June 17 2021
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  New city policy could turn parks into outdoor homes   Fears of homeless people erecting temporary shelters  

Story by Latisha Jensen - Story Source
Published on Wednesday March 24, 2021 - 7:26 AM
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Amanda Fritz was supposed to be retired. On Jan. 1, she completed her third and final term on the Portland City Council, her 12 years distinguished by her efforts to expand the city's parks system into eastside neighborhoods with little greenspace.

But last Wednesday, she was back—alarmed that a new city policy could turn her beloved parks into outdoor homes.

"The city has invested millions in development, maintenance and restoration of parks and open spaces," she warned. "Allowing people to live there and harm the resources will waste taxpayers' money."

Her concern: a line of regulatory language, buried in an overhaul of the city's zoning code, that would allow people to erect "temporary shelter" in any open space in Portland—including parks, wetlands and trails.

The sentence is a small part of the Shelter to Housing Continuum, an ambitious plan to ease the creation of homeless shelters across the city. Sanctioning people sleeping in parks is a detail of the larger plan, crafted by staff at the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. But the idea has drawn remarkable outcry, including from leaders who helped build the city's park system...