PORTLAND -- The number of campers posted outside of Portland City Hall appears to be multiplying.
Security officers said they've seen a sizable increase over the past week.
Sleeping bags are strewn across the sidewalk. The makeshift camp includes a working BBQ, several dogs and piles of personal belongings.
"Looks like someone dumped off a garbage truck and spread it on both sides of the road," said demonstrator Graham Blaylock.
He and several homeless activists have been living outside of City Hall for more than 16 months to protest the city's camping ban.
"It makes it go from protest to homeless camp, which is kind of bothersome. They don't take us seriously anymore."
Demonstrators say a crowd of so-called "summer travelers" or "road warriors" moved in recently. Most are young transients passing through town.
"It is a distraction from what we are doing," said protester Angela Hammit.
The city tried to crack down on people sitting or lying on the sidewalks several years ago, but that ordinance was found to be unconstitutional.
Statewide legislation aimed at addressing the sidewalk issue died in committee.
Business leaders say something must be done. Downtown workers complain this sidewalk campground is intimidating.
"It has a big impact as far as the economy of downtown and just general livability for everybody," said Megan Doern of the Portland Business Alliance.
A spokesperson for Mayor Charlie Hales said downtown panhandling and homelessness will be among top priorities.