Lane County Commissioners Vote to Close Eugene Free Speech Plaza

Sep 4, 2013

The Lane County Board of Commissioners Wednesday voted to close the free speech area in Eugene where protestors have been camped since mid August. Last week the county health officer said the encampment is a public health risk.

Some protesters take down tents in Free Speech Plaza.
Credit Rachael McDonald / KLCC

Homeless advocates set up tents outside the county building August 15, after a municipal judge ruled an earlier closure of the plaza unconstitutional. There have been concerns raised about access to the building, public safety, public health and liability. The board voted 4-1 to close the plaza for cleaning. 

"I care about these people out here. But we have an obligation to have a situation that's healthy and right now we have a public health official and my own gut-feeling of what I've witnessed first hand. We have some serious problems out there we need to get cleaned up. And that's priority one" says Commissioner Faye Stewart.

The board directed staff to find an alternative free speech area during the closure. Once the plaza is professionally cleaned it will be reopened but only between the hours of 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. while the board looks at amending rules pertaining to the plaza.

Copyright 2013 KLCC