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Local government meetings: Corvallis to discuss camping policy
BENTON, LINN LOCAL GOVERNMENT MEETINGS

Local government meetings: Corvallis to discuss camping policy

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Pioneer Park homelsss camp fire

The Corvallis Fire Department responded twice to a fire in a homeless camp near Pioneer Park in July. Fires at illegal camping sites have risen dramatically in 2020 as the city has relaxed enforcement because of the coronavirus. 

The Corvallis City Council meets remotely at 6 p.m. Monday. To participate go to https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6454155654797310477.

Councilors are scheduled to hear a report from city department heads on the challenges the city is facing with illegal camping.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic the city has not been enforcing camping ordinances and has only responded to complaints when “aggravating circumstances necessitate a response,” according to the meeting staff report.

Law enforcement responses to camping have dropped dramatically, the report says, but fires at such camps are up 73% in 2020 and 71% of all fires this year have occurred at homeless camps. Meanwhile, the Corvallis Police Department recorded 247 calls for service at the camp behind the men’s cold weather homeless shelter/BMX park between March 8 and July 8.

The city is planning to implement a four-step process to address the challenge. The first stage, which is set to take place almost immediately, focuses on education and outreach. Step two, after 30 days, includes posting and cleaning up all camps except those at the BMX park. Stage three, after 60 days, limits BMX park camping to sites within 150 feet of the shelter and the city will return to its pre-COVID-19 response to camping. During stage four, 90 days down the road, city officials hope that the shelter and churches and nonprofits will seek permits for microshelters on their properties to help ease the demand for camping spots.

The item is noted on the agenda as being for information only and no vote of the council is required to move forward with the plan.

In other local government meetings set for the coming days:

Monday

• The Albany City Council meets at 4 p.m. in a remote work session. To participate go to https://www.gotomeet.me/cityofalbany/ccm or call 1-646-749-3129 and use the access code 491-970-829. On the agenda are updates on the Cumberland Church and utility fees.

Tuesday

• The Albany Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission meets remotely at 7 p.m. To participate go to https://www.gotomeet.me/CommunityDevelopmentCityofAlbany/bpac or call 1-408-650-3123 and use the meeting ID 658-995-069. On the agenda is the introduction of a new member and an update on a safe rides to school grant.

Wednesday

• The Corvallis ad hoc committee looking at advisory boards and commissions meets remotely at 3 p.m. To participate go to https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/841404981405987088. The committee, which includes councilors and city staffers, will review feedback from the Sept. 10 council work session and discuss a public outreach process. 

• The Albany City Council meets remotely at 7:15 p.m. To participate go to https://www.gotomeet.me/cityofalbany/ccm or call 1-646-749-3129 and use the access code 491-970-829. On the agenda are a public hearing on the city‘s Community Development Block Grant action plan for 2020 as well as votes on ordinances related to code development changes and a resolution on parks and recreation fees.

Thursday

• The Corvallis City Council meets in a remote 4 p.m. work session. To participate go to https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/1250158324553230606. On the agenda are discussions of a coronavirus testing program run by Oregon State University and the Benton County Health Department, the city parking audit and parliamentary procedures.

Contact reporter James Day at jim.day@gazettetimes.com or 541-812-6116. Follow at Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day.

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