I said, “Mister can you tell me where a man can find a bed?” He just grinned, shook my hand, “No,” was all he said. by Pat Farr

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

 

“I just needed a place where I could lay my head…”

This article was first published in Forum Lane on July 25 2012.  Click here to read the original article.  It’s a year later…

“How about a tent city in your neighborhood?”  by Pat Farr

At a public hearing held at Caesar Chavez Elementary School regarding the possible location of a homeless camping site (like the ones Occupy Eugene inhabited last winter, see 33 articles here) the local area residents came out in full force with their opinion.  By and large the opinion was:  “Not in our back yard, please!”  See the article in the Wednesday July 25 Register-Guard

Yielding to pressure from Occupy Eugene principals and supporters the City Council has charged the City Manager to identify sites where a homeless camp could be located.  Who is to say what other neighbors in other neighborhoods would have

to say about a tent city next door to them?  In order to find out it has to appear to them that it could happen.  Because, under the scenario being considered, it could.  Why limit the discussion to West Eugene?
Therefore, when the manager is considering other sites for the City Council to consider regarding a permanent/semi permanent tent village inside or near the city of Eugene he should consider geographic and land use code distribution.  Sites located from one corner of Eugene to the other and beyond.

The former Marine Reserve Center site near Caesar Chavez Elementary School has been highlighted as the first site to consider.  It is essential that other sites throughout the community be considered.  (For a number of reasons, one of which would be to give more people in the community direct reason to look at the issue of homelessness).
If remote or concealed sites are the only ones looked at it would be likely that few people would pay attention, would provide their personal input on the location or would examine the stated need for a camp and conditions that exist surrounding homeless camping.

 
Therefore we need to look at a variety of sites.  An examination which includes a variety of considerations:

1.  Location

2.  Current Ownership, and,

3.  Land use designation

We should look at land that is:

1.  In public use,

2.  Land that is publicly owned and is not being fully utilized, and,

3.  Private land.

Additionally we need to be able to consider land that is designated for a variety of uses including

1.  Commercial,

2.  Residential,

3.  Industrial, and,

4.  Public use.

And we should invite every neighborhood to weigh in on how it would work in their part of the city.

Regarding  public ownership we should look at land that is owned by various jurisdictions, including but not limited to land owned by:

1.  the City of Eugene,

2.  the City of Springfield,

3.  Lane County,

4.  EWEB, and,

5.  4J and Bethel School districts.

Sites to consider should include:

1.  Closed 4J school sites

2.  Civic Stadium

3.  Land owned by Bethel such as the corner of Avalon and Legacy, and,

4.  Parks such as:

_a.  Alton Baker Park

_b.  Tugman Park

_c.  Amazon Park

_d.  Bethel Park

_e.  Sheldon Park

_f.  Emerald Park

_g.  Perkins Peninsula Park, or,

_h.  Glenwood area parks or open space
These are examples and should all be included.  Others sites similar to these should also be considered in a variety of geographically diverse locations in Eugene and the immediate vicinity.

 
I have few specifics to offer on currently privately owned land, but it could include:

 
1.  Country Fair site

2.  Small parcels that are currently agricultural

3.  LCC/Goshen area privately owned land
All of these sites have distinct reasons that preclude them as a possible location, but if we do not include areas located in geographically diverse areas we will be remiss in engaging the entire community in the discussion.
In order to facilitate a full conversation across the entire community we should give the entire community a chance and a reason to weigh in.

 

How about a tent city in your neighborhood? by Pat Farr

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

 

At a public hearing held at Caesar Chavez Elementary School regarding the possible location of a homeless camping site (like the ones Occupy Eugene inhabited last winter, see 33 articles here) the local area residents came out in full force with their opinion.  By and large the opinion was:  “Not in our back yard, please!”  See the article in the Wednesday July 25 Register-Guard


Yielding to pressure from Occupy Eugene principals and supporters the City Council has charged the City Manager to identify sites where a homeless camp could be located.  Who is to say what other neighbors in other neighborhoods would have to say about a tent city next door to them?  In order to find out it has to appear to them that it could happen.  Because, under the scenario being considered, it could.  Why limit the discussion to West Eugene?

 
Therefore, when the manager is considering other sites for the City Council to consider regarding a permanent/semi permanent tent village inside or near the city of Eugene he should consider geographic and land use code distribution.  Sites located from one corner of Eugene to the other and beyond.

