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Published on April 23, 2024
Portland Mayor Proposes Revamped Camping Ban Amid Legal Challenges and Pending Supreme Court CaseSource: Cacophony, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Mayor Ted Wheeler is doubling down on an initiative to clean up Portland's streets with a revamped camping ban proposal, set to hit City Council for a heated showdown. This updated ordinance comes after a previous version got tangled in legal limbo, with the U.S. Supreme Court's attention now fixed on a related case that could shake the foundations of such bans nationwide, KGW reports. Wheeler's plan would penalize homeless folks who shun open shelter offers with fines up to $100 or a stretch in the slammer for a week.

The sticky wicket that is Portland's daytime camping ban started last year, only to hit a wall in court. Oregon's House Bill 3115 mandates any camping regulations on public property to play by "reasonable as to time, place and manner," effectively putting the kibosh on the city's original ordinance. "What we envision is that we offer people shelter or assistance; if that shelter or assistance is not available — in other words, we don't have adequate shelter — people would still be required to abide by the manner restrictions listed in this ordinance," Wheeler explained in a virtual press briefing, according to the same KGW piece.

The city council was bracing for a vote on Wheeler's proposal last week, but the plans were derailed when Commissioner Rene Gonzalez swooped in with an alternative pitch. Gonzalez is gunning for tougher penalties and wants to wrest control of homelessness policy from the council, placing it squarely in the mayor's office — a political power play that could throw another wrench into Portland's already tumultuous approach to homelessness. Wheeler's ordinance isn't sailing into calm legislative waters as it readies for Wednesday's clash.