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Police Bureau

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Phone: 503-823-0000

Fax: 503-823-0342

Non-Emergency: 503-823-3333

1111 S.W. 2nd Avenue, Portland, OR 97204

0835.20, Established Campsites on Public Property

Directive 835.20, Established Campsites on Public Property  


  • Lavan v. City of Los Angeles, 693 F.3d 1022 (9th Cir. 2012)   
  • Settlement Agreement in Anderson et. al. v. City of Portland, August 2012
  • ORS § 203.077, local governments to develop humane policy for removal of homeless camps from public property
  • ORS § 203.079, required elements of local government policies on camping by homeless
  • ORS § 203.081, sites not subject to ORS § 203.077 to 203.081
  • Portland City Code, Title 20 Parks and Recreation, Chapter 20.12, Prohibited Conduct
  • Portland City Code, 14A.50.020, Camping Prohibited on Public Property and Public Rights of Way
  • Portland City Code, 14A.50.030, Sidewalk Use
  • Portland City Code, 14A.50.050, Erecting Permanent or Temporary Structures on Public Property or Public Rights of Way
  • City of Portland, Campsite Cleanup Contract


  • Camp or Campsite: A location where, for the purpose of maintaining or establishing a temporary place to live, any of the following is placed: any bedding, sleeping bag, or other sleeping matter; any stove or fire; and/or any structure such as a hut, lean-to, tent, or other temporary structure such as carts and/or personal property.
  • Camp Cleanup: An organized, pre-arranged operation initiated by a land-owning, City-Bureau possessing lawful authority to order the removal of trespassers and unlawful camp sites from their property.
  • Insanitary Property: Items that have no apparently utility or are in an insanitary condition, meaning items are contaminated or are unclean enough to endanger health.  
  • Personal Property: Property reasonably recognizable as belonging to a person and which has apparent utility.


  1. This Directive clarifies the Portland Police Bureau’s role as peacekeepers in established campsite cleanup on public property. The Portland Police Bureau, in compliance the Bureau’s service mission, public expectation, and the law, will recognize the inherent dignity of all persons by ensuring the fair, courteous, and equal treatment of all people in addressing unlawful camping.

2. The Portland Police Bureau recognizes the City of Portland maintains a standardized process to govern the cleanup of City-owned property being used unlawfully for the purpose of shelter and/or temporary residence and the disposition of property confiscated within those camps. Specifically, the Police Bureau, in support of City Bureaus having authority over City of Portland property and their agents, will interact with individuals experiencing houselessness with compassion and understanding. This means customizing humane strategies to each individual unlawful camping instance, complete with referrals to social services to those in need of assistance, and respect for property rights.

3. Similarly, and in accordance with a binding intergovernmental agreement, the Portland Police Bureau will work with other levels of government to address unlawful camping on intergovernmentally-owned property located within Portland jurisdiction.

4. The Portland Police Bureau will undertake effort to secure the health and welfare of any member assigned to clear camps. Members will rely upon personal protective equipment to manage any potential for exposure to hazardous and infectious materials and inform his or her supervisor of any exposure or injury sustained.  


  1. Established Campsite Cleanup on City Property:

1.1. Police Bureau Supervisor Responsibilities:

1.1.1. Supervisors or their designees will be responsive to land-owning, City-Bureaus contacting the Police Bureau for assistance with camp cleanups. Supervisors may request land-owning, City-Bureaus provide the Police Bureau with three (3) days/seventy-two (72) hours’ notice in advance of camp cleanup. After balancing the demands of police work, the Police Bureau may provide support on shorter notice. Emergency matters shall be routed through 911, to ensure the most effective and immediate police response.

1.1.2. Upon receipt of notice, Supervisors will designate a member(s) to work with land-owning, City-Bureaus to conduct a security evaluation and coordinate an appropriate peacekeeping response. Possible responses include, but are not limited to, the following: Provide added security for public personnel or agents while they post notices at camp sites based on a specific and articulable threat or concern. Evaluate and take control of potential crime scenes. Provide added security for public personnel or agents during camp cleanup, including arrest of law violators.

1.2. City of Portland Campsite Cleanup Procedure:

1.2.1. Portland Police Bureau members must inquire about the following procedural steps (Sections 1.2.2.-1.2.9.) when assigned to work with land-owning, City-Bureaus requesting Police Bureau assistance with camp cleanups. 

1.2.2. Designee: A land-owning, City-Bureau designee has been identified with authority to determine that a camp is unlawful and is responsible for the following comprehensive, program management action items: Post notice for campers that the camp is to be cleaned. Notify and coordinate with appropriate parties (e.g. staff, vendor, social services). Provide adequate time (usually one (1) hour) for campers that are present at the time the camp is to be cleaned to collect and remove their belongings. Photograph the camp site at the beginning and end of the cleanup. Inventory, photograph, bag, and protect from the elements personal property collected during cleanup. Retain collected personal property in a secure location for at least thirty (30) days, or until claimed by its owner, whichever comes first. Ensure that workers who enter the camps have been informed of potential hazards, have been provided with and trained about the use of protective equipment, tools, and techniques, so as to protect their health and safety. Dispose of trash and contaminated personal property in an appropriate manner. Clean contaminated land in an appropriate manner. Display prominently at the campsite information about the retrieval of personal property that has been removed and kept in storage, in accordance with notice requirements.

