Re: Portland to resume homeless camp sweeps/cleanups


Tim McCormick
 

about the City of Portland's camping ban, and constitutional (Martin v Boise) objections: 
Candee mentioned ordinance 14A.50.050 banning unpermitted "Permanent or Temporary Structures on Public Property". However, there is also section 14A.50.020, Camping Prohibited on Public Property and Public Rights of Way (full text below), which bans unpermitted campsites, including use of any type of bedding material for "a temporary place to live." 

Since in Portland it would often be, for many people, life-threatening to sleep outside with no bedding, it apparently would be -- by the 9th Circuit's 2018/2019 Martin v. Boise holding's reasoning -- unconstitutional, because "cruel and unusual punishment," to punish someone for sheltering/bedding themselves in such circumstances, if that circumstance were unavoidable to them. That is, if there were no other place in the city they were reasonably able to be -- as seems to be to the case, because there is insufficient shelter space, and the camping ban applies to all public property citywide. 

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I am honestly curious, therefore, how City of Portland officials/staff regard the city's camping ban in light of Martin v Boise. I'm sure they've considered it, and likely received legal counsel on the matter, internal and perhaps external. On the other hand, they may not have resolved the point, and it is common across US cities to have similar camping bans and (for those in the 9th Circuit's jurisdiction) to be in some kind of ambiguous/untested state of Martin v Boise compliance. It could be they don't (yet) see a credible threat of any legal action on these grounds. 

Two weeks ago, I and other PDX Shelter Forum organizers met with Seraphie Allen, Mayor's Office Senior Policy Advisor with "oversight in homelessness", and relatedly asked what the procedure would be in resuming dislodging of unhoused campers. She said, and I'm trying sincerely to correctly paraphrase from memory here, that campers would be advised of shelter availability; and, shelter space would be opening up. When asked how many spaces, she said about seven new ones were expected to open soon. 

From this it sounds like the City may be planning to have, as defense for dislodging campers, a current availability of shelter beds. This leads to issues of what can be validly considered available to a given camper, how city workers or campers can know this at a given moment, and whether it meets Martin v Boise's test of there being more shelter spaces, or alternative places, available than currently unsheltered persons. Cities as in San Francisco may (or may be accused of) keeping some spaces artificially open, or open only to referral from the relocation crews, etc. One way or another, cities would like to be able to say they have shelter or some alternative place for unhoused residents to go. 

In the interest of informed discussion, I am going to copy this note to, and invite any comment or clarification about the Martin v Boise point from, Seraphie Allen, and also Zach Kearl of the Mayor's Office, who was also on that call. He's a recent M.P.P. graduate and "Hatfield Resident Fellow serving as a policy advisor on homelessness and urban camping impact programs" -Mayor's office staff page. Thank you to Seraphie and Zach for engaging with us, and any light you can shed on this complicated matter, likewise to anyone on this list who can advise.  
-Tim 

14A.50.020 Camping Prohibited on Public Property and Public Rights of Way.
A. As used in this Section: 
1. "To camp" means to set up, or to remain in or at a campsite, for the purpose of establishing or maintaining a temporary place to live.
2.  "Campsite" means any place where any bedding, sleeping bag, or other sleeping matter, or any stove or fire is placed, established, or maintained, whether or not such place incorporates the use of any tent, lean-to, shack, or any other structure, or any vehicle or part thereof.
B.  It is unlawful for any person to camp in or upon any public property or public right of way, unless otherwise specifically authorized by this Code or by declaration by the Mayor in emergency circumstances.
C. The violation of this Section is punishable, upon conviction, by a fine of not more than $100 or by imprisonment for a period not to exceed 30 days or both.


--
Tim McCormick
Editor at HousingWiki, Organizer at Village Collaborative
Portland, Oregon 


On Sat, Jul 11, 2020 at 4:32 PM Candee Wilson <candee@...> wrote:
The Idaho case forbids the city to ticket anyone "camping" in public places if there is nowhere else for them to go. In other words, they cannot criminalize homelessness. This simply means that anyone sleeping or camping on the sidewalk cannot be removed either by ticketing or forced evacuation unless they provide an alternative place to go.

