Julia Shumway
The Bulletin

Bend city officials don’t expect the first house on the 2,380 acres the city is allowed to annex to be completed until late 2020 at the earliest — about four years after Bend received state approval to annex and develop the land.

That first new house will be on the west side of town, in an area where four landowners reached an agreement with the city late last year detailing what new roads, roundabouts, sewer facilities and water lines they’ll build, Bend Community Development Director Russ Grayson said. When it’s fully developed, the 412 acres on the west side of Bend will add nearly 1,200 new homes, but full development is years away.

Builders are motivated, Grayson said.

“Everybody wants to move super fast,” he said. “This is not slow in the development world.”

Building on the outskirts of cities is more difficult in Oregon than it is in other fast-growing Western cities, in large part because of Oregon’s anti-sprawl law that requires cities to demonstrate to the state how many new residents they expect to move in and where those residents will live before they can expand boundaries. Bend expects its population to increase by more than 20,000 — to about 115,000 — by 2028, Bend long-range planning manager Brian Rankin said.

Between homes for new residents and vacation homeowners, Bend needs about 17,000 new houses and apartment units to meet demand by 2028. At least 5,282 of those are intended to be in the new land the city will add. Developers can always build more, Rankin said.

Some areas are closer to developing than others.

Roadblocks to building in some areas include the cost of sewer and water lines, new major roadways, and the ownership breakdown — it’s easier to