A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

City’s homeless camp: Put it where?

Written May 26th, 2023 by Hasso Hering

The new Albany camping law is supposed to prevent unauthorized camp sites like this one on private property in February 2022.

Albany’s new city law authorizing officially permitted homeless camps passed the city council withhout opposition this week with one big question unanswered.

The question is this: Where is the first city-designated camp going to be?

The ordinance, which the council approved on Wednesday, says camping is to be allowed on city-owned property designated by the city manager. The manager also may approve requests by churches and other groups to operate sites on their private property with up to four camp sites each.

The ordinance says permitted camps on public and private property must have water and portable toilets, and campers’ belongings must be screened. No open fires are allowed, but fire extinguishers must be provided.

The camps must not be near schools or waterways, and they must be available to anyone who wants to be there regardless of drug or alcohol use.

Camping anywhere on public or private property outside the permitted sites is unlawful, the ordinance says.

City Manager Peter Troedsson said Wednesday he had not picked the city-owned site that would be designated first. I asked again on Friday, but if he has a place in mind, he isn’t saying. (See below for his reply.)

A related question: Will siting a homeless camp be a land-use action subject to procedures such as public notice and possibly hearings? The ordinance doesn’t say.

The camping ordinance is Albany’s answer to court rulings and state legislation that make it impossible for cities to keep people from setting up camp on sidewalks, in parks or anywhere else on public property they want.  To prohibit this, cities must provide a place where homeless people can rest or spend the night.

Years ago, before homelessness became widespread and improvised camps started popping up all over the place, there was a big camp on the Albany riverfront, hidden from view and run by the people who lived there. Camp Boondoggle was its name before it was shut down.

Wonder what they’ll call the new city homeless camp when it is set up. (hh)

Postscript: On Sunday morning, City Manager Peter Troedsson replied to my question about the location: “We’re actively evaluating city-owned properties to determine which site will have the least impact on the surrounding community, and how we will set up and manage the site.  The state, through HB-3115, has mandated that we designate a site before July 1 of this year, or alternatively, that we allow camping on any public property.  We do anticipate completing an evaluation and designating a site in time to be in compliance with HB-3115.”

36 responses to “City’s homeless camp: Put it where?”

  1. LDB says:

    How about placing one on the street or in front of the Mayor’s and every council member’s home that voted for this ordinance (not in my neighborhood attitude). They will make sure that does not happen.

    • Matthew Calhoun says:

      So it’s not really clear from your article and your regular commenters Hasso, so maybe you can clear up my confusion. is this the city council wanting “camping”? It sounds like this is more state mandate crap from Salem instead? Maybe Albany can bus our campers up to the capital?

      • Bob Woods says:

        The Federal Courts (the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals) have issued opinions that generally state: “Needing to sleep is a basic requirement of every human being to live. If society doesn’t provide a place for people to sleep, you can’t throw them in jail for sleeping on publicly owned property.”

        • Bill Kapaun says:

          And guess which Circuit Court of Appeals has been overturned the most? You can skip the first 8.

      • Anony Mouse says:

        The council’s action is in response to federal court decisions and state law HB 3115.

        But the city has discretion when it comes to responding to the time, space, and manner “camping” requirements of the law.

        So Albany’s solution may be different than Corvallis’.

        Corvallis may bus their homeless to Salem. Albany may consider busing them to San Francisco where the U.S. Courts for the Ninth Circuit is located.

        • Bob Woods says:

          I’ve urged they be shipped to Yadkin County, North Carolina C/O Gordon L Shadle.

  2. Anony Mouse says:

    Camp Go-Getter 1, Camp Go-Getter 2…..

    For the attorneys who will file cases against the city’s ordinance and enforcement methods.

    It appears Albany is taking the path most traveled and doing what government does best — imposing a large dose of coercion to control behavior.

    So, does it matter which neighborhood(s) will suffer the most when the public property decision is made? Probably not.

    Homeless folks do not respond well to rules/regulations and being “managed” by local government.

    Good luck enforcing this feel-good “solution.”

    • Cap B. says:

      Anony Mouse: Since you are a regular commenter on Hasso’s blog, wanted to tell you, in case you use the words again, that “Hear, Hear” is the correct spelling for that expression, which you used in one of your comments on the “flag” blog posts. (Some of us just didn’t learn to spell in our formative years, I guess.)
      Hear, Hear (shortened from Hear Ye, Hear Ye) was coined by the British Parliament in the 1600s. It shows agreement with a speaker’s words.

  3. Abe Cee says:

    Camp Hartman has nice ring to it.

