By Tom Henderson • Staff Writer • 

Eugene officials to discuss parking program

Representatives from the city of Eugene and St. Vincent de Paul will attend and describe how it started and lessons that have been learned from it as well as people’s roles and responsibilities.

Tim Duncan would like a seat at the table, too.

Duncan lives in his RV on Dustin Court across from Yamhill Community Action Partnership — for now. He keeps moving to stay ahead of the city’s parking laws. A program that provides safe parking measured in days instead of hours would be preferable, he said. 

“Some kind of designated space would be great, and there’s no reason people living on the streets or in RVs can’t help out,” said Duncan. “Being able to work and do things makes you feel better about yourself.”

For the past 20 years, churches, businesses, nonprofit organizations and government agencies in Eugene have allowed up to six vehicles to park on their properties for up to 90 days. Leaders of the local St. Vincent de Paul organization, with the help of city funding, oversee the sites and provide a service center where people can shower and find refuge from extreme temperatures. 

City Council President Kellie Menke said last month that councilors also plan to discuss RV parking on public streets at a work session at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 21. However, Planning Director Heather Richards said Monday’s meeting is being billed as a joint meeting of the subcommittee and the city council, so councilors are free to attend without violating Oregon’s public meeting laws.

Councilor Remy Drabkin, who serves on the subcommittee, told fellow counciliors last month the group is working diligently on a Eugene-style camping program. Leaders of Provoking Hope have offered to act locally as the role St. Vincent de Paul has in Eugene, she said.

Officials at Recology Western Oregon have also volunteered to provide garbage hauling for a local site.

Discussion of a camping program comes as tensions are mounting about the presence of RV dwellers — or so-called “outliers” — parked along city streets. Particularly upset are homeowners near Northeast Doran Drive. Among the places outliers habitually park is Doran Drive between a vacant lot and the Doran Toyota dealership.

Councilors directed Police Chief Matt Scales and city staff Feb. 21 to draft a law that restricts RV parking on public streets, based on ordinances already in force in Gresham and Oregon City. McMinnville’s parking law allows vehicles to remain parked in the same spot for up to 72 hours. They must then be moved at least 350 feet from their original position.

Amanda Kent, who spends much time among the RV dwellers, would  like to see the council hold off on new laws. She lives with relatives now, but said she is about to get an eviction notice.

She also likes the idea of a parking or camping program.

“That’s really what it should be about, neighbors helping each other,” she said.

Many people, like her, have become homeless through no fault of their own, said Kent. “Stuff happens. That’s life.”

Duncan said life took a bad turn for him after he contracted pneumonia and was never able to recover from the illness financially. He would like to hear how the neighbors who complain about him and his fellow outliers would handle similar circumstances, he said.

“These people who are doing all the complaining, they could lose their homes someday,” Duncan said. “I would like to see how good they are at being homeless. Let them try spending even one night on the street.”



Tom, I see you put the expression "outliers" in the tenth paragraph in quotes, as I have done here quoting the report. Was your use in the report a direct quote? And if so can you update us from your notes on who it is you were quoting?

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