Beaverton lacks ordinance to address growing homeless camps

Currently, there is no ordinance in Beaverton to address overnight camping in public rights of way. (KATU Photo)

Campers and trash line a section of Southwest Western Avenue and 5th Street in Beaverton.

Northwest Fencing Center gets a front row seat to it every day.

“I've had situations where people have reported public urination, defecating, and we have found needles on our parking lot at times and that's when we're concerned,” said Cody Mattern, fencing master.

More than 200 students ages 4 to 70 train at fencing club. For a year and a half, Mattern says they've been sympathetic for the most part, but as the camp grew, so did the problems.

"You have one or two bad encounters and it really paints a bad picture on the entire population of people trying to get on their feet," said Mattern.

He says they've even asked some of those campers to help them keep the peace. Some agree and others refuse.

Folks like Trina moved in because they don't have other options.

"I just can't afford a place to live, so I live in my van," she said. "Trying to get out of here is really hard."

Trina says she's on disability and can't work, but because rent is so high, she resorts to the streets and hopes California will be kinder.

Neighbors living nearby say the area is getting too crowded.

Angela Golden has lived in the apartments that face the camp for 15 years.

"What the heck is going on? Called the landlord -- what's happening, why are they here, parked here?" she said.

Her biggest worry is the garbage that keeps building in front of the apartments. She's worried the trash will bring vermin and health concerns to her neighborhood. She says she's already seen a decline in traffic in the area.

"I used to see the Beaverton High School kids used to run this way. This year, I haven't noticed them at all," she said. "A lot of people used to take this pathway to walk their dogs -- things of that sort. No one really comes here anymore."

Both the city and police are aware of this camp. Police say they've made several arrests already, but aside from monitoring, their hands are tied. Currently, there is no ordinance in Beaverton to address overnight camping in public rights of way. Unless those camping are doing something illegal, police can't remove them.

City Council will hold a public hearing about drafting an overnight camping ordinance Tuesday night starting at 6:30 inside City Hall.

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