BEND, OR -- The City of Bend is trying to crack down on some of the negative behaviors downtown by expanding the Downtown Exclusion Zone. Bend already has an Exclusion Zone for public parks and downtown parking lots, but officials are considering expanding it to include the downtown core.
Kelli Brooks with the Downtown Bend Business Association admits something needs to be done. "There's a lot of negative behavior that you don't see unless you're down there and you're approached by somebody," Brooks says. "I'm not saying that it drives tourists away, or the locals, necessarily, but there's a lot of negative feedback and we don't need to allow it. I don't believe we have to push everyone out; people need a place to go."
Anyone cited or arrested in these areas is not allowed to return for 90 days. Bend Police Chief Jim Porter told city councilors this week that he'd like to see the effective program expanded.
"We've taken it as far south as the south side of the library, but not to the Family Kitchen, because that's a service center for a lot of folks who come in and out of there," Porter says. "We've discussed this with the Family Kitchen and gotten their feedback; they're very much in support of this. The library is extremely in support of this. The library is a place we have children in and out of there all summer, yet we have conduct that's not acceptable. We have a lot of violent felonies in the evening. We're hoping by using the exclusion tool and using it sparingly, we'll be able to set a new feeling downtown for livability."
Since the Exclusion Zone was established in 2012, police have employed it more than 150 times.