Keizer leaders OK public property camping ban

Marion County

Ban is similar to Salem's recent camping ordinance

KEIZER, Ore. (KOIN) — Keizer city leaders unanimously passed a camping ban similar to Salem’s ban, which doesn’t allow camping on public property, sidewalks and right-of-ways.

For years, Keizer — like many cities — has had issues with homeless camping.

Though the camping ban is now in effect, homeless camps were difficult to find in Keizer on Tuesday. Keizer police said in the meeting, there are about 43 homeless camps at any time, but about 40 of them are empty currently. There are remnants of homeless camps near Cherry and Clearview.

Police officials said they work to make sure the homeless are not planting roots in a camp.

At the Monday night meeting, the Keizer city attorney said Salem’s ordinance defines campsites as having a tent or structure. But in Keizer, someone doesn’t need a structure to camp.

And if someone was found to be camping in Keizer, they can be cited.

“What we are doing tonight is ensuring that our public rights-of-way remain in service for which they were created,” Mayor Cathy Clark said Monday night. “Our sidewalks need to be passable for all people.”

As in Salem, the city is working to find places for the homeless to go. They’re looking at different locations and working to better connect the homeless to necessary resources.

She said the old Toys R Us building and Value Village as possible options, but said the reasons some places don’t work well is because of a lack of access to transportation.

Keizer residents also had a chance to speak on Monday.

“I ask if you do choose to support this ordinance what are you going to do for better services in this community?” Sandra said. “There’s not enough. We all know that.”

“We have to have a place where these people can go,” Richard Walsh said. “And when they say, ‘Where do I go?’ we should have an answer for them.”

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