County Passes Camping Code | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

County Passes Camping Code

The County passed time, place and manner restrictions for people camping on their property, but it may take a while to be implemented

Deschutes County Commissioners unanimously approved a camping code for county-owned property. The updated code is much more narrow than what the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office Proposed, which would have banned
camping within 1 mile of any private property or within 1 mile of the urban growth boundary, within 1,000 feet of a school or park or anywhere that would impede on a right-of-way, and imposed a two-week limitation of stay. The code the county passed only applies to county owned or controlled property, doesn't reference private land or the UGB and placed no time limits on lengths of stay.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article misstated the code's provisions. We regret the error

The code allows caping on vacant county property, but maintains the right to close down the property if needed. To remove a campsite, the county is required to give notice in a newspaper and for residents to be told in advance. There are some restrictions on what's allowed at campsites. Campsites are barred from constructing a shelter on county land, dumping sewage, removing trees, shooting guns, inhibiting public use of land or changing the landscape through litter, burning or digging.

The code is much less broad and more lenient than the first draft Sheriff Shane Nelson presented to the County in June, which originally sought to give deputies the leeway to give camps notice to vacate after they stayed in one place for a minimum of 24 hours.

click to enlarge County Passes Camping Code
Courtesy of the Deschutes County Sheriffs Office

"This package does narrow the path; it really boils down to owned or controlled real property to be able to implement this code. This code is going to be implemented for Deschutes County property, and the ask is for the federal government to get serious about two-week stays," Deschutes County Commissioner Tony DeBone said at the July 26 commissioners' meeting.

There's already a two-week limit to camping on federal property, but enforcement can be slow and campsites often remain well over a two-week period. Nelson's first draft included enforcement of two-week stays on federal property, but jurisdiction is unclear and the county said it's communicating with federal land managers to iron out responsibilities.

"There's a path forward to [enforcement on federal land], but that path forward has to go through a consensual agreement between the federal government and the county with the sheriff being the face of that for the enforcement piece," Deschutes County Legal Counsel David Doyle said.

The code is effective 90 days after its second reading on Aug. 9, but it could take much longer before it's used. There's no formal language in the code barring enforcement until alternative camping sites have been established, but county legal counsel said people shouldn't be moved until there are adequate camping spots or shelter beds available.

Doyle said as long as they wait until there are more places to shelter, the code should comply with Martin v Boise and Grants Pass v. Johnson, two court cases that limited cities' ability to remove campsites if there are no shelter beds available or an area where public camping is allowed. Deschutes County Commissioner Phil Chang asked for more formal support of a safe parking spot, but other commissioners weren't willing to commit to a specific project yet.

"I would hope within 90 days with which it would take for this ordinance to become effective, the county would identify those sites so that folks, by the time enforcement began, could be directed that you're not allowed to be here β€” wherever here might be β€” but here are alternatives for you to go to," Doyle said.

About The Author

Jack Harvel

Jack is originally from Kansas City, Missouri and has been making his way west since graduating from the University of Missouri, working a year and a half in Northeast Colorado before moving to Bend in the Spring of 2021. When not reporting he’s either playing folk songs (poorly) or grand strategy video games,...
Comments (1)

Add a comment

Add a Comment
View All Our Picks


Bend Ticket Giveaway

Newsletter Signup

Get Social

Want to Advertise With Us?

For info on print and digital advertising, >> Click Here