HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

A new addition on the Dave Clark Path

Written May 27th, 2022 by Hasso Hering

On the Dave Clark Path, under the Lyon Street Bridge, on Thursday afternoon.

There have been improvised homeless camps along the Willamette River in Albany for years, but not up on the Dave Clark Riverfront Path — until now.

The pile of stuff in the photo above has been set up on the side of the Clark Path underneath the Lyon Street Bridge for at least a week.

It’s not clear whether the real estate under the two Highway 20 bridges belongs to the state or the city, but the walking and bike path along the riverfront is officially a city park.

Albany has local law banning overnight camping in city parks. The law says people doing so anyway can be cited for a violation, for which the maximum penalty is a $100 fine.

Nobody thinks slapping homeless campers with $100 fines would do any good. And anyway, there’s no sign that local authorities have taken notice of this particular violation, visible to everybody who has walked, jogged or bicycled past this spot on the path since at least May 20.

This is just one camp along the path, but it makes you wonder if it’s the precursor of many more, and whether the path eventually will look like similar venues in other West Coast towns from Seattle to San Diego — long lines of homeless camps surrounded by mounds of debris.

On Tuesday I asked Police Chief Marcia Harnden if anything could be done about an apparent rise in outdoor squats as the weather turns mild and summer gets close.

“It is quite an effort to stay on top of it in our more wooded areas,” she replied. But if I understand her correctly, officers in the department’s community resource unit will concentrate on the problem this summer.

Last October, the Albany City Council authorized the police and parks deparments jointly to hire a single park service officer to respond to problems such as unauthorized camping and trashing of public spaces. Someone has been hired for that job and is scheduled to start on June 16.

The question for the council is whether this is enough, or whether Albany is destined to follow the pattern of bigger towns where camping by vagrants and other unhoused people has run out of control. (hh)

The debris field at a camp below the Cox Creek Path on May 10.

 





14 responses to “A new addition on the Dave Clark Path”

  1. Bill Kapaun says:

    They’re already camping behind Lowes again.

  2. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Evidently the city provided Quonset huts were full and the gazebo at Eighth & Ellsworth was occupied.

    Hopefully this person(s) doesn’t have to walk all the way to First Christian to use the permitted portapotty.

    Love the No Trespassing sign….

  3. Sarge says:

    The question for the council is whether this is enough, or whether Albany is destined to follow the pattern of bigger towns where camping by vagrants and other unhoused people has run out of control. (hh)

    The number of homeless camps and crimes related to said camps is ALREADY OUT OF CONTROL

    there are laws on the books regarding camping in city parks but those are not enforced. It also seems like the police chief is NOT really sure of what/when officers will be doing. “But if I understand her correctly, officers in the department’s community resource unit will concentrate on the problem this summer.'” what exactly are they going to be doing… Same as time past… Just drive by

  4. MarK says:

    People need to stop enabling these folks and encourage them to move on. Sharon didn’t enable them.

  5. David Cross says:

    Thank you for your bellwether reporting on the rising visible indicators of urban camping along Albany’s linear parkways. The San Diego Union-Tribune printed a recent story on a philanthropic pilot program to reduce encampment trash and provide those residents with a little cash. San Diego, once dealt with its addiction problems with shame and intolerance and has lived to see makeshift shelters lining its streets now as well as its linear parkways. Will the small community of Albany deal with a burgeoning addiction problem using shame and intolerance or will we seek ways to meet this head on? This is going to take more than sarcasm and contempt or one single parks department hire to stave off.

    • Bill Kapaun says:

      I guess the humane thing to do is for the City Council to contract with AMTRAK for a group discount to San Diego.

  6. Donald Strickland says:

    So now we test the mettle of our ” city” officials. Me thinks this ” homeless” camping is only going to get worse with the arrival of summer. It is time to begin enforcing the laws that have been passed to protect/ enhance the liveabiliy of our community. Nuf said.

  7. Mike quinn says:

    Listen. Our city elected officials have ev under control. If we take the 5 foot sidewalk and tear it out and spend $15 million to build back a 7 foot sidewalk by the river that way there’s room for the camper and his tent and the person out for a walk on the new sidewalk

  8. Sharlene says:

    I think people need to be a little more understanding when it comes to the homeless not everyone chose this lifestyle and not everyone that’s homeless is a their or a bad person God forbid that this happens to any of u and the way things r going it could. Just think if u were in this situation how would u want to be treated come on people what would God want u to do and act.

    • MarK says:

      Sharlene, I understand some may be having a rough time, but that doesn’t explain the garbage and mess that they create and leave behind. Being homeless just isn’t an excuse.

      • Ray Kopczynski says:

        Since there are no available and/or close-by dumpsters or cans — and we’re “sweeping” them away from the place they do call “home,” exactly where do you propose they dispose of their “garbage & mess?” I know, I know, out-of-sight is out of mind for you, but does absolutely nothing in the long term.

        • MarK says:

          You sound like you’re giving them a pass to destroy the area. You’re just another example of poor city government. If you didn’t enable them they wouldn’t prefer to stay. Maybe more effective police sweeps to keep them moving on. Have the police provide them with trash bags and notify the sanitation/park service to remove the bags.
          When it starts to cost the city more money, maybe the council will pull their heads out of their behinds.

          • Ray Kopczynski says:

            “Have the police provide them with trash bags and notify the sanitation/park service to remove the bags.”

            So, you would OK with allowing the homeless to camp if they had proper sanitation resources available?

  9. Bob Zybach says:

    What bothers me most is that these homeless shelters seem to contain a lot of young people 16 to 25 years of age. Shouldn’t they be getting treatment, jailed, or paying rent? Lots of work available and this problem is relatively recent. Curious how many of the people entering the country illegally are now living here homeless? Or taking cheap paying jobs and renting housing? This is ridiculous.

 

 
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