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Central Oregon

City of Bend gives notice to Emerson Avenue homeless campers: Move out by June 23

Cites public health, safety concerns; can move temporarily to nearby low-barrier shelter

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – The city of Bend, as expected, gave formal notice Thursday to dozens of campers on Northeast Emerson Avenue that the city right-of-way will be cleared next Wednesday due to health and safety hazards, found to be a top priority under the city’s new policy.

The city had recently made its intentions known, prompting concern by service providers that the ousted campers would have no safe place to go, despite a variety of efforts by the city to add shelter beds, find a site for a managed camp and provide time for relocation efforts to bear fruit.

Here’s the full release issued Thursday by the city:

New City of Bend Administrative Policy Helps Determine When to Remove Unsafe Campsites in City Rights-of-way; Safety on NE Emerson Avenue Top Priority

New Property Management Policy

City Council recently approved an administrative policy that sets out steps and procedures the City will use to determine when to remove or manage established campsites on City rights-of-way.

The policy is intended to be used to remove those established campsites on City rights-of-way that are having the greatest impact on public health and safety - including the safety of those individuals residing or camping at a location.

The policy will be initially used in response to growing concerns about a concentrated group of established campsites along NE Emerson Avenue, between Third Street and U.S. 97, creating public health and safety issues for the people camping there and nearby residents, businesses and the traveling public.

According to the new Management and Removal of Established Campsites in City Rights-of-way policy, when a segment or portion of a City right-of-way is being used as an established campsite and poses a threat to public safety and use of the right-of-way, the City can deem it an “unsafe campsite.” An impact analysis identified the unsafe campsite using evaluation criteria such as the number of Police Department calls for service, violations of laws or codes, and encroachment on travel lanes.

Emerson Avenue

The location along Emerson Avenue has been identified as an unsafe campsite. At the June 2 City Council meeting, Councilors said they wanted to ensure the new policy is only implemented in the Emerson area, until the City has an opportunity get feedback on this effort and assess whether the policy needs to change before considering applying it elsewhere.

“Providing for the safety of our unhoused community members and the traveling public is the City’s top priority in addressing what’s happening at Emerson Avenue,” said City Manager Eric King. “We are grateful to be working with trusted partners to support our unhoused community members as we work to provide safe alternatives to camping in the right-of-way.”

As part of the City’s overall plan to address homelessness, the City recently partnered with  NeighborImpact to open a 70-bed, low-barrier shelter for unhoused community members. The Shepherd’s House operates the shelter at 275 NE Second Street. Here is a recent press release about that shelter opening.

Along with approval of the policy, Councilors requested that staff provide two weeks’ notice to service providers before removing established, unsafe campsites. The intention to address the safety concerns in the Emerson area was relayed to service providers on Monday, June 7. 

The City has coordinated with REACH, SHARE Project of Shepherd’s House, Deschutes County Homeless Outreach, and other service providers to connect individuals and families to available resources through local service providers and agencies.

Next Steps

This morning, the City provided official notice to those camping along Emerson Avenue of the need to vacate by June 23. On the morning of June 23, City crews and contractors will close portions of Second Street and Emerson Avenue and begin cleaning the area and restoring the right-of-way. Access to the area will be limited to service providers, City officials and contractors.

During camp clean-up and restoration, a safe observation area will be provided at the eastern end of the Second Street and Emerson Avenue intersection for First Amendment expressions and media.

Personal property remaining in the right-of-way after people relocate from the closed area will be stored near City Hall and available for pick-up by contacting City administration at City Hall, according to City administrative policy and in compliance with State law. People who leave the rights-of-way may choose to relocate temporarily to the low-barrier shelter located at 275 NE Second Street.

Once the unsafe campsite has been cleaned and restored, sections of Emerson Avenue will be posted as a no parking area to provide for safe access to the right-of-way and businesses.

Homelessness in Central Oregon and Council Goals

There are nearly 1,000 people experiencing homelessness in Central Oregon on any given night. This number includes families with children and youths who do not live with an adult. Learn more in Central Oregon Homelessness Facts & Figures.

To help address issues related to homelessness, the Bend City Council has adopted a strategy to “Invest in programs and partnerships that result in collaborative, concrete actions toward ending homelessness in Bend,” as part of its 2021-2023 Council Goals. That strategy includes creating a five-year Action Plan, exploring and increasing funding sources, and expanding options for temporary or permanent housing.   

