BEND, OR -- The City of Bend will proceed with clearing the Hunnell Road area, after a Deschutes County judge struck down a requested delay Monday afternoon.
Judge Wells Ashby denied a temporary restraining order asked for by campers and homeless advocates. Ashby found the City to be following its policies and regulations. In a statement the city said the litigation was unnecessary, “The City’s ADA Manager timely considers reasonable modification requests and given the short time, would have quickly engaged in the interactive process and arrived at the same conclusions without anyone needing to go to court. The court action cost all parties considerable time and effort and produced needless uncertainty and confusion for people who have been staying in the Hunnell and Clausen area.”
The City of Bend’s Makayla Oliver tells KBND News work begins Tuesday morning. “Our contractors will start around 8 a.m. at the Hunnell and Cooley intersection and then move north from there. So, after we’re done with that area, the cleanup will shift over to Clausen road, moving south to north,” Oliver says items left behind will be temporarily stored, “On the notices we noted that unclaimed property can be stored for 30 days. We have one location at NE 15th street in Bend, and we have one location specifically for vehicles which is a Deschutes County facility on SE 27th street.”
The city is also allowing about 25 people to stay one extra week, after they asked for a special accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Contractors will start the clearing process Tuesday morning.
The city's full statement on the court hearing:
Presiding Judge Ashby held a second hearing this afternoon to consider a request for a temporary restraining order submitted last week by individuals who include several people residing on Hunnell Road and Clausen Road. The individuals asked the court to order the City to consider reasonable modification requests submitted to the City and to stop the City from temporarily closing the area on July 17 to begin clean-up on July 18.
The City’s position has been that a temporary restraining order was unnecessary because the City had already complied with federal law and City policy by considering the modification requests. The City, on July 17, 2023, determined that it would grant one week of additional time to move for approximately 23 individuals with disabilities.
The court agreed on Monday, denying the request for a temporary restraining order. The City will proceed with the temporary closure and clean-up of the Hunnell and Clausen area beginning as planned on Tuesday, July 18. City personnel and contractors are prepared to begin work and will adjust as appropriate to account for specific individuals in the area who have been given additional time. People who have not received additional time will still need to leave the area with their belongings no later than midnight on July 17.
The City of Bend, like other state and local governments, is obligated by Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act to consider reasonable modification requests from people with disabilities, which in the context of the City’s Camping Code can often involve requests for more time to comply with the code’s requirements. The City has recognized its obligations under Title II of the ADA in its code and policies. See Bend Municipal Code 4.20.025.C; City of Bend Administrative Policy 2023-4, Responding to Camping in Public Rights-of-Way and On City-Owned Public Property, Section III, F.2. Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act requires cities to provide reasonable modifications of policies, practices and procedures when necessary to avoid discrimination on the basis of disability for qualified individuals, unless it is determined that making the modifications would fundamentally alter the nature of the service, program, or activity, or cause an undue administrative or financial burden.
“This litigation was unnecessary. The City’s ADA Manager timely considers reasonable modification requests and given the short time, would have quickly engaged in the interactive process and arrived at the same conclusions without anyone needing to go to court. The court action cost all parties considerable time and effort and produced needless uncertainty and confusion for people who have been staying in the Hunnell and Clausen area,” said Assistant City Attorney Ian Leitheiser.
The City reiterates the efforts it has taken in the past several years to address homelessness. In addition to passing a Camping Code that allows, under certain conditions, and does not criminalize, camping on City streets, the City first adopted codes allowing most non-residential property owners to allow overnight camping in vehicles by people who are otherwise homeless, or set up “Safe Parking” locations where people can camp in their own RVs or set up portable shelters, with sanitation services and case management. The City funds service providers engaged in outreach with people living on City streets. The City has used federal, state, and local funds to purchase four properties at which service providers operate three shelters, including two this year alone adding approximately 80 beds, and space is available at local shelters. The City continues to fund shelters, services and affordable housing through local fees on building permits, federal Community Development Block Grant funds and federal and state covid-relief funds.
The City cannot solve homelessness on its own; we are a part of the community solution and we are doing what we can, balancing our other responsibilities to the community as a whole to provide for public health and safety.