Boyd Acres Neighborhood Association 11/2/2020
Statement regarding Juniper Ridge Homeless Camp Proposal
Honorable Bend City Councilors,
The BANA Board of Directors, in response to their constituents' concerns, wishes to address the council with a summary of our understanding of the Juniper Ridge Homeless Camp Proposal, what we support, what we do not support, actions we would like to see, and finally recommendations. One board member disagreed with our taking action.
Wednesday, October 21, 2020, a recommendation by City of Bend staff was approved by City Council to appoint an Emergency Homeless Task Force to create a Temporary Transitional Managed Shelter Site (Homeless Camp Site) in Juniper Ridge. This site is located near the eastern end of present Cooley Road and would initially comprise six (6) acres. This plan of action is being taken as a purported temporary measure and by Emergency Order authorized under Covid Emergency Legislation. It is being used to address an immediate conflict the City of Bend has with BNSF Railroad regarding illegal public use of rail crossing on the north end of Juniper Ridge. BNSF has threatened to revoke the city's two unimproved rail crossing licenses in the northern portions of Juniper Ridge after two serious incidents involving homeless campers (one being a serious fire and another a vehicle/train collision). Both incidents caused train schedule interruptions. The crisis response by the City of Bend is to move the camps to the Cooley Road site and gate these two problematic crossings.
Justification for this emergency action is based upon recent court rulings stating that cities and other public land entities have to provide alternative sites for the homeless when displacing them. This put the City of Bend into the immediate position of seeking another site. The site on Cooley is being described as a temporary site, but actually is intended to be Phase One of a Three Phase plan to address homelessness in Bend. All Three Phases are identified in the surrounding landbase of Juniper Ridge. Phase One is the six acre Temporary Transitional Site, Phase Two will be a permanent RV/Trailer Park & Campground and Phase Three will be future low income and affordable housing. All with projected locations in Juniper Ridge, north of Cooley Road. This site does not meet the criteria in State law (HB4212) that requires such shelters to have access to transportation and medical services.
The initial Emergency Order is being utilized to facilitate the Phase One - TemporaryTransition Shelter Site, however, the landbase is zoned Light Industrial (IL) and is not a compatible use. So, the normal land use processes and reviews are not being applied and the temporary status is expected to continue for a considerable period, perhaps several years. Phase Two - RV Trailer Park and Phase Three - Housing should require an Overlay Zone to be approved within the Juniper Ridge Light Industrial zone. In regards to these plans, community input and neighborhood outreach have been limited and restricted. Plans have been rushed through in response to the potential loss of access at the rail crossings. They have been developed internally by city staff and in consultation with social service providers, then very quickly placed on the City Council agenda and acted upon in the same work session. An Emergency Homeless Task Force is now being developed to begin implementation of these plans. It should also be noted that the City of Bend sanctioned committee, the Juniper Ridge Management Advisory Board, was not initially consulted in these matters nor a part of the decision to create the three phase plan for housing the homeless in Juniper Ridge.
Installation of gates to secure the BNSF railroad crossings preventing trespass and safety issues, and to comply with your license agreement.
A broad based, compassionate effort to address homelessness in Bend via the City proposed Homelessness Task Force but better defined to also include tax paying residents, faith community organizations, homeless advocates or representatives and possibly a building contractor. It may also contain goals to seek to reduce the causes of poverty and homelessness in Bend.
Bend City government takes the lead on finding solutions for homelessness until another agency steps forward.
A long term solution to be in the hands of the Task Force and other experts.
Law enforcement to prioritize safety in the present camps as well as neighborhoods in close proximity. We have experienced an increase in the following: gunshots, dogs, theft, trespassing, trash. It seems these undesirable activities are drawn to this type of transient community.
A short term solution for the displacement of the campers involving the whole community following proper zoning, codes, and normal processes.
Responsible stewardship of Juniper Ridge to preserve the public resource and ensure the greatest long-term good.
The City of Bend to stay on task with the long-range plans thus providing an attractive place for new businesses and employment.
We do not support the following ideas or outcomes:
That this current situation is a homeless “emergency”.
The idea that the city should provide a 6 acre gravel lot for camping.
A “legal” camp should be placed on land zoned light industrial, next to a chemical pest control plant, and adjacent to neighborhoods, a new housing development, near 2 schools, 2 parks, and a skate park.
Managing Juniper Ridge without regard to the 30 years and taxpayer expense of planning, public resources, existing development (there are 6 parcels under successful private business ownership), zoning and planning requirements, and maintaining desirable future business development.
The city needs to act fast bypassing the usual process and community input.
The needs of those who are presently outside the law should be emphasized over the law-abiding homeowners and taxpayers of Bend, specifically Boyd Acres.
Creating an attractive place for more transient people to move into our area that has inhospitable winter weather conditions for outdoor living.
Camping in Central Oregon in the winter time is acceptable and that it can be considered a primary method of housing the homeless
Boyd Acres Neighborhood, already home to the jail, juvenile justice, proposed Veteran’s Village, and Hunnell Rd campers, is the location for a sanctioned homeless camp.
This will solve the unsanctioned camping in Juniper Ridge.
Actions we would like to see:
Emergency downgraded or rescinded
Proactive on-site management of Juniper Ridge city owned property with on-the-ground activities and dedicated site staffing. It would look like but not be limited to: Informational signage and boundary markings; boundary fencing, gates and vehicle patrols with usable patrol roads; routine enforcement/educational patrols. These actions would prevent unlawful use of the property and keep fire danger to a minimum, and reduce winter “camping” hardship.
Provision for homeless to get them through the winter indoors.
Community supported Homelessness Task Force to address root issues and provide a broad based plan for improving homeless conditions in Bend and helping campers move.
Below are some alternative ideas on the present problem of the 95-100 campers who will need to relocate.
Vouchers for hotel, RV lodging
Low-income rent assistance
Help fund community shelter providers, collaborate to create more warming shelters
Purchase and development of appropriately zoned land including large buffer areas to minimize conflicts
Collaborate with public land holders (County, State, Federal) to develop a multi-agency location with appropriate zoning.
Partner with charitable, philanthropic, religious, nonprofits and existing shelter housing providers to develop additional transitional housing opportunities and programs
Provide mitigation funding to existing shelter providers and low-income housing programs.
Provide vehicle repair services to affected campers with non-operational vehicles.
Sponsor incentive-based programs for ADU’s, tiny homes, or micro-housing appropriately zoned.
Actively engage affected campers to participate in lifestyle transition programs to overcome housing, health and employment barriers.
Reach out to Central Oregon Health Council (COHC) as a possible “lead” agency to tackle this with full City of Bend support. COHC has partnerships in place with many of the stakeholders and its goal of improving community health is in line with the needs of our residents.
Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of this important matter. We appreciate your efforts to find solutions and work toward a better Central Oregon.
Cindy King, Chair
Boyd Acres Neighborhood Association