PENDLETON, Ore. (AP) — A city northeastern Oregon will soon allow people to sleep outside on city-owned property, provided it’s not in a park, parking lot, alley or sidewalk and within a designated eight-hour time period.
The Pendleton City Council this week passed an ordinance establishing rules for temporary rest on public property, The East Oregonian reported.
It attempts to create restrictions to homeless camping on public property while complying with recent federal court decisions that made it illegal to punish people for public sleeping unless there is an alternative option.
City Attorney Nancy Kerns said the ordinance was a collaboration between herself, City Manager Robb Corbett and Police Chief Stuart Roberts.
“We created the ‘right to rest,’” she said.
Starting in November, people will be allowed to sleep on select city properties. Asked to clarify which properties, Kerns said there are 203 parcels of city-owned property, and only 23 could be excluded as parks. The legal resting period will be 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., according to the ordinance.
While violation of the ordinance could result in fines, Nelson said police are looking to education first.
American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon interim legal director Kelly Simon told the newspaper that while she appreciates the city's desire to change its laws in the wake of federal court rulings, the ordinance remains punitive at its core.
She said cities should pass laws that are more affirmative in connecting homeless to shelter and services rather than determining what they can’t do.