Kathleen McLaughlin
The Bulletin

Redmond is on pace to handle 46 percent more applications for single-family home building permits this year than last year, while Bend has seen activity decline.

Officials in both cities expect next year’s construction activity to continue at a similar pace.

Meanwhile, Portland is bracing for a significant decline. The Portland Bureau of Development Services laid off four staff members last week after officials received a “quite sobering” forecast of the area’s building trends, The Oregonian reported.

“We know we’re still under-built,” said Karna Gustafson, vice president of government affairs at the Central Oregon Builders Association.

So despite higher mortgage rates, higher land costs and a tight labor market, builders in Central Oregon will probably continue to work through available land, she said.

“The interesting thing (is) the planning applications, subdivisions going in, those are still up there,” she said. “Stuff could be coming in later.”

The cost of land could explain the vastly different trend lines that Redmond and Bend saw this year, Gustafson said. Single-family homes are still the bread and butter of the local construction industry, and they account for most of the activity in Redmond. The city is on track for about 425 permit applications in 2018, up from about 290 in 2017, permit coordinator Aaron Yuma said.

“We are staffing our department with the assumption we’re going to see somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 again in 2019,” Yuma said.

Last year Bend handled 934 single-family building permit applications but will end this year at 800 or less, said Jesse Thomas, business manager for the Community Development Department.

“The commercial activity on the building side is still pretty high for us,” Thomas said. Adding in other types of activity, such as home remodeling, Bend will end the year with about 5,300 total permit applications, even with 2017, he said.

Bend is forecasting a similar level of activity for 2019, Thomas said, but there are some unknowns.

Land-use planning applications are at a record-high level, but many of them are for such projects as accessory dwelling units, Thomas said.

“What we’re watching most is on the supply side,” Thomas said. City officials are waiting to see whether developers start working in areas allowing for higher building density or the urban growth boundary expansion area.

— Reporter: 541-617-7860, kmclaughlin@bendbulletin.com

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