OE Endorses Petition to the City Council – Modify the Camping Ban

Petition to the City Council to Modify the Camping Ban


We, the undersigned are here to petition the City Councilors to modify the camping ban. Winter is coming and for the unsheltered it is a particularly difficult season that brings colds, flu, pneumonia, and exposure to the elements that can lead to frostbite and sometimes even amputations of toes and fingers. Amputations in turn lead to loss of balance and difficulty surviving on the streets.


We urge the city councilors to hold a work session in the next week or two. Fall is already here and winter is rapidly approaching. Since last year, the city and county have made some progress in housing veterans under the HUD voucher system. The city has also provided land for a transitional microhousing village and for two rest stops, with a possible addition of a third this December. However these three city-approved provide additional housing for approximately 60 individuals (75 with the possible addition of the 3rd rest stop).


Meanwhile, the Mission is full to capacity and does not accept individuals with addiction issues or those dependent on someone of the opposite sex for care. Car camping under St. Vinnie’s for the most part occurs on church or other private land and is limited to one to six individuals per site. Of the 3,000 unhoused individuals estimated by city officials, the vast majority are unsheltered or are self-sheltered on public land, which under city ordinance is illegal. Individuals self-sheltering on public or private land are frequently awakened and arrested. They lose their possessions if they are found sleeping on property signed “No Trespassing” because trespass charges may result in immediate arrest and loss of personal belongings.


Depriving fellow human beings of the possibility to shelter themselves when no adequate housing is available is a violation of their human rights.

While there is no doubt that the Lane County Poverty and Homelessness Board is doing its best to bring the treatment of the unhoused in line with Article 25 (1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which established housing as a human right, the reality is that a large number of Eugene’s residents not only don’t have housing, they are prohibited from seeking self shelter on public lands.


See City of Eugene Municipal Code : Section 4.815 – Prohibited Camping.

However, there are provisions in the Prohibited Camping ordinance that give the City Council the discretion to lift the camping ban for a designated period of time and in designated locations. Historically, the City Council has modified the camping ban on various occasions to alleviate homelessness. As far back as 1947, permission was granted for veterans to camp on public land in Eugene. The most recent accommodation was made in 2013 establishing legal rest stops and Opportunity Village Eugene.


While we are waiting for the Lane County Poverty and Homelessness Board to find solutions to the existing shortage of affordable housing, we request that the City Councilors  hold a work session and look for a way to modify the camping and trespass ordinances, allowing for self-sheltering and designating additional land for rest stops.


Nightingale Health Sanctuary, a relatively new group organized for the purpose of establishing and operating a self-governed village-style community focused on health and wellness, is currently working with the city to set up a winter camp, and has proposed several potential locations. Additional unused public land, such as undeveloped parkland and city parking lots, need to be designated for self-managed camps for individuals who need shelter.


There is simply no time to waste. Let’s work together with advocates, representatives of the unhoused, the mayor, and city manager to designate locations where people in need of shelter can camp unmolested. To alleviate health and sanitation concerns, the City would need to provide funding for port-a-potties, hand washing stations and trash pick up at these locations. These “amenities” would cost the city considerably less than enforcement of no camping and trespass ordinances, and clean up following evictions. It will alleviate to some degree the precarious situation of the unhoused for the winter season. And it will reduce the various health hazards associated with rousting campers from various locations, as was carried out en masse this spring and summer without offering the displaced individuals safe and legal shelter.



Amigos Multicultural Services Center

Community Alliance of Lane County

Human Rights Commission Homelessness Work Group

Houseless Solutions Support Committee

Nightingale Health Sanctuary

Occupy Eugene




City of Eugene Municipal Code :


Section 4.815 – Prohibited Camping

(1) As used in this section:

(a) “To camp” means to set up or to remain in or at a campsite.

(b) “Campsite” means any place where any bedding, sleeping bag, or other material used for bedding purposes, or any stove or fire is placed, established or maintained for the purpose of maintaining a temporary place to live, whether or not such place incorporates the use of any tent, lean-to, shack, or any other structure, or any vehicle or part thereof.


(3) No person shall camp in or upon any sidewalk, street, alley, lane, public right-of-way, park or any other publicly-owned property or under any bridge or viaduct, unless otherwise specifically authorized by this code or by declaration of the Mayor in emergency circumstances.

