Bend City Councilors on Wednesday discussed developing a land management strategy for the controversial Juniper Ridge property, including the need to rid the area of homeless camps.
The 1,500-acre parcel of land in northeast Bend remains largely vacant despite years-long efforts by the city to build the site into a thriving industrial center.
Instead, the sagebrush and juniper-filled property has become both a fire hazard and campground for Bend’s growing homeless population.
Some 60 homeless camps have been found on the site recently.
“By state law, we need to develop a policy for removing established camp sites from city property,” said City of Bend CEO Jon Skidmore. “It’s imperative for us to manage the property not only for the safety of the surrounding community, but for the safety of the users as well to make it attractive for additional employment uses.”
The city purchased Juniper Ridge from Deschutes County for $1 back 1990 with the intent to develop the land for industrial use. The master plan has since been amended to expand the potential uses to include research and development, medical labs, professional services and education facilities.
Currently the location is home to the corporate headquarters of Les Schwab Tires.