PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A tentative agreement has been reached in a class action lawsuit filed against the City of Portland claiming tents on sidewalks violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The agreement stipulates that the 10 plaintiffs will each receive $5,000 and the city must also pay any attorneys fees – which have been adding up since the lawsuit was first filed last September.
Attorney John DiLorenzo said the goal of the lawsuit wasn’t money, but rather to clear the city’s sidewalks from tents so that residents who are blind or in wheelchairs could use the sidewalks safely.
If the 12-page tentative agreement is approved by City Council, it would require the city to commit to five years of a long list of terms, including:
- Extend the ban on city employees and contractors passing out tents and tarps
- Prioritize the removal of campsites along sidewalks
- Ensure that 40% of all yearly campsite removals are devoted to keeping sidewalks clear
- Establish a 24-hour hotline that allows people to report obstructions on sidewalks
- Provide public reports every three months showing compliance with the agreement
The mayor’s office confirmed Thursday the council will review the terms at the regularly scheduled City Council meeting next week. The council will also vote on the mayor’s proposed ordinance to ban camping in certain areas.
KOIN 6 received a brief statement from the mayor’s office saying, in part, that he strongly believes everyone should have access to sidewalks to navigate the city safely.
Commissioner Carmen Rubio told KOIN 6 she will follow the recommendations of the city’s legal counsel and the mayor’s office.
“At the same time, I am pleased that the city has arrived at a plan to provide our houseless community members with urgent, interim housing options with services, in partnership with Gov. Kotek,” Rubio said in a statement. “We need Multnomah County as a partner in this work to build a fuller continuum of support for many different individual needs and to provide a path away from the houseless crisis.”
According to a statement from Commissioner Mingus Mapps, he is “in agreement with the terms of the settlement,” but cannot comment or speculate on the role of other jurisdictions.
Commissioner Dan Ryan said, “I support the implementation of the Settlement Agreement as it promotes equal access and addresses the needs of individuals with mobility barriers in our community. By adhering to the terms outlined in the agreement, we can create a more inclusive and accessible environment for all residents.”
According to a statement from Commissioner Rene Gonzalez, he supports “providing disabled citizens and all Portlanders relief from uncontrolled sidewalk camping.”
“Our office does not believe any governmental entity should be handing out tents for use on city sidewalks,” Gonzalez said in a statement. “We understand that between March 2020 and September 2022, the county’s Joint Office distributed over 22,000 tents and nearly 70,000 tarps and the city has been paying to clean up ever since. We need to get people out of unsanctioned camps and into shelter.”
KOIN 6 also reached out to every other commissioner, but we have yet to hear back.
Stay with KOIN 6 as we receive more information.