Exclusion Law Changes Posed
Byline: Edward Russo The Register-Guard
Eugene's controversial downtown exclusion law may continue, but not before being changed.
The City Council on Monday signaled its intent to modify the law in one or possibly two ways when it comes up for a key vote next month.
Councilors passed the ordinance two years ago in response to crimes and intimidating behavior from people downtown. It allows authorities, with the approval of a municipal court judge, to ban a person cited or arrested for certain crimes from the downtown area for 90 days or one year.
Since the law took effect, 93 people have been banished from downtown for either of those periods because authorities believed they had committed certain crimes, in most cases repeatedly.
The ordinance is scheduled to expire in January, but Police Chief Pete Kerns wants it kept in place for an additional 18 months until more police officers start working downtown.
On Monday, six people spoke in favor of the ordinance, including business representatives and downtown resident Kimberly Gladen. She said excluding repeat offenders is necessary because the understaffed Lane County Jail does not keep criminals off downtown streets.
"I'm urging you to keep this tool in the toolbox awhile longer," Gladen said.
No one spoke against the law, although several people opposed it during a council hearing in July. Some of the criticism came from people concerned about the law infringing on the constitutional right of due process.
After hearing from the public on Monday, councilors discussed changing the ordinance in two ways: by eliminating the ability of police to ask a judge to immediately ban someone from downtown without having them first appear in court or by creating advocates to help people who are cited under the law understand the exclusion process.
Councilor Alan Zelenka asked City Manager Jon Ruiz to present an analysis of how much it might cost to provide the advocates and how they might perform the duties without providing legal advice. …