City could sweep camps from ODOT land faster under proposed law

Currently, per a 2011 court order, ODOT has to give campers 10-19 days' notice.

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Lawmakers in Salem are considering a bill that would allow the city of Portland, and any other city with more than 500,000 people, to clear homeless campers’ belongings from land owned by the Oregon Department of Transportation and do so following the city’s 48-hour timeline.

In other words, it would happen much faster.

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Currently, per a 2011 court order, ODOT has to give campers 10-19 days’ notice.

Local leaders testified at a public hearing Wednesday morning on Oregon House Bill 4054, arguing many of the same points laid out in a letter to Governor Brown in December.

That letter, signed by director of the Joint Office of Homeless Services Marc Jolin, argued if passed, the bill would allow for a more simpler, more transparent process when it comes to clearing camps.

“Through its 'One Point of Contact' system, the City of Portland notifies the community weekly of every encampment that is scheduled to be posted and that is cleaned-up. This allows the public (including housed residents, homeless people, and social service providers) to have a clear understanding of where and when clean-up activities are occurring. With an issue as potentially contentious as camp cleanups, this level of transparency can build trust and head off unnecessary misunderstandings and conflicts.”

The bill requires city officials notify social service providers of any planned sweep.

City staff say the goal would be to have workers from those agencies accompany crews, to offer campers access to programs that could help.

The city would also be required to store any belongings collected on ODOT land for 30 days.