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City releases guidelines for urban camping during COVID-19

The City has been working throughout the pandemic to balance the needs of people experiencing homelessness to have a safe place to sleep. The goal has always been to slow the spread of COVID-19, and work inside of guidance of the CDC, Oregon Health Authority, and Lane County Public Health which calls for limiting the movement of people throughout the community. In order to support this public health effort, the City has adjusted its processes around urban camping while continuing to create and search for new shelter options. At this time however, many people experiencing homelessness are residing in Eugene’s parks and right of way areas.

Since the beginning of COVID the City has used three basic principles when evaluating camps:      

  • Health and safety – sites that pose health and safety issues for the housed and unhoused communities – including degradation of the environment.
  • Location – near playgrounds, sports fields and paths, sites that block public access to properties, sidewalks, paths or roads, or limit ADA accessibility, as well as sites that block park facilities and paths.
  • Criminal behavior – trespassing or known criminal activity.

As COVID spread more broadly in our community over the past six weeks, we’ve adjusted our processes around urban camping. These new processes included specific criteria when identifying camps that may need to be cleared and cleaned. The intent is to provide the information to campers so they can clearly understand the expectations and allow them the opportunity to come into compliance. If they can meet the criteria, they would be allowed to stay. This work coincides with the City increasing its own ability to provide more outreach and compliance assistance to people who are camping.

As for specific camping in Westmoreland Park, this is tied to the campers who were in the right-of-way on 18th Avenue. Out of safety concerns, Public Works asked those campers to move from their adjacent location into the park temporarily. One of the criteria for camping in our parks is not being within 300 feet of playgrounds, sports courts, park shelters, and microsite and Rest Stop locations. Because these campers are within 300 feet of the new Rest Stop, the City will be working with these campers to find them a new place to be outside of Westmoreland Park before the rest stop opens. Due to the rest stop and new microsite in Westmoreland and the disc golf sports field, in the future there will likely not be any spots in the park that can accommodate temporary camping during COVID.

You also shared your frustrations with the lack of transparency about this process. We continue to be in a transition phase as we pilot these new criteria, which I’ve shared below.

Where camping is not permitted in parks

  • All parks designated as neighborhood parks (For details www.eugene-or.gov/327/Parks-and-Natural-Area). 
    • Please note that Washington-Jefferson Park is categorized as a metro park versus a neighborhood park.
  • Riparian areas such as along the Willamette River and Amazon Creek.
  • Wetlands such as Delta Ponds and the West Eugene Wetlands.
  • High quality natural areas such as the Whilamut Natural Area.
  • The City’s vegetated stormwater facilities that are designed to filter and clean water
  • Within 300 feet of playgrounds, sports courts, park shelters and City of Eugene Rest Stop locations. 
  • Within 50 feet of private property.

Campers in these areas are issued a 24-hour notice of clean up.   

COVID-19 public health criteria for temporary camping in parks

Outside of the not-permitted sites, a camp needs to meet these criteria to stay-in place:  

  • Camp site supports public health and safety by following physical distancing guidelines:
    • Tents are 12 feet apart from individuals not in the camper’s household. 
    • It is possible for the public to reasonably maintain six feet of distance from the person camping and their property at all times. 
  • Camp maintains public access to sidewalks, paths, transit stations, restrooms or building entrances.
  • Camp maintains clean and healthy spaces with no significant garbage or debris. 
  • Camp is safe with no evidence of conspicuous drug use: uncapped, used hypodermic needles or other paraphernalia that could be a health hazard to other community members.
  • There are no Eugene Police Department verified reports of criminal behavior. 
  • Camp site is not negatively impacting properties adjacent to parks. 
  • Camp site is not negatively affecting nearby business activities. 
  • Camp site is not disturbing vegetation.
  • Camp site is not damaging or preventing maintenance of park infrastructure. 

For those that do not meet the above criteria, the City will issue a 48-hour warning notice. The notice provides clear information about what needs to be corrected to meet accepted criteria. City staff will visit the site no sooner than 48 hours later, and if the site is in compliance, the camp site will be allowed to remain. For ODOT leased park lands like Washington Jefferson, if the criteria have not been met, the camp will be posted for cleanup no sooner than 10 days and no later than 19 days per ODOT requirements.

