Boyd Acres Neighborhood Association-BANA
Juniper Ridge homeless camp meeting
From BANA: Cindy King, Kathy Roche, Joette Storm, Thomas Fisher, Joan Miller
From City: Carolyn Eagan, Justin Livingston, Gena Goodman-Campbell, Bill Mosley
Other: Annette Christianson
*Notes are sketchy –BANA secretary’s computer froze midway thru, then rejoined by phone. Filled in notes from the video recording. Kathy Roche –Secretary of Boyd Acres Neighborhood Association. 11/06/20
At its Oct. 21, 2020 City Council meeting, Bend City Council supported a staff plan to create an Emergency Homelessness Task Force and explore the possibility of developing a temporary transitional shelter site on City-owned property at Juniper Ridge. The task force will provide a means of collaboration for site design and camp management among City, County, nonprofit social services agency and neighborhood leaders.
A new temporary transitional shelter site would create a place for individuals and families in the community experiencing homelessness to camp. The site could include a gravel surface, safe access to adjacent streets, sanitation services and other utilities. It would also provide nonprofit social services agencies a place to connect community members to critical resources.
The City hopes to begin construction on the temporary site as soon as possible. The site could be available for use this winter, and would be available for the next 12 to 24 months.
This temporary site is the first phase of a plan to help address community concerns regarding the number of people experiencing homelessness in our community. The second phase of the plan would include the development of an RV park or campground sometime between the spring of 2021 and the spring of 2022. The timing for planning and developing phase two is dependent on State, County and City approvals.
The Emergency Homelessness Task Force will include homeless services professionals, healthcare providers and social service providers. It is expected to last for a 12-month term and provide service provision and budget recommendations to the City.
A temporary transitional shelter site at Juniper Ridge is one of many short-term solutions to help address homelessness in Bend. Short-term and long-term solutions, like a permanent warming shelter or professionally managed camps, are also necessary to support community members as they transition out of homelessness and into stable housing. For examples of short-, medium- and long-term solutions, see the Council Work Session presentation from Oct. 21.
Carolyn Eagan: Explained the proposal and the history of Juniper Ridge.
Homelessness has increased. There was a fire last summer that threatened numerous homes. We had a vehicle that had gotten itself stuck on the RR. This was the second incident of a vehicle that got itself stuck on the RR. Juniper Ridge is a 500 acre parcel (the part inside the city) that the city owns (and north and east of that parcel) and is working to develop for light industrial. Some of it is outside the city limits and within Deschutes County.
Northern access points across BNSF RR are in the city name -streets department. License is not for general use. (See map below for location information.) BNSF threatened the city with revoking the licensee for these.
OR law says city can’t criminalize homelessness. Grants Pass case, says the city would be eliminating access to people’s homes (folks who are occupying that area.)
OR law says city can’t lock gates -cutting access to “their homes” (Grants Pass case). So city staff put together a proposal to create a safe space for people to occupy. The proposal is to provide a rudimentary site east of current development in Juniper Ridge –on the south end.
Recently, when there was work on the north interceptor sewer line, many homeless were asked to move out but legal precedents came into play. See Council Work Session presentation from Oct. 21 for more information about those.
Illustration of the Railroad crossings from City of Bend Council Work Session Presentation Document (this part of Juniper Ridge is outside the City of Bend boundary and is within Deschutes County):
Staff identified emergency homelessness task force that put together a rudimentary proposal to address the immediate need and also proceed with looking at other options throughout the city.
Illustration of what that access on the south end might look like from the Council Work Session presentation from Oct. 21:
Bend currently does not have someone assigned to address homelessness. Emergency Homelessness task force had to move quickly. Needed to ask council for permission to do certain tasks. Currently homelessness is addressed in bits and pieces by numerous entities not well coordinated.
Bend and surrounding area is missing 3000+ housing units for families that are earning 50% or less than the median income. City needs a much more aggressing approach to that.
Agreement that staff asked for from the city was establishment of the task force to fill that leadership void, ask for permission to explore the feasibility of the site at Juniper Ridge (different than the process used to purchase or use other private property in Bend).
Rationale –BNSF We don’t have code in place that would allow for the development of temporary transitional site. Staff needed to present to council the rationale for the need.
Would need to use the emergency order that is in place city managers emergency order based on Governors order.
Bill Mosley –there is no affirmative duty to provide homes.
Meeting was opened for questions from the attendees.
Jim B. –crossing sites and accident site –are they within the city limits? ODOT is not interested in more access points to HY 97 because of plans to work on this highway. Wouldn’t the city be interested in a better development route -N-S spine with controlled accesses.
Carolyn E. - Both RR xings are on city owned land in the county. The city is getting squeezed between OR land use law and case law. Land is zoned for general farm use although it doesn’t have irrigation and is full of rock. That zoning has prohibited building the road as suggested. So, Carolyn and John Skidmore had discussion about changing that zoning. Opportunity now from problems stemming from September fires on the west side of the state, land use side is giving a bit and would allow for a change from EFU to non-resource land.
