The closure of Hunnell and Clausen roads, one of the largest congregations of homeless residents in Central Oregon, began Tuesday morning. Where people could once drive up and down the road, there are now barriers and road closed signs in place.
Residents were told to be out by midnight, but some of them could be seen Tuesday morning working to pack their belongings.
Clausen was not yet closed Tuesday. The City of Bend said it is starting on the south end of the Hunnell area and working north.
Multiple RVs and other vehicles were still parked along the road, but tow trucks were brought in to start moving them out. Several residents have said over the past few months that their trailers and motorhomes were unable to move.
Also there Tuesday were protesters carrying three crosses.
“Repent and do better, Bend, Oregon!” yelled one of the men holding a cross. “I make this appeal standing before His throne!”
The city announced nearly four weeks ago that it would be closing and cleaning up the Hunnell area starting at midnight on the night of July 17. In a last-ditch effort to stop the closure, residents filed a motion to delay the shutdown saying, among other things, that the closure was rushed.
After hearings over two days, Deschutes County Circuit Court Judge Wells Ashby determined that the city had followed its own regulations and policies in properly giving notice to the residents of the City’s plans. He denied the plaintiff’s request.
The City is accommodating about two dozen people who asked for extra time due to disabilities. The City said it has granted those people one more week to move out.
The process is expected to take about two weeks to clear everything out. City of Bend Communications Director Anne Aurand said the City will store anything collected for 30 days so that Hunnell residents have the chance to get it back.
Vehicles will go to a fenced-in area as part of an agreement with Deschutes County. Aurand said after that, they may be towed and go through a lien process by which owners could get them back.
“After this cleanup is done, we’re going to clean the streets, wash it. We’re going to repaint, paint on bike lanes and all of that,” Aurand said.
No parking signs will be put up for two weeks. After that, Aurand said those residents could come back, but under the rules of the new Bend camping code.
“Time, place and manner restrictions would limit the number of people that can camp on a given block, for example, or how long somebody can stay in one spot on a city owned public right of way,” Aurand said.
Bend’s homeless camping code was approved in November 2022 and enforcement began in March. It bans unhoused people from camping in residential areas, city property and public rights-of-way. These include sidewalks, roads and roundabouts. Homeless campers are unable to stay in one spot for more than 24 hours and are given 72 hours, once they have received notice, to move.
The city previously planned to clear Hunnell Road in March. That was delayed after what Appeared to be an agreement for a managed homeless camp in south Bend. But that camp ultimately did not materialize.
Aurand said the cleanup effort is paid for through the City’s general fund.