Grants Pass Mayor Stymies Bill That Would Hinder Homeless Aid Organizations

GRANTS PASS, Ore. — An ordinance passed in the Grants Pass City Council last week that would hinder organizations giving aid to people experiencing homelessness will be vetoed by Mayor Sara Bristol who issued a press release setting out her reasons.

The mayor said last week that although she was concerned about the presence of homeless people in Grants Pass parks which has grown over the last three or four years, causing concern for neighbors and people who enjoy using the park for recreation, she did not agree with the objections raised about the presence of outreach services.

The ordinance was tabled to address ongoing incompatible uses in Grant Pass parks and on public property. It will hinder the work of humanitarian organizations delivering services to the homeless population.


Ordinance On Humanitarian Aid In Grants Pass Park Passed Last Week

Passing its second reading last week by 5-3, the ordinance would have taken effect in April. Limitations placed on homeless aid organizations would include:

  • Payment of an administrative fee of $25 by organizations to register to provide humanitarian aid in public areas.
  • Data would have to be submitted by the organizations to the city at least twice a year, to indicate details such as the number of people they serve and the number of supplies they distribute.
  • The organization’s registration with the city would only be valid for four months, whereafter they would have to re-register.
  • Registration would have to take place with the city before a humanitarian event could be held in public areas such as parks. Included in events are passing out of food, clothes, and aid to people living in parks.
  • A prohibition on events that give out paraphernalia, such as clean needles or combustible material such as kerosene or propane, and performing needle exchanges.
  • The city could revoke or deny registration to host a humanitarian aid event.


The ordinance went to Mayor Bristol to sign into law, but she has provided reasons why she intends to veto the ordinance.


Mayor Sara Bristol’s Statement On Vetoing Homeless Aid Organisations Ordinance

In her press release, Mayor Sara Bristol indicated that she is vetoing the Humanitarian Services ordinance because she believes it would add an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy and red tape. She said, “I believe this ordinance is expedient, redundant, and opens the door to potential litigation against the city.”

Bristol confirmed her strong opposition to the use of drugs in city parks but pointed out that there is already legislation to deal with several of the issues raised in the ordinance. This includes:

  • Municipal Code 5.57.150 makes it illegal to possess or deliver drugs, needles, and other drug paraphernalia in city parks and public properties.
  • Chapter 4.07 regulates special events on public property, and includes established standards for denial and appeals processes but doesn’t single a specific type of use as is set out in the proposed ordinance.
  • Section 5.57.200 makes it illegal to have propane and kerosine tanks on public property.


Mayor Bristol also suggested that focusing on actions that provide shelter for unhoused people will be key to reclaiming the parks.

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