Months after reports emerged of a tentative settlement in what's become a years-long federal lawsuit challenging Portland's so-called "camping ban," the Mercury has learned that Mayor Sam Adams and another city commissioner—whose name probably rhymes with "ticklish"—are scheduled to sit down with attorneys for the six homeless plaintiffs today in hopes of blessing a final settlement.
The meeting is not on Adams' official calendar, and his communications director, Caryn Brooks, told me yesterday that she wasn't aware it was happening. But it is mentioned in court documents (PDF) filed by Deputy City Attorney David Landrum, who's been representing the city in negotiations with the Oregon Law Center.
Landrum's memo mentions "two elected officials," and Adams confirmed, after yesterday's city council meeting, that he was one of those officials. Which isn't that surprising, since he's the police commissioner. But he otherwise declined to comment. Advocates for the homeless are also reportedly involved in discussions, the Mercury learned later.
A meeting was held on April 6, 2012, that included counsel for all parties, as well as representatives of Defendant City's Police Bureau. Many details were clarified and positions aligned. However, defense counsel has been unable to meet specifically with two elected officials whose approval is necessary for Defendant City to commit to the current settlement terms. Although meetings have been scheduled, they have not taken place due to other pressing City business. Defense counsel is scheduled to meet with those two elected officials on May 10, 2012.
The Tribune first reported the tentative settlement in the 2008 lawsuit, and it's taken months, for various logistical reasons, for the attorneys to get together and hash out specifics. The contours of the deal mostly allow for monetary damages for some of the plaintiffs, changes in how cops enforce the city's rules against setting up structures. Recent court filings, however, also mention increasing rental assistance funds for homeless Portlanders.
A 2010 agreement would have allowed small campsites in the city, but it foundered amid the fine print.