The latest campaigns that I am working on as of 6-23-19 involve two basic subject areas where the Eugene city council is attempting to shove new laws down our collective throats. One area is the making of inhabiting the planter strips between the sidewalk and the curb into a trespass 2 offense which could result in immediate arrests, instead of the current practice of giving a 48 hour vacate notice. The other area is the imposition of a new payroll tax, which the city council declined to refer to the voters. I am currently gathering signatures in front of the Eugene downtown library every day from 10AM to 6PM until the deadline of July 11th, 2019 as part of a campaign by Eugene Springfield Solidarity Network to put the payroll tax onto the November 2019 ballot in Eugene. For more information on that, please visit https://www.solidaritynetwork.org/
Below I have pasted copies of the latest speeches that I have given or plan to give to the Eugene city council about the above two subjects:
My proposed speech for the public hearing tonight (6-10-19) at 7:30PM at Harris Hall about making it a trespass 2 offense to occupy a planter strip:
I am opposed to potentially increasing the penalties for camping on the strips of grass between the sidewalk and the curb. Currently, these strips of land are in a regulatory no person’s land, where the owners of the properties adjacent to the strips are responsible for maintaining them and are somewhat restricted in the types and sizes of so called landscaping that they can place there, but they have no other property rights over those strips. Apparently these strips are not part of the parcels they purchased when they acquired their properties. I filed a nuisance complaint in February 2019 about the large rocks that had been placed on the strips near the intersections of 2nd and Washington and also 2nd and Lawrence. I checked up on the status of my complaint today and was told it was a Public Works issue and not a code enforcement issue. So I had someone from Public Works make a copy of the complaint form that I had filed. They said they would share it with their team and get back to me. I was told by the public works person that so called landscaping is allowed on these strips as long as it is 18 inches in height or less. This contradicts what I was told in February which is that the limit is 12 inches in size, which the large rocks are grossly exceeding. Plus they just look ugly, worse than looking at a row of tents with a few spots of litter in between.
I know I have schizophrenia so I am slightly prone to construct conspiracy theories out of strings of unlucky coincidences. So when first the city manager changed the downtown activity zone rules right after I started up my idea of letting unhoused people sell my couchhosting.org art cards downtown and now that my friends and I are working to preserve camping opportunities along the strips of land between the sidewalk and the curb, I started to think that maybe the city council came up with these ideas as a way of banning the types of activities that my friends and I want to engage in to make the city more livable and give everyone a fair shake at having at least some place to rest.
So now my thoughts turn to the following idea which I actually hope, presented here partly in jest, that the city council will find a way to ban or severely restrict. I plan to reserve a spot in Alton Baker Park during August or September 2019 for an event that I will be calling Yuppies In The Park. I will restrict access to the shelter where the event is held and encourage people to show up dressed well and they must prove that they have $100 on them in order to be admitted. The $100 worth of currency can be in any form or denomination, Pesos, dollars, Euros, crypto balance shown on your smartphone wallet, or even play money such as Monopoly Money, but you must be in possession of $100 to gain admission. Donations of real money will be accepted at the event that will be evenly distributed between my three web site projects: Peacestickers.net, CouchHosting.org and TheBusStation.org.
More comments about planter strips (proposed 6-24-19 city council speech)
Here is a follow up comment, only part of which I posted to Facebook on June 11th, after my June 10thcomments at the public hearing about imposing trespass 2 penalties on planting strips in the right of way.
Well, it looks like there is very little possibility of being able to enforce any kind of aesthetic or accessibility standards on the planter strips between the sidewalk and the curb when the owners of the adjacent property place boulders and gravel on the strips in an effort to discourage placement of tents there. I was told by public works that even if the aesthetic standards that are suggested by the city are violated, there is no mechanism to cause enforcement or abatement to occur. If there is a safety concern then enforcement action can occur, but the person I talked to didn't seem to think that mobility impaired or visually impaired people vainly attempting to cross such a strip would qualify as a safety hazard. He also claimed that there are no ADA accessibility standards for such strips. I guess the only things that count as a hazard are the potential for the presence of needles and feces.
One last gasp legal argument is that I would claim that the people who put up the tents on the strips have the same rights when it comes to violating the aesthetic standards or safety standards as the adjacent property owners, under the equal protection concept contained in the 14th amendment to the US constitution.
And furthermore, there is the issue of the exercise of free speech on the planter strips. For years now, it has been technically illegal for real estate agents to place open house signs at street corners as this is a violation of city code which prohibits the placement of unattended advertising in the right of way. This is only enforced by complaint and when and if it were to be enforced there would be a citation issued only if the real estate agent continued to violate the code after repeated warnings. It is currently legal for anyone to hold a modest size sign while standing in the right of way, as this is considered to be free speech. If you make occupying the planter strips a trespass 2 offense, you will potentially add serious penalties to both types of activity which currently occur without any fuss or mess. I have personally had the occasion to occupy a planter strip while standing or seated in a chair while holding various political signs over the past 3 years or more. I see no fundamental reason why I should be forced to change that behavior. During the debate about the proposed anti-panhandling ordinance it was suggested that rather than having people hand stuff out the car window to panhandlers, the panhandlers could instead hold a sign for a gofundme page. Banning people from planter strips potentially removes this avenue of philanthropy that was pushed by those who were oh so concerned about public safety. Now I can clearly see that this series of discussions has devolved into just another morass of bait and switch.
