A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Council gets ordinance to allow camp sites

Written May 21st, 2023 by Hasso Hering

Someone had set up this temporary shelter on the Periwinkle Bike Path on April 13, 2023.

In order to discourage homeless camps all over town and comply with a new state law, the Albany Police Department is asking the city council to authorize designated camping sites on public and church property.

Code Compliance Officer Kris Schendel is scheduled to present a proposed camping ordinance at the council’s meeting Wednesday night, May 24.

A law the legislature passed in 2021 regulates what cities can do about people camping. It takes effect this July.

The proposed local camping ordinance is intended “to comply with this state requirement and maintain the livability of the community,” a memo to the council says.

This addition to the Albany Municipal Code would allow the city manager to designate public space within the city where “camping facilities” would be allowed.

It also would allow churches and “transitional shelter groups” to host up to four “camping facilities for up to 120 consecutive days in a 365-day period.” These private sites, too, would require a permit from the city.

Outside of camp sites authorized under the ordinance, camping would be prohibited on public or private property.

The proposal includes several requirements. For example, individual camps at each permitted site could be no bigger than 12 feet square. Sites would have to be equipped with portable toilets, washing facilities and fire extinguishers.

Fires would not be allowed. In addition, camp sites could not be near schools, in flood zones, or within 300 feet of any waterways.

On private property controlled by a church or “transitional shelter group,” trash service would have to be provided.

In addition, private groups operating camp sites would have to give the police the names and birth dates of camp occupants. These lists would have to be kept up to date as people joined or left. It’s not clear (at least to me) whether this applies to camps on public property too.

There is no mention in the text of any requirements for public notice or hearings before camping sites are authorized. But then again, the public has no say now before impromptu camps sprout up. (hh)

Here, at the north end of Columbus Street near the Willamette River, a big homeless camp on city property had been all but cleaned up on May 18.

16 responses to “Council gets ordinance to allow camp sites”

  1. chuck kratch says:

    Works for me. I’d race toward what San Francisco and Portland have achieved. Everyone is afraid to say no…

  2. Anony Mouse says:

    Any bets on what parts of the city will have to accommodate “camping facilities”?

    I’m thinking the new $25 million waterfront area. No?

    Timber Linn Park? Probably a safer bet — out of the untouchable CARA area.

    • hj.anony1 says:

      Ha ha Gordon! I’m with ya! Those extra police patrols around D’Town should make it happen. ha ha ha

  3. TLH-ALB1 says:

    Don’t want pests…don’t encourage and enable…PERIOD!! Send the homeless to the homes of those who pass the STUPID LAWS.

    • Joe says:

      I agree its not the communitys problem to put up with all the nonsence that goes along with these camp sites ,let them set up camp around the court houses here in Albany,I bet the city council wouldnt go for that at all ,along with all the feces and uri e and rodents all over.

    • Bob Woods says:

      So, post your address.
      The City will call.

  4. MarK says:

    Put a site on APD grounds. They won’t have far to respond. Also, put them in the wards where the council members who may approve them are. Maybe people will think twice about who they vote for next election.
    I didn’t read anything about providing adequate waste receptacles. I guess anywhere on the ground will be fine. Nothing new.

  5. Iisa says:

    You can no longer feel safe in you own home. I wonder who decides all of the hard working tax paying familys should pay for all this. I all ready pay for my grand kids to go to a private school, so they will learn a sense of values, and how to contribute to life.

  6. Rick says:

    Anybody want to take bets that there won’t be a single designated Camp anywhere in North Albany ? What a crock

  7. Hartman says:

    It’s plain to see by these comments that the Eight Beatitudes are hollow, meaningless bible-thumping in Albany…except for the one that reads, “Blessed are the comfortable, for they are smug in their Righteousness.”

  8. Ron says:

    Find a spot out toward old Salem road

  9. James Engel says:

    Enabling, enabling & more enabling!!! Put’em on a truck bound for the Liberal Leftest Shangri La of Portland. Those scumbags only want services & to do their drug of choice. Or, put’em on the lawns of the mayor & council members.

    • hj.anony1 says:

      nah! Portland is done. Think much bigger J. E.

      Ship them to FLORIDUH………. Train or bus. I don’t care.

  10. Deborah Swenson says:

    Ship them to Mexico they don’t have as many people as they used to.

  11. Mark K Wheeler says:

    When are those “Leader’s” gonna get it in their Heads to
    A vast majority of the Homeless Population Refuse to access the Programs that are Funded by the Taxpayer because they would have to Sober up, Get a Job, Clean up, Pay Taxes, and Obey Laws.


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