Roseburg City Council members reacted with confusion Monday night after a handful of city residents spoke against establishing an “exclusion zone” to bar the homeless from downtown.
Mayor Larry Rich said he was unaware of any plan to create such a zone.
Exclusion zones have been used in other cities, including Eugene, to prevent anyone charged with a crime from returning to a designated area.
According to Ian Smith, AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer for the Douglas County Housing and Homeless Coalition, the laws tend to be unevenly enforced, criminalize the homeless and force them out of town.
Smith and other city residents spoke during the audience participation segment of the council meeting. They said they felt such a zone could violate civil rights and urged the council to help rather than exclude the homeless.
Smith said the Downtown Roseburg Association discussed creating exclusion zones last year. The association’s director, Roxana Grant, said those who spoke Monday were misinterpreting bits and pieces from the minutes of association meetings, She declined to comment further.
City Manager Lance Colley said the association had discussed the zones about a year ago, but no proposal to create them has been brought to the City Council.