 
The former Marine Reserve Center site near Caesar Chavez Elementary School has been highlighted as the first site to consider.  It is essential that other sites throughout the community be considered.  (For a number of reasons, one of which would be to give more people in the community direct reason to look at the issue of homelessness).

 
If remote or concealed sites are the only ones looked at it would be likely that few people would pay attention, would provide their personal input on the location or would examine the stated need for a camp and conditions that exist surrounding homeless camping.

 
Therefore we need to look at a variety of sites.  An examination which includes a variety of considerations:

1.  Location

2.  Current Ownership, and,

3.  Land use designation

We should look at land that is:

1.  In public use,

2.  Land that is publicly owned and is not being fully utilized, and,

3.  Private land.

Additionally we need to be able to consider land that is designated for a variety of uses including

1.  Commercial,

2.  Residential,

3.  Industrial, and,

4.  Public use.

And we should invite every neighborhood to weigh in on how it would work in their part of the city.

Regarding  public ownership we should look at land that is owned by various jurisdictions, including but not limited to land owned by:

1.  the City of Eugene,

2.  the City of Springfield,

3.  Lane County,

4.  EWEB, and,

5.  4J and Bethel School districts.

Sites to consider should include:

1.  Closed 4J school sites

2.  Civic Stadium

3.  Land owned by Bethel such as the corner of Avalon and Legacy, and,

4.  Parks such as:

_a.  Alton Baker Park

_b.  Tugman Park

_c.  Amazon Park

_d.  Bethel Park

_e.  Sheldon Park

_f.  Emerald Park

_g.  Perkins Peninsula Park, or,

_h.  Glenwood area parks or open space

 
These are examples and should all be included.  Others sites similar to these should also be considered in a variety of geographically diverse locations in Eugene and the immediate vicinity.

 
I have few specifics to offer on currently privately owned land, but it could include:


1.  Country Fair site

2.  Small parcels that are currently agricultural

3.  LCC/Goshen area privately owned land

 
All of these sites have distinct reasons that preclude them as a possible location, but if we do not include areas located in geographically diverse areas we will be remiss in engaging the entire community in the discussion.

 
In order to facilitate a full conversation across the entire community we should give the entire community a chance and a reason to weigh in.

 

Stay tuned to see what the City Manager brings back to the City Council for discussion in September.  It could be your street corner.

 

Council splits 4-4 on tent city concept. by Pat Farr

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

 

It was by all means a messy and contentious meeting.  It included a series of motions that resulted in 4-4 ties with Mayor Piercy refusing to break the deadlock to pass the motions.  It included the Mayor having to “shush!” Councilors Zelenka and Brown, who were chatting loudly as Councilor Pryor tried to explain the intent of a motion he was crafting.

The split was customary (and familiar):  Taylor, Brown, Zelenka and Ortiz versus Pryor, Clark, Farr and Poling.  What differed was that this time the mayor did not side with the first group.

Nobody can deny that there is a problem with homeless people who are living in Eugene.  Everybody knows, I think, that there are kids in our public schools who don’t have a home.

On Wednesday July 18 the City Council debated whether or not Eugene should have a tent city to house some of the homeless.  The Council split 4-4 on its initial vote on how to continue the discussion, with Councilors Brown, Taylor and Ortiz wanting to move forward establishing a tent city in Eugene without further discussion and Poling, Farr, Clark and Pryor wanting the City Manager to provide further information about the viability of such an endeavor and the issues and conditions that surround the possibility of establishing another camp.

People in Eugene recollect, clearly, the series of “Occupy Eugene” camps that moved around the city last year.  See related stories.

There are tent cities in towns across the USA.  Some appear quasi-military in style, some more toward the refugee mode.  The Washinton/Jefferson-Willamette Greenway tent city established in Eugene was someplace in between, but to many observers it looked more like the latter.

A tent city in Seattle

Portland's "Occupy" tent city

What would a tent city look like in Eugene?  We have a preview:

Occupy Eugene tent camp in the Willamette Greenway

When a tent city was proposed for Honolulu a local paper headlined:  “Seattle’s decade-long nightmare coming to Honolulu? The article stated:

“Hawai’i Free Press found some answers and they aren’t pretty.  Seattle’s tent cities are organizing bases for self-appointed activists who use the homeless to extract money and other benefits from various government agencies.  The residents consist predominantly of methamphetamines addicts.  They have also become a factional tool in Seattle politics used on behalf of Seattle politicians who give the organizers money and against those politicians who don’t.  The camps are moved from one district to another to embarrass and extort politicians.  Hannemann’s requirement that such camps be run by private contractors could create the same situation in Hawaii.”