My 5-28-19 public comments about the Payroll Tax:
According to an analysis by Jean Stacey of the number of citations issued by the Eugene Police Dept from January 2019 to April of 2019, there were ten times as many tickets and 6 times as many camping tickets issued during that period to unhoused people compared to the same months in 2018. In my attempt to follow the money on this statistic, I conclude that it must have been the extra $8 million dollars in bridge funding that resulted in this increase. I don’t want to see how many more unhoused people’s lives the Eugene Police Dept can ruin by writing more tickets when they get three times as much additional money if the payroll tax is adopted.
You say that you want to implement the recommendations of the TAC report, so that you can have zero visible homeless people on the streets within a few years. Yet you continue to pass laws and implement policies that outstrip the ability of the band aid solutions you do offer to cover the wounds that you continue to slash into the body and flesh of the unhoused and poor communities in Eugene. The nuisance ordinance expansion may contribute to the 130 people per month that are currently being made homeless. Thanks to the increases in ticketing, there will now be increased numbers of unhoused people who will now have a criminal and financial paper trail following them around that will make it harder for them to get into housing when they do stumble across the few vacancies that are available. I say, why don’t you just have the Eugene city govt do nothing and simply get out of the way, starting by repealing the new restrictive DAZ rules, so that organizations like CouchHosting.org and TheBusStation.org can get the work that they have set out to do done instead of being thwarted at every turn, not by competition from city government that could make their operations unprofitable, but by live, physical repression that all but outlaws what we are trying to accomplish.
Well this time I’m not going to be chased away by some silly repressive law that makes life harder for my clients. Based on my experiences with CouchHosting.org over the past two years, I have concluded that having someone couch surf at your house or apartment should no longer be considered to be a short term commitment. Soon I’m going to be rolling out a reorganized CouchHosting.org website that discusses the level of commitment that is needed to assure that the person you are helping can eventually get back on their feet. In the short term, people will be asked to either find unhoused people who can pay a little rent to stay at their residence long term, or if they wish to undertake the commitment required, they should understand that some people may take quite a long time, years possibly, before they will be in a position to start paying rent. Eventually, the income that I generate from thebusstation.org locker rentals will be enough to subsidize up to 40 people in the latter category, in a program that is similar to the flexible funding idea in the implementation of the TAC report as currently done by the city where the expenses of the hosts such as food and increased utility bills are covered by the city funding.
My Speech At City Council 2-11-19
There is a series of three public hearings scheduled for February 19th, 2019 at 7:30PM at Harris Hall 125 E 8th Ave, Eugene, Oregon, concerning the Construction Excise Tax, Anti Panhandling ordinance and expansion of the nuisance ordinance. I am opposed to all three proposals in their current forms. The CET should be imposed at a robust 1% from the get go. With the possibility of new technologies such as 3D printing that will dramatically lower construction costs, there soon will be no reason to bother building anything that has the current profit margin of less than 1%.
I am currently gathering signatures with opt in options for people to be contacted on two informal petitions against both the anti panhandling ordinance proposal and the revision of the nuisance ordinance proposal. As of Sunday night Feb 10th, I have personally gathered 294 signatures on the petition against the anti panhandling ordinance, with 179 of those signatures gathered when there was an opt in option on the form. Of the 179 people in that group there are 71 opt ins who wanted to be contacted by the campaign, or about a 40% opt in rate. The petition against the nuisance ordinance expansion started circulating on Friday Feb 8th and currently has 58 signatures with 25 opt ins. I’m hoping to eventually collect many more signatures and opt ins on both petitions, as even just on Sunday alone I had 4 or 5 people get copies of both petitions to make copies of and circulate themselves. Over half of the other people circulating the petitions have the versions with the opt in feature. I will be making phone calls and sending emails to the various opt ins to see if they will make it to the hearing on Feb 19th.
I am opposed to the antipanhandling ordinance because it violates the 1st amendment rights of both the pedestrian and the motorist. I believe that the transfer of items to and from vehicles by pedestrians is so safe that it really doesn’t need any additional regulation. But if you were going to be concerned about traffic safety, there should be something in the ordinance about transferring fliers from pedestrians to vehicles or at least cover the big loophole that would allow a driver to hand an item to someone seated on a bike without penalty.
The nuisance ordinance expansion looks to me like an attempt to turn the whole city of Eugene into one giant homeowner’s association. Rat and mice infestations are a problem for many home owners, not just the ones at the bottom who have trash filled yards that the health inspector from the Eugene nanny state might want to write a ticket for. I have a relative who lives in a condo that is as clean on the inside as the local hospital, yet she regularly sees signs of rats in the garage. Would you sanction her if this ordinance were in effect in her community? It looks to me like the nuisance ordinance is just an excuse to drive poor people who have small problems with their ability to maintain their properties out of the city. For many of these people, including myself in the residences I have occupied over the past two decades, these places are the last places of refuge before the people living there would be cast out onto the street.
These are the petitions against the anti-panhandling and nuisance ordinances that will have hearings ate Harris Hall on Feb 19th at 7:30PM. Feel free to download them and print them out. At this late date it would be best to make copies of any completed petitions and mail them to the PO Box on the petitions, while handing in the originals to city council on Feb 19th.