Donate blood and help the community

Bloodworks Northwest provides the blood to 100 percent of the hospitals in Lane County. We need your help making sure they have plenty of blood.

Blood donation remains an essential and encouraged activity as Gov. Kate Brown implements new coronavirus restrictions. Blood donors have a critical role in sustaining health care through the holidays and into the new year—there is an urgent need to save lives.

Bloodworks Northwest is now testing all blood donations for COVID-19 Antibodies. Could you help COVID-19 patients? Give blood with Bloodworks Dec. 9 – 31 and they’ll test your donation for antibodies which are a key component of the immune system that appear in blood after fighting an infection. The testing will help identify people who may be able to donate to our convalescent plasma program and help COVID-19 patients directly. Be a COVID-19 hero and schedule your one hour appointment today.

Springfield Faith Center, 600 Hayden Bridge Road, Dec. 2-4

First Baptist, Eugene, 3550 Fox Meadows Rd., Dec. 10 and 11

The Graduate Hotel, 66 E. 6th Ave, Eugene, Dec. 17 and 18

Besides helping the community, donors in December will automatically be entered to win a 75” HDTV.  Or donate now through January to be entered to win a Seaside Weekend Getaway courtesy of the City of Seaside. Or are you ready for a fresh look? Donate and receive a $5 off voucher for Bishops Barbershops.

Please make and keep your appointment to donate blood today at https://schedule.bloodworksnw.org/DonorPortal/Default.aspx or call 800-398-7888.

City of Eugene COVID-19 Community Update

Dec. 2, 2020. As we turn our calendars to December, we’d like to share gratitude for those who modified their Thanksgiving holiday – potentially sacrificing time with loved ones – and helped to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community, region and state. We know it’s hard, but you’re making a difference for your family, friends and neighbors.

Many thanks to those who continue shopping locally and ordering from our restaurants and breweries. We all need support this time of year, including our small businesses. For those remaining items on your holiday shopping list, check out the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce’s shop local guide.

Read more here

City of Eugene COVID-19 Community Update

Nov. 24, 2020. Thanksgiving is this week, and what would normally be a bustling time of year looks like a slow-motion video.  

One way you can help our community during this two-week freeze, if you are financially able, is to purchase pick-up orders from our local restaurants or gift certificates as holiday gifts. Our restaurants and bars are once again restricted to take out, which jeopardizes the future of many of these local businesses. 

This update has information about ways you can support our local economy this holiday season to help small businesses survive the pandemic, as well as resources for keeping yourself healthy through these difficult times. 

Read more online

City of Eugene COVID-19 Community Update

Nov. 18, 2020

Eugene is once again in a make or break moment. Our COVID-19 cases have been rising steadily for weeks and our hospitals are sounding the alarm.

To prevent hospitals from being stretched to capacity, Governor Brown has announced a statewide two-week freeze in addition to a new travel advisory (more info on both below). These new measures put strict limitations on social gatherings, which continue to drive our COVID-19 case increases.

We can’t control the pandemic, but we can control the steps we take to protect ourselves and the community. If we do not act now to slow the spread of the virus, these restrictions will be extended.

Read more

Enduring the pandemic, preventing wildfires, and developing neighborhood evacuation plans

Our world is ever changing and this year has demonstrated that change can occur rapidly and with devastating results. We became aware of the COVID-19 outbreak in China late last year and by February the World Health Organization had declared a pandemic. On February 25th, your neighborhood disaster preparedness team activated volunteers in response. They were initially tasked with looking in on high-risk and elderly neighbors they were aware of. By mid-March, each volunteer had surveyed a much larger area, collectively covering the entire neighborhood and looking for the OK/HELP signs included with the Spring 2020 Southeast Neighbor News. Many of you posted the OK sign in front windows to let your neighbors know that you and your family were not in need of help. We thank you for participating in this effort to communicate with and care for your nearby neighbors.

Even though the pandemic continues, we are asking that you take down your sign and keep it available for future use. We know that so many of us are not well-connected with our nearby neighbors. In the event of a disaster when communication systems fail, posting your HELP sign could very well save your life. If you no longer have your sign and would like to have one, please contact SENeighborsPrepared@gmail.com. We’ll get one to you!

