City Council Passes Ordinance Updating City Code, Specifies that Camping on Public Property is Barred from 8am-8pm

News Article
The amended city code prohibits unsanctioned camping along public rights of way as an ‘objectively reasonable’ standard as allowed under Martin v. Boise and HB 3115.

Today, Portland City Council passed amendments to update existing public camping restriction policies. This ordinance puts the City of Portland in compliance with House Bill 3115 which was adopted by the Oregon Legislative Assembly in 2021. The updated code aims to provide reasonable time, place, and manner camping restrictions for those experiencing homelessness. Enforcement of the amended city code has also been updated and will be implemented through a phased-in approach beginning in late-July at the earliest.  

“I want to thank my colleagues on the Portland City Council for passing these reasonable restrictions which are now codified in City Code,” said Mayor Wheeler. “The next few months will be focused on education and outreach – with an emphasis on ensuring the homelessness navigation outreach teams have clear and thorough information on this new ordinance. These reasonable restrictions, coupled with our work on increasing shelter availability along with access to services, are a step in the right direction toward a revitalized Portland.” 

Time restrictions that prohibit day camping: The ordinance amends code to allow an involuntarily homeless person to camp in non-restricted areas between the hours of 8 pm and 8 am. After 8 am, the person must dismantle the campsite until 8 pm.   

Place restrictions: The code changes specify several places where camping is always prohibited. Restrictions include, but are not limited to, the pedestrian use zone, 250 feet from a school or childcare center, in the public right-of-way along the High Crash Corridor, and City Parks. 

Manner restrictions: Prohibitions include use of gas heaters in or around a campsite, obstructing access to a private property or business adjacent to the public right-of-way, alterations to the ground or infrastructure, environmental damage, and the accumulation or leaving behind garbage, debris, unsanitary hazardous materials, sewage, or drug paraphernalia. 

Enforcement: The ordinance will be phased in using written warnings before someone is subject to criminal enforcement.  If a person has been offered alternative access to shelter or housing, and they decline to use those alternatives, then they are prohibited from camping anywhere in the City because they have an alternative place to go.  If a person does not have alternative access to shelter or housing because it is not available, then the person may camp if they follow the time, place, manner regulations implemented by the City.  Those who do not adhere to the restrictions will receive two initial warnings (and education of the updated rules).  The third violation will be subject to criminal enforcement with fines or jail time, though the DA's office will be focused on seeking alternative sentences, which the City fully supports. Enforcement of this ordinance is intended to be a tool to connect people with appropriate resources, while also addressing behavior that is damaging to our community.