Eugene City Councilor: 'What are inappropriate behaviors that we're willing to enforce?'

EUGENE, Ore. – Eugene city councilors gave the go-ahead Wednesday for public hearings on two local laws that would affect downtown.

The two ordinances discussed Wednesday would ban nearly all dogs from the downtown core area and expand the smoke-free zone. Underlying the council’s talk was what some officials say is the bigger issue.

One councilor called the anti-dog and smoke-free zone measures “nibbling around the edge” of the real issue.

Mike Clark said his colleagues must decide what’s appropriate behavior for downtown.

“What are inappropriate behaviors that we're willing to enforce and put the resources behind enforcing --and mean it?” Clark asked.

“It's people that live throughout our entire community that are bringing their visitors and guests to our downtown area, and having to deal with this garbage,” said George Police, Eugene city councilor.

Other councilors cautioned it’s going to take more than a police crackdown to fix downtown. They urged a balanced approach.

“Lighting, programming, cleaning - a kind of community environment that is creating the positive outcomes that we're looking for,” said City Councilor Claire Syrett.

The Eugene Police chief supports this stance.

“It's not just one solution. We need to be ready with services that are available through community court, the CORT program, and not moving the people, but changing the behavior,” Chief Pete Kerns said.

Councilors in recent weeks have heard from residents and downtown workers who say they’ve had it with the harassment and intimidation from some of the street people downtown.

Another councilman warned easy solutions are not out there.

“I think if we try to create the silver bullet solution to downtown, we'll never find it,” City Councilor Chris Pryor said.

The dog control ordinance would be similar to the one enacted many years ago in the university area.

The other measure would ban smoking in all public places and all places of employment in the downtown core area, with some exceptions.

Public hearings will be set for March.

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