Camping Ordinance

Information
Public Camping Ordinance

On May 8, 2024, the Portland City Council unanimously approved the revised public camping ordinance introduced last month by Mayor Ted Wheeler.

These regulations are different from what the Council passed last year (2023), which is currently enjoined by the circuit court. The ordinance will repeal the previous code provisions and replace them with these new regulations. Namely, the new regulations:

  • Clarify the definition of camping.
  • Clarify the prohibition on camping for individuals who have reasonable alternative shelter or who decline an offer of reasonable alternative shelter.
  • Focus on the manner by which camping may not be done on public property.
  • Reduce the criminal sanctions and replace the warnings with a provision encouraging diversion.

Documents and Exhibits

Exhibit B


Manner

If a person has access to reasonable alternative shelter, they cannot camp on public property or the public right-of-way. 

Image shows graphic of tent with manner guidance

Also, if reasonable alternative shelter is not available, a person may not camp in the following manners at any time: 

  • Obstruct access to pedestrian use zone (i.e., sidewalk) or private property or businesses adjacent to the public right-of-way. 
  • Start or maintain any fire or use a gas heater in or around a campsite.
  • Assemble, disassemble, sell, offer to sell, distribute, offer to distribute, or store multiple bicycles or automobiles. 
  • Camp on property marked "no trespassing" by the City.  
  • Set up any type of permanent or temporary fixture or structure of any material(s) in or upon public property or public right-of-way. 
  • Dig soils, alter infrastructure, cause environmental damage, or damage trees. 
  • Store personal belongings, or other objects, more than two feet outside the tent.

Enforcement

Street Services Coordination Center, City Outreach, PPB Neighborhood Response Team, up to $100 fine and/or up to 7 days in jail. 

Post-citation diversion may include treatment, shelter, and services. The city will continue working with our partners at the District Attorney and Multnomah County Court offices on various alternatives.

Homeless and Behavioral Health Resources


Frequently Asked Questions:  

  • Does this ordinance criminalize homelessness? 

No, the ordinance establishes City Code that prohibits camping along the public rights of way. The goal is to connect people with services; not to impose punishment. Portlanders who do not have access to reasonable alternative shelter will not be cited if they adhere to the objectively reasonable ordinance restrictions.  

  • For unhoused folks, what has education about enforcement looked like?  

The City of Portland will focus on an education campaign to inform the public about the changes and how enforcement would work.  This effort will build upon the education and outreach efforts led by the City of Portland last year.

  • When will enforcement begin?

The ordinance takes effect immediately. Enforcement is expected to begin in the coming weeks.

  • How have police or other enforcers been trained to enforce the ordinance? 

The Portland Police Bureau and the Street Services Coordination Center team have been collaborating since the SSCC was established by the Mayor’s emergency declaration in 2022 and will continue to work together as enforcement begins. Representatives from the Mayor’s team, PPB, SSCC, and the City Attorney’s office have met and will continue to meet to discuss and establish standard operating procedures to guide appropriate enforcement. These discussions will continue as enforcement begins.

  • Is the city opening additional shelters as enforcement begins? 

Temporary Alternative Shelter Sites (TASS) and Safe Rest Villages (SRV) are only one resource in the overall shelter availability in the city. Outreach teams across the board offer a variety of shelter opportunities to folks seeking shelter, including congregate options, pods, and more. The City of Portland anticipates opening a total of 868 shelter units by Fall 2024.

  • How will you determine if someone does not have access to reasonable alternative shelter?  

Alternative shelter is defined as including congregate shelter, transitional housing, hotels, motels, or other buildings designed for overnight sleeping.  The shelter option must be reasonable based on the needs of the individual.  

  • Will the city hold beds for outreach teams to be able to offer to people they make contact with living on the streets?

Yes, we have an ongoing agreement with our County partners that sets aside congregate shelter beds for the Mayor Wheeler's Street Services Coordination Center team to utilize during outreach. 

Additionally, we have ongoing access to the ever-growing city shelters. The City of Portland recently developed and launched an app used by our outreach teams that show real-time shelter bed availability. Through the City and County's Homelessness Response Action Plan (HRAP) announced earlier this year, we are continuously looking at ways to improve data-sharing between our teams to better serve the community.

  • How do I report a campsite? Should I call 911?

No, do not call 911 to report a campsite. The City of Portland’s Campsite Reporting System is the mechanism community members can use to report issues of illegal camping or related garbage within Portland. There are two ways to report a campsite using the Campsite Reporting System. Please use just ONE of the following methods:

  1. Click here to report a campsite
  2. Calling 311.     
Pedestrian Use Zone
  • What is a pedestrian use zone?

A pedestrian use zone (or through zone) is an area specifically designated for pedestrians to safely navigate the City. Keeping these areas clear helps ensure Portlanders can get to and from places, particularly those with limited mobility, strollers, etc. 

  • Does this ordinance apply to vehicles (cars and/or RVs?)

The definition of “camp material” incudes “any vehicle or part thereof,” so car/RV camping would be considered a camp material subject to the ordinance.

  • Are you concerned about the legality of this ordinance? 

We believe this approach is legally sound and that these measures are necessary at this time.   

  • How does this ordinance relate to the recently approved American with Disabilities Act (ADA) settlement with the City of Portland? 

The Mayor’s ordinance incorporates language from the ADA settlement, and they are not in conflict. Some components of the ADA settlement agreement are already being implemented.  

  • What happens to this ordinance if the Supreme Court overturns Martin v. Boise?

The Mayor’s proposed revised camping ordinance seeks to ensure that City of Portland policies comply with State law. In 2021, the Oregon Legislature passed House Bill 3115, which mandates that any city law regulating acts such as sitting, lying, sleeping, or keeping warm and dry outdoors on public property must be objectively reasonable in terms of time, place, and manner. Regardless of what decision is made in the Grants Pass v. Johnson case, we are still required to comply with HB 3115.

  • To get a camping fine waived, how long must people stay in shelter? 

Those who accept offers of shelter will not be cited. For those who are cited, it will be up to the courts to determine what requirements will result in a waiver of possible fines. The City strongly supports waivers and alternatives to the imposition of criminal punishment for individuals who accept services.

  • In what parts of the city will enforcers focus their limited resources? 

Enforcement will begin narrowly focused on camps throughout the city that present the greatest health and safety risks. Again, this will take place in collaboration with the SSCC team.