First hurdle for OSU-Cascades

City calls for parking oversight

By Tyler Leeds / The Bulletin

Published Jun 5, 2014 at 12:01AM

If you go

What: OSU-Cascades site plan hearing

When: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday

Where: City of Bend Municipal Court Room, 555 N.E. 15th St.

The start of what is expected to be a long approval process for the first phase of OSU-Cascades’ expansion will begin next Tuesday at a public hearing on the university’s campus plans. If the design is approved, the city is calling for oversight of the university’s parking plan, which has drawn criticism for its expectation that a majority of students won’t drive to campus.

The city of Bend public hearing will evaluate the university’s site application for a 10-acre parcel adjacent to the Southwest Century Drive and Chandler Avenue roundabout. So far, 152 written comments have been submitted by residents. The level of input will increase at the hearing on Tuesday, as the city, OSU-Cascades and citizens will have the chance to voice their views in addition to submitting written comments. At the hearing, the university will face an organized group of opponents to the location. Called Truth In Site, the organization has hired Jeff Kleinman, a Portland-based land use attorney, to support its cause. The group also says it has retained a transportation engineering firm, but has declined to name the firm.

The hearing will center on whether the university’s plans meet Bend’s development code in 10 areas, ranging from landscaping to transportation to access. The decision will be made by a hearings officer, but even if the application is approved, the university expects an appeal, which could land the application in the state Supreme Court after passing through intermediary levels.

“Transportation and parking, those are the two areas that we are going to be mostly targeting,” said Truth In Site spokesman Scott Morgan.

Christine Coffin, the university’s director of communications, said, “We are confident that our site plan addresses the criteria and falls within the parameters for that piece of property.”

Bend’s staff reviewer, Senior Planner Aaron Henson, issued his written report this week, recommending the hearings officer approve the application. Henson also called for OSU-Cascades to make upgrades to the roads and pedestrian areas surrounding the site as well as to grant the city oversight of the campus’s parking system.

“City staff has no major objections to the methodology presented in the (parking management plan), but realizes that the parking analysis provided is based on a significant set of assumptions,” the report reads.

Truth In Site has raised objections to the number of proposed parking spots, arguing 321 is too few, and that the university’s assumptions about the number of students who will bike, walk and take transit to campus is overly sanguine.

The report acknowledges that “OSU-Cascades is a unique project and will continue to evolve over time” and “that there is no definitive data that can be relied upon” to reach a number of parking spots.

“(I)n order to properly monitor the site and be able to require appropriate changes if major parking problems occur,” the report reads, “the City needs to be able to require additional changes to the (parking management plan) or be able to request that additional on-site parking be provided if the (parking management plan) isn’t working.”

The city will require the university to submit an annual report detailing how parking is conforming to specified guidelines. Additionally, OSU-Cascades is called on to monitor on-street parking within 1,320 feet of the site.

Henson said for those planning to attend the hearing, it’s helpful to have written comments prepared in addition to oral comments, as the hearings officer is likely to cap the amount of time each attendee can use.

“We always do our best to allow everyone to have the chance, but ultimately it’s up to the hearings officer to control what happens,” Henson said. “Often what happens is he’ll ask for a show of hands of who wants to testify, and then do the math to see how we can end on time.”

The meeting will include a presentation of Henson’s report as well as comments from the university. Depending on what happens, the university and opponents will likely be given opportunities to respond to one another. The hearings officer also has the option to extend the hearing to a later date if he wants to give any party additional time to address a question.

“Once the record is finally closed, the hearings officer will review all testimony, written and oral, and issue a written decision within usually three weeks,” Henson said. “Oftentimes, when the hearing ends, the record will be left open, giving the applicant a week to submit final arguments, and a week of response time. It could drag out for a few weeks before the record closes.”

— Reporter: 541-633-2160, tleeds@bendbulletin.com