Editorial: City must find right balance


Published Aug 22, 2014 at 12:14AM / Updated Aug 22, 2014 at 01:57PM

Bend city councilors got a request from a citizen Wednesday night: Please, the man said, do something so that neighbors know when a nearby business is going to block off part of a street. The request was not unreasonable, and the city hopes to come up with a not-unreasonable solution.

In fact, current city law already requires a business to obtain a permit if it proposes to use part of a street or alley for an event. A business also must get a permit if what it proposes makes a change in the nature of a business — an outdoor concert at what’s really a restaurant, for example. What isn’t required is that neighbors be notified of the proposal.

That may change, says Carolyn Eagan, the city’s business advocate, and, in fact, change already is in the works.

In the past, the police department has been responsible for issuing permits to those who want to block streets; that task was taken over by City Hall on July 1. Eagan has met with businesses and will do so again. They and she will work together to come up with answers that, she hopes, will soothe neighbors and keep businesses relatively happy.

Among her first tasks will be to decide just what kind of notification about street closures is needed. While land-use actions do require formal notification, requests for street or noise permits currently do not.

If the community decides neighbors should be told when a street will be blocked — and we believe they should — the city must decide just what kind of notification is adequate. Will a simple sign on the user’s property be enough, or should formal, written notification be given?

Change may not come overnight, but Eagan will keep working on it.