(4) Upon finding it to be in the public interest and consistent with council goals and policies, the council may, by motion, exempt a special event from the prohibitions of this section.  The motion shall specify the period of time and location covered by the exemption.

(Section 4.815 amended by Ordinance No. 19163, enacted July 11, 1983; and Ordinance 20062, enacted September 16, 1996, effective October 16, 1996).

















From an Occupier to Mayor Piercy: A Request for Sanctuary

Dear Mayor Piercy,

I have been asked by the Whoville Refuge Site to formally request that you offer them sanctuary as political refugees. I wish to argue that their rights, under both the U.S. Constitution and international law have been systematically violated. I further wish to argue that it is your responsibility as the Mayor of a Human Rights City to offer them sanctuary in order to remedy this situation.

I am sure you are familiar with the concept of “sanctuary”. During the Central American War of the 1980s networks of churches in America offered sanctuary to refugees from El Salvador and other countries victimized by an illegal war conducted by the U.S. government.

Municipalities have also acted as sanctuaries. When the Iraq was began in 1990 the city of San Francisco acted as a sanctuary to soldiers who refused to fight for reasons of conscience. More recently, San Francisco declared itself a sanctuary for undocumented workers. This is an apt parallel. Like the unhoused, undocumented workers have had their rights illegally and systematically violated by the American government at many levels. There is apt precedent for a city to act as a sanctuary.

As you know, the city of Eugene has systematically violated the rights of the unhoused by criminalizing homelessness through a series of patterns and practices.  The task force you formed in 2012 asked that laws criminalizing homelessness be examined and modified.  Instead, your city has escalated this practice. A letter to the city council from Eric Tars and the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty dated 14 July 2014 has outlined these practices and explained why they were on dubious grounds owing to the U. S. Constitution and international law.

Once more, rather than a reexamination of your city’s patterns and practices, we have seen an escalation.  Just this weekend, police, in contact with the refugees of Whoville, have claimed that the City Attorney has told them they no longer have to give 24 hours notice to people seeking shelter on public property, despite district court decisions to the contrary. The police have also threatened to confiscate the tents of people as “evidence” for illegal camping. Again, they said they were acting under instruction from the City Attorney. In the Winter months, for police to do so is tantamount to giving a death penalty for a second degree misdemeanor, which seems to constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

As you know, in the past year two United Nations Human Rights commissions have denounced the United States for its policy of criminalization. I should also like to point out that United Nation Commission on Torture has also taken up the issue of criminalization, and is consider whether many of the practices that Eugene, along with other cities, employs constitute torture..

In the three years since Eugene proclaimed itself to be a Human Right’s city, much progress has been made. For example, the city has acquired the internet domain name www.humanrightscity.com. Eugene would not be taking such a visible profile on the issue of human rights if it was not willing to take action, and to have its actions held up to scrutiny. To offer protection to victims of systematic institutional violence is the logical next step. If you wish to meet with the refugees, this can be arranged.

Thank you for your attention and consideration. I am,

very sincerely,

OE Endorses Fee Waiver for Whoville Shut-down Public Records

From Jean Stacey:

It would be a real loss in the power of our activism and a travesty of justice to the unhoused  to let the Whoville Closure continue to go unchallenged. Toward that end, we have requested public records on the Whoville Closure and need you to join us in our public records requests and in a request for a waiver of the quoted $652 fee for same (electronic copies only). Our justification for the waiver is that this information is for the benefit of the public as informed citizens and participants in our democracy.

In talking with Lauren Regan of the Civil Liberties Defense Center, she advised that we apply for the waiver rather than simply paying for the
information as we should establish a precedent that such information is entitled and that the government has the responsibility to produce it
(without creating a financial barrier).  This precedent will serve us well now and also on future requests.

There are huge contradictions on the Whoville Closure  between what was said in public, what was said in private, what was written and what actually happened.  Innumerable “misrepresentations” were made either during the process or by rewriting the history.  Understanding how it transpired will, hopefully, help us better navigate the city’s process next time to avoid similar tactics on their part, tactics that are frequently used on many issues (Capstone, City Hall to name a few) that make it nearly impossible to have transparency or accountability.

Please agree to put our joint “power” and ability to represent a wide array of citizens and investigative journalism behind this fee waiver