Coos County has updated its rules regarding the removal of homeless people camping on county property in an effort to comply with state law.
The biggest change in the new regulations approved this week is the requirement that all property left behind when a person is returned be held for 30 days before they can be disposed of. There are exceptions for garbage, weapons, drugs or dangerous items, all of which can be destroyed immediately.
The county ordinance gives the sheriff’s office the power to remove almost all homeless campsites on county property. This includes those camping in rights-of-way along roads other than national roads and city streets.
Once the sheriff’s office determines that someone is camping on county property, outside of specific campsites and day-use areas of city parks, MPs can order those who are camping to leave. If they refuse, the sheriff’s office must post a written notice giving campers 72 hours to opt out. If they still refuse to leave, they can be removed.
Before removing campers, the sheriff’s office should also notify agencies that provide services to the homeless, giving them time to contact those camping before the end of 72 hours.
If someone is fired, all personal property seized by the sheriff’s office must be kept for 30 days. A big change in state law is that property must now be stored in the same community that the campsite was located.
Commissioner John Sweet said he was concerned it would cost the county more, but county attorney Nathan McClintock said it could add expense if a storage unit were to be rented, but he felt that the expenses would be minimal.
“I guess we have no choice but to pass this,” Sweet said, before he and Commissioner Melissa Cribbins voted in favor.
Commissioners also voted to give Coos Health and Wellness employees a one-time bonus as a loyalty payment. Funding is provided by the Oregon Health Authority and can only be used for retention payments for healthcare professionals who have dealt with COVID-19.
“I’m concerned that this would spread to the rest of the staff in our county and how we would fund this,” Sweet said.
“In my experience as a commissioner, when we offer something to a group of employees, we get questions,” Cribbins added.
Mike Rowley, director of Coos Health and Wellness, said funding set aside by the state can only be used in his department and if not used it will be returned.
With this information, the Commissioners voted 2-0 to accept funding for the retention payments.