Groups file lawsuit against city of Portland, Mayor Hales over h - KPTV - FOX 12

Groups file lawsuit against city of Portland, Mayor Hales over homeless camping

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SE Portland homeless camp (Source: KPTV) SE Portland homeless camp (Source: KPTV)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

A collection of groups, organizations and businesses have filed a lawsuit against the city of Portland and Mayor Charlie Hales over the city's policies on homeless camping.

The lawsuit filed in Multnomah County circuit court states, "Although the Mayor purported to base his Camping Policy on a shortage of affordable housing in the city, the policy is an irrational response that does nothing to create affordable housing and runs contrary to the recommendations of civic groups on how to alleviate the city’s housing affordability issues."

The camping policy in question allows sleeping bags or tarps on sidewalks, and tents on rights of way other than sidewalks from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. No groups are allowed to have more than six people in any one location, according to the policy.

The mayor first announced he was seeking to declare a state of emergency to address homelessness in Portland in September 2015. A release from the mayor's office at the time stated declaring a state of emergency would allow officials to waive zoning codes and convert city-owned buildings into shelters through an expedited process.

The lawsuit alleges that the camping policy "exceeds the mayor's authority."

The lawsuit alleges the current camping policy, "is an impractical and irrational shortcut that has no possibility of fixing a serious, long-term challenge. Telling people to sleep on the streets is not humane."

The groups filing the lawsuit are Building Owners and Managers Association of Oregon, Cartlandia, Central Eastside Industrial Council, Clean & Safe District, Overlook Neighborhood Association, Pearl District Neighborhood Association and Portland Business Alliance.

The lawsuit states they are strong advocates for helping disadvantaged people in Portland, but it must be done, "in a humane way that promotes the health and safety of those experiencing homelessness and of all of Portland's citizens."

The lawsuit calls for Hales and the city to withdraw the camping policy and have it be declared unlawful.

A spokesperson for Hales said the mayor is currently in Europe and unavailable for comment, adding that the city has not yet been served with the lawsuit and the city's policy is not to comment on pending litigation.

Copyright 2016 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved. 

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