The Bend City Council held a round table meetings Tuesday and is holding another one Thursday to discuss a potential camping code to address the homeless issue in the city.
“We’ve never had a meeting, that I know of, where all of our boards, committees and commissions can come together with council to discuss a topic. So, I am really excited to see how it works,” said Bend Mayor Gena Goodman-Campbell.
The council has released a draft of the rules that would determine time, place and manner for camping in public rights-of-way.
“We want to get as much input from service providers, from community members, community groups and tonight from other public agencies,” said Mayor Pro-tem Anthony Broadman. “Really, this has got to be a holistic approach to make sure that we are fairly and equitably regulating space in the city of Bend.”
Who is taking part in the roundtables?
“Advisory boards, committees and commissions for the City of Bend, members of our public that are living with houselessness, members of our business community and our service providers,” said Councilor Megan Perkins.
They will answer questions like:
“What are the specific things about time, place and manner that we need to be thinking about as we move forward? What parts go too far? What parts don’t go far enough? And to me, the most important thing that I would like to get out of it is can this code even be followed?” asked Perkins.
To be clear, these meetings are not deciding whether the camping code will go into effect. It is a chance for the Bend City Council to hear from stakeholders and to make adjustments to the draft based on feedback given to them.
Perkins said this would have an impact on those living on Hunnell Road, so Central Oregon Daily spoke with locals there.
“These streets belong to you, me and every other taxpayer who has paid any taxes or is still paying taxes,” said Smokey, a Hunnell Road resident.
If the draft of the code were to be implemented right now, most of those living on Hunnell Road would be in violation.
Justice, who is unable to move her trailer or tow it, would have to abandon the only shelter she has.
“I mean I’d probably have to pack a couple bags and and leave the trailer here unfortunately,” said Justice.
Smokey says public rights-of-way are for public use and should stay that way.
“They don’t own this strip. You and I do. They don’t have the right to tell us when and where we can stay,” said Smokey.
Perkins says the public is deciding on how city owned and controlled land should be used.
“This is about a community agreement about how we use our public rights-of-way,” said Perkins.
Perkins wants to make clear that this code is not meant to “punish” the homeless, but that it is also not a solution to the houseless population in Bend.