BEND, OR -- Eight months after enforcement began, the City of Bend is making small changes to its camping code. City Manager Eric King says one recommendation is to clarify parking regulations, "We have a requirement that you can’t be parked in the city street for more than three business days. Some folks will park, and then just move a few feet. So, we have more clarity to have that be 750 feet." That's about a block or two, depending on the location.
City Council got an update on enforcement this week. The report shows 351 notices issued in the past eight months to people camping in cars or tents in violation of the new code, "It’s doing what it’s intended, which is to prevent large encampments. That’s where we see a lot of problems occur," says King.
He says partnerships with nonprofits have helped create more indoor shelter space, "Now, we have over 500 shelter beds. Just a couple years ago, we just had a little over a hundred." But more options are needed for those unable or unwilling to utilize those facilities, "Particularly those that are camping in areas like Juniper Ridge, or China Hat or Phil’s Trail, to provide safer places that provide support services and get folks into a better situation."
Councilors signed a letter to the Governor, joining Redmond and the county, to push for more collaboration to create a managed outdoor shelter site. King tells KBND News, "We need some help from the Governor’s office. Deschutes County has agreed to help hold the contract to manage those places. And the cities, our role is to provide some infrastructure as needed, to ensure a site is ready for folks." He adds, "It could be a place for folks to take their RVs, it could be the Pallet structures you’ve been seeing - kind of the tiny homes - or it could be a supported camp, as well."
File photo: Hunnel Road encampment in NE Bend, prior to the city's eviction of campers earlier this year.