The city of Bend plans to update its laws to prepare for potential problems such as absentee landlords and lawns strewn with beer cups, when the 2015 expansion of Oregon State University-Cascades Campus brings more students to southwest Bend.
Senior Code Enforcement Officer James Goff has been researching the quality-of-life problems that other college towns encountered and he is starting to develop new ordinances and programs for Bend to prepare for these issues.
“By taking a proactive approach, I think it’s going to benefit the community and it hopefully will put some of the worries to rest that we have from the community about OSU-Cascades,” Goff said.
“The biggest issue that I have found is the landlord and tenant issues where the landlord lives out of town, lives out of state, and is just a hands-off landlord. So one of the big things I’m hoping to develop is a new program that will allow the city of Bend and OSU to collaborate better with landlords.”
Goff declined to provide details on the concept at this point because he did not want to cause concern among landlords, but he said “the design of the program will be a great benefit to not only landlords, but to the community.”
Goff is also researching a potential change to city code to require garbage removal service at all rental apartments and homes. City code already requires residents to remove garbage from their properties every seven days, but they have the option of personally taking it to the landfill. Goff said he has never responded to a complaint about the buildup of solid waste at a home where the tenant or owner had garbage removal service, which currently costs $16 a month for weekly removal in Bend. Goff said he has talked to tenants who, while explaining they could not pay for garbage service, stopped to answer their smartphones. “It’s a matter of prioritizing,” Goff said.
Kevin Restine, general manager of Plus Property Management, LLC, said the company requires garbage service at all of its properties, but he does not favor a city requirement that all renters have the service. Restine is also president of the Central Oregon Rental Owners Association.
“For the city to require that only tenants have trash service, my first read is that does not feel appropriate for me, though I am for that outcome, just not at the hands of the city,” Restine said. There will also be an increase in multi-unit housing to service OSU students, and these buildings typically provide garbage service, Restine said.
Bend Mayor Pro Tem Jodie Barram is a member of the Neighborhood Livability Task Force, a subcommittee of the OSU-Cascades Campus Expansion Advisory Committee. Barram said reviewing possible changes to the city code is just one part of learning from the experiences of other communities where colleges and universities expanded.
“The code will have to change, absolutely,” Barram said. “And the public will get to weigh in on that, like they always do when code changes come forth. There will be public hearings, so I think this process we’re in now with the (Campus Expansion Advisory Committee) is going to inform which way you go, whether it’s a more restrictive code, or an open approach.”
At a meeting of the livability task force, Goff said he plans to look at patterns of police complaints surrounding Central Oregon Community College as a means to better understand the impact a residential OSU-Cascades may have on Bend.
Goff said he is optimistic that future OSU students will be attracted to the area because of the lifestyle, and Bend might not experience some of the problems that arise in other college towns. Still, he said it is good to be prepared before issues arise.
“My goal is to identify codes that need to be amended or adopted and have them in place and ready to rock and roll before any student steps foot on campus,” Goff said. “That seems to be the downfall for many of these jurisdictions where they didn’t take a proactive approach because the school has been there so long.”
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