Unlike Boise, Portland has an ordinance that reads:

14A.50.050 Erecting Permanent or Temporary Structures on Public Property or Public Rights of Way.

A.  It shall be unlawful to erect, install, place, leave, or set up any type of permanent or temporary fixture or structure of any material(s) in or upon non-park public property or public right-of -way without a permit or other authorization from the City.

B. In addition to other remedies provided by law, such an obstruction is hereby declared to be a public nuisance. The City Engineer, City Traffic Engineer, or Chief of Police may summarily abate any such obstruction, or the obstruction may be abated as prescribed in Chapter 29.60 of this Code.

C.   The provisions of this Section do not apply to merchandise in the course of lawful receipt or delivery, unless that merchandise remains upon the public right of way for a period longer than 2 hours, whereupon the provisions of this Section apply.

D.   The provisions of this Section do not apply to depositing material in public right-of-way for less than 2 hours, unless the material is deposited with the intent to interfere with free passage or to block or attempt to block or interfere with any persons(s) using the right-of-way.

Portland, also, cannot ticket someone sleeping in a public space, but it can remove tents. This is why you will see a lot of people sleeping in sleeping bags or under blankets or on cardboard on our sidewalks. The police cannot ticket them or have them removed unless the are blocking public access and it does not prevent private security from removing them from private property. But they can remove tents or other "structures." Since most of the tents are occupied by people, both the tents and the people get "swept." BTW, the city is now referring to the sweeps as "clean-ups." 

Due to the Corona Virus, the Mayor has put a halt to the clean-ups which is why we are seeing all the tents on the streets, especially in Old Town where it has become an untenable situation.

Everything else you say, I completely agree with.

Candee Wilson
411 NW Flanders St. #406
Portland, OR  97209
503-789-0332
On 7/10/2020 9:46 PM, Jeff Liddicoat wrote:



On Jul 10, 2020, at 11:01 AM, David Dickson <dicksondavidk@...> wrote:

 There is also the Boise, Id court decision of 2019.  It states that a local jurisdiction cannot outlaw unsanctioned camping unless it provides adequate sanctioned alternatives to campers.  In December 2019 the US Supreme Court let that ruling stand.  The decision is based on the fact that making unsanctioned camping illegal without providing an alternative amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.  (I invite other more astute legal minds to offer additional thoughts here.)  Some might argue that walking past an unsafe and unsanitary camp that endangers the housed community but even more the unhoused community is in itself cruel and unusual punishment.

The plan to provide sanctioned and humane alternatives to fully meet the needs of our unhoused population allows the city to free itself from the terrible situation of unsanctioned camps.  This will take time and be tremendously challenging, but if we don’t establish this as a goal, we will surely never get there.

And for those who argue (rightly) that putting campers "out of sight and out of mind†, as has been done in jurisdiction like New York City, it becomes even more critical to link services and a commitment to self reliance to the alternative sheltering approach.  Mental health and addiction services will be required and necessary to address the more complex needs of some campers.  Self governance, including agreed upon rules and the requirement that everyone contributes (cash or work) to the good of the whole will be important.  And last but not least, there must be a commitment to self sufficiency and employment through  vocational training and job placement services.  Self sufficiency and self esteem are the products of employment.  Without this â€œpeople oriented solution†, a focus on shelter only will never succeed.

david

On Jul 9, 2020, at 9:00 PM, Andy Harris <andyharrismd@...> wrote:

Thank you for clarifying.

Andy

From: <pdxshelterforum@groups.io> on behalf of Candee Wilson <candee@...>
Reply-To: <pdxshelterforum@groups.io>
Date: Thursday, July 9, 2020 at 3:25 PM
To: <pdxshelterforum@groups.io>
Subject: Re: [pdxshelterforum] Portland to resume homeless camp sweeps/cleanups

The ACLU's most important Supreme Court case involving the rights of people with mental illness was filed on behalf of Kenneth Donaldson, who had been involuntarily confined in a Florida State Hospital for 15 years. He was not dangerous and had received no medical treatment. In a landmark decision for mental health law in 1975, a unanimous Supreme Court ruled that states cannot confine a non-dangerous individual who can survive on his own, or with help from family and friends.