    • SuperPat says:

      It’s great to see that Hasso’s recently stated need for civility is working so well.

      • Matthew Calhoun says:

        The regulars on here never cared about civility and Hasso knows it’s good for business to keep the insults coming. More clicks!

        • Hasso Hering says:

          I define an insult as “You are a moron.” I try to weed those out. It is not an insult in my book to say: “I disagree with your comments because I think they are stupid.” If I refused to pass on all comments that are critical of what someone else said, this wouldn’t be much of a comment section.

          • Anony Mouse says:

            Hear, here

          • Matthew Calhoun says:

            Arguably it’s not much of one now with the same half dozen old men shouting down anyone who dares question their supreme intellect.

  4. Carol Gascoigne says:

    Make a homeless camp in the park like areas around the Albany courthouse and City offices

    After all, our City officials should have direct contact with the folks they are serving

  5. Hartman says:

    Thus far, these comments seem to ooze compassion and empathy. It is truly rewarding to witness the big-heartedness and the kindness displayed by the commenters in today’s column. The dignity and sympathy these commenters display should be the bellwether for all Albanians.

  6. Cap B. says:

    Of course, Hasso, the City Manager didn’t tell you what spots are being considered for the homeless camps. He knows you have a blog. What did you expect?

    • Bill Kapaun says:

      Or maybe he’s just another PERS employee that doesn’t know what’s going on?

  7. MarK says:

    How about Vagrant Village?

  8. chuck kratch says:

    My compassion wavers when folks won’t make any effort to keep their area cleaned up.

  9. Rutabega M. Turnipseed says:

    Tweekerville,, Camp Fentynal, Syringeburg, Mentalspace, Trashburg, Breakdown Alley

  10. Lisa Gregg says:


  11. Bessie Johnson says:

    How about a spot not too far from services, plenty of room and I’m sure bus service goes there. I’m speaking of East Thornton Lake natural area. Been vacant and unserved for quite a few years.
    History: Albany agreed to buy the 27-acre site on the south side of East Thornton Lake for $2.25 million. ($83,330,00/acre) Motion made on July 19, 2010 to purchase.
    I don’t think they would bother the turtles too much.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      Gotta be 300 feet from a waterway, which I think makes ETLNA ineligible.

      • Bessie Johnson says:

        Surely there would be parts of a 27 acre plot that would fit the requirements.

    • MarK says:

      Too close to schools. Think about the safety of our children. Maybe put some up at your place.

      • Bessie Johnson says:

        No matter where they’re put, its going to be close to a school or something that needs protection. Any better idea?

        • MarK says:

          Anywhere where my tax dollars won’t be used to support their “lifestyle”.

          • Cody Inks says:

            Please MarK, try to keep in mind not all homeless are homeless by choice. There are some, probably more than you might even consider, that are without residency due to circumstances beyond there control. Many hard working people fail to realize that even they could be just one paycheck away from being homeless. It happens. And yes I agree that many are by choice and yes many don’t care about there areas they trash but I can honestly say that being a former homeless Albany Oregon resident for around 4 years that I kept my area clean and even cleaned up many others trash. Including non homeless people’s litter!!!

  12. Mark E says:

    Maybe the city should buy the old green buildings kinda kiddy corner from the jail and across railroad tracks. Put stalls inside say 8’x10′ with gates. This way people have a place to store there stuff, tent and sleep. Put showers and bathrooms inside. That way they are covered and during cold weather they are inside. They have the other shelters down in the area. So when shelters are full they don’t have to go across town to get to a camp.

  13. Cap B. says:

    Thanks, Cody Inks, for writing to Hasso’s blog and taking on the hateful opinions of old, right-wing men.

  14. MarK says:

    How about instead of using our taxpayer money to support these people, let voluntary monitory donations be made by all these liberals who “say” they support them. Since those liberals seem to have a majority right now, I’m sure their voluntary donations will be enough. They can even provide lodging at their homes.

  15. Jeff says:

    I dislike state mandates that dictate the nature of local solutions. Not that actually represents a solution. It does nothing to address the growing number of homeless. But as a practical matter, it at least permits the city to keep the subjects from inhabiting other public areas or encroaching on residential areas. But then what? These folks have issues that aren’t going to solve themselves. Rather than complaining, perhaps our time is better spent looking at what other communities have done that has been effective in helping homeless individuals get past whatever is plaguing them.

  16. Bessie Johnson says:

    Looks like it’s going to go at 9th and Jackson. Hope not too visible from the overhead highway


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