The county transportation system plan (TSP) envisions a connector from JR to another interchange. City needs to expedite the work to have better access. If zoning was changed, that would allow for constructing a connector road to another interchange (with HY 97). Better access to the land would allow for better management of fire risk and do more things to protect homes and other values.
JB: Juniper Ridge has been in the city’s possession for like 15 years (CE –longer) seems like the management access would have been resolved a long time ago. Even on EFU there can be rudimentary roads. I think you (CE) are talking about something a bit more developed.
CE: has been in this position for about 5 years and can’t speak to city positions prior to that.
Joan Miller (BANA treasurer): couple questions. When did BNSF notify the city that RR-xings were a problem, so nothing was done until BNSF identified a problem? Is this road necessary before this camp can be established. Identified that camp is for 75. Will it stay at that level? Don’t see how it can stay at that. You identified that this camp is temporary. Don’t see how it will stay as temporary.If we are short 3000 housing units, how will this be temporary? What does a “managed camp” mean?
CE: the only time she ever heard from BNSF was relicensing RRxings about 3 years ago. Early in the year a train hit a vehicle on the RR-xing, then fire happened in mid-August.
Bill Mosely –has raised the issue of homelessness, crime, and fires on numerous occasions and council did not want to act for 3 years. North interceptor caused some movement. Then also the BNSF letter. Thru lack of action, the council made a decision to allow homeless to camp at Juniper Ridge.
Gena Goodman Campbell -haven’t we been limited by a lack of state legislation to move forward on an alternative site? She comes at it from a different angle. We need to do something about the number of people camping at Juniper Ridge. We need to have an official place that we can tell them to go. Just telling them, you can’t be here is unacceptable from a sheer humanity standpoint, but also logistically. We did move people off the site for the north interceptor pipeline to be constructed. When asked to move, they moved further north on that property.
CE: there has been opportunity in last 3, 5, 10 years for the city and the county and the community to address homelessness more holistically. It is not a traditional city service like water, fire, sewer. City has been working with partners across central OR to look at this. There was no lead agency. So now we are asking the city council and the city manager step into that lead agency role which we haven’t done before. Although some councilors have brought this up in the past, there was no clear path forward from the other councilors.
Not to cut this discussion short but now the state looked at additional direction about camping –derailed for a bit by covid then more recently came on-line and then OR state law 4212.
The road is not necessary –the road that goes north, and the roads thru juniper ridge are a better way to address the fire risk and access issues. Fire in August showed that there is no safe way for firefighters, despite how well trained and equipped they are to go into the that part of the county. We had significant aerial resources available to stop the movement of that fire.
Do we expect it to stay at 75 camps. Currently there are roughly 500 camps within and around the city –not going into the Deschutes national forest and out to alfalfa. We would be shortsighted to expect it not to increase especially as the Covid 19 recession continues.
What are our plans and projections –we project we will have more camps. We are formulating a plan right now. Inaction is no longer ok.
How can the temporary transitional site remain temporary – we can build this now because we have the emergency order in place. There is no development code in place that would allow this to be constructed in normal times. The proposed site has industrial designation in the comp plan and development code on top of that does not allow for campgrounds, RVs. It would allow for a parking lot. So valid input to council would be to adopt a timing restriction. If it is determine to be feasible and we get a managed camp, it would not be able to exist past Governors phase 2 re-opening. That is the city managers declaration that is allowing us to supersede our land use rules and regulations, particularly the development code.
Bill M: Council has directed the staff to look into this. Portland also has a downtown camping area. We have had homeless camps on this piece of property for a decade. It is an extenuation of what exists. This is not a temporary solution that we are going to pull off. It moves us further in this direction and not away from it.
Gena G-C: this is the intended site of city of Bend Public Works facility.
CE- this location was chosen for its location access to Cooley Road –so temporary until the city started construction. Even with the construction, the city would control what happens.
CE-regard to a managed camp. There is industry standard. Camps are lower barrier than other homeless service facilities (Bethlehem inn –no drugs, no alcohol). Some services available depending. Some kind of code of conduct. Individuals ought to be moving in/out. May be water, sewer, showers possibly food service, maybe a camphost. We would want someone available 24/7. City is working with orgs that manage camps with city determined services.
JB –was this an opportunity afforded by the Covid emergency? Were other sites considered? Would be adverse to code changes that would allow this in zoned areas with extensive planning done for future development. It was a 3 phase project with a more permanent camp and perhaps subsidized/affordable housing. These are all incompatible uses in light industrial. Public input process and codes being bypassed.
CE: We have the ability to bypass existing development codes and comprehensive plan goals to identify shelter sites under the emergency order. City rules say it has to be a managed camp.
Other sites have been identified. Predicament is that right now, we as the city, the way we are interpreting direction right now, we have to locate a site within the city. It doesn’t have to city owned, it can be city owned, it can county or privately owned. But it has to be within the city. We are looking at 5 motels as potential shelter sites. Funds are becoming available at the state level to purchase those sites but then we would have to find funds to operate. These sites would already have asphalt, electricity, and be closer to a bus stop making them more optimal than the site at juniper ridge. We are still looking for those sites. City is trying to get the winter warming shelter up and running and also trying to get the “winter” and “warming” removed from the name. It would be perfectly reasonable to send comments to the city describing the characteristics you would see as needed for a managed camp and describe how juniper ridge does not meet those characteristics. Camping on a gravel site with no electricity is rudimentary.
