A last-ditch effort in federal court for homeless people to stay on Hunnell and Clausen roads in Bend was denied Wednesday. That means everyone who has been living there for months or years were required to have moved out by Thursday morning.
The request for a temporary restraining order was filed last Friday in U.S. District Court on behalf of the handful of people who are still living in the Hunnell area.
The City of Bend said Judge Ann Aiken ruled that the plaintiffs were not entitled to a temporary restraining order. Aiken dismissed the case, according to the City.
That means that as of Thursday morning, everyone who has been living on Hunnell and Clausen roads must leave.
“The City will resume its clean-up operations as planned on Thursday morning, July 27,” City of Bend Communications Director Anne Aurand said in a statement.
“I’m still gonna be back here at 11:59 to walk off this road with my head held high because I’m proud of everybody here,” said Michelle Hester, who lives on Hunnell Road. “We stood up. We fought. Even though we lost, we got heard. People out there did hear us and we changed a couple people’s minds. That’s all it takes to change at least one person’s mind about us.”
Hester has lived on Hunnell Road for a little more than a year. She says there were about 15 people still yet to move from Hunnell and Clausen.
“All you guys care about is getting rid of us. We’re not a disease. We have feelings that matter just like all your guys do. Give us a break,” Hester said.
Jarod Graff is a former wildland firefighter. He has befriended some of those living on Hunnell Road.
“It’s just sad. Every single person has an equal right to be here. No matter what their issue is, no matter what their story is,” Graff said. “Just because you haven’t lived it or you don’t understand it doesn’t mean that it’s not valid.”
Graff spent his day helping Hester and others pack up their belongings.
“I’ve been gone for a few weeks and I drove out here yesterday and noticed that some of my friends are still here, so I just came down to see what was going on, what the timeline was and see what we could do,” Graff said.
The City announced on June 21 it would be closing the area on July 18 and clearing it out, citing the camping code that was enacted in March.
Wednesday’s ruling ended the second court action this month aimed at stopping the closure.
People living there had previously filed an injunction in Deschutes County to delay the move. After hearings over two days, 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.
Hours later, Hunnell and Clausen were officially closed and the clean-up began. But 23 people were given an additional seven days due to disabilities.
Those 23 were supposed to have left by midnight Monday. The City gave them a two-day extension due to the heavy wildfire smoke in the area this week.
That extension ended at midnight.
Aurand said last week that the streets will be washed, repainted and bike lanes will be painted. “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 last week.