There’s no such thing as the perfect plan. That also goes for accommodating the homeless.
That’s why the city of Bend spent Wednesday night assessing the good, bad and the ugly of a camping code that took effect earlier this year.
“With our camping code, we always knew it was really important to come back and take a look at how it’s working,” said Bend Mayor Melanie Kebler. “That’s what I’m going to be doing tonight, is making sure that we’re hearing from our staff about any changes that might be needed right now and in the future.”
After lots of time creating and implementing the Bend camping code, the city council heard an update on how things were going. City staff and local law enforcement presented their lists, including monthly notices, abandoned vehicles, and calls for service.
It then cited a few trends that have emerged with the new code, like fewer longer-term encampments, less resistance to clean-ups and the removal of property.
There was also a focus on where the homeless can and should go when forced to move. That’s especially important with the rule that vehicles have to move every three days by a minimum of 750 feet.
“So here I am stuck here going, how do I get out of here,” asked a homeless man during public comment. “You guys have any resources for me? A direction? A phone number? Something?”
It’s homeless folks like this who can use shelter in the meantime, something else the city continues to work on through safe parking, managed camps and non-profit shelters.
Councilor Megan Perkins says that over the last few months, the council, the county, local service providers and the state have been working on a list of properties for outdoor camps.
“The idea is that these are diverse properties for RV camping, safe parking, you know, outdoor managed camp, supportive camp, and they have been sort of honing these properties based on, you know, feasibility. Can they actually can you actually, you know, make something work there,” Perkins said.
Bend adopted changes to its Municipal Code in December 2022. Application of the new code began in March 2023 and staff reported no citations have been given out since that time.