Temporary Urban Camping

In order to support community health during the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Eugene has temporarily adjusted its enforcement process around prohibited camping in order to help people experiencing homelessness to stay in place and reduce the potential for infectious disease spread. These adjustments align with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, Oregon Health Authority, and Lane County Public Health.

The City continues to work with Lane County and partners in the community to find safe places for unhoused community members, including the newly established microsites, Safe Sleep sites, additional Rest Stops, overnight car camping sites and in existing shelters. However, it is still the case that many people experiencing homelessness are residing in Eugene’s parks, natural areas, and right of way areas for the time being. 

During the pandemic, the City has developed criteria that set parameters around location of camps, safety and cleanliness, acceptable behaviors and impacts to neighbors, the environment, and city infrastructure. Further, there are locations in Eugene’s parks, natural areas, and the rights of ways that are not acceptable for camping at any scale due to unmitigable impacts on the environment, neighborhoods and the usability of parks and public infrastructure such as streets.

The criteria described below may be refined as we work through these processes, coordinate with community partners and respond to community feedback.

Eugene City Code 4.815 prohibits camping in public right-of-ways, parks and other publicly-owned property. The City recognizes this is a very challenging issue and works hard with its partners toward solutions that balance neighborhood livability, safety, health, and compassionate and humane responses to homelessness.  

If you are witnessing an emergency or a crime in progress, call 911. 

  1. In Parks
  2. Along Streets/ Public Property
  3. On Private Property
  4. In Cars

There are locations in Eugene’s parks and natural areas that are not acceptable for camping at any scale due to unmitigable impacts on the environment, neighborhoods, and the usability of parks.

 

Where camping is not allowed in the parks system

  • All parks designated as neighborhood parks (For details see Parks and Natural Areas ).
  • Riparian areas such as along the Willamette River and Amazon Creek. Wetlands such as Delta Ponds and the West Eugene Wetlands.
  • Sensitive natural areas such as the Whilamut Natural Area.
  • The City’s vegetated stormwater facilities that are designed to filter and clean water.
  • Within 300 feet of playgrounds, sports courts, park shelters, picnic shelters and City of Eugene Rest Stop and microsite locations.   
  • Within 50 feet of private property. 

How we respond

Staff provide a 72-hour warning and will return no sooner than 72 hours to clean the site unless there is: 

  • Illegal activities other than camping occurring
  • an exceptional emergency including but not limited to possible site contamination by hazardous materials, a public health emergency or other immediate danger to human life or safety

COVID-19 public health criteria for temporary camping in parks

Outside of areas where camping is not allowed, a temporary camp needs to meet these criteria:

  • Camp site supports public health and safety by following physical distancing guidelines: 
    • Tents are 12 feet apart from individuals not in the camper’s pod.
    • Camp site is no larger than a 12' by 12' plot of land.
    • It is possible for the public to reasonably maintain six feet of distance from the person camping and their property at all times.
  • Camp is limited to six tents per a roughly 150'x150' area.  
  • Camp maintains public access to sidewalks, paths, transit stations, restrooms or building entrances. 
  • Camp maintains clean and healthy spaces with no significant garbage or debris.
  • Camp is safe with no evidence of conspicuous drug use: uncapped, used hypodermic needles or other paraphernalia that could be a health hazard to other community members are not permitted.
  • There are no Eugene Police Department verified reports of criminal behavior.
  • Camp site is not negatively impacting properties adjacent to parks.
    • Examples include blocking sidewalks, loud noise, aggressive dogs, threatening behavior, public indecency. 
  • Camp site is not negatively affecting nearby business activities.
    • Examples include blocking sidewalks, loud noise, aggressive dogs, threatening behavior, public indecency.  
  • Camp site is not disturbing vegetation.
  • Camp site is not damaging or preventing maintenance of park infrastructure.

How we respond in Parks

In response to passage of House Bill 3124, Parks staff are no longer using 48 - or 24-hour postings. The new bill requires that people receive a 72-hour warning before they can be asked to move.
In areas where camping is temporarily being allowed in parks and campers are not following stay in place criteria, staff provide a 72-hour warning that includes information about what needs to be corrected in order to remain in place.

Whenever the National Weather Service projects freezing temperatures, or accumulating snow or other frozen precipitation within 48 hours before or after a posted closing/cleaning, we will not take action on postings.

 

New Oregon Department of Transportation Rules

The Parks and Open Space Division cares for several areas owned by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) such as Washington Jefferson Park. While this park was built on ODOT land, Parks has cared for it just like any other park in the system for decades. In the fall of 2020, a growing encampment on the site at 1st and Jefferson and 1st and Washington led to a review of our policies and intergovernmental agreements. In particular, because of differences in how ODOT and the City address camping violations, the City worked with ODOT over several weeks to revise our previous agreement in order to manage the area in a way that is in line with their jurisdiction. 

Currently, for lands like Washington Jefferson Park that Parks leases from ODOT, all park rules and policies apply except for the City’s camp posting procedures. In these locations the City must follow ODOT’s camp posting requirements which allow for cleanup of belongings no sooner than 10 days and no later than 19 days from the date the site is posted for cleanup. There are some exceptions that would allow for cleanup within 24 hours but those are reserved for severe situations.


How to Report Concerns

If community members have specific non-emergency campsite concerns, these can be reported online through Park Watch or by calling 541-682-4800 – Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Allowable Camping Options

Recognizing the housing and homelessness crisis that our community and cities across the nation are facing, the City Council has approved specific provisions through City Code 4.816 for permitted overnight sleeping. These provisions provide more options for people who are experiencing homelessness to find safe and legal places to sleep. 


Options include: