Beaverton will allow regulated overnight car camping

Civic Affairs
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BEAVERTON, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — Beaverton has cleared the way for regulated overnight car camping in designated parking lots with sanitation and trash disposal facilities.

The City Council approved the ordinance Oct. 9, about three months after the council voted 4-1 to ban overnight car camping in streets and the public right of way.

But nothing further will happen until Mayor Denny Doyle proposes specific rules, and the council ratifies them by resolution, to carry out the ordinance.

The new ordinance is modeled on a program that Eugene has had since 1998, when that city and St. Vincent de Paul of Lane County set up a program for regulated use of parking lots of participating businesses, churches and public agencies. Springfield and Lane County have since authorized similar programs.

Eugene’s program limits each lot to six vehicles overnight — St. Vincent de Paul screens campers — and participating property owners must allow access to sanitation and trash disposal facilities. St. Vincent de Paul provides sanitation at no cost.

Councilor Marc San Soucie said Beaverton will ensure similar restrictions in its program.

“This is not carte blanche for anybody to camp in a commercial parking lot at any time,” he said.

“Nor can the owner of a commercial parking lot allow people to camp at any time. They have to be part of a program administered by the city. I just want to call attention to that.”

San Soucie said he was responding to a comment made by Karen Matson at the Oct. 2 council meeting.

“I think you open the door to allow that kind of thing to happen in our city,” Matson said then. “I don’t think it’s our job to solve that problem. I think there is a bigger topic to address.”

The council heard no other public comments on Oct. 9.

The latest action by the Beaverton council is a follow-up to its June 12 ban on overnight car camping in streets. The ban was passed after extensive public comments on May 1, June 5 and June 12.

The ordinance bans camping in the public right of way — camping is defined as setting up a temporary place to live — but requires police to issue a 72-hour written warning to a violator for a first offense. Police would be authorized to tow vehicles only if a person has received a city ticket for violation of the ban within 30 days of the current violation.

Maximum penalties are a $100 fine and 30 days in jail.

The ordinance enables police to order cleanups of illegal campsites and store personal belongings for at least 30 days, unless items are unsanitary or hazardous. Police can keep weapons, drug paraphernalia, and items that appear to be stolen or are evidence of a crime.

Beaverton Police will update the council at its meeting Tuesday, Oct. 16.

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