▶️ Hunnell Road unhoused ‘relieved’ after date to remove them postponed

Hunnell Road residents said Thursday they are relieved by a decision from the City of Bend to postpone removal of their camps and trailers.

The City said the removal cancellation is due to “a change in plans by the Deschutes County Road Department and a commitment made Monday by the Deschutes County Commissioners to establish a site for people to go” — that site being the proposed managed camp just south of the Les Schwab Tire Center along Highway 97.

March 16 was the original date the road was set to be cleared.

“It comes as a great relief,” said Smokey, a man who has lived on Hunnell Road for years. “Without having a secondary place for people to go right now, going to China Hat Road or to Dirt World for some is not a really good solution or safe place for them to be.”

RELATED: Hunnell Road clearing postponed until new south Bend camp is ready

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China Hat Road is in south Bend and is home to hundreds of homeless camps. Juniper Ridge is China Hat’s northern counterpart off of Highway 97 between Bend and Redmond.

“Hearing that there’s a postponement, that’s good because if I don’t make enough money to get an apartment which is impossible to get these days-renting a room is even harder-so I end up sleeping in a van,” said William, another man living on Hunnell.


He has lived there for three weeks and told us he just fixed the breaks on his van and needs to replace the two front tires before he is able to leave. 

“I’m trying to get the hell out of here, because it sucks here,” he continued.

When asked if they would be comfortable moving to the city-approved campsite in south Bend, the two men, Smokey and William, said ‘yes.’

“Absolutely, I would love to have water and a bathroom and some facilities and a garbage can. Absolutely, I would,” answered William.

Smokey said his willingness to live in an approved camp is conditional: “I wouldn’t have a problem with it, as long as it doesn’t have a fence, and I can come and go as I want.”

The city said there will be a fence.

“That’s going to be interesting because then they won’t have anybody in it,” said Smokey.

We spoke with a few businesses across from Hunnell Road, but no one was willing to speak with us on-camera. 

Most of the managers and owners are frustrated by the postponement. 

They recalled stories of theft, public defecation in front of their businesses, vandalism and other bad experiences from Hunnell Road.

The City of Bend has not declared a new date for the removal of those living on Hunnell. It said it wants to wait until the new South Bend campsite is complete. 

There is no clear timeline for that camp, but the county previously told us it could take months. 

▶️ ‘Supported’ homeless camp in south Bend location approved by Deschutes Co.

Deschutes County on Monday approved a new “supported” homeless camp to operate in southern Bend off of Highway 97. This move comes as March 16 approaches: The day Hunnell Road on the other end of town is set to be cleared.

The location is on a triangle of land just south of the Les Schwab Tire Center located next to the Murphy Road and Highway 97 roundabout.

“The city identified this [land] which would be eligible for their safe parking program,” said Erik Kropp, the deputy county administrator.

He said the new camp site will be in operation in two months at the earliest. 

RELATED: Hunnell Road to be closed to campers on March 16

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The “supported” part means that the city will hire a nonprofit service provider to look after the unhoused in the camp.

Who will be in charge of the operation has yet to be decided.

“Things have been happening very quickly,” said Kropp.

Things have moved too quickly for some neighbors nearby.

“It was a shock to us,” said Noemy Moreno, a Bend woman who lives across the street from the proposed site. “It just randomly popped up and we weren’t consulted at all.”


The county confirmed that it has not sought public opinion.

“We haven’t yet , and I know the city might have some earlier conversations when they were looking at that piece of land, but in terms of this specific proposal, there hasn’t been,” said Kropp.

While Debra Fisher, another neighbor, is also concerned about the lack of communication, she is not opposed to having unhoused neighbors. 

“They have to have some place to go,” said Fisher. “So maybe I’ll be the first one in my neighborhood to make a pot of soup, take it over and feed them.”

She has lived in Bend since 1990 and said she wishes the City of Bend had addressed the homeless issue sooner.

“I think people get frightened. They think with homelessness comes drug addicts and insanity and crime, well yeah, that comes with any part of our society, but pigeon holing those poor people is not going to help them get back on their feet again,” said Fisher.

▶️ Bend family looks to start chess club for 8-year-old son

Kirsten Madsen reached out to the Bend community on Facebook asking if families with children have interest in starting a chess club.

