Dear Mayor and City Councilors:
Please act now to enact a strong ordinance to reduce camping on public property in Bend. These camps, of the sort on Hunnell Road and elsewhere throughout the city, are dangerous and unhealthy to our community, most importantly to those who live in the camps. The City of Boise prohibits camping on public property so long as there is available shelter space. This ordinance complies with the holding of Martin v. Boise, and maximizes the city’s ability to lawfully reduce dangerous homeless camping. I have included the text of the Boise ordinance below, and suggest that you use this ordinance as a model for Bend’s ordinance.
Finally, you must act swiftly on the camping ordinance. We have been hearing for months now that one is on the horizon, all the while the camps have gotten bigger and more dangerous. Each day you fail to act is another day that people living in the camps are exposed to violence, threats and predation by fellow campers and others.
7-3A-2: CAMPING IN PUBLIC PLACES:
A. Prohibitions: It shall be unlawful for any person to use any of the streets, sidewalks, parks or public places as a camping place at any time, or to cause or permit any vehicle to remain in any of said places to the detriment of public travel; or to cause or permit any livestock of any description to be herded into any of said places during any hours of the day or night; provided, that this section shall not prohibit the operation of a sidewalk café pursuant to a permit issued by the City Clerk.
1. The term "camp" or "camping" shall mean the use of public property as a temporary or permanent place of dwelling, lodging or residence, or as a living accommodation at any time between sunset and sunrise.
2. Indicia of camping may include, but are not limited to, storage of personal belongings, using tents or other temporary structures for sleeping or storage of personal belongings, carrying on cooking activities or making any fire in an unauthorized area, or any of these activities in combination with one another or in combination with either sleeping or making preparations to sleep (including the laying down of bedding for the purpose of sleeping).
B. Enforcement: Law enforcement officers shall not enforce this camping section when the individual is on public property and there is no available overnight shelter.
1. The term "available overnight shelter" is a public or private shelter, with an available overnight space, for an individual experiencing homelessness, at no charge, as defined in subsection B.2.
2. The term "available overnight shelter" shall not include the following:
a. Shelter space where an individual cannot stay because the individual has exceeded a shelter's maximum stay rule or because shelter is unavailable due to the individual's sex or sexual orientation.
b. Shelter space that cannot reasonably accommodate the individual's mental or physical needs or disabilities.
c. Shelter space that does not permit a minor child to be housed in the same facility with at least one parent or legal guardian.
d. Shelter space for which an individual is required to attend or participate in religious activities or programs as a condition of utilizing the shelter space.
3. Police or their designee shall initiate contact with the shelters after eleven o'clock (11.00) P.M. daily to determine whether the shelters have available space and, if so, the number of available sleeping spaces. Prior to issuing any citation, a police officer shall also confirm that a shelter has available space that can be utilized by that particular individual. No police officer shall issue a citation to a homeless person sleeping, lying, sitting, or camping outdoors unless the officer first confirms the shelter has available space that can be utilized by the individual.
C. Exception: This section does not affect subsection 7-7A-5E or 7-7A-11A of this title, which do not prohibit sleeping in a public park during hours of operation. (Ord. 38-14, 9-23-2014; amd. Ord. 4-21, 2-9-2021)
7-3A-3: PENALTY: Any person violating the provisions of this article shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, subject to penalty as provided in section 1-4-1 of this Code and, in addition, such persons shall be liable for damages to such street or streets by reason of violation of the provisions of this article, such damages to be recovered by the City before any court of competent jurisdiction. (1952 Code § 9-10-20; amd. 2019 Code