Editor’s note: This is part of a series on Bend’s 13 neighborhood associations and the issues facing the residents of those neighborhoods. Run by volunteers, the associations work to keep residents informed about issues important to their neighborhoods and to advocate for residents before city government. Active associations receive a small stipend from City Hall for postage and other costs related to communicating with their membership. Read more in the series at bendbulletin.com/neighborhoods.
In the Mountain View neighborhood on Bend’s northeast side, the future that many in other parts of town dread is already here.
Apartments, duplexes, condos and other forms of multifamily housing are everywhere, more than twice as many than are found in any other Bend neighborhoods. And for the members of the Mountain View Neighborhood Association, that’s just fine.
Located largely to the northeast of Pilot Butte, the Mountain View neighborhood takes in the Forum shopping complex, St. Charles Bend and surrounding medical facilities, a string of apartments and senior living facilities along 27th Street, and, naturally, Mountain View High School.
Bend native and association board member Beth Hoover said when she graduated from high school in 1967, the city’s edge was near Pilot Butte, and the neighborhood she now calls home was almost entirely undeveloped. Now, that neighborhood is Bend’s most populous.
“This was all farmland and hunting country,” she said. “The east side was kind of the more exciting side of Bend, because it was where things were happening. The west side was poor, aside from a few pockets.”
To an extent, that’s flipped in the past 50 years. The millworker housing clustered near downtown and west of the Deschutes River has become some of Bend’s most expensive real estate, while the more recently developed east side has remained more affordable. Its concentration of apartments and rental housing make it a common stop for new arrivals looking for their first home in Bend.
The Mountain View neighborhood’s beginnings trace to the then-controversial decision to move Bend’s hospital from downtown to a location some described as “halfway to Burns.” St. Charles opened in 1975, followed four years later by Mountain View High School, but the area remained substantially rural for another decade. The early 1990s opening of Costco and surrounding shops at The Forum launched a building blitz in the area, which has continued ever since.
Association chair Carolyn Clontz dismissed the idea that apartments and other forms of rental housing are necessarily bad for a neighborhood.
“I don’t think it’s apartments, and who they’re going to attract — it’s how well they’re managed,” she said.
Hoover said until fairly recently, some of the apartments near 27th were a bit run down, she said, but then employees of the hospital and other medical facilities started moving in. Several complexes have since been renovated, she said.
Association board member Carol Elwood lives in one of the more unique forms of housing found in Mountain View, a development known as Higher Ground.
Described as a co-housing community, Higher Ground is a subdivision of around 40 homes off Wells Acre Road, all located on roughly seven acres of communally-owned land that includes vegetable gardens, orchards and a common house for weekly potlucks and other community gatherings.
Unbuilt corners of the Mountain View neighborhood are continuing to fill in. A proposed housing development in the shadow of the radio broadcast towers along Butler Market Road has been one of concern — though not opposition — for the neighborhood association.
The proposed development sits to the west of a three-way intersection of Butler Market Road and Wells Acres Road, already a problematic intersection for neighborhood residents looking to turn west onto Butler Market.
The association has been pushing the city to build a roundabout at the intersection, unsuccessfully so far. Elwood said lobbying for the roundabout has been an “exercise in flexing our activism muscles,” and even if its not at the top of the city’s priority list now, the association is better prepared to advocate for it again when the opportunity arises.
Board member Monica Melkonian said the association has applied to be part of the Civic Equity Project, an initiative of local advocacy group Bend 2030 to help neighborhood associations and other organizations improve their communications and advocacy skills. She said if accepted in to the program, the association will seek to connect with apartment dwellers and other renters who’ve often been overlooked by neighborhood associations.
Clontz said the assumption that renters don’t have the same stake in their neighborhoods as owners is increasingly outdated. She said although many renters may not have the time to attend community meetings, they’ve been active on the association’s online forum. With home prices climbing ever higher, she said it’s reasonable to expect many renters will be staying put in the same rental unit for years to come.
The concentration of rental housing and the number of jobs near the hospital and The Forum make the neighborhood a comparatively easy place to provide public transit, and some of the more heavily-used bus routes run through Mountain View. Elwood, an occasional bus rider herself, said the transit system is improving over time, but more frequent bus service would be a great boost to the neighborhood. The street layout probably discourages transit use to a degree, she said, with a warren of winding streets and cul-de-sacs that requires many residents to take a long and indirect route from their home to a main road with a bus stop.
The street system also complicates walking or biking to the commercial areas surrounding The Forum, but development is starting to creep outward. Jackson’s Corner opened its second restaurant near St. Charles Bend, and not far from there, a food cart pod modeled after The Lot off Galveston Avenue is in development nearby. To the east, Worthy Brewing has become a neighborhood hub, quite possibly the only brew pub in the world to feature an observatory-caliber telescope.
Melkonian said both the association and the neighborhood are getting a little bit better all the time.
“I think the pendulum is swinging; I’m very optimistic things are going to improve,” she said.
— Reporter: 541-383-0387, email@example.com