(Update: City Council Discussion, Early Notification of Issues, Added Videos and Comments)
Also bow the first Oregon city to ban the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits by pet stores to avoid unscrupulous breeders
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – At the last Bend City Council meeting, council members decided on a faster, hands-on approach to creating unauthorized camping rules and wanted to play a more active role in the process.
On Wednesday night, city councilors began delving deeper into the details of the rules governing unauthorized camping on public rights of way and city-owned or controlled properties. And it seems there is an early consensus that residential areas will be one area where this camping would not be allowed – largely because it is not happening there already, and residents have expressed grave concern.
Councilors also plan to host new, more informal roundtables in the coming months to gather public feedback on the “time, place and style” codes they will draft.
Council members at Wednesday’s meeting began by discussing the ‘where’ to allow or ban camping, moving on to ‘when’ and later ‘how’ (what to allow).
City officials strongly recommended the process whereby law enforcement officials determine the availability of shelters when deemed necessary, but also conduct individual assessments to ensure there is space available for that person (that they are eligible for high-volume shelter). barriers would qualify, e.g.).
Assistant City Attorney Ian Leitheiser noted that federal case law and state regulations require such camping regulations to be “objectively reasonable,” although this is not defined. But in general, he said, the courts said, “People should be summoned because of their conduct, not their status.”
Councilors generally said they want to make sure the regulations make it clear when campers can stay, not just where they can’t stay, and that they need to take into account an individual’s situation.
Of course, another issue raised concerns those who do not want to be in animal shelters for a variety of reasons, from pets to autonomy and freedom.
As Leitheiser noted, “The question we ask ourselves every time is: How is it going to work in reality? We try not to do that in an ivory tower.”
Councilwoman Mo Mitchell said she personally disagrees with the terms ‘managed’ or ‘unmanaged’ for campgrounds – ‘This notion that we need to ‘manage’ people has a negative history’, so she hopes to ‘have more inclusive language “.
Councilor Anthony Broadman said: “We regulate an activity. We cannot regulate anyone’s existence. All we can do is regulate a particular person’s activity, just like anyone sitting at that desk can be regulated.”
Mitchell also said she was “strongly” opposed to the idea of school or park distance buffers, which “make the assumption[that the homeless]are inherently dangerous.”
Colleague Barb Campbell later made a similar point. She, along with several council members, agreed not to allow unauthorized camping on streets or city lots in residential areas, as most now don’t as they try to be close to services and residents’ concerns.
“Certainly we’ve heard from the public that there are housing and school restrictions,” Campbell said. “But homeless people aren’t dangerous to us – that’s just not a thing. I don’t want us to do anything to reinforce this myth that the general public has.”
She and others supported restrictions against camping near the Waterway Overlay Zone on the Deschutes River to protect the water. But Campbell said it’s not, as critics have claimed, to keep the homeless off the Westside: “I’m open to the idea of ’parking securely’ in the City Hall parking lot if we want to.”
Even a relatively simple question about when camping is allowed – mainly overnight – might have become more complicated when realizing how much longer the darkness (and possibly less safety) is in winter than in summer. Prosecutor Mary Winters said some seasonal adjustment is possible, but “if you overcomplicate it, nobody will remember it.”
The first discussion is about actual campsites, not people “camping” in vehicles, which is treated separately.
City manager Eric King said some open house meetings on camping regulation issues are planned this month and roundtables on draft proposals next month.
On another issue, councilmen heard multiple voices of support and displayed a slideshow of their own pets (to the Queen tune, “You’re My Best Friend”), and then unanimously endorsed an ordinance to become Oregon’s first city to proactively sell pets ban dogs, cats and rabbits from commercial breeders in pet stores.
They took the measures even though local pet shops are only holding adoption events with animal shelters and rescue organizations unaffected.
Adopted by numerous communities across the country, the ordinance aims to raise community awareness of animal welfare and help prevent inhumane conditions for the animals by avoiding the “puppy mills” and “kitten mills” that pet stores have used as outlets over the years .
Here’s Wednesday’s presentation that led the discussion on unsanctioned camping codes.
Here is Councilwoman Megan Perkins’ update on homelessness, focusing on the efforts made during last week’s extreme heat:
Bend City Council Homelessness Update 8/3/2022
After the extreme heat in our community that prompted the governor to declare a state of emergency last week, this is a good time to recap how local nonprofit service providers have truly stepped up and expanded their services and resources to keep community members safe guarantee.
Local organizations, including the City of Bend, provided essential water, refrigerated and overnight shelter, and services to the entire community to meet a variety of individual needs. This effort has provided mutual coordination between local governments, service providers, local businesses and charities.
With the recent opening and launch of the Lighthouse Navigation Center, the Bend community had a ready refrigeration center in a permanent shelter location. The Lighthouse Navigation Center is a community partnership between The Shepherd’s House, the City of Bend and numerous non-profit charities.
We are grateful to the staff and volunteers at Shepherd’s House for responding to the needs of the community day and night in secure, air-conditioned accommodation as well as through their mobile van services. The Lighthouse has invited additional guests alongside its regular attendees between 11:00am and 6:00pm to relax in the daytime area and gain access to water, food, popsicles and additional onsite resources.
We would also like to thank the Masonic Center for operating a refrigeration center on-site, staffed week-round by the Cascade Peer and Self Help Center, which serves as a donation and distribution center for groups and providers caring for homeless campers.
For the people camping on Hunnell Road, the city’s utility staff worked closely with Avion Water Co. and installed a water service and fog tent to help those most vulnerable in our community.
REACH, a mobile outreach provider contracted by the city, used additional volunteers to help get water, ice, Gatorade, and other essentials. Over a period of four days last week, REACH reached out to around 90-100 people by phone or in person. They met people in all settings – camps, local motels, and shelters.
REACH also received increased calls requesting motel stays, gas vouchers, fans, air conditioners, generators, groceries and prescription assistance. The extreme heat motivated many to complete the paperwork to add to the coordinated listing system, a requirement for housing brokerage. REACH has completed 10 assessments required for inclusion on the accommodation waitlists. Transferring people into apartments is exactly what we want to see.
At the Bethlehem Inn Shelter, established guests had the option of staying on-site during the day to recover from hot weather. And the Bethlehem Inn in Bend is open daily from 2pm to 5pm for anyone in the community who needs services – even if they aren’t established guests.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there are so many more service providers and mutual support groups that have worked tirelessly to support our homeless community during this heat. Thank you to all the Bendites who have donated water or helped distribution center staff or reached out to our homeless community during this time. They really exemplified the community.
Finally, we must acknowledge Deschutes County Homeless Outreach Services for all of their work in coordinating responses and deploying resources across the county related to the extreme weather. This was a mammoth effort, and their work was invaluable in keeping people safe.
When community members want and need help, especially in the heat, calling 211 is an excellent resource for details on cold centers and a wide range of local support.
Unfortunately, this won’t be our last heat emergency. If you want to help people during extreme weather emergencies or volunteer in any way, contact the nonprofit service providers who provide these services. Visit the Homeless Leadership Coalition website (cohomeless.org) for a list of organizations that provide services and resources for people affected by homelessness.
I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to all the organizations and individuals working to help those who do not have the privilege of living in homes with cooling systems and protection from extreme weather. Collaborative partnerships really do save lives.
– Councilor Megan Perkins