City of Bend News Release – Houselessness Update 4/20/2022
Bend City Council Houselessness Update 4/20/22
In this update, I want to focus on camps in City rights-of-way, a topic that is a big concern to our community.
Rights-of-way, by definition, are pieces of land set aside for public benefit and use, primarily for public travel. These include streets and sidewalks or land set aside for those uses that hasn’t been improved yet with public infrastructure in some older areas of town.
There is a lot of information to share, and some of it is very policy driven. With that in mind, I’ll talk about this from three different angles.
First, our current approach to managing camping in rights-of-way, second, your community role, and third, the City’s focus and plans for future policy development.
OUR CURRENT APPROACH
The City has a policy that outlines specific steps and procedures for removing or managing established camps on City rights-of-way. Importantly, I want to note that currently, City code does not prohibit camping or sleeping in the right-of-way. City code, however, does prohibit the construction or depositing of debris or garbage in the right-of way. Code also prohibits obstructing accessible passageways, like driveways and sidewalks.
The process for removing established camps is based on specific criteria. That criteria focuses on established campsites on City rights-of-way that have the greatest impacts on public health and safety, and importantly, including the safety of those residing or camping at a location.
The policy also has been and may be used to provide resources, including trash and debris removal. You can find more information and details about our existing rights-of-way management policy and practices by visiting the “Public Land Camps Management” section of the bendoregon.gov/houselessness website.
THE COMMUNITY’S ROLE
Data from our community helps the City make decisions about camps in the rights-of-way. The City uses input from Service Requests, an online form that can be found on City’s website, to help determine what rights-of-way may be unsafe and need to be assessed for a particular action or response. Staff members in the Transportation and Mobility Department review the generated data regularly to determine if any reported camps need to be evaluated for clean-up or removal.
PLANS FOR THE FUTURE
We will be working on a local code that will provide clearer regulations regarding camping in the City rights-of-way and other public property. This code could regulate where and when people are allowed to camp or sleep in City rights-of-way. This topic is expected to come up sometime this summer, and I encourage you to follow City Council agendas for specific dates. Future agendas can be easily found at bendoregon.gov/councilagenda.
I want to use this time to remind you of the upcoming City Council public hearing regarding the proposed development code changes for shelters. That public hearing will occur on Wednesday, May 4th, at Council’s regular meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. We invite you all to tune in and, if you would like, share your perspective during public comment or by emailing us directly. More information about this hearing can be found by visiting the “Code Changes” section of the bendoregon.gov/houselessness website.
I also want to end with the exciting update regarding our recent meeting with Deschutes County Commissioners. The bulk of our discussion on April 8 focused on moving forward in our work to establish a Collaborative Houselessness Office, an effort that is supported financially by the State of Oregon, through House Bill 4123. One of the first steps is hiring an executive director. We hope to have an individual in that position by late summer or early fall. The collaborative office will provide an essential framework for strategic planning efforts related to addressing houselessness and sourcing community solutions.
As we move forward with these policy changes involving camping code development, code changes and the collaborative office, we look forward to your solution-driven input and perspectives.
Thank you for all your emails, phone calls and meetings so far as we move further into this important work as a community.