ACLU seeks to postpone Portland mayor's homeless camping vote
The American Civil Liberties Union, on behalf of the publication Street Roots, has asked Portland City Council to postpone a vote set for 2 p.m. today, Wednesday, Nov. 3, on a proposal by Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Dan Ryan to end unsanctioned homeless camping.
Wheeler's proposal would allow police to require outdoor campers to move to indoor or outdoor sites once three "canvases," which eventually could accommodate up to 1,500 people, have been opened within 18 months.
"The notice demands a postponement of the City Council vote on the proposal, currently scheduled for a hearing starting at 2 p.m.," according to an ACLU press release. "It also requests public records encompassing written communications among public officials and other key parties related to the policy and the public comment process."
The mayor's office has not yet responded to the Tribune's request for a reaction.
"As I watched Street Roots vendors wait to give their testimony at last week's
hearing, I felt something was very wrong," said Kaia Sand, executive director of Street Roots. "The city needs to provide everybody equal access to the governing and public participation process, regardless of their income or title. The city especially has the duty to seek input from houseless people — the ones whose lives will be most directly impacted by this proposal. We're asking for the postponement of today's vote so Portland's residents can feel confident about their government's policy-making process."
The proposal by Wheeler and Ryan also would seek to create 20,000 new affordable housing units by 2033, increase employment opportunities for the homeless, and increase addiction and mental health services.
If the hearing is held today, Portland City Commissioner Mingus Mapps has promised to support the entire package, guaranteeing its passage on the five-member City Council.
Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty opposes the mandatory relocation provision. Commissioner Carmen Rubio has said she is generally supportive of the plan.
Full coverage of the vote will be posted at PortlandTribune.com.
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