Supporting Houselessness Solutions

The City of Bend is working with public agencies and community partners to support solutions for houselessness in the Bend community. This includes finding ways to keep people in their homes, provide temporary transitional housing and shelters, and increase the availability of affordable housing.

Recently, the City Council adopted a Safe Parking Program to allow limited overnight parking in certain locations for people experiencing homelessness and updated the Bend Development Code to allow temporary housing (shelters) in some commercial zones in Bend. The City is in the process of applying for a grant from the State-funded Project Turnkey to convert a motel into a shelter for people who are unhoused. The State legislature has approved $2.5 million in funding to open a navigation center in Bend to support unhoused community members. 

At its June 16 meeting, City Council directed staff to enter into a purchase and sale agreement of the property located at 275 NE Second Street to establish a permanent low-barrier shelter at the location of a seasonal shelter. The Sounding Board to House Our Neighbors is working with City staff to make recommendations to update the Bend Development Code to allow for the development of different shelter types in certain zoning districts.

To learn more about the City’s efforts, visit www.bendoregon.gov/homelessness.  

For information on how you can support the organizations engaged in this effort, visit www.shepherdshouseministries.orgwww.reachoutcentraloregon.org or www.cohomeless.org.

Bend / Government-politics / Local News / News / Top Stories

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Comments

69 Comments

      1. Does the motel room they had for their first two weeks qualify as “stable housing”? The car they abandoned? How do they define that?

    1. What rock are you living under? Central Oregon’s population has been growing for 25+ years. With growth comes issues, such as homelessness. This is not a “relatively recent” issue.

      1. 25 years to 30 years is recent to those of us who have always been here. I would say not even 30 years ago was the homelessness in Oregon like anything of the epidemic we are seeing now. Many are refugee socialist liberals fleeing the mess the created in their own states, and then bringing their messes and ideologies with them.

        1. You are a delusional old man. You desperately need to get off the cable news, it’s making you look mentally ill. In related news, 30 years ago is not recent.

      2. There was no RV parking lot behind Space Age until a couple years ago. There were not the massive garbage dumps out on BLM or even on the underpasses until a few years ago.

      1. “The ancestors of Native American populations from the tip of Chile in the south to Canada in the north, migrated from Asia in at least three waves, according to a new international study published online in Nature this week that involved over 60 investigators in 11 countries in the Americas, plus four in Europe, and Russia.

        In what they describe as the most comprehensive survey of genetic diversity in Native Americans so far, the researchers studied variation in Native American DNA sequences. They found that while most Native American populations descend primarily from one migration, there were two later ones that also made a significant genetic contribution.” https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/247747#1

        Proof everyone came to this country even the so called Native Americans.

        1. Good point. And prior to that we all came from Africa. We are much more the same than different genetically speaking, but those differences do make some difference. I think most people have Neanderthal as well, so we’re all a bit mixed up.

        2. I just love know it alls who research everything to make a point and educate the masses. To what end? Not impressed. Find another hobby.

  1. It’s without argument homeless people need somewhere to sleep. The mistake cities make (see Portland and Seattle) is allowing anyone with a tent to take over any public area and turn it into their personal space. The city can be compassionate yet still control issues of sanitation, public safety, and health by establishing specific locations where camping will be allowed and controlled by city ordinance.

    1. The difficulty is getting more people to see this simple “nuance” that yes, everyone needs a place to sleep, but it doesn’t have to be in an open public space that we all need to use.

  2. The reporter might want to walk down to the site before reporting, since he is clearly not a Bend native. Emerson does not end at Highway 97. It ends at the Les Scwab tire store parking lot, clearly visible in the accompanying picture. Also, the camps start at 2nd Street, not 3rd. Otherwise, he got the geography right.

    1. The reply, from city spokesman Joshua Romero: “Noticing took place in the area as described. As I understand it, there were abandoned vehicles on Emerson avenue, between Third and Second Street, that were also noticed. Commenter is correct that Emerson Avenue does not end at U.S. 97. The news release stated “along Emerson Avenue, between Third Street and U.S. 97,” which is accurate. There was no indication in the news release that Emerson Avenue ends at U.S. 97, but I could see how one might make that assumption.”

    1. Yes Hunnel is so bad but the city council doesn’t have to drive by and take notice on a daily basis. Brooks Resources owns the Big Dog RV site and no doubt they have pushed a few buttons at the city prior to razing and rebuilding the mixed use development that they have been planning. Its a know fact that that is a big reason that the Rainbow hotel was not selected to be one of the transitional housing sites. Look out Drake Park users, Munchin Music should be a real sight this year.

