More than 200 Laurelhurst residents and business owners met with a cadre of city officials in mid-June in the All Saints cafeteria to discuss and seek solutions to “decreased safety and livability” resulting from scores of homeless campers committing criminal acts on the streets.
In the final half hour of the two-hour session, the Laurelhurst Neighborhood Association Safety Committee proposed that Portland’s City Council enact a new ordinance to create Safe Zones within 1,000 feet of where minors gather to learn and to play.
The committee drafted and presented the ordinance to protect children from unlawful and inappropriate behavior, specifically use, possession and distribution of drugs; public urination/defecation; and unauthorized camping, with a 1,000-foot radius of safety for all athletic fields, parks, beaches, recreational facilities and community centers.
Commissioner Dan Saltzman – the only member of the city council attending – said that while he and Mayor Ted Wheeler were on the same page in seeking a solution to problems some homeless people may cause, the balance of the council was divided on how to solve the problems. “We have to get our act together,” Saltzman said.
The document presented to Saltzman at the meeting contained a fully written proposed ordinance with proposed edits of Portland City Code Title 14A.50.020 for presentation formally to the full council. At publication time, no estimated timeline for public hearings, council votes and implementation was available.