As part of our neighborhood’s response to the pandemic, we created a page on the Recovers.org website to help connect those in need with those who can offer assistance. Some volunteers continue to assist elderly and high-risk neighbors who sought help through Recovers with activities like shopping. Due to the Holiday Farm Fire and the hundreds of displaced families in need, we have transitioned our page from the Recovers website to support all of Lane County. Several SEN volunteers are now working with Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) to assist fire evacuees.

Recognizing the danger a wildland fire like Holiday Farm can pose even to residents in the Eugene/Springfield metro area, SEN in partnership with several other neighborhood associations is asking the Fire Marshal’s office to assist us in developing neighborhood-specific evacuation plans. We are also advocating for state and local funding so that neighborhoods can successfully play the role our emergency management agencies are asking of us. Through the Neighborhood Leaders Council (NLC), a local civic organization, Eugene’s neighborhoods are exploring the creation of a Fire Council to maintain focus on the emerging fire danger, to assist volunteer organizations like SEN in developing concrete, data-driven fire prevention policies, and to advocate for the necessary funding.

To jumpstart this initiative the NLC hosted the first of many online forums to provide Eugene residents with expert advice on preparing for an responding to potential disaster scenarios. The forum series began on October 29 with presentations on wildfire prevention and response. Eugene/Springfield Fire Chief Chris Heppel, Deputy Fire Chief Amy Linder, and Tim Ingalsbee, Executive Director of Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics and Ecology (FUSEE) identified lessons learned from the Holiday Farm Fire, and educated attendees on how to protect their homes from wildfire and develop community-based solutions.

Recordings of the Fire Prevention Program are now available:

For questions or to get involved, contact the Disaster Preparedness Committee at SENeighborsPrepared@gmail.com.

Neighborhood leaders host wildfire webinar

Volunteers from Southeast Neighbors and the Eugene Neighborhood Preparedness Network hosted informative presentations on wildfire on Thursday, Oct. 29. The presentation slides are embedded below, and the Zoom webinar recordings are available here:

Eugene/Springfield Fire encourages neighborhoods to adopt the Firewise Communities program. 

We are looking for volunteers to share Firewise Communities information with nearby neighbors.  Southeast Neighbors Prepared (our SEN Disaster Preparedness Committee) can provide you with a brief training on how to do so. Please email David Monk at SENeighborsPrepared@gmail.com for details.  

Fire-Chief-Chris-Heppel-webinar-20201029

Fire-Marshal-Amy-Linder-webinar-20201029

FUSEE-Executive-Director-Tim-Ingalsbee-webinar-20201029

SEN launches Human Rights Committee

Over the summer of 2020, in response to greatly increased attention to human rights issues both nationally and locally in southeast Eugene, a group of neighbors and SEN board members began meeting to explore formation of a Human Rights Committee (HRC).

The vision of the HRC is that it will advise the SEN Board and promote initiatives that support principles of human rights and equity for residents living in southeast Eugene and throughout the community.

Activities being considered include organizing speakers on human rights topics for quarterly SEN community meetings, educational programs for community members, fostering communication and problem solving among community members, and other initiatives that promote human rights and equity.

The SEN HRC is in its formative stages and welcomes input and participation by all interested southeast Eugene residents.

Meetings are held monthly by Zoom. If you want to be involved or have questions about the activities of the SEN HRC, please send a quick email.

SEN General Meeting Nov. 10 at 7 p.m.

Southeast Neighbors General Meetings are now virtual!

Next Meeting: Tuesday, November 10, 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/99365055352

Theme: Hate, Bias and Race in Eugene
Presenters:

Fabio Andrade, City of Eugene Human Rights & Equity Analyst,

Eric Richardson, Eugene/Springfield NAACP Executive Director

Eugene Police Department Community Engagement Specialist to share Southeast Eugene crime statistics

Matt Keating, newly elected City Councilor Ward 2

City of Eugene Hate and Bias Report

Slow down, save lives and $$$

Speed limits will drop to 20 mph on non-arterial streets in residential districts in Eugene. The new 20 mph speed limit legally goes into effect on each street when the existing speed limit signs are replaced. That started for Southeast Eugene in October. Average speeding ticket is $115.

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