The Multnomah County Circuit Court has issued a preliminary injunction that stops enforcement of this regulation while the litigation proceeds.
Interactive Camping Map: Click here.
Homeless and Behavioral Health Resources: Click here.
Printable Informational Tri-fold Handout:
On June 7, 2023, the 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.
On October 30, 2023, Mayor Wheeler provided a two-week notice ahead of the City's intent to enforce the camping ban.
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 District Attorney'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.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- Does this ordinance criminalize homelessness?
No, the ordinance amends existing 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 are “involuntarily homeless” will not be cited if they adhere to the objectively reasonable ordinance restrictions.
For additional context, existing code prohibits camping on public property at all hours of the day and can fine those not in compliance with up to $100 in fines, and enforce with up to 30 days in jail (though this is not currently enforced). Because that code could potentially violate HB 3115, the City is updating its code to specify that camping on public property is only barred from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.—an “objectively reasonable” standard as allowed under HB 3115.
- Where can people experiencing homelessness go during the day?
The ordinance clarifies the time, place and manner in which Portlanders experiencing homelessness can set up campsites and does not restrict their ability to sit, rest, or move freely around the city throughout the day with their belongings.
Portlanders can keep their belongings with them and/or utilize complimentary day storage containers. These facilities are staffed and open—and often underutilized. Additionally, we are looking at opening more day storage facilities and working with those running already operational day centers to increase capacity and services.
- For unhoused folks, what has education about enforcement looked like?
The City did not begin enforcement of this ordinance immediately as we spent the months since June focusing on an education campaign to inform the public about the changes and how enforcement would work.
City and County outreach teams who engage with homeless Portlanders and connect them with services have utilized the past four months to educate folks living on the streets of these ordinance changes. Along with verbal education, well-over twenty-thousand handouts were printed and distributed in a variety of languages. Our teams also delivered written materials, large-scale maps, and informational posters to day centers, libraries and other community-based partners that serve Portland’s unhoused population. Our team has also educated outreach providers and answered questions in a variety of meetings over the past few months.
- 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 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 multiple times since the ordinance passed 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) are only one resource in 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 is doing its share in getting more shelter spaces added to the shelter continuum. In the last six months alone, we have brought over 500 new spaces online. The second TASS currently being developed will provide up to 200 spaces when they open in the coming months.
These sites are temporary as the goal is to move people through these sites into permanent housing opportunities. We have over 40 people at the site paperwork ready to enter housing and 18 people have moved on from the site into housing.
- How will you determine who is “involuntarily homeless?”
The concept that someone may be “involuntarily homeless” comes directly from the Martin v. Boise decision and therefore it is the same concept for all 9th Circuit Court jurisdictions.
The ordinance will be phased in using a series of 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.
The City and County have an assortment of shelter options available with vacancies on a regular basis. The Mayor’s Temporary Alternative Shelter Sites, set to launch in the coming weeks, will house up to 200 homeless Portlanders at each location with the goal of connecting them to services. Similar models are also implemented in County shelter programs and Safe Rest Village models.
If a person does not have access to alternative shelter or housing because it is not available, then they meet the definition of “involuntarily homeless,” and the person may camp if they follow the time, place, manner regulations implemented by the City.
- 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 “campsite” incudes “any vehicle or part thereof,” so car/RV camping would be considered a campsite 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.
- Where can Portlanders store additional items during the day?
Portlanders can keep their belongings with them and/or utilize complimentary day storage containers. These facilities are staffed and open—and often underutilized. Additionally, we are looking at opening more day storage facilities and working with those running already operational day centers to increase capacity and services. We will be extending the day storage hours until 8pm.
- What about Portlanders with disabilities or elderly populations who may have a more difficult time complying with these changes?
We expect these groups to be one of the primary focuses for outreach and services through the City and County. This is also one of the reasons the phased approach will focus first on education and outreach.
Temporary Alternative Shelter Sites and Safe Rest Villages specifically accommodate partners, pets, and are ADA accessible for these specific concerns. They have been/are being designed with accessibility in mind.
- How does this ordinance relate to the recently approved American with Disabilities Act (ADA) settlement with the City of Portland?
The time/place/manner ordinance incorporates language from the ADA settlement, and they are not in conflict. Some components of the ADA settlement agreement are already being implemented.
- How does this ordinance impact Mayor Wheeler’s overall homeless priorities?
Mayor Wheeler’s goal is to eliminate the need for unsanctioned camping in the City of Portland. Vulnerable populations need to be connected to services via City and County shelter sites that will ultimately guide them into permanent housing. The Mayor and his team are steadfastly focused on developing these opportunities through Temporary Alternative Shelter Sites, Safe Rest Villages, County-led programs, and supporting our community-based partners.
- What does the Portland Camping Restrictions Map show?
The map shows only the restrictions on camping on public property and public right-of-way in Portland pursuant to Portland City Code 14A.50.020.C.2. The map does not show other limitations such as camping in the pedestrian use zone or the time and manner restrictions set forth in Portland City Code 14A.50.020.C. It also does not show other camping limitations imposed by state law or laws or rules of other jurisdictions (like trespassing).
- Will enforcement pause if all shelter beds are full?
If all shelter beds are full, the specific regulations on the time, place, and manner for campsites will remain in effect.
- 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.
- How will enforcers track how many warnings and individual has?
The Portland Police Bureau will document all warnings in writing and submit a report documenting the warning in its records management system.
- In what parts of the city will enforcers focus their limited resources?
Enforcement will narrowly focus on camps throughout the city that present the greatest health and safety risks. Again, this will take place in collaboration with the SSCC team.