The New Era - All about Sweet Home since 1929

Council listens to complaints about transients in City Hall area


October 4, 2016

T.O.P.S. Contest Winner Take Off Pounds Sensibly Chapter 0309 in Sweet Home held a 26-week fund-raiser game to raise money to send members to the state convention next May at the Mill Casino in Coos Bay. The group meets weekly on Thursday mornings at the Sweet Home United Methodist Church. It is open to all who want to lose or maintain weight. The game involved colored marbles and participants paid weekly to play. In the foreground, chapter President Sybil Blankenship presents winner Tracy Bennett with the $119.50 he got to take home. The club kept the other half of the pot. Also pictured, from left, are T.O.P.S. members Lucia Dubanowicz, Delena Gilman, Selma Yates, Donna Lacey, Kathleen Franks, Theda Morris, Donna Ego and Vickie Laney. Those interested in joining are welcome to contact Blankenship at (541) 401-0593.

The City Council is working on a solution to an ongoing problem reported by residents of 12th, 13th and Kalmia streets, who have been dealing with loud, obnoxious behavior by apparent transients hanging around in the area.

The council is in process of developing an ordinance that will apply to city property, like the City Hall parking lot and the grounds around City Hall and the Public Park, the same way it regulates behavior in parks.

People who violate park rules may be excluded from the parks. The proposed ordinance would do the same thing for other city property.

Nancy Davis, a resident of the area, told the City Council last week during its regular meeting on Sept. 27 that the transients are an ongoing problem.

They are camping out there, she told the council. “I get woke up, I would say, every other night, 2 or 3 in the morning, with them yelling or arguing.”

Specifically, a couple had been staying in a camper parked in the City Hall parking lot or in front of the Sweet Home Genealogical Society Library.

Mayor Jim Gourley told Davis that the council is already considering ways to address the issue.

Two individuals are creating the majority of the problem, Police Chief Jeff Lynn told the council. They’re in an open public area, and park rules don’t cover the area.

The council and staff have been working on the new ordinance to address this for about three months, he said.

It may not address all of the problems, though, Lynn said. Some of the activities people complain about aren’t illegal under city or state law.

Police have been watching the area and spoke with the transients during the past week following the council meeting.

“Hopefully, we’ve gotten it taken care of,” Lynn told The New Era. “We were trying to alleviate the problem. Disturbances are what we get called down there for, arguing, fighting, basically non-violent domestics.”

Others have caused a number of problems in the area as well. Police arrested a man suspected of recently shattering glass in the bus stop near the intersection of 12th and Kalmia.

The Sweet Home Public Library removed an exterior socket that transients were using to charge phones earlier this year, to help cut down the number of problems at the library itself.

Lynn said a “very small number” of people are creating the concerns and headaches.

“They are an issue,” he said. “We’re trying to come up with answers to deal with it.”

That’s what the city did with the pocket park at the intersection of 12th and Nandina, he said.

City officials will continue working on the ordinance through the council’s Public Safety Committee, Lynn said.

City Attorney Robert Snyder is working on a draft of the ordinance.


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