As winter approaches, the city of Bend is working to clean up personal items and trash along Hunnell Road to allow snowplows to safely clear the area.

Last week, the city posted notices in the area, which is home to up to 90 homeless campers in RVs and tents in northeast Bend. The accumulated personal property and trash presents challenges to general road maintenance, said David Abbas, the city’s transportation and mobility director.

With more rain and snow coming, Abbas said there are concerns about debris blocking catch basins in the road because crews have not been able to sweep for a long time.

Abbas is also concerned about items protruding into the road impacting the ability to safely plow snow.

“Last thing we want to do is hurt somebody or have a plow hook a two-by-four or pipe,” Abbas said.

In this cleanup, the city is asking residents to contain their personal belongings to be within 8 feet from the curb and to throw away anything that is considered trash. For the most part, people along Hunnell Road are parked properly, Abbas said — the issue is more about items sticking out into the travel lanes and sidewalks.

“The idea is to not be obstructing right of way and keep the sidewalk clear so people can use the sidewalk and keep the travel lanes clear,” Abbas said.

This is the first time the city has conducted a formal cleanup of the area in advance of winter conditions, Abbas said. While homeless residents have been camped along Hunnell Road for years, the number of people along the road, and therefore the amount of items, has increased significantly in the last year, he said.

While the city is working on opening other shelter options for homeless residents, Abbas said the cleanup was necessary in the meantime since those alternatives weren’t going to be available “until the snow flies.”

But city officials have specifically clarified that no one at Hunnell Road is being evicted or asked to move.

The city has provided dumpsters and garbage bags over the past weeks to help campers clean up trash in advance of the cleanup deadline on Friday. On Friday, the city will then assess progress, Abbas said, adding it would be fair to say there will be continued cleanup efforts after this week.

Two dumpsters are being provided to help with the cleanup, said Shelly Smith, a senior management analyst. The nonprofit Central Oregon Villages has been coming out to help throw away items homeless campers may not be able to dispose of on their own, as well, she said.

“We’re trying to be proactive,” Smith said.

At the Bend City Council meeting Wednesday, where the plan was discussed, Councilor Megan Perkins said this situation is why it is important for the city to develop more options for the city’s growing homeless population.

“With the dramatic growth that’s happening on Hunnell Road, when people say why are you moving so fast? This is why, because what we have on Hunnell Road right now is not acceptable to anybody,” Perkins said.

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(9) comments

Oregongirl

Well for one on the person that says where do we move them, that’s not the taxpayers problem. They are adults and need to figure it out period. There is plenty of job shortages. I agree with Angie. You keep giving free handouts it will continue to be taken advantage of. They are being enabled and they know they can continue to take advantage of free handouts. They need to be responsible for themselves and cleaning up their own messes. Nobody else should have to clean up after them. Hold them accountable. You keep giving free handouts on taxpayers expense it will never be appreciated. They have no responsibility other them living in trash continuing to trash the place and do their drugs or addictions. Unsafe period

BuckeyeDuck

It was a serious question. Are you going to move them along along with the other two commentor. How's that done, middle of the night with torches and pitchforks. Who are the judges of "you can stay, you can't"?

I'm not happy as a fixed income person about taxes used, but there are a heck of a lot of freebies given as tax breaks to businesses and citizens who don't need them whereas you and I don't get them.

Very complicated issue that I wish l had a solution to.

AngieL

Gary M. You're right on the money. I would like a free piece of property to park my RV too. And by the way, can you come clean up my garbage and bio-waste too on the city's dime?

These are not the people seeking assistance. These are the people taking advantage of a delicate topic. They know they have advocacy groups that will speak for them. All the while, we continue to clean up after them and deal with all of the garbage, drugs, and crime some (not all) bring along with them.

I think we should have made it clear this is unacceptable behavior long ago. Now the problem has grown so huge, what do you do? But by all means, lets give them some property paid for by our tax dollars so they can go ahead and live like animals.

In Redmond, they are beginning to set up camp along the canal at the north end of town. Not long before it will look like Hunnell Rd.

Help those who want to be helped. Move the rest on. I don't think it is our job to have a "place for them to go". I think as adults they need to figure that out on their own. Lots of jobs out there. Lots of programs willing to help those who want help. The rest need to move along. This is unacceptable to me and unfair to those of us who struggle to make ends meet but still get up and contribute positively every day.

Gary Mendoza

Bend needs stronger members of the City Council who are prepared to take the steps to reduce homelessness, not accommodate it. One helpful step would be to hire good lawyers who can advise Bend on actions it can take to encourage the homeless to move on.

Veterans, women fleeing abuse (particularly those with kids) and people fully prepared to take the steps necessary to get off the street should be the focus of Bend’s efforts to help the homeless.

For the rest, it wouldn’t hurt if Bend developed the reputation as one of the least accommodating places for homeless.

BuckeyeDuck

And where would folks "move on " to? Do we herd them up and put them on open trailers and drive them to, well, where?

Where will that funding come from?

Oregongirl

Well for starters if you are concerned about it why don’t you let them park in your driveway or on your property? And you can use your money to support and clean up after them.

BuckeyeDuck

See my above comment, then have a discussion about WWJD with your pastor this weekend. Assuming you're religious that is.

Smedley Doright

Treating the symptoms, not the problem. Seems about right for Bend in 2021

MF

Solving the problems related to homelessness is extremely difficult. I’d rather tackle world peace.

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