Eugene: Outside Travelers Controlling Our Public Spaces

“Lots of options, but no easy answers for downtown Eugene homeless, transient population”
from The Register-Guard ~  Eugene Sept 13, 2015

With a single email sent the Thursday before last, Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy reignited an old but evergreen debate in our city: Should people be bothered by downtown’s ubiquitous homeless and transient population and, if so, what can be done to resolve the issue?

In the note to the Eugene City Council, Piercy, whose 12-year term as mayor will end next year, veered between cautious and firm. She made a careful distinction between the local homeless population and “travelers,” outsiders who, she said, are at times “actually controlling … our corners, our plazas, our public spaces.”

“I am tired of being told we are cruel or overindulgent,” she wrote. “I believe we are a kind community, a compassionate community and one that is not blind to things that are not working and not good for anyone.”

“We’ve been at this for decades,” she added. “Time to stop.”

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Mayor Admits Downtown is Overrun by Traveling Gangs

In an impassioned email the mayor said that as I walked through downtown on Thursday, “I don’t think I saw one homeless person as I know them to be. I think I counted 27 travelers, many of them with dogs, sprawled on the corners throughout the center of town.”

I’m not judging people by their looks or lifestyle, but I want “our public spaces to be for all to use.”

“I don’t want travelers actually controlling, living on our corners, our plazas, our public spaces,” the mayor  wrote. “I welcome them to use them as I would expect everyone else to do. And I want benches and inviting places for all the public to freely use.”

In an interview, the mayor said many of the so-called travelers have “chosen a lifestyle of moving from place to place, and they are not what we call homeless. It’s more of a lifestyle.”

Did you think that was Mayor Hales?  Guess again.

Those comments are from  Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy – a leader who’s willing to tell it like it is. 

The warning signs were here this spring – City Hall and Portland Police were notified that gangs of travelers were gathering on the North Park Blocks and along Waterfront Park.

City Hall had no unified plan to address this summer’s crisis. Now Portland is in a state of emergency trying to keep the lid on until the traveling gangs head south for the winter.

Mayor Hales – restore safety and order to our parks and public spaces. We need leadership in City Hall, not excuses.