BEND, OR -- Deschutes County's proposed camping ban on county-owned land won’t be in place until late November, at the earliest. County Commissioners approved another first reading of the new code Wednesday, after a revision to allow the county to also enforce the ban on city, state or federal land outside incorporated cities, under the right circumstances. "If they wanted to essentially enter into some sort of agreement with the county to allow enforcement of the county code on those city lands or state lands or federal lands that are located within the unincorporated county," says County Legal Counsel Dave Doyle, "We wanted to at least have procedurally a process for that."
Doyle told Commissioners the revision came after public testimony from people who live near homeless camps off China Hat Road, which is federal forestland not governed by county rules, "They were hopeful that we could do something with regard to their properties, and we’re trying to provide every opportunity to do that, provided the federal government’s inclined to do that." He added, "[It] Doesn’t compel anybody to do anything and it would require obviously an agreement on both sides, be it the city and the county or the federal and the county or the state and the county. So, there’d be quite a bit of work to get there. There’s the whole enforcement piece, which I assume would have something to do with the Sheriff’s Office, at a minimum, and perhaps code enforcement as well."
Under the proposed code, sleeping or overnight camping would be banned at any county owned or controlled property, except where expressly allowed. But, Doyle reminded Commissioners, it would not immediately end unsanctioned camping outside city limits, "Even if the federal government were to enter into some sort of agreement and say, ‘yeah, let’s get you helping us at China Hat utilizing these code provisions,’ we still have to have alternate shelter sites. As I’ve said, many, many times: it’s predicated on having somewhere else to direct people to go, if you’re going to tell them you can’t be where they are." To meet that goal, Commissioner Patti Adair wants the Governor to allow the county to open a managed camp outside the UGB.
Commissioners are expected to approve the second reading of the county camping code in two weeks; that starts a 90-day clock, "You’d be looking at probably late November to have these code revisions become effective," Doyle said Wednesday.