Madsen is looking for a community for her son, Levi, who loves chess, and she got a lot of responses (50 comments by the time this story aired). 

“I would say the main age group is probably 6-10, but we’ve got an 18 year old, 14 year old interested,” said Kirsten. “I also heard of a mom who was essentially volunteering her husband who used to be a chess champion and so I’m really hoping he comes out.”

Eight-year-old Levi has been playing for half of his life.

“It’s not about luck. It’s about skill. Like if someone makes a move, you have to figure out how to respond,” said Levi.

He’s already giving his dad, Andreas Madsen, a run for his money.

“I think at about six years old he started to beat me and I had to figure that out quickly,” said Andreas.

From playing online to driving to Portland, the Madsen’s have found ways to give Levi chances to play chess with others, but they want to be able to start a group closer to home.

“I would love to get him to playing in-person with friends,” said Kirsten.

Levi has a few trophies to show off, and he is quite confident in his strategy.

For a young guy, he knows a lot about the game and told us it would be so exciting to be able to play more of it in town. 

▶️ Snowy mountain passes causing fuel truck delays to Central Oregon

Bend gas stations are seeing delays in shipments as snow hits the mountain passes

The manager of the 76 station on Highway 20, Joshua Enfield, said Friday that the station was out of gasoline but still had diesel. 

“We’re just waiting on the fuel truck from over the pass right now,” said Enfield.

RELATED: ODOT warns: Stay off the roads, especially back roads, this weekend

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Many gas stations are making do, with some being out of gasoline for a short period of time.

When I mentioned the issue to the manager of the Quickway on North East Butler Market Road, she told me checking her shipment schedule was now at the top of her to-do list.

As for the Shell on Highway 20, the owner of the Stop and Go Mini Mart said they had a scare.

“The delivery driver did get delayed over the pass and so they were not able to show up until mid-day yesterday,” Couch said. “Which, we were getting a little low, but we still had enough to make it a few more hours, and they showed up, got us topped off and we’re back in business.”

His advice for drivers who may be nervous about a gas shortage is to stay calm.

“If people would not panic and just wait and come in when they really want to come in, it’ll avoid the mass rush down here and then wiping out all the fuel,” said Couch.

The 76 is expecting a shipment by Saturday. 

▶️ Sisters’ homeless go without warming shelter, must find one elsewhere

In potentially dangerous temperatures like we are experiencing this week, the City of Sisters continues to operate without a warming shelter for the unhoused population. 

“The reason why I’m here in Redmond, Oregon is because, in Sisters, there is no warming shelter,” said George Discullio, a Sisters man who has been taking the bus to Redmond to take refuge in the warming shelter at Mountainview Fellowship Church.

According to shelter managers, Discullio is the only Sisters resident consistently at the shelter. But the reality remains — it’s the closest shelter to Sisters. 

This winter, the city has yet to open a space for the unhoused to get out of the cold.

“It’s ridiculous,” Discullio said.

RELATED: Central Oregon emergency warming shelters prepare for severe cold

RELATED: Oregon lawmakers propose $200 million for homelessness, housing

Central Oregon Daily’s Brooke Snavely reached out to the Sisters Cold Weather Shelter Organization on February 1, 2023. The organization declined his interview request more than two weeks later.

I tried reaching city councilors and the mayor, but I did not get an answer to why the city has not opened a shelter space. 

“It’s really hard because you can’t go out and find a job, get a shower, be civilized because of the cold,” said Discullio. “There’s nothing there to provide for that.”

The Sisters city manager declined to do an interview but said the cold weather shelter organization is focusing on helping individuals who request assistance.

When I asked Discullio if he has requested assistance, he said, “People don’t know about it. People don’t know how to find that help.”

He added that without the shelter in Redmond, he probably would not survive. 


▶️ Using someone else’s pass at Mt. Bachelor? Resort is cracking down on fraud

A Mt. Bachelor employee tells us pass fraud has been rampant at the resort this year. And the mountain is not sitting by and just letting it happen.

If you’re thinking about sharing your pass with someone else, you should think twice.

