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Lane County closes Butterfly Lot, removes homeless campers

The county-owned lot in downtown Eugene is closed and access will be limited as they work to clean up the property.

Posted: Nov 14, 2018 5:58 PM
Updated: Nov 14, 2018 7:07 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Lane County and the Eugene Police Department enforced trespassing laws at the Butterfly Lot Wednesday, removing the homeless protesters camping at the site.

The county-owned lot in downtown Eugene is closed and access will be limited as they work to clean the property.

"It is emotional because we get tired of moving every other day," camper Valerie Peronto said. "We didn't ask to be homeless." 

Over the past few weeks, illegal camping has repeatedly occurred at the site, and reports of public urination and defecation, threats of violence and a fire that resulted in injury have caused concern, according to officials. The goal, they said, was to gain voluntary compliance from the campers and provide information about available social services to the homeless.

"We just want to have equal rights and equality like everyone else," camper Cory Riser said. "But if there's nowhere to go, there's nowhere to go. So we're just going to have to find somewhere else to go, and pretty much keep doing what we're doing until we can find a place."

Those who choose to relocate to Camp 99, which the county opened in the 500 block of Highway 99, will receive assistance moving belongings and bus passes, officials said.

At that location, homeless people can be connected with services that assist the unhoused.

Eugene City Council gets update on downtown improvements 

The Eugene City Council received an update on the improvements police and city staff made to downtown over the summer.

During the works session, the city's planning department and police told councilors that reports show more people are spending time downtown, but there is still a negative perception.

Sergeant Julie Smith of the Eugene Police Department said programs like the day-use storage area have been a success but believe there is still room for improvement.

"We do face challenges, but things are getting better," Smith said. "It says something that I'm willing to bring my family downtown. What we are doing is working."

During the fall, Eugene police installed mobile security cameras downtown. Smith said they hope to have more officers patrol downtown in the coming months. City leaders said they plan to hire a downtown operations manager to oversee many other projects.

The city council is expected to consider adding more funding to help improve the downtown area in December.

to learn about how homelessness in Eugene, click here. 

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