  3. When are they going to clean up the homeless city over by Lowe’s?

    I bet the people who live right at the end of the street (Hunnel and Loco) just love the new neighbors. *sarcasm*

  4. Put them up in the old COCC dormitory which has been vacant for several years. If it was good enough for college students it’s good enough for the homeless. It can easily house 100+ homeless or unhoused people.

    1. Interesting, if true. Maybe KTVZ should look into it. Unlikely though, unless someone issues a press release that they can “report” verbatim.

    2. Horrible idea. Many homeless people also have disgusting criminal records that involve sex crimes. You put a bunch of those people on the same campus as 18 year old girls, the college would be closed in 1 year from lack of enrollment.

  5. “until the City has an opportunity get feedback on this effort” – in other words “let’s see which way the wind blows before we do more” rather than just do something just because it is the right thing to do.

  6. Good point there evil never thought of that but we know there would be trash strewn all over the common area and probably be trashed within a week. Drug paraphenalia, used needles and the whatnot would make it uninhabitable probably within a month, most of them have 1 or 2 dogs so imagine their waste all over the place.

  7. Well it is a start.
    Now wait for next Wednesday to see if the city follows through with its order. I expect z21 to be there to see what happens.

  8. After Tax payers paid thousands of dollars to clean up the trash from these nomads of tent cities from the 13 acre across from the overpass south of town near Les Schwabs, and then telling them to move, they are back again and their camps are growing. Scary, because I have seen very young people walking through there on their way home. I suspect that the people from Emerson may also join these nomads of tent cities in the woods south of town near Albertson. Of course tax payers will once again have to pay to have their mess cleaned up. I am sure it will cost more than it had cost a few years ago with inflation. Frankly, the people who want to coddle these nomads/ homeless and many of them are young, should be the ones who should have their taxes raised. As a tax payer, I am tired of footing the bill to support these people through tax increases,just because many of our liberal Californian, and east coast transplant city council want us to embrace their flaming socialist agenda they brought with them to make a mess of Bend, the way they destroyed their own states. When we have to fill out ballots, there should be an area one could check off if they want to contribute to the support of these youthful homeless instead of being forced by our socialist out of state city council members. Those who check off in favor of supporting these homeless can have their financial support automatically taken out of their bank accounts. They can also contribute to renovation of hotels as permanent or temporary housing. I would rather pay tax increase to help our Vets who are very often marginalized.

    1. Indeed, if they were given the opportunity to put their money where their mouth is, I doubt there would be much money available. It’s much better to demand someone else pay for one’s moral crusade.

  9. A friend of mine was talking to a homeless person recently and asked where she was from apparently she said the Bay Area. She said they are giving money to relocate to Bend since we have more opportunities for camping where ever they choose and plenty of resources to stay homeless ! BTW our recent water, sewer and storm water fees are going up over 12 % in a recent article on Z 21 last night but no where to be found today, mentioned in the same article the city council also are going to buy facilities to home more homeless sounds like our increased fees will help pay for them. Maybe I read it wrong but in any case this homeless mess is out of control and the city is only allowing it to grow !

  10. most of those living in the tent city on emerson refuse to go the shelter because they dont want to stop drinking or using drugs. Hope we don’t hear of anything bad happening there before next wednesday.

          1. That’s because you are quoting two seperate texts from different traditions. The OT and the NT are hardly compatible in many areas but that makes sense since one was written by Jews for Jews and the other was compiled by Christians.

      1. A lot of the more prominent and significant Founding Fathers were deists. They found comfort in the ideas of The Enlightenment. Watching people who claim to be religious in this country comment on these boards is a mix of irony and disappointment.

    1. It’s seeing the disgusting trash and human waste piles that enrages a lot of people. Not to mention all the tax payer funded handouts these people get.

    2. What makes me irritable, but not enraged, is the sleeping and crapping on the side walk, open drug use and leaving of trash where everyone has to walk. Do you still think it’s just seeing a homeless person?

      1. Which Christian doctrine compels you to demand accountabilty from the sick, the addicted, the mentally disabled or even the healthy?
        I have always been under the impression that Christianity was a personal way to improve yourself and your own relationship to God. I don’t recall any Biblical guidance from either the NT or the OT that would be covered by the vitriol or demands I see expressed predominately here for homeless people.

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