REDMOND, OR -- The Redmond Airport is out of compliance with federal rules because of three unsanctioned homeless encampments inside an area designated as the Runway Protection Zone (RPZ).
Airport Director Zach Bass told City Council and County Commissioners this week, "In 2021, the FAA came out and said, during an inspection, they can’t be there." He explained, "Basically, if there is ever an incident with aircraft, it almost always takes place in that area. So, the FAA requires that that area be cleared, for both individuals that might be down there, let’s say living, or of course for any kind of issues that might occur with an aircraft as they land."
It also violates federal grant assurances, "Grant assurances are what we sign when we take federal money." And, Bass says, that could put future funding at risk, "A reminder that we’re in the very beginning of a very large project that requires FAA money to increase our terminal size."
Bass says the FAA sent a notice stating, "'It’s an incompatible land use in violation of an airport sponsor’s federal obligations,' Which is a nice way for the FAA to say it needs to not be there," adding, "Now, how do we make that happen? The easiest way for us to do, and to make sure it occurs for a long period of time, is to fence the 61 acres on the north side of 126." He estimates about 40 campers are living in that area north of Runway 523 (pictured).
Redmond Mayor Ed Fitch tells KBND News those camps will be evicted this summer, "Not only the Runway Protection Zone, but there’s other county property up there that has to be also cleared of encampments. We estimated that there might be 140 people affected this year by these displacements. So, the number one objective of the county and the city is to work together to help coordinate a relocation process." That county-owned parcel on the eastern edge of Redmond is involved in a long-anticipated land swap with Oregon's Department of State Lands. Officials have said that deal can't proceed while people are camping on the property.
Fitch says, "We are working diligently on the Oasis Village and some RV parking north of that, east of town. Timing on that hopefully will somehow coordinate with some of the displacements."
To hear our full conversation with Redmond Mayor Ed Fitch, visit our Podcast Page.