SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — The Salem City Council is moving forward with changing rules for its sidewalk camping ban.
Salem residents gave testimony Monday night on the newest ordinance on homeless regulations.
“The proposed camping ban tells people where they can’t camp. But it does not tell people where they can camp,” said Salem resident Mark Wigg.
In early 2020, the council passed rules restricting people from sitting or lying on public sidewalks during the day — from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Current city code says people also can’t leave their tents and belongings unattended, which the city says it’s never enforced.
That controversial decision came at a time when downtown Salem businesses were struggling with the homeless crisis.
Now, the City of Salem needs to come into compliance.
“I see this as we are codifying recent case law, also new legislation from the state and also factoring our current practices. I think it’s an artful solution that does all those things,” said Salem Mayor Chris Hoy.
The new laws require the city to give three days’ notice before clearing camps. The city must also safely store the property it collects and there must be a public place homeless people can go.
The proposed Salem ordinance would repeal the city’s current restrictions for sitting and laying on sidewalks, as well as leaving unattended property.
But it would maintain camping restrictions in parks, building entrances, residential zones and vision clearance areas, like at intersections.
“It doesn’t stray us too far from our current practice,” Hoy said.
The council voted unanimously and the motion passed.