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McKinley Morrill hurries to remove personal items including a mailbox from his home near Revere Avenue and the Bend Parkway on May 25 as an Oregon Department of Transportation crew is scheduled to arrive for demolition.

First the good news: The city of Bend is working harder than ever to find better solutions for the city’s homeless.

And now for news that can be good or bad: The Bend City Council will discuss Wednesday a new city policy to remove homeless camps in or near city streets and sidewalks.

The policy is already in place. It was signed just a few days ago on May 28 by City Manager Eric King.

The policy is “intended to address health and safety concerns of both the traveling public and individuals residing or camping on city rights-of-way.” Does it do that the right way? Read on and decide.

The policy acknowledges people who are homeless need places to sleep, shelter and store belongings. And in Bend, there is not adequate space in homeless shelters for everyone. So people set up where they can. In parks. In vehicles. On public property and sometimes on private property.

But “people storing items and occupying tents or other structures at ground level in the street immediately adjacent to vehicle traffic pose an increased street safety risk that is not in alignment with the policies to reduce crashes and injuries on city streets,” the policy says.

Then it gets into the actual policy. It applies to rights-of-way — not other city owned property. Before anything happens, a determination must be made by the city manager that there is an “unsafe campsite.” It can be a threat to public health, safety or the environment. That could involve trash, public urination, crimes being committed, calls for service to the area, if it is near a property that serves children and more.

A 72-hour notice would be required before an unsafe campsite would be cleaned up or removed. State law, ORS 203.079, only requires 24-hour notice. No notice would be required in certain situations, such as if law enforcement officials believe illegal activities are occurring other than camping. Personal property taken from a site will be stored for a minimum of 30 days. Notice would be posted where the property was taken so it can be retrieved.

We imagine councilors may have questions about the policy. That may include how homeless camps at locations other than in rights-of-way will be handled. What do you think of the policy? Tell councilors. You can email them at council@bendoregon.gov. The key issue may not be the language of the policy but how it is used.

(5) comments

Agent zero

Misery and grief are exclusively owned by democrat run cities.. reality is a mystery to them..

Smedley Doright

Taxpayers will fund a losing lawsuit defense against clearing. 9th Circuit rules in Boise v Martin....if there's not adequate shelter space folx can sleep on the sidewalk. Hiding it under the guise of public safety won't cut it either.

Gary Mendoza

While Boise v Martin protects squatters from arrest, it doesn’t protect their encampments from removal.

91375

You don't understand what Boise v. Martin means, or what it allows the city to do.

Gary Mendoza

The number of squatters is getting out of hand. It’s past time to turn the tide.

Welcome to the discussion.

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