Sources within City Hall tell WW that Mayor Ted Wheeler is preparing an administrative rule that would ban camping around the city’s planned safe rest villages.
The administrative rule would also ban camping on the route between a safe rest village and the nearest transit station. The rule’s intent is to prevent the safe rest villages, which the city seeks to establish in six neighborhoods, from becoming centers of tent camping on nearby streets, which has happened at the downtown C3P0 village which was established by the city. (At other villages, this has not been the case.)
The rule is likely to be announced in a joint statement today or tomorrow by Commissioner Dan Ryan, who’s leading the safe rest village initiative, and the mayor’s office.
The announcement may be bundled with a press conference tomorrow unveiling an emergency declaration by the mayor that could ban camping near highways and high-crash corridors, including state-owned land. That emergency declaration was first reported by The Oregonian.
The mayor’s planned emergency declaration Friday comes in response to a Portland Bureau of Transportation report Wednesday that one-third of Portlanders killed by cars last year were homeless.
The administrative rule banning camping around the safe rest villages is bound to be controversial. Neighborhood associations surrounding the announced safe rest village locations have asked Ryan’s office that such a rule be implemented for months now. But housing activists who object to camp sweeps will likely oppose the rule. Certain city commissioners may, too.
Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty has routinely opposed the practice of sweeping camps.
“I recently learned about potential executive actions relating to camping bans from media reports. I can confirm that neither my office nor the Portland Bureau of Transportation was consulted in the development of these actions. I’m eagerly awaiting more details and an opportunity to discuss this with my Council colleagues,” Hardesty tells WW. “I will have more to say later.”
In a statement to WW, Wheeler says that he is “grateful” for Ryan’s work on the villages and adds that “I know this buffer will give us the regulatory tools that will make this initiative a success.”
Ryan expressed his support for the rule.
“Villagers need safety and breathing room to begin their journey toward stability,” Commissioner Dan Ryan tells WW. “By enforcing a buffer, we will prevent triggering incidents that lead to relapse. Together, we can give unhoused Portlanders the trauma-informed support they need and make our community safer. We need action that is helpful for the neighborhoods and for Villagers building resilience.”
Commissioner Carmen Rubio and Mayor Wheeler did not immediately comment.