The Bend City Council held a Q & A session Tuesday morning surrounding possible new unsanctioned camping codes. These regulations would impact those camping on public right of ways: streets and sidewalks.
“Can we set restrictions on when they can camp, where they can camp and how they can camp? Yes, we can,” said Ian Leitheiser, Bend Assistant City Attorney.
One woman at the Q & A says she has experienced homelessness and disagrees with increasing restrictions on camping.
“As a taxpayer, yes, I would not want wherever I deem to feel safe, for somebody else to tell me ‘Oh no, you cannot be there because I feel uncomfortable with your presence,” said Joanne Mina, a local activist.
Another woman says her issue isn’t the camping, but the problems that sometimes come with it: “vandalism, littering, violence, drug dealing, drug use.”
Smokey, a homeless man living on Hunnel Road, believes his existence as an unhoused person is already too regulated.
“They need to wake up and back up because not all of the homeless out here are thieves or drug addicts,” said Smokey. “Some of us actually work for a living.”
He has been unhoused for seven years.
If Smokey was asked to leave his spot in northern Bend, recovery would be almost impossible.
“I would lose this whole unit. There’s no way I can move it right now,” said Smokey.
Mayor Gena Goodman-Campbell called the homeless issue “urgent” and “new territory” for the council and also said the crisis wouldn’t be solved during her time in office. A new mayor will be voted on in November.
The council will begin drafting codes to regulate camping and will hold public hearings in September.