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As the number of people experiencing homelessness has increased, federal courts have issued decisions that restrict local governments’ ability to regulate or prohibit sleeping on public property when people experiencing homelessness do not have a shelter bed available to them. Additionally, in 2021 the Oregon Legislature passed Oregon House Bill 3115, which reinforced the federal court rulings and added requirements that any laws regulating lying, sleeping or sitting on public property must be reasonable to all stakeholders including people experiencing homelessness.

The City’s code must be updated to comply with these federal court rulings (Martin v Boise and Blake v Grants Pass) and Oregon House Bill 3115. The City must revise its camping code to include reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions about camping on public land. Time restrictions are when a person may camp, place establishes where people may and may not camp, and manner describes how people may camp such as not allowing open fires.

MEETINGS AND MATERIALS

See the list below for upcoming meetings and to review videos, presentations and materials from public meetings.

Date Meeting Agenda and Materials
11/28/2022 City Council Work Session, Camping Code Update
1/23/2023 City Council Work Session, Camping Code Update
2/6/2023 City Council Work Session, Camping Code Update
3/6/2023 City Council Work Session, Camping Code Update

Date: 11/28/2022
Meeting: City Council Work Session, Camping Code Update
Agenda and Materials:

Date:  1/23/2023
Meeting: City Council Work Session, Camping Code Update
Agenda and Materials:

Date: 2/6/2023
Meeting: City Council Work Session, Camping Code Update
Agenda and Materials

Date: 3/6/2023
Meeting: City Council Work Session, Camping Code Update
Agenda and Materials

The homelessness crisis is complex, and the Camping Code is just one piece of an overall response strategy. Cities rely on partnerships with other entities such as counties, which provide needed human services.

Lane County’s Role

Lane County’s Health and Human Services Department (HSD) provides health, housing, anti-poverty, and supportive services for low-income households and people experiencing homelessness. The county is the lead agency for the Lane County Continuum of Care (U.S. Housing and Urban Development or HUD program – planning body that coordinates housing and services funding for individuals and families experiencing homelessness).

There are also two applicable policy bodies including the Lane County Human Services Commission and the Poverty and Homelessness Board.

If your housing is at risk or you are currently experiencing homelessness, please visit Lane County’s Coordinated Entry webpage for resources and information.

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Coordinated Entry is the system and process that helps match different housing interventions with people facing a housing crisis. Resources you may be eligible for will depend on your situation.

City of Springfield’s Role

The City participates in addressing the homelessness crisis by designating federal and state funding to service providers supporting people experiencing homelessness. The City also provides safety services through police and fire, and unhoused camp clean ups. As the regulatory body for building and land use, the City also evaluates where and how new housing and related structures like shelters can be built in Springfield.

Learn more about how the City supports people experiencing homelessness at https://springfield-or.gov/city/development-public-works/homelessness-temporary-shelter/

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Frequently Asked Questions

The City’s existing code states “No person shall camp in or upon any sidewalk, street, alley, lane, public right-of-way, public parks, including roads and parking lots, or any other place to which the general public has access, or under any bridgeway or viaduct.”

The code was enacted in 2006, and since that time, the unhoused crisis has intensified across the nation.

See the City’s Municipal Code at https://library.qcode.us/lib/springfield_or/pub/municipal_code/item/chapter_5-public_safety-5_130

Federal courts have issued decisions that restrict local government’s ability to regulate or prohibit sleeping on public property (Martin v Boise and Blake v Grants Pass). Additionally, in 2021, the Oregon Legislature passed House Bills 3115 and 3124, which requires laws about sitting, lying, sleeping or keeping warm and dry outdoors on public property to be objectively reasonable to all stakeholders including persons experiencing homelessness.

In 2019, the Circuit Court of Appeals in Martin v Boise (920 F. 3d 584) held that it is unconstitutional for the government to punish people for certain conduct such as lying, sitting, or sleeping on the streets, that is unavoidable as a result of homelessness and there is no place for them to shelter. The court also determined that local governments could pass reasonable laws regulating when, where, and how persons experiencing homelessness shelter on public property. A later case, (Blake v Grants Pass) reinforced this ruling and also found that people sheltering outside because they had no place to go could take basic measures to stay warm and dry. It also found that access to a shelter depends on the situation. For example, if the only shelter bed available is for a single person and the person sleeping outside has a family or pets with them, that person does not have true access to that shelter bed because they could not bring their family or pet to the shelter with them.

In 2021, the Oregon Legislature took the court rulings and made them state statutes. They also required that reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions be in place by July 1, 2023, and that when passing these regulations, cities take into account the perspectives of all stakeholders including people experiencing homelessness.

When people experience homelessness and must shelter outside, they are often subject to many regulations that would not typically apply to people who are able to live in a private residence. For example, there are existing laws prohibiting littering, indecent exposure, drinking and urinating in public, obstructing access to building entrances, and open burning.

The City is required to update its camping code by July 1, 2023.

The first public hearing will be held at 7 pm, Monday, April 17 in the Springfield Council Chambers located inside City Hall at 225 5th Street. Community members can attend in person or virtually. The Council Meeting agenda is released the Thursday afternoon prior to the meeting and may be viewed at https://springfield-or.gov/city/city-council-meetings/. Once posted, the agenda will include a link to register to participate virtually if community members are unable to participate in person.

If you would like to provide additional input or have questions about the process, please email springfieldcao@springfield-or.gov

Informational Resources