This and a number of other decisions has led to the inability to help the mentally ill unless "they are a danger to themselves or others." Once reaching adulthood, there is literally nothing a person can do to effect involuntary treatment. I have three friends who have tried everything to get treatment for their relative to no avail. To date, one has died and the other two are homeless because they won't get/refuse treatment and they can't live in the housed community due to their continuous disrupting behavior.
Candee Wilson
411 NW Flanders St. #406
Portland, OR  97209
503-789-0332
On 7/9/2020 2:35 PM, Jim Krauel wrote:
Candee, Which rights that were granted to "them" by the ACLU would you like to see stripped ?

"Thank the ACLU for giving them so many rights that even when people want to help them, they can't."

On Thu, Jul 9, 2020 at 1:58 PM Andy Harris <andyharrismd@...> wrote:
Candee,

Please say more about, "Thank the ACLU for giving them so many rights that even when people want to help them, they can’t.†Â What is the background here, and what is the issue you are addressing?

Thank you.

Andy Harris

From: <pdxshelterforum@groups.io> on behalf of Candee Wilson <candee@...>
Reply-To: <pdxshelterforum@groups.io>
Date: Thursday, July 9, 2020 at 11:15 AM
To: <pdxshelterforum@groups.io>
Subject: Re: [pdxshelterforum] Portland to resume homeless camp sweeps/cleanups

Don't know if this is how to respond, but I don't know another way.

Sweeps are a double-edged sword. On one hand, they are disruptive to someone whose only home is a tent. On the other hand, tent camping on sidewalks is a violation of a city ordinance. Until the city/county/state begin providing a place where tent campers can safely place a tent, sweeps will continue because the campers won't move unless they are forced to. I do not object to sidewalk camps being swept. They are not supposed to be there in the first place. I think it's wrong to sweep those that have set up a tent in out-of-the-way, inconspicuous places where they aren't bothering anyone for lack of having an alternative place to go that wouldn't be swept. There should be legal camping spots throughout the city/county/state. The homeless have a way of creating communities and policing themselves if left to their own devices. Of course, those with mental health and addiction issues present an entirely different set of problems. They tend to be outcasts in both the homeless community and the general community at large. Thank the ACLU for giving them so many rights that even when people want to help them, they can't.

Until the city/county/state come to terms with the fact that they cannot build their way out of the homeless crisis anytime soon, either through affordable housing, supportive housing or shelters, we will continue to have this discussion.
Candee Wilson
411 NW Flanders St. #406
Portland, OR  97209
503-789-0332
On 7/9/2020 12:06 AM, Tim McCormick wrote:
The City of Portland is officially resuming 'sweeps', or 'cleanups,' of homeless camps, focusing on those with 8 or more structures, blocking sidewalks or entrances, or with reports of criminal behavior or conspicuous drug use.
WW article: https://www.wweek.com/news/2020/07/07/portland-to-resume-homeless-camp-sweeps/.

Notice from Office of Management and Finance, Homelessness and Urban Camping Impact Reduction Program (HUCIRP), posted late last month:
https://www.portlandoregon.gov/toolkit/article/756745.

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Note, the term 'sweeps' is generally used by opponents of these practices, while officials in Portland say 'cleanups.' 'Cleanups' is fairly well-defined, as the city's current practices; 'sweeps' is less so -- for example, does it imply that campers are not offered alternative acceptable shelter, or assistance in moving belongings? or that they would risk arrest for not complying? Could there be some form of, say, 'relocation' of campers that is not a sweep?

We realize this is a very polarizing, conflicted, and complex situation. Please give us, especially, considered thoughts on this situation. If you are opposed to 'sweeps' or 'cleanups,' tell us what you might propose as alternative, or how else to address concerns of officials and people who support them.

If you support them, tell us why you think others don't, and how their concerns might be addressed. 

Note, we had staffers from HUCIRP, representatives from Downtown and N. Portland neighborhood associations who've particularly raised concerns on this, and organizers from Stop the Sweeps PDX coalition, at the PDX Shelter Forum the other week. We particularly invite comments from them, and thank them for coming together in this discussion. Â 
Tim

--
Tim McCormick
Editor at HousingWiki, Organizer at Village Collaborative
Portland, Oregon 

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tjm.org/about / @tmccormick


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