Monday, November 16, 2009

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Leave, says Mayor Adams to homeless campers outside City Hall
By Janie Har, The Oregonian

October 13, 2009, 5:31PM

Homeless campers assembled outside City Hall for the last two weeks were quietly booted out Tuesday morning by Mayor Sam Adams.

Homeless advocate Art Rios said the mayor arrived about 7:45 a.m. and told the crowd to leave. Adams' spokesman Roy Kaufmann confirmed the mayor's actions, saying that the city has a firm anti-camping ordinance.

"We recognize there's an issue to be addressed and we're working on it, but the anti-camping ordinance has to be enforced equitably and fairly," Kaufmann said.

The campers had been sleeping on the sidewalk outside City Hall since Sept. 28, arriving after city parks closed at 9 p.m. and leaving before 7 a.m. The number of people in sleeping bags ranged from a dozen to 23 a night. The group became visible Monday when they stuck around all day.

Rios and his group have called for a temporary ban of the camping ordinance and the creation of more shelter beds for the winter. They plan to hold a press conference at 7 p.m. tonight in front of City Hall.

In 2008, homeless people camped outside City Hall to protest sweeps. Then-Mayor Tom Potter let them stay, but was forced to ask police to move them out when the crowd swelled to 100 and got out of control.

In June, a circuit court judge threw out the city's ban against sitting or lying on sidewalks. But the city still maintains a prohibition against camping.

-Janie Har