Follow this link to see a video of what a Seattle homeless tent camp looks like on a rainy Pacific Northwest day.

The possibility of a camp raises questions in people’s minds.  A lot of questions.

1.  What will it look like?

2.  How will it be policed?

3.  Will it deteriorate over time?

4.  Who will be camping there?

5.  Will it attract campers from all over the region?

6.  How will security be handled?

7.  Will it fit the neighborhood?

8.  Is it the right thing to do?

Many, many more, but most significantly:

Will it be safe for my kids to walk by?

These are all valid questions.  And they are all, as of now, unanswered.

A group of Councilors and citizens, Opportunity Eugene, met last winter to discuss issues surrounding homelessness and identify possible courses of action to address homeless people’s needs.  It came up with six recommendations:

1.  Identify and establish potential sites (for a safe and secure place to be)

2.  Create and support day use community centers

3.  Improve traditional and non-traditional health care access

4.  Continue and expand existing services to the homeless

5.  Improve laws and ordinaces that criminalize and block homeless individuals

6.  Create a commission to continue to explore homelessness solutions

Since January the city has moved forward on this list, including providing more support for St. Vincent DePaul’s Lindholm Service Center, helping the Eugene Mission give greater services including medical help, identifying and strengthening agencies that are providing services locally…the list goes on.  Each point warrants a separate article.

On Wednesday, City Manager Jon Ruiz identified a policy framework to guide decision-making and several options for the Council to consider regarding item 1, potential sites to locate a tent city inside Eugene.  His recommended option was:

“Direct the City Manager to schedule a work session to: a) finalize the policy framework, and b) evaluate the recommendations of the Opportunity Eugene Task Force based on this framework.”

Eventually this motion passed.  But not without the contentious debate about a second motion (which also eventually passed), a motion that directs the Manager to bring a list of possible sites, either city- or privately-owned, that might be considered to erect a tent city.  Significantly, and contentiously, the direction also includes identifying the obstacles and conditions surrounding each site that could prevent its use for that purpose.

Moving forward with appropriate caution, the City Council will continue the debate in September.  Stay tuned.

 

Jon Ruiz’ Policy Framework for Opportunity Eugene task force recommendations. By Pat Farr

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

 

The Opportunity Eugene Task Force, consisting of a large group of elected officials, staff members and concerned citizens, met last winter to talk about the homelessness situation in Eugene.  It was a follow-up to the controversial Occupy Eugene tent cities that sprouted up during the previous year.

The recommendations, outlined in a City Council meeting on July 19 by the City Manager include:

1.  Identify and establish potential sites (for a safe and secure place to be)

2.  Create and support day use community centers

3.  Improve traditional and non-traditional health care access

4.  Continue and expand existing services to the homeless

5.  Improve laws and ordinaces that criminalize and block homeless individuals

6.  Create a commission to continue to explore homelessness solutions

The City Manager’s recommended Policy Framework points for the Council to consider include:

1.  Transition people away from homelessness

2.  Create and promote health, safety and security throughout the community

3.  Utilize partnerships and share resources with stakeholders

4.  Promote neighborhood livability

5.  Promote sustainability

6.  Have Measurable Outcomes

7.  Pilot New Programs

The City Council, during its debate that day, was split on how to move forward.  It will meet in September to finalize the policy framework and to look at progress toward the six recommendations.  See the companion article, posted later today.

Recommendations, demands and threats for the Council to consider. By Pat Farr

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

 

On Friday March 29 the Opportunity Eugene Task Force  (Forum Lane, 1/5/12) had its last meeting.  The plan was to review a draft of recommendations that were to be made to the City Council regarding the work of the task force.

The recommendations had been winnowed down from discussions of the broader group by a smaller planning group.  This group was selected to narrow the discussion to a manageable number of point to present to the City Council.

Five meetings of the Task Force had been held between January 4 and March 6 each lasting around two hours.  The meetings involved as many as 50 participants with an audience of observers.  The report from the smaller group included the following:

“The investment made in establishing the Opportunity Eugene Task Force has yielded results.  While consensus among the group was difficult to achieve, three key recommendations have been identified.  These recommendations are as follows:

1.  There should not be cuts to existing services, and the City should work to meet needs by bolstering existing services.

