In Council’s first meeting after summer break, we hosted about 20 speakers at the public forum. Most came in response to the Ninth Circuit Court decision ruling that Boise’s anti-camping ban is a violation of the 8th Amendment.
The city attorney has made the distinction with Eugene’s law in that Eugene police give citations for sleeping in parks rather than arrests, as they do in Boise. That said, trespassing is an arrestable offense and a number of folks who testified at the forum made that point citing their own experiences. Councilor Semple was eloquent in expressing a view that I share: it is not reasonable or safe for the city to lift our restrictions on camping, but it is right and critical that we provide adequate places for people to sleep legally. This issue is front and center for our city. Council will receive a report on October 10th regarding a public shelter. That evening, the public is invited to a public presentation and discussion of the same information.
Council also received a compelling report with recommendations from the WeCU subcommittee of the Human Rights Commission based on their report “Marginalized Voices.” The group requested council to consider three steps to address overt and unintentional marginalization of minorities: create a full time staff position as a liaison between the public and city; create a rapid response protocol to hate crimes; and create a multicultural gathering and event space. Council in general was supportive and interested in including these requests in the budget process, noting that a rapid response protocol could be implemented quickly without significant additional funds.
This is critical in light of Measure 105 threatening to repeal the state’s sanctuary law. I noted that the city manager has issued an administrative order to ensure that city personnel and programs are not collecting information about a person’s immigration status unless that person does so voluntarily or the city needs that information in order to provide a specific service.
On Wednesday, the city hosted the first of four citizen panels to discuss tools and strategies that could help the city address our housing shortage. Over 30 people have committed to participating in these three-hour sessions, The expectation is that this group will develop both short and longer term recommendations for council’s consideration.