Council also approves 'Safe Parking' program, adopts council goals
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Bend city councilors wrestled with the shifting sands of COVID-19 state guidelines Wednesday evening as they worked to word the sixth version of the city's emergency declaration.
Councilor Barb Campbell expressed her concerns for possible outside visitors, especially those who might be coming from states like Texas who have lifted mask mandates.
Despite lowering number of COVID-19 cases in Deschutes County, City Manager Eric King says Bend is still not actively promoting tourism, but there's no specific guidelines in place to inhibit visitors.
The current emergency declaration expires at the end of the month, but the city plans to extend it through June, according to King.
"Each time we have amendments, it's important to check in with council to make sure we're calibrating, we're not stepping outside of your role as policymakers," King said.
The updates will address in-person meetings and special events, but won't include any additional restrictions outside of state guidelines.
Assistant City Manager Jon Skidmore says occupancy limits for these types of events will need more clarity from the state.
"Now we're trying to figure out maximum 50% occupancy for things like marathons, as well as outdoor entertainment establishments," Skidmore said.
Skidmore says limiting capacity is easier for areas like beer gardens of music venues, but with events like a marathon or a bike race, they'll have to work out the numbers.
"With the 50% occupancy maximum, I don't know how you really caclulate occupancy for a race," Skidmore said. "So we will be working through that with the governor and get continued feedback."
And the meeting did not go without mentioning the fatal shootings in Atlanta that left eight dead, as Councilor Rita Schenkelberg offered her condolences before leading a moment of silence.
"The Bend City Council and the City of bend stand in solidarity with the Asian community, here in Bend and around the world," Schenkelberg said. "When I see these attacks, I see my grandmother, my aunties, my uncles, and my cousins. When I see these attacks, I feel the pain of family members and friends around the world, asking and crying for this to end."
Councilors also unanimously approved (7-0) the city's safe parking program for temporary or transitional housing in an effort to help provide shelter options for the homeless.
Under Oregon's state of emergency declaration due to the pandemic, the city allowed overnight parking for those who are homeless, but now the council will have permanent protections.
The program would allow recreational vehicles, stationary vehicles and tent setups to be stationed overnight at religious centers, private businesses and nonprofits.
Those participating facilities would need to provide sanitation stations and access to restrooms.
Prior to establishing a Temporary Overnight Parking Accommodation program, a property owner will be required to provide notice to adjacent neighbors and hold a neighborhood meeting to discuss the proposed program.
The council also adopted new council goals, as outlined in this news release:
Bend City Council Goals for 2021-23
Housing supply, transportation improvements and effective City government remain top priorities in the City Council’s new two-year goal plan. Additional goals this biennium include equity, justice, environmental stewardship and addressing homelessness. Two-year goals reflect the Council’s priorities, help drive the City’s work plan and influence discretionary funding.
“This fresh set of goals focuses on values and needs expressed by our community members, while the City of Bend continues to provide the core services our Bend community depends on,” said Mayor Sally Russell.
“With many people in Bend suffering from the impacts of the pandemic as well as long-standing inequality, we are laying out ambitious goals aimed at helping the community recover and we are moving towards a future where everyone in Bend can thrive,” said Mayor Pro Tem Gena Goodman-Campbell. “We know we have a lot of work to do, and we are asking the community to hold us accountable to these goals.”
Councilors approved the two-year goal plan at their meeting Wednesday. That approval follows a variety of inputs and feedback from the community, and a Council goal-setting effort.
The Council goals fall into six categories. Many strategies support each goal category. See the full list of goals and strategies at this link.
The six goals are:
Accessible & Effective City Government; Meet the diverse and changing needs of the community and build connection between community members and City government by providing services in ways that work for everyone, build public trust, and promote civic engagement.
Environment & Climate; Improve quality of life for more people in Bend by increasing equitable access to clear air, water and to a healthy environment. Implement solutions that fulfill the City’s commitment to being good stewards of our natural environment, decreasing carbon emissions and mitigating the effects of climate change.
Safety, Health, Accountability & Justice; Work to create an environment where all community members feel safe accessing the services they need and confident the right service will be provided. Deliver public safety services in ways that build community resiliency and trust.
Shared Prosperity; Cultivate tomorrow’s economy to assure that we are creating opportunity for all community members to equitably share in Bend’s prosperity.
Transportation & Infrastructure; Design, build and maintain a connected multimodal transportation system that allows people to move around safely, equitably, and efficiently. Invest in Bend’s infrastructure systems to meet community expectations.
Housing; Take meaningful action to make this statement a reality: People who live and work in Bend can afford housing in Bend.
The Council’s Preamble:
We believe Bend can be a city for everyone. We can all share in the prosperity and promise of this unique and beautiful place. We honor the people that came before us on these lands and acknowledge that the health of our community relies on the health of our environment. As stewards of the City, we are accountable to the people of Bend and are responsible for delivering excellent City services. We are committed to serving everyone equitably, creating a more connected community, and preserving Bend’s spirit as we grow. We will strive to achieve equity and justice for everyone in Bend.