Human rights panel opposes car camping ban
The Beaverton Human Rights Advisory Commission has taken a stand against the city's own ban on overnight car camping on city streets.
The commission voted for a resolution July 11 opposing the ban — there were no dissenters, although a couple of members were absent — that the City Council adopted on a 4-1 vote a month earlier after three rounds of comments for and against it.
Among the opponents were Cameron Monfared, a commission member and Beaverton High School student entering his senior year, and Farrah Chaichi, the commission chair. They presented the resolution to the City Council at its July 17 meeting.
"We should not be running homeless people out of our community," Monfared said Friday.
He said the ban, which is in the form of a city ordinance, might have drawn more support "if there were someplace else for them to go."
But the resolution says Beaverton's severe-weather shelter, which has operated for two winters, bars children — and people in poverty are often forced to live in their cars.
"The commission opposes the adoption of such ordinance without proper places for the affected population to safely reside," it says.
The commission urged the council to suspend enforcement "until adequate alternatives are found and implemented."
The ordinance bans camping in the public right of way — camping is defined as setting up a temporary place to live — but requires police to issue a 72-hour written warning to a violator for a first offense. Police would be authorized to tow vehicles only if a person has received a city ticket for violation of the ban within 30 days of the current violation.
Maximum penalties are a $100 fine and 30 days in jail.
The ordinance enables police to order cleanups of illegal campsites and store personal belongings for at least 30 days, unless items are unsanitary or hazardous. Police can keep weapons, drug paraphernalia, and items that appear to be stolen or are evidence of a crime.
City Councilor Lacey Beaty was the lone dissenter on the June 12 vote. She is also the council liaison to the Human Rights Advisory Commission, but she was absent from the commission's July 11 meeting when it passed the resolution.
The resolution mentions Beaty's vote, but neither she nor other councilors commented on the resolution during the July 17 council meeting.
Chaichi alluded to an earlier announcement July 17 that the city and the Beaverton Arts Foundation were just $9.6 million short of attaining a $46 million fundraising goal for a new arts center.
"We will continue to advise the mayor and council on this issue until a just and equitable solution is reached," she said. "For a city that can find $46 million in fundraising, it should not be a problem to find a solution to this."