Reporter note from Morgan Gwynn: Over the weekend, I witnessed a snowboarder get caught for using someone else’s pass. The lift operator pulled him out of line and law enforcement handled it from there.

When asked about the situation, a lift operators said Mt. Bachelor is offering bonuses to employees who catch pass fraud.

When we reached out on Facebook, multiple people claimed catching fraudsters will secure a $75 bonus.

RELATED: ‘Jr. Snow Ranger’ outdoor education event returns to Mt. Bachelor

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The official word from the resort?

“A guest who chooses to fraudulently use a pass that is not their own will be asked to leave and could face penalties,” said Mt. Bachelor spokesperson Stacey Hutchinson.

These penalties include being escorted from the mountain; paying the current day’s ticket price; paying a restitution fee; and being handed off to authorities over “theft of service.”

One skier says she can see both sides.

“I get it. The mountain needs to make money. But I don’t know that it’s going to deter anyone. I think people will just figure out another way to do it,” said skier Brittany Wagner.

She says she understands why people would split a pass.

“If I didn’t have a good job that I knew would continue and be steady, I don’t think I could afford to ski,” said Wagner.

Another skier says Bachelor is a business.

“It seems fair, right? I mean the mountains are a business and it just seems fair that you should have to buy a pass to do it,” said pass holder Ian Maccoll.

The mountain says if someone agrees to share their pass, both the borrower and the sharer will face consequences.

▶️ Stray bullets, fire threats, close calls: Living next to China Hat Road

Tensions between the housed and their unhoused neighbors in Bend continue to grow.

A Bend woman, who does not want to be identified in case her unhoused neighbors retaliate against her, said she walked out of her home next to China Hat Road and had two bullets fly by her head.

“As soon as that first bullet went by me and I knew exactly what it was, my heart started racing,” she said. 

Wondering if she will be shot by stray gunfire is her new normal after almost being hit twice.

“When the second one… that’s when I thought ‘I have to hide here,’ and I’m really close to my house. I have a right to be safe in my own home,” she said.

RELATED: Petition calls for Phil’s Trail gate to stay closed; cites camps and garbage

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She explained that gunshots off of China Hat Road are common, but this was the first time she was almost a victim to it. She is certain the unhoused people living across the street from her are the source of the closer gunfire.

“I have no doubt whatsoever,” she told us.

Reporter note from Morgan Gwynn: I also heard gunfire going off throughout the interview but did not see any shooters or feel threatened. 

Bullets flying by are not the only things China Hat neighbors are concerned about. 

“Pretty regularly there are trash fires out there,” said another neighbor who wished to not be identified for the same reasons.

During our interview, a trash fire started right across the street, smoke filling the air.

“It’s scarier for us is in the summer time,” the neighbor said. “There are fires out there pretty consistently, even during times of burn ban, and there was a fire that got up into the canopy of the trees and required a pretty serious response from the local fire department.”

He told us the police frequent the area, and, in extreme cases, he has prepared to defend his house and his pregnant wife. 

“Just had my gun close to me and turned on all our exterior lights; started calling the neighbors and letting them know what we were hearing,” he said.

The two neighbors said if moving out of the neighborhood was an option, they would take it.

“If I had won the lottery, I would be moving. I would be selling this house at a loss and I would move,” the first neighbor who encountered gunfire said. 

The neighbors explained they want the City of Bend and Deschutes County to take action and take their worries seriously.

▶️ Bend City Council approves 2 efforts toward affordable housing

The Bend City Council approved the Parkside Place Development Project and $1 million towards the Kôr Community Land Trust on Wednesday. Both of these will provide affordable housing in Bend. 

The Parkside Place Development will be seated between Bear Creek Road and Highway 20. Out of the 346 units being built, 40% will be affordable housing. 

“Out of the 346 units, we’ll see a variety of product there ranging from one, two and three bedroom rental units to single-family detached units,” said Jacob Clark, the regional land development manager with Hayden Homes. 

RELATED: Public meeting for 275-unit Southern Crossing development in Bend

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The urban growth boundary has been expanded for the project. 

“Often times that process is extensive: 10 to 20 years to bring land into an urban growth boundary. But under this pilot project would be able to be brought in in an expedited manner,” said Clark.

