City of Aberdeen adds misdemeanor charge for public camping violations

The third reading of an ordinance in Aberdeen was adopted on Wednesday by the Aberdeen City Council that amends their current municipal code that extends current law to make public camping outside designated areas a misdemeanor.

The council and public comment had been divided throughout all three readings regarding the change to add misdemeanor charges to violations of their unlawful camping rules.

Under the change, someone who camps or uses camping items in public parks, public buildings, public parking lots, or sections of sidewalk that are not designated as an area available for camping will face a misdemeanor charge. Individuals who violated the law currently face a civil infraction and a penalty of $25.

Council discussion throughout all three readings of the ordinance came with mixed reactions. While the majority of comments stated that something needed to be done about homelessness in the city, the comments were divided on what to do. 

In response to the closure of the river camp used by local homeless and the Martin v. Boise court decision, the city had designated certain sidewalks and areas as allowable to be used as camping.

At the Wednesday meeting, Councilmember Alan Richrod said that he felt the city was going in the wrong direction.

Following discussion, the ordinance passed on a vote of 6-5, with Councilmember Debbie Ross absent from the meeting.