She appreciates the opposition to code changes.
3 tier approach was in response to council request.
The alignment of the new north interceptor. A collector road will be constructed on top of the n-interceptor.
So, the site was chosen based on within the city, where the new access might exist, might be a Crown Villa. Might be accessible to construction workers. It you go north along the canal alignment, the city could redesignate the land on the far side for housing –for deed restricted housing. –80% of units have to deed restricted but not all units have to be deed restricted, they look just like the homes in the rest of the neighborhood.
Bill M- when the city had people camping on the west side near the whitewater camp, the city put a damper on it. But so far it has been tolerated at Juniper Ridge.
Cindy K- kids walk to the 2 nearby schools and to the park. They are going to go the park or further into the woods to do their drugs. They like this lifestyle, don’t want to be managed. Don’t want to be drug tested. Plan says 2-3 years but you also say 2-3 months. To provide a place that looks welcoming will bring more folks to the area. We are not saying not in my backyard. We have had homelessness for years. Don’t see the emergency.
CE—perfectly reasonable for neighbors to ask for a comprehensive law enforcement plan. Her daughter walks to those schools. When we don’t have
Its not fair to them or us if we don’t stop the criminal behavior and lack of insurance.
Would be willing to help with a comprehensive plan for law enforcement.
Why are doing this to us, we are the middle class, the rich west side could help out. You are helping out the homeless but what about what is best for us.
It is really hard for council to just hear that we don’t want this from numerous individuals but not to hear options.
Tom F -if you head to the rail yard in Portland – a camp that looks like a POW camp, looks like Syria. There is a whole lot going on that will change the character of the neighborhood and the ability to do business. That taints all the good work the businesses are trying to do. 3 parts will lead to it becoming more permanent. Veterans Village is working to get people in and out. Doesn’t want it to become the refugee camp. This will attract nefarious individuals.
CE –could say this should only be for Women and Children to compliment the Veterans Village.
Mosely and Goodman-Campbell left.
Could provide input that it have locked gates, changes to comprehensive plan. All reasonable proposals to put forth to council. They need better ideas from you because they have figured this out yet.
CK- thank you so much for joining us. We can work with you to bring something to council.
CE—I am offering that. –She had to leave.
JL – He sees this as a start. We are the property owner and need to manage it well. Case law is forcing us to do something about this. Then we can offer this and not allow camping elsewhere. This would allow us to get folks off right of ways and other problem areas. This will allow us to move forward. Perhaps look at the old KOA already zoned for a campground. Might be an easier path forward. He really likes the city taking a better leadership role. No lead agency –and city can step in and fill that void.
CK –Is that the homelessness task force?
JL -yes. We need residents, providers, other agencies. Need to work with ODOT. In the parkway at Revere, --there was a guy building an airplane. Finally recognized it as a safety issue and stealing from nearby residents. People on public property know the rules –so if the city takes the lead, we might be able to move forward.
Annette- lack of a comprehensive approach gets at what the residents are saying. What stops homelessness? Living next to warming shelter was not good, folks getting into trash cans and yards. If you are not addressing drug addiction, jobs, mental health then you’re not addressing the problem. Is the city really looking at the bigger picture and not just shoving folks out to the edge of the city?
JL –CDC has done some stuff but not really addressing the complete problem.
CK –its after time.
JB –did the city consult the JR advisory committee. This could derail the work of that committee, making it unattractive to business. If the camp gets bigger, it could derail efforts in JR to bring in business.
Was the JR plan considered? This camp would negate this work and make the area inhospitable for light industrial users. JR advisory will have an emergency meeting.
JR council does not have to make the most of JR but there is a concept that council will not waste the $$.
Land sales have started to increase in the last year.
JL –does have concerns that sales could slow but also what does that do to the value of the land. Sales were very slow but it is picking up a bit. What would the camp do the businesses?
Cindy: really want the council to pay attention to us and our issues because we all own that land. Break ground Nov 4. We would like some more breathing space.
JL –protect the RR xings, don’t want people in that northern part of JR. Council is trying to thread the needle a bit, need to demonstrate that city is making valid efforts. Needs to be more discussion at council and with the public.
JS –is there any leadership among the campers? Folks are blindsided and feel excluded. One city worker advised carrying a gun in the JR area.
JL –someone might know but it is not identified at this point.
Cindy –doesn’t see there is an emergency, wants to see the taxpayers served before the homeless. Will attend the next council meeting. Pay attention to the taxpayers needs.
JL –one judge creates case law. If we don’t follow the case law then it puts the city at risk of litigation.
CK: Whose job is it to recruit members for the homeless task force.
JL- not sure how it will work. Probably pass an ordinance setting the size and mission and who sits at the table. Then mayor appoints with advice and consent. Could be a staff level committee.
Cindy hopefully, BANA would be kept informed and involved.
Notes by Kathy Roche BANA Secretary