Camp Cleanup & Response

Oregon City Main Street CampThe City recognizes the social nature of the problem of individuals camping on public property.

In September 2018, the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals case ruled in Martin versus City of Boise that it is unconstitutional to enforce ordinances prohibiting camping in public places against homeless individuals at times when no shelter is available. Oregon is part of the Ninth Circuit, so this decision applies to Oregon municipalities. A second ruling, Blake v. City of Grants Pass provides another example of case law explaining how municipalities can be in violation of the Eight Amendment if the person cited had no meaningful alternative to sleeping outside.

To assist in addressing this, the City of Oregon City created a Clean-Up of Unauthorized Campsites on Public Property Policy, as required by ORS 203.077. The purpose of this policy is to outline a process to ensure the humane treatment of individuals during removal from camping sites on public property and the proper storage and disposal of property from unauthorized camps. With clearer definitions and policies in place, the Police Department contracted with a homeless consultant and cleaning crew to partner on the ongoing effort to help individuals find shelter or housing and to enhance livability, cleanliness, and safety within the City.

In addition to the City's policy, two house bills affect homeless camp clean up and response. Both House Bills are summarized and can be found in the Related Documents section of this page.

House Bill 3115 establishes that by July 1, 2023, local laws regulating the acts of sitting, lying, sleeping, or keeping warm and dry in outdoor public spaces must be reasonable as to the time, place, and manner with regard to persons experiencing homelessness. The measure also establishes an affirmative defense that the law is not objectively reasonable for persons who are charged with violating a local law and allows a person experiencing homelessness to bring forward a suit to challenge the objective reasonableness of a local law.

House Bill 3124 lengthens the amount of time that a notice must be posted prior to removing homeless individuals from established camping sites from 24 to 72 hours. The measure establishes that unclaimed personal property must be given to a law enforcement official, a local agency that delivers social services to homeless individuals, an outreach worker, a local agency official, or a person authorized to issue a citation under the statues. For personal property removed from camping sites in Multnomah County, the measure specifies that the property must be stored in a facility located within six blocks of a public transit station. For all other communities, the property must be stored within the community from which it was removed.

Camp Cleanup Before & After

View before and after images of camp cleanups.

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