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Bend city councilors reflect on Safeway tragedy, discuss vehicle aspect of unsanctioned camping codes

(Update: Adding video)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Bend residents have been feeling the effects of the recent shooting at the Eastside Safeway, so it was inevitable that it would come to the forefront during Wednesday night's Bend City Council meeting, the first since that tragedy occurred.

Councilors Melanie Kebler and Barb Campbell asked fellow councilors to support a future discussion about what the council can do on the issue of gun violence.

Kebler mentioned deciding whether the council will formally support Measure 114 on the November ballot and a possible public service announcement on the state's Red Flag Law, which allows courts to take weapons from people found to be at risk as a danger to themselves or others.

Campbell supported the idea of city PSAs on the Red Flag Law, "I was thinking specifically on the topic of Red Flag Laws. We do have a Red Flag Law in our state. I don't think many people don't know it exists, or how they might be able to use that to get help for someone, if they know of someone who seems in danger of harming themselves or others."

After a council statement (below) was read, Mayor Gena Goodman Campbell gave each councilor who wished to speak about the personal impacts of the shooting. The mayor said it "brought up trauma" from her own youth, while Kebler tearfully focused on the good actions that some took, helping people flee the violence that night.

Perkins said she attended a ribbon-cutting for the renovations of the Century Drive Safeway and recalled the tight bond among grocery workers who went back on the job or never left during the COVID pandemic, putting themselves at risk "when all of us Zoomed" from home.

Councilors also continued to tackle the issues of unsanctioned camping codes, specifically vehicle camping on this night (presentation below).

Mayor Pro Tem Anthony Broadman said, " The idea I think is -- remain providing clarity to everybody, so you can order your affairs around well-regulated public space. Having (the rules) in one place definitely makes sense. But, I agree that seeing them in one place can cause discomfort."

Mayor Gena Goodman-Campbell said, "I think it is important, although sharing your discomfort in discussing these as seven people, you know, who to my knowledge without that lived experience, and with a lot of privilege sitting here. But we are the ones charged with making this code. So I think it's important to discuss what these specific items could be, so we can take those out. And take them specifically to people who are living in their vehicles and who are unsheltered, and say what challenges does this present to you?"

There will be a draft unsanctioned camping code to discuss at the council's next meeting in two weeks, followed by the council's first informal roundtables with the community and stakeholders since adopting that process last year.

Councilors also discussed the council's upcoming roundtable process, with a goal of more candid dialogue and debate than a council hearing usually allows, for more input from a variety of sources, including those usually not heard from at council hearings or meetings.

The goal is to draft a code to discuss at one or two roundtables before the formal approval process before the end of the year .

Here are Wednesday night's vehicle camping code discussion points and the city council's statement on the August 28 shooting:

Here's the city council's statement on the Safeway shooting.

Also, here is the houselessness update, provided and read at each meeting by Councilor Megan Perkins:

Tonight, I want to provide some updates about The Lighthouse, a new Navigation Center operated by the Shepherd’s House, along with giving you some information about the camping code and rights-of-way management.

Outdoor Shelter/Shelter Capacity

August saw an increase in the number of individuals using services at the The Lighthouse, the Navigation Center which has been in operation for just over two months. The Shepherd’s House, the nonprofit operating the Center, also reported that 14 clients exited to more stable housing within the last month. We want to thank the staff and all of the Shepherd’s House partners for their ongoing work, with special recognition to Family Kitchen. Along with all of the other work they already do for our community, they took over food service at the Navigation Center and are currently providing three meals per day at that site.

Central Oregon Villages has proposed establishing a temporary outdoor shelter in SE Bend. The site was selected by Central Oregon Villages in coordination with the property owner, and they are working through Phase 1 now – which focuses on community outreach and engagement along with the drafting of a Good Neighbor Agreement. We expect to hear a report from Central Oregon Villages in October regarding Phase 1 and discuss moving towards Phase 2, which would establish a contract for siting and shelter operations.

Camping Code

During one of our June meetings, Council determined a process for creating a camping code that will regulate how, when and where camping occurs within Bend. The process purposefully includes opportunities for public education and engagement prior to and throughout drafting the code. In August, we held two informational open houses that drew both in-person and virtual participants. The sessions included information sharing (things like what the code will address and what it won’t address) and time to take audience questions. During our work-session tonight, September 7, Council discussed how we want to include additional inputs – including roundtable discussions with invited stakeholders. We will continue to invite public input both through public comment and email (to as we work towards having a complete camping code draft by the end of this year.

Rights of Way Management

A new team member, the Health and Safety Compliance Coordinator, is joining the Transportation and Mobility Department next week. This position will focus on management of City rights of way, specifically in reference to code compliance – both proactively and in response to service requests. Management of rights of way encompasses a wide scope, including sidewalk conditions, winter operations and encampments. This new position will allow for a coordinated, streamlined approach to our management efforts.

As you can see, the City of Bend is not just moving forward on one front in regard to houselessness. We are working on many different strategies to ensure that our houseless community has access to shelter and has their basic needs met and that our community at large feels secure and supported as well. We continue to welcome your input and solutions at any time.

-Councilor Megan Perkins

Article Topic Follows: Government-politics

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Kelsey McGee

Kelsey McGee is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Kelsey here.


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