A Deschutes County Circuit Court judge said a hearing into an injunction to halt a planned sweep of homeless camps in north Bend will continue on Monday. In the meantime, the city says it is delaying the closure of Hunnell Road and nearby areas by a day.
Judge Wells Ashby held an emergency hearing on Friday into the injunction request that was filed on behalf of several of the homeless individuals currently living on Hunnell and Clausen roads. The complaint names just about every major Bend city official including city council members, Mayor Melanie Kebler, City Manager Eric King and Police Chief Mike Krantz.
The basis of the complaint is that the city has allowed homeless camping in the area for nearly eight years, at times providing water, trash collection and even portable bathrooms. Yet, suddenly, city officials want them out.
The plaintiffs also brought up concerns about residents with disabilities.
At the conclusion of the half-hour hearing, Ashby said more consideration was needed and that the hearing would resume Monday afternoon.
The City of Bend agreed that the road will not be closed until at least Tuesday — a one-day delay.
Mayor Kebler released this statement:
“While I respect the legal process and the right of constituents to advocate for themselves, I want to make sure the record is correct. Statements made in court today accusing me of making certain promises in writing and of therefore lying to the residents of Hunnell and Clausen Roads are not true.
There were also statements made that we have no shelter beds available. This is also untrue. We have recently increased shelter capacity in Bend and have had availability as recently as this week for people to enter low-barrier shelter.
The City has, and will continue, to comply with our policies, and respects the request of the court today to report back next Monday for a final legal determination on that matter.”
The City Attorney’s Office released the following statement:
“Today Presiding Judge Ashby held a hearing he characterized as a motion for a temporary restraining order, based on documents filed on Wednesday by individuals residing on Hunnell Road and others. The filing asked that the Court order the City to consider reasonable modification requests submitted to the City, before closing Hunnell Road and nearby areas on July 18, 2023.
The City told the Court that on Wednesday, the same day the document was filed in court, it received a number of requests for modification due to disabilities of certain people residing on Hunnell, namely, extension of the planned closure date.
Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires cities to provide reasonable modifications of policies, practices and procedures when necessary to avoid discrimination on the basis of disability for qualified individuals, unless it is determined that making the modifications would fundamentally alter the nature of the service, program, or activity, or cause an undue administrative or financial burden.
The City has recognized its obligations under Title II of the ADA in its code and policies. See Bend Municipal Code 4.20.025.C; City of Bend Administrative Policy 2023-4, Responding to Camping in Public Rights-of-Way and On City-Owned Public Property, Section III, F.2. The filing recognized that the City has these policies, but expressed a ‘fear’ that the City would not follow its own policies and consider the requests.
The City told the Court it is presently engaged in the interactive process required by the ADA, and is presently considering the reasonable modifications. The City intends to provide responses to the requests on Monday, before Hunnell Road and related areas will be closed. The City confirmed with the court that the area would not be closed on Monday.
The Court set another hearing for the afternoon of Monday, July 17, 2023, to allow time for the City to provide information on the status of the City’s review of the modification requests under its policies and the ADA. The City intends to continue to apply its policies and consider the reasonable modification requests, in conformance with its policies. The Court did not grant a delay in the planned closure of Hunnell Road, presently planned for July 18, 2023.”
You can read the injunction below.