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The City Gets Tough on Downtown Bend Sidewalk Utilization

The City of Bend took another step in clarifying what is allowed and not allowed when it comes to sidewalk use in downtown Bend. The revised ordinance specifies a 6-foot clearance on all sidewalks, including the downtown “breezeway” which is a part of city properties.

The rewording of the sidewalk ordinance comes on the heels of a long, hot summer in downtown Bend as business owners clashed with transients, panhandlers and “buskers” over sidewalk utilization.

City attorney Ian Leitheiser characterized the ordinance changes as only one piece of the puzzle to solving downtown sidewalk issues. The re-worked ordinance is aimed to clarify what is deemed “public ways.”

After Councilor Russell asked about the specific wording of the re-write, Leitheiser confirmed the ordinance is staying well within the boundaries of what has been discussed in the Ninth Circuit Court.  Cities in similar circumstances were also consulted for best practices prior to settling on the revised language.

Moseley and Livingston zeroed in on a part seeming to specify police where to cite first and ask later. Both questioned whether the ordinance could be reworded to give officers more leeway in how to approach offenders.

The re-written ordinance does not imply officers need to immediately cite an offender, countered Leitheiser.  How to approach any situation in downtown Bend when it comes to blocking public ways is still at officer discretion.

When asked if the revised code will impede the rights of restaurants, street vendors and other city approved sidewalk use, Leitheiser pointed out these establishments are already required to follow sidewalk stipulations as part of the permit process.

The Bend City Councilors unanimously approved the first reading of the re-written code.

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  1. Monica Stewart says:

    I do hope this leads to more action taken by law enforcement to actually enforce offenders. This situation is getting out of hand and deterring people for frequenting, or even feeling safe, downtown. I avoid many areas downtown because the people occupying the sidewalks.

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