On Going Loitering Issues Addressed
by Lorin Nelson
Loiterers in Downtown Eugene continue to cause problems for businesses and residents.
The culture of people that hang around in the downtown area including the homeless population have made it difficult for residents to feel safe and businesses to maintain clean properties.
A supervisor at the Downtown Athletic Club and resident in the Downtown area, Ruth Murphy, said that there is a “large homeless problem.” Murphy said even though she is in walking distance of her job and school she will not walk to work because it is unsafe.
“It can get pretty dirty because of that also,” Murphy said. The Downtown Athletic Club is located near 10th and Willamette and is right in the center of Downtown Eugene.
The Horsehead Bar bartender, Tiffany Cortez, has been working there for seven years and says that the biggest problem she sees is the young kids who pretend to be homeless and beg for money in the area. Cortez described the kids as coming from well taken care of families with access to cell phones and laptops, but act as if they are homeless in downtown. Cortez said truancy officers would be a good solution to the loitering youth in the area.
“I have been mugged before,” Cortez said. She and her fiance were walking by the Obama election office when a man came and distracted them while another man came behind and knocked Cortez’s fiance down, the other man took her purse and ran. Cortez said that although she called the Eugene Police Department, they did not provide assistance.
Cortez explained that the bars in the downtown area do not seem to struggle business wise and she sees everyone from students, business, and even a man who was 108 years old.
According to a volunteer at the Eugene Public Library, Marilynn Larson, their biggest problem is people smoking in front of the library and places where they are not supposed to. “We once in awhile have some unruly people in the library because we get a lot of the street people especially in the winter when they come in to get warm.” Larson said. Larson explained that in the two years she has volunteered at the library she has seen the police there three times, she said it is unusual and most of the people that come in are “looking for books or just coming in to use the bathroom and get warm” they do not cause problems.
Larson said her biggest issue with the downtown area is the parking. She said it is expensive and hard to find a spot. Larson explained she hopes some of the new businesses including the Inn at the Fifth and the up and coming Downtown Lane Community College building across from the library will “help the downtown come back to life”.