city manager and sheriff’s deputies as to what level of violation or fine may be applicable in certain situations.

According to City Recorder Kerry Prosser, “These are the big walls that are put up to define the regulations, and then we can work softer in between.”

City staff will continue to draft the ordinance and bring it in front of stakeholders, and it will go to a public hearing. The ordinance, according to state regulation, has to go into effect by June 30, 2023.

 

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