More than 260 police calls; structures blocking clear views; syringes, human feces, garbage and fires
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – Over 260 police calls to the area of a homeless camp along Northeast Second Street over the past three months are one of more than a dozen measurements of “highest community safety concern” that prompted Police Chief Mike Krantz to say the area meets the conditions of an “unsafe campsite,” which could lead to its removal.
If City Manager Eric King, who received Krantz’s assessment on Monday, agrees to issue that declaration, that could set the stage for clearing more than two dozen structures located in the city rights of way, which would relieve several area businesses that have complained of crime and other fearful interactions between workers and customers and the houseless residents.
It would be the second such homeless camp sweep in the city, after one last June along nearby Emerson Avenue, amid a growing issue, vocal debate and city efforts to add more shelter space and revise land-use rules to make them possible in residential areas, along with “hardship housing” in RVs on private property.
King received the assessment and updated data on Monday for his review, said city Assistant Communications Director Joshua Romero.
He said King “will likely make a decision on whether or not to declare it an unsafe camp later this week. That decision will lead to further assessment of the next steps for the area and what actions, if any, the city will take.”
Complaints from businesses and others led to the assessment of health, safety and livability issues along Second Street from Franklin to Greenwood Avenues, including Greeley, Hawthorne and Irving avenues from First to Third streets, using the factors laid out in rules adopted last year for management and potential removal of campsites in city rights of ways.
As of last Wednesday, Krantz reported, there were 25 identifiable structures erected in the rights of ways, many of which he said “clearly block access to public rights-of-ways, including sidewalks, and sometimes encroach on public streets,” including blocking 15-feet clear view at corners, “causing potential traffic safety impact to the motoring public.”
“The city has made a concerted effort to work with” some of the campsite residents to move the ones blocking clear views on their own, the police chief said. Some moved, and city workers or contractors moved others, but some “have popped back up” in the 15-foot street corner or 10-foot driveway clear view areas.
There have been “over 258 calls for service” in the area since Nov. 9, a “high amount of public safety services” that’s "not typical for other similarly measured geographic areas” in the city, Krantz said.
There are 18 areas of measurement and assessment in the city rule to determine if a campsite is deemed “unsafe,” with values (scores) from 1 to 5 (low to highest community safety concern). Krantz said 13 of the 18 factors in the Second Street assessment were at the Level 5 level, meaning it meets the conditions identified as an unsafe campsite.
Among other factors listed in the assessment: more than 20,000 pounds of trash and debris picked up in the area over the past month, meaning 80 yards of debris hauled away.
“Multiple syringes and human feces litter the area,” the report stated.
There have been 49 criminal reports taken in the area over the past 90 days, ranging from bias crime and second-degree assault to multiple trespass issues, disorderly conduct, theft and criminal mischief. There also have been “multiple reports of open or reckless burning, including “fires started and left burning in the middle of the travel lanes of the roadway.”
The report also notes “multiple reports by business owners and employees in this direct area of aggravate threats and altercations between homeless individuals in the campsites and in the area making threats to customers and employees.”
An addendum noted 14 more calls for service between last Wednesday and Monday, ranging from trespass and mental health issues to theft, suspicious activity and disputes. There were two arrests, for disorderly conduct and theft, but no arrests in an incident involving several people and a reported use of mace because most involved remained in their tents and did not cooperate.