1.2.3. Notice: Written notice must be posted and documented by the land-owning, City-Bureaus in accordance with the following requirements: Post twenty-four (24) hour written notice, unless an exception is applicable. Posted notices will be documented as proof thereof, in the event posted notices are subsequently taken down by unauthorized persons prior to camp cleanups. Notices will be displayed in a prominent location, so as to be visible to persons occupying the site. Notices will inform persons occupying the site that they are maintaining an unlawful camp. Notices will contain the following information: “This campsite will be cleared no less than twenty-four (24) hours after and within seven (7) days of [the date and time the site is posted for cleanup]. Cleanup may take place at any time within the seven-day period”. Referral information and current contact numbers for social service agencies capable of providing assistance to those in need of shelter. Address and phone contact information of the location where the collected property will be maintained. Inform the personal property owner that any property collected as a result of the camp cleanup will be disposed of after thirty (30) days from date and time of notice. Be written in English and Spanish. Whenever possible, notice and the implementation of cleanups shall occur during daylight hours.

1.2.4. Social Services: At the time of posting a twenty-four (24) hour notice, the land-owning City-Bureau shall notify JOIN (website:; email:; telephone: 1-800-276-0729), or other service providers as applicable, of the posted clean up and provide the following information: Location of camp where the twenty-four (24) hour cleanup notice has been posted. Date and time of the twenty-four (24) hour cleanup notice posting. Estimated number of campers at the campsite to be cleaned. Identify the reporting Bureau and provide the name and contact information for the designee with authority to order the property vacated.

1.2.5. Notice Exceptions: Written twenty-four (24) hour notice is not required for circumstances including, but not limited to, the following: For Portland Police performing law enforcement activities in response to credible information about illegal activities (e.g. stolen property, drugs and paraphernalia, biohazards, etc.). In the event of an emergency, such as possible contamination by hazardous materials, or when there is an immediate danger to human life, safety, or property. If no property is going to be removed. In such cases a verbal warning with a reasonable time (generally up to one (1) hour) to relocate is sufficient.

1.2.6. Property Handling (Prior To and During Cleanup): Prior to ending the camp cleanup effort, personal property that is reasonably recognizable as belonging to a person and that has apparent utility must be photographed, inventoried, and transported to a storage facility. Land-owning, City-Bureaus shall establish a property handling procedure that includes the following provisions: All personal property removed from a camp must be photographed and listed on an itemized inventory that includes: Camp location, date of the written notice of camp cleanup posting, and the date of the actual camp cleanup; Description of each item of property, including the type of item, color, brand name (if known), and marks thereon identifying the owner. Containers, backpacks, and/or boxes containing personal property may be inventoried, sealed at the site, and taken to storage using a chain-of-custody protocol. When called to the scene, Portland Police Bureau members will identify and seize property attributable to a crime (e.g. weapons, drug paraphernalia, items that appear stolen, etc.), which will then be handled in accordance with the Bureau’s established evidentiary policy and practice. After personal property or property attributable to a crime have been removed, photographs of the entire campsite shall be taken and retained to show what remaining items are being discarded at the end of the camp cleanup effort, thus deemed exempt from the above property requirements: Per ORS § 203.079, property that is in an insanitary condition, meaning is contaminated, may be hazardous (e.g. syringes, soiled, body fluids, vermin infestation), could affect the safety and/or health of workers, or adversely affect other stored property. Property that is clearly abandoned and items that have no apparent utility. Property that has been specifically relinquished by the owner. The land-owning, City-Bureau designee responsible for the camp cleanup should ensure property that is disposed of pursuant to one of the exceptions above is photographed, the reason for the exception documented, and the documentation retained.

1.2.7. Collected Personal Property: Land-owning, City-Bureaus are required to establish a secure location(s) to store collected personal property. In accordance with the initial notice posted, all property collected from a camp cleanup must be kept at the named secure location and protected from the elements for a period of thirty (30) days from the last date the actual cleanup activities occurred. Land-owning, City-Bureaus are required to establish a process to allow owners to retrieve their property for at least thirty (30) days after the cleanup of a camp. The process will be safe for property owners and public personnel alike. The process may require individuals seeking the return of personal property to call in advance and make an appointment or to describe the camp location, approximate cleanup date, and the property in sufficient detail to reasonably assure ownership. The process will document the name, type of ID and/or photograph of the person requesting the return before releasing the property. Land-owning, City-Bureaus are required to establish a procedure for disposal of unclaimed collected property after the time provided for the owners to retrieve their property. 

1.2.8. Evaluation: The City is required to periodically evaluate the outcomes of cleanup efforts and discuss with involved parties whether the removals are occurring in a humane, just, and reasonable manner, before determining if any policy changes are necessary. The Police Bureau will participate in any review process.

1.2.9. Recordkeeping and Retention: Land-owning, City-Bureaus are required to be responsible for documenting and retaining records of the following information for five (5) years following the date of the final campsite cleanup, including: Posting notices and dates; Social service contacts; Photographs of camps; Collected personal property inventory; Reason personal property was disposed; Release of returned property.


  • Originating Directive  Effective: 09/06/01
  • First Revision Effective: 09/05/03
  • Second Revision Effective: 10/01/08
  • Third Revision Effective: 08/14/15
  • Next Review Date: 08/14/17
  • Review By: Operations Branch