2.  A site (or sites) is/are needed for a safe, legal place for the unhoused.

3.  A body is recommended to expedite and further the work of the Opportunity Eugene Task Force.”

Following these three key recommendations in the draft is a list of prioritized actions Eugene City Council and others may take to implement the above recommendations.  The list of actions includes such achievable suggestions as:  “Approve the zoning change to enable expansion of the Eugene Mission from occupancy of 400 to 643.”

Rather than discuss the recommendations it was immediately asserted by members of a separate group that the final draft needed to be revised and a 16-page list of changes to the recommendation, “because of the nature of its construction and multiple authoring, it lacked the clarity and “punch” that it needed…” was forwarded.

What was to be a relatively concise recommendation slipped into an angry discourse from members of Occupy Eugene who made statements like, “you will have blood on your hands” if you don’t recommend immediate action.

A particularly troubling statement, directed by an Occupy Eugene participant toward a dedicated Lane County staff member who has devoted her professional career to finding solutions for homeless adults and kids, “I don’t want to live on the same planet as you” was disturbing enough that I lost confidence and enthusiasm that a civil recommendation could be formed.

The final recommendation to Council is being drafted, but I fear that it will be so broad and nonspecific that it will be difficult for the Council to agree on practical areas to address.

I expect that a smaller committee will be appointed to further explore what can realistically be done in a way that addresses longer term needs.

Demands for an October 1 2012 startup of a self-governed homeless camp, as made by members of Occupy Eugene, are not likely to be realized because of a large number of issues including but not limited to: local and state codes and zoning requirements, public process and impact on adjacent neighborhoods.

Threats made by certain individuals of consequences if it doesn’t occur need to be taken seriously.

 

Surprise Poll Result: Piercy Occupy Response Okay

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Eugeneans don’t see much problem with Kitty Piercy’s handling of Occupy Eugene. This is despite the strong disapproval of the protest at the Poling home, spending too much on them, and overall city handling.

Rating Plunges – City Handling of Occupy Now Panned

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

The approval rating of the City of Eugene’s handling of Occupy Eugene plunged between December and January. It’s gone from sky high to underwater.

Poling Name ID Soars

Friday, January 27th, 2012

George Poling’s citywide Name ID soared between December and January. It’s pretty clear the Occupy Eugene protest and its aftermath were the causes.

Occupy Eugene Rating Unchanged

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

See the evolution of the  Occupy Eugene favorable rating between December and January.

Task force on homelessness looks at tactics, longer-range group should be appointed to look at strategies by Pat Farr

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

I am glad to be a part of the work group that is working on homelessness issues.  Serving on the task force and on the planning groups gives me first-hand exposure to the various sides of the issue and allows me to use my years of experience working with homeless kids and adults to help shape the direction of the desired outcomes.

The Council Committee on Homelessness and Youth (CCHY) met over the course of three years.  I was chair, and Councilor Bobby Lee and Mayor Jim Torrey completed the committee.  An updated  “Chronological History of Homeless Efforts and Actions 1947 to Present” was distributed yesterday to the large group of task force members.  There are no less than a dozen references to the work of the Council Committee in the report.

A list of desired outcomes of the short-term task force that will meet perhaps three more times was generated at the January 24 task force meeting:

1.  Raise public awareness about the issue of homelessness and provide a means to disseminate information

2.  Provide community based service hubs and storage sites

3.  Provide expanded shelter options (both emergency and ongoing)

4.  Expand daytime programs (like the one at Lindholm Center )

5.  Provide specialized services to address continuum of needs

6.  Identify opportunities for “wealth generation” among homeless population

It was recognized that all of the above goals are similar to programs that have been initiated with little or no start up cash in Eugene.  Programs such as WomenSpace , Looking Glass , White Bird and FOOD for Lane County originated “around somebody’s kitchen table” to address identified needs.  Each of these programs has developed into a broad-based service organization that is now a private non-profit (501 (c) (3) corporation).

Councilor Chris Pryor pointed out that the six outcomes listed above are all tactics that are part of what should be a larger strategic effort to address homelessness in Eugene on a long-term basis.  With that thought in mind I once again suggested that the long term discussion should center around a Council Committee, such as the CCHY, to determine what can be done to help the men, women and children all around us who need shelter.   With such effort and with little cost perhaps a dozen more entries in the “Chronological History” can be added.

(The Eugene Human Rights Commission has included this suggestion in its work plan.)