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April 30, 2013
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Letter: Don’t implement exclusion zone in downtown Roseburg

Don’t go for exclusion zone

The Downtown Roseburg Association has drawn up a draft of an ordinance authorizing the designation of an Enhanced Enforcement Area/Safety Zone. What this means is that it wishes to establish an “exclusion zone” in Roseburg similar to that which Eugene has done. Not only is this unconstitutional and immoral, but it gives those of us who live here in Douglas County a black eye.

I understand the downtown businesses are hurting financially, but this is a sign of the economic times and the result of big box stores coming into the area. To lay the blame for their drop in business on community members they deem undesirable is to make a scapegoat of those who are suffering the most.

I would wager that the majority of those who would be excluded would be folks suffering mental health issues, the homeless and the unemployed. I’ll also wager that none of those issues will disappear from our community, no matter how many people are excluded.

Instead, how about making the downtown more inclusive, rather than exclusive? Why not put in some public rest rooms and water fountains? Improve shelter and affordable housing units. Establishing a safe camping area would do wonders for our homeless population. Such efforts have been quite successful in other communities.

House Bill 3122, also called The Homeless Bill of Rights, is currently before our legislature. It states, “The Legislative Assembly finds that many persons in Oregon have experienced homelessness as a result of economic hardship, a shortage of safe and affordable housing, the inability to obtain gainful employment and a disintegrating social safety net system.” Let’s be a community that works on repairing that net, instead of blaming the victims.

Jeri Benedetto

Oakland


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The News-Review Updated May 29, 2013 08:38AM Published Apr 30, 2013 10:36AM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.