The $1 million given to the land trust will help build 40 single-family affordable housing units. 

These will live on SW Simpson Avenue, and, while $1 million is a lot of money, it’s only the first step.

“Those will be determined upon greater funding because a million dollars is just a fraction of what is actually needed for that development to happen,” said Racheal Egan-Baker, the affordable housing manager with the City of Bend. 

▶️ Hunnell Road 2 weeks from Bend camping code taking effect

The Bend camping code will take effect on March 1. A little more than two weeks later, the Bend North Corridor project will shut down Hunnell Road.

The homeless people living on Hunnell Road will be cleared out for code violations and to make room for construction equipment.

Both the City of Bend and Deschutes County have promised to offer resources and support for the unhoused, but Hunnell residents say they have not seen the support they need yet.

“Go to each door and find out what people need, what kind of help they need, offer the rehab. A lot of these people want rehab,” said Stacey Ray, a woman living on Hunnell Road. “A lot of people have social security income where affordable housing would work, you know? There’s a lot of options that they could be offering, but they’re not.”

RELATED: Meet the city officials tasked with enforcing the Bend camping code

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The health and safety compliance coordinator with the City of Bend, Sherri Meisel, has had her boots on the ground giving homeless people a heads up that March is approaching. 

“We work closely with service providers, REACH in particular,” said Meisel. “We’ve also had the county behavioral health outreach folks coming with us and doing ride-alongs.”

During these visits from the Deschutes County Behavioral Health ‘folks,’ they work on developing connections and offering ‘assistance’ for the upcoming move.

According to Michelle Hester, another resident on Hunnell Road, she has not seen an effort to help people move their trailers or relocate the homeless.

“They’re probably going to wait until the last moment and, you know, that’s the wrong thing to do,” said Hester.

Meisel told us she is trying to connect people to resources.

“If they tell us that they have a particular need or if they have an idea of what they want to do and just need some help getting there, we will make sure we pass that information along to the service provider,” said Meisel.

While the City of Bend has Meisel on the job, Ray said they need more help.

“They said that they were going to put up tables weekend after weekend down there and offer all kinds of help, but I have not seen anything and time’s flying,” said Ray.

Ray, who recently obtained full-time employment, is looking to leave soon.

“I’m looking for a room to share right now or a cheap rental that somebody has because I have my full-time job now,” Ray said. 

▶️ Public meeting for 275-unit Southern Crossing development in Bend

The Southern Crossing Neighborhood Association (SCNA) was set to host an online public meeting Monday to consider a two-building apartment complex project supporting almost 275 units. 

The land use chair with SCNA, Roberta Silverman, says this project would increase the total units being considered for development on the south end of Bend to 3,000. 

“We are really eager to hear at the meeting some of the things that are always concerns to the neighbors, such as traffic, parking and affordable housing,” said Silverman.

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The director of development with Horizon Realty Advisors in Seattle, Graydon Manning, is in charge of the project and will answer questions at the meeting, which starts at 6:00 p.m. 

“We’re providing a minimum of 1.5 parking stalls per unit on the project,” said Manning. “The parking code update allowed for some more compact spaces.”

Manning also said the compact spaces will not be a priority since many Bendites “drive trucks and other large vehicles.”

Since SW Century Drive is a main access point to Mount Bachelor, traffic is also a concern for Silverman.

“I think there are going to be times with heavy traffic on Century like there already is,” said Manning. “We will add more cars to the road, that’s unavoidable. It’s that balance of adding housing and adding cars.”

Manning agrees that traffic is also a concern of the developers, but he does not have any major solutions other than a second exit that will allow residents to leave onto Colorado Avenue.

Silverman said she hopes the city will look at the impact of all developments in Southern Crossing collectively.

“Right now, these projects are looked at individually by the city when it comes to traffic and transportation and we really would like the city to take a more holistic approach,” said Silverman. 

Affordable housing was another issue brought up.

“We are providing a decent ratio of smaller studio apartments that will start in a price range that most working people will be able to afford,” said Manning. But he wanted to be clear that the development is not an affordable housing project. 

For Silverman, she said she just wants working Bendites to be able to find affordable housing.

She also encourages the public to attend the neighborhood association meeting, even if they do not live in Southern Crossing.