TD Council To Hold Meeting On Homeless Issues

The Dalles City Council will hold a town hall-style meeting to discuss homeless issues.  Councilors reached consensus on that after discussing a potential ordinance to create a “civil exclusion zone” in the downtown business area that brought an overflow audience to City Hall. Mayor Steve Lawrence early on told the audience the ordinance was still in draft form and would only be the subject of discussion among Council members whether to move forward to have staff continue to develop it and eventually schedule a public hearing, and no comment would be taken on the subject during the public input period.  But that didn’t sit well with at least one person who had a loud exchange with Lawrence, and after an outburst while another person was commenting was escorted from the room by Police Chief Pat Ashmore.  Councilor Tim McGlothlin, who has been active in discussing the homeless issue, said he hopes many people offer ideas for solutions, pointing out the number of homeless in The Dalles has more than tripled since 2015.  Lawrence said a town hall-style meeting will be planned before anything moves forward.  The draft ordinance that was discussed would allow people who habitually violate any one of 24 different offenses to be excluded from the downtown area for up to 90 days, and face a second degree criminal trespass charge if found in the zone with some exceptions, including work or receiving social and medical services.  The intent was to address aggressive panhandling and loitering in tourist and shopping areas.  Police Chief Pat Ashmore told the Council he felt no more than five-to-six people would be impacted by an exclusion zone, noting it would be for anyone who habitually offended, not just people who are homeless.

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