City Council gives Whoville campers 30 days to move

City Council gives Whoville campers 30 days to move »Play Video
Neighboring businesses are looking to the City of Eugene to improve the situation. The City owns the property, and city law forbids camping on public property. The City of Eugene recently posted "No Trespassing" signs in an effort to close the piece of land to everyone. "I'll be frank with you," said Bob Walker, who manages the hotel next door. "In my contacts with the city, they've specifically said, 'We don't know how to handle this situation.'"

EUGENE, Ore. - Campers at the site known as Whoville will be allowed to stay there for no more than another 30 days, the Eugene City Council decided Wednesday.

The camp has been on city property at the corner of Hilyard and Broadway between downtown and the University of Oregon campus for about 4 months.

The motion by Councilor Claire Syrett passed 6-2, with councilors George Poling and Mike Clark voting against it.

Councilor Poling called the situation "far off our track. This camp is not acceptable. It's not acceptable city-wide."

Councilor Clark said the city needed to define the difference between a "camp" and a "rest stop."

The Council directed City Manager Jon Ruiz in that time to find alternative locations and additional resources for homeless rest stops, the city's new program of legal camps where people who are unhoused can sleep.

The Eugene Police Department "will not be enforcing the site despite posted 'No Trespassing' signs until after the 30 days," Syrett said. "Jon Ruiz has the power to make any authority decision, but it would be against his best interest to do that."

The timeline didn't sit well with Anthony "Red" Showers, a Whoville spokesperson. "Thirty days isn't enough," he said. "I'm still digesting what city council discussed. We need a permanent solution."

During their deliberations, councilors weighed in on the issue of Whoville, rest stops and homelessness in general during the discussion.

"BLM and ODOT moved campers from west Eugene land. They moved into the city because they have no place to go," Councilor George Evans said. "I approve motion. It gets us to the next level. We need to include Lane County, state and feds. We are not equipped to effectively move with this issue."

Councilor Alan Zelenka said the city needs alternative housing options, and said rest stops were approved to see how to best manage homeless population. 

"But it does need to close," he said of Whoville. "I like the certainty of the 30 days. Deadlines are good. No more than 30 and to have an option to allow for a couple of sites."