Redmond Proposes Camping Code | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Redmond Proposes Camping Code

Redmond City Council reviewed a first draft of policies that would regulate on what city-owned property people can camp on

The Redmond City Council took its first steps to establish time, place and manner restrictions for people camping on public property during its regular meeting Feb. 14. About 250 people are experiencing homelessness in Redmond, according to preliminary data from the Point in Time Count. That's nearly double the 127 reported in 2022 — though that number may have been undercounted due to a COVID outbreak among service providers at the time.

click to enlarge Redmond Proposes Camping Code
Courtesy City of Redmond
Redmond’s 500-foot buffer around schools, shelters and utilities would make all camping on public right-of ways unauthorized in the surrounding blocks.

It's illegal for governments in the Ninth Circuit, which includes the West Coast, Idaho and Hawaii, to punish people for sleeping on public property without adequate alternative housing. The court ruling Martin v. Boise established this precedent in 2019, and in 2022, the Ninth Circuit Court upheld and expanded its ruling by banning fines to people camping in public. Oregon codified the judicial decisions into state law with House Bill 3115, but the bill also allows cities to create "reasonable time, place and manner regulations" to manage public space. Oregon cities must create or update their policies by July 1, per HB3115, or forfeit its ability to regulate public camping outside of current state and federal law.

"Each court case kind of makes it a little more broad," Redmond City Attorney Keith Leitz told city councilors. "We've been working on time, place and manner regulations for about the last year, and we want to bring it to council to get your input on where they're at and bring them back later for your approval."

Redmond City staff proposed six restrictions to public camping on City rights of way: in buildings or structures in public parks, on City Hall Property and parking lots, in the Central Business District, within limited-service commercial zones or if camping encroaches on a sidewalk leaving less than 5 feet of width for pedestrians. The staff also recommended 500-foot buffer zones between camps and schools, childcare centers, shelters, safe parking and utility facilities. The law isn't clear on how much land a city must keep open to camping, but Leitz told city councilors that they can't "over-designate" restrictions.

click to enlarge Redmond Proposes Camping Code
Chris Miller

Deputy City Manager John Roberts said enforcing camping regulations would be complaint-based, either from citizens or City employees. Redmond Police carry pamphlets on local homelessness services and are asked to distribute them when they encounter unhoused people. The proposed code doesn't allow the camping or storage of personal property on public land between 7 am and 9 pm. State law dictates that law enforcement officials post 24-hour notice of removals on non-compliant campsites.

Most people who gave public comment on the proposed code either expressed frustration with the severity of Oregon's houselessness crisis, highlighted mental health struggles and drug addiction in unhoused populations or suggested code tweaks, such as larger buffer zones or adding specific language for people living in vehicles on public streets. Redmond City Councilor John Nielsen told attendees he didn't want to dismiss people's concerns, but that the time, place and manner restrictions are narrower than what some people asked for.

"The general feeling I'm getting is you would like us to do something; good news is we're having these conversations right now," Nielson said. "We have two issues: we have systemic issues of chronic homelessness; how do we keep people from falling into that situation, and that is not the conversation we're having tonight. The conversation we're having is how do we stop the bleeding, how do we get the folks out of tents, how do we get folks off the streets. And what we can do within the confines of the law that we are not empowered to overturn or ignore."

Mayor Ed Fitch echoed this sentiment, saying Redmond is also working on a partnership with Oasis Village to establish a managed camp and create a safe parking program while it's drafting the code. He added Redmond may host another public hearing on the code once a second draft is available. Redmond is one of many Oregon cities drafting time, place and manner restrictions as the July 1 deadline approaches. Bend approved restrictions in December but delayed establishing them until March. Bend's code differs from Redmond's by allowing daytime camping and restricting camping in residential zones.

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 (0)
Add a Comment
For info on print and digital advertising, >> Click Here