MONMOUTH — Trespass, park hours and exclusion from city property were the focus of a Jan. 7 Monmouth City Council work session that lasted almost an hour.
Interim city manager Chad Olsen scheduled the topic because at the Dec. 3 first reading of city ordinance amendments, “council continued to have questions regarding how the ordinance may affect the homeless,” he said in a memo to council.
Monmouth Police Chief Darrell Tallan initially spoke to councilors during a Nov. 19 work session about amending three city codes regarding trespass on city property, exclusion from city property and park hours.
In that discussion and the two that have followed, Councilor Chris Lopez raised concerns about how the changes may affect people who are homeless.
Councilor Darin Silbernagel said he thinks the discussion about the ordinance changes and about people who are homeless are two different discussions. He said he would vote to approve the ordinance as is.
Councilor Roxanne Beltz, said she agreed with Silbernagel.
Councilor Byron Shinkle said he sees the urgency to protect the city’s property, but that he understands Lopez’s concerns.
“I don’t think what Chris is saying is, ‘Let’s fix homelessness,’” Shinkle said. “I think what he is saying is that this law may have a disparate impact on this group of people.”
Councilor Laurel Sharmer expressed, as she has in the last two discussions, concerns that the code changes may cause legal challenges because of a ruling in Boise, Idaho, that ordinances banning sleeping outdoors were unconstitutional if the people it affects had no other options.
City attorney Lane Shetterly said Monmouth’s ordinance changes were not the same, and that he could make a valid argument for their constitutionality.
Shetterly said he could “add a section to the ordinance for the second reading if you’d like the chief to present a report to council first quarter of 2021.”
Mayor Cec Koontz asked for information on July 1 and Jan. 1.
If the changes are approved on a second reading on Jan. 21, they will be in affect Feb. 22.
“As long as you let me know what you want somehow,” Tallan said.
Shettlery said he would work with Tallan to put some parameters on that information.