The south Mirror Pond parking lot will soon have more space for large pickup trucks and more security around its garbage cans.
The Bend City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved a $134,000 contract with Bend-based Harper Houf Peterson Righellis Inc. to redesign the parking lot. The move comes in response to concerns from downtown Bend business owners who complained to the council last year about drug use, drug sales, littering and other crimes in the area.
Redoing the parking lot will help improve quality of life for downtown residents, workers and visitors as part of a more systemic approach to the local homeless population, Councilor Nathan Boddie said.
“There are better solutions than just a stick,” he said. “We know that punitive solutions alone don’t work, and we have to have a comprehensive approach.”
Some people downtown used the current design of the parking lot to conceal crimes, including using and selling drugs, Bend Police Lt. Clint Burleigh said.
He said the parking redesign can help combat crime downtown without requiring more police officers in the area.
Earlier this year, the city removed cinder-block enclosures from around the dumpsters in the parking lot.
Since then, Downtown Bend Business Association Executive Director Rod Porsche said a new lack of privacy in the garbage area seems to have cut down on litter and inappropriate behavior in the enclosure.
The parking lot redesign will do more to keep people from inappropriately using the garbage can area, according to city documents.
An early conceptual design calls for a 20-foot-wide driving loop, with dozens of angled spaces on the inner and outer edges of the loop.
Many of these spaces will be long enough for oversized vehicles that don’t fit in other angled spots downtown.
Bend tried unsuccessfully to prevent cars and trucks that didn’t fit in spots on Wall and Bond streets from parking there, but the city eventually abandoned its ticketing efforts after pressure from downtown business owners who said the regulations negatively affected their customers.
Along with the parking lot changes, the Downtown Bend Business Association is working on an awareness campaign to encourage people to donate to organizations like the Family Kitchen or Bethlehem Inn homeless shelter instead of giving money directly to panhandlers downtown.
Since the group received $10,000 from the city for this campaign in August, it’s come up with a name — Bend Cares — and will finalize a logo next week, Porsche said.
Eventually, the campaign expects to have signs and banners downtown and a website that allows people to donate from their phones, he said.
The downtown area is also trying to find the correct placement, style and design of security cameras and will have a security guard through the summer, Porsche said.
“We’ll have a full-time security guard as the weather warms up,” he said.
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