Council reviews camping

 

Last updated 5/30/2023 at 11:34am



The Sisters City Council will have to take a second shot at nailing down policies on camping.

Councilors held a public hearing in consideration of the ordinance to establish camping regulations and removal policy.

According to the project information: “The camping ordinance intends to comply with ORS 195.550, which 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.”

Houseless and homeless advocacy groups within the community reviewed the ordinance and reportedly agreed with much of the language and processes in the ordinance. All councilors except Susan Cobb voted to adopt the ordinance based on the review process.

Without a unanimous vote to adopt the ordinance, there must be a second reading at the June 14 City Council meeting, where the Council will have the opportunity to vote again. 

Cobb voiced her concerns with some of the language in the ordinance. 

“Like Sisters, many cities are required to have ordinances regarding the unhoused or homeless in public spaces,” she told The Nugget. “These ordinances attempt to guard against a city being sued while assuring the health and safety of their residents and businesses when a city must manage homeless campers and noncampers. I am not convinced Sisters’ proposed Ordinance No. 529 meets the ‘humane treatment’ or ‘objectively reasonable as to time, place, and manner’ criteria under ORS 195.500 -530. Maybe I will learn my concerns are not well founded, but it certainly cannot hurt to have a rereading and perhaps improve the ordinance in a more humane and reasonable direction.”

Council President Andrea Blum was in favor of moving forward with the recommendations in the ordinance.

“I did not want to do this,” she said. “This is something we are required to do from the state; I think it’s not great timing; at the same time, we are required to do this because we have funding coming from the state that will hopefully alleviate some of the issues this is discussing.”

 

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