Wheeler proposes camping ban in Portland during daytime hours

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler introduced changes to the city’s camping ordinances, including a ban of camping in certain locations from 8 a.m. to 8p.m.
Published: May. 25, 2023 at 4:39 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - On Thursday, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler introduced changes to the city’s camping ordinances, including a ban of camping from 8 a.m. to 8p.m.

This comes as the city works to quickly build sanctioned campsites and outdoor shelters.

A state law passed in 2021 says these kinds of local camping ordinances must be in line with state rules by July 1, 2023. The mayor’s office said that the proposed ordinance aligns with state law.

“My goal is to have enough shelter, housing, and treatment access available so that we can fully eliminate unsanctioned, unsheltered camping in Portland,” said Wheeler in a statement on the proposed ordinance released Thursday. “We must continue to develop workable, and compassionate means to connect people to the services they need to get off and stay off the streets. These changes are critical to the city’s compliance with state law and vital to our community’s ability to return to the vibrant place we all love.”

The proposed ordinance would include warning systems for people camping unlawfully as opposed to immediate fines or arrest under current rules. Enforcement of the ordinance will be overseen by the Portland Police Bureau and city outreach workers.

The consequences of violating the ordinance as proposed are:

  • Written warnings for first and second violations
  • A $100 fine, 30 days in jail or both for a third violation

The city says repeat offenders after this will likely be placed in a diversion program through the district attorney’s office to find shelter or get help.

“I will support any efforts to create alternatives to criminal sanctions for violations, whether its acceptance of service referrals, completion of community service, or restorative justice participation,” said Wheeler about repeat offenders. “I’m fully behind creating pathways out of the system for those who want help”

Also, according to the proposed ordinance, there will be no camping allowed at any time:

  • On sidewalks
  • In parks
  • Other areas for pedestrians
  • Near schools and daycares
  • Near existing shelters
  • In areas that block access to businesses
  • Next to roads with high risks of car accidents.

Any fires or gas heaters at camps are also banned in the proposed ordinance.

The city says shelter will be offered to anyone being cited before any warnings, fines, or arrests are made and that penalties will only be given to people who refuse shelter.

City commissioners are scheduled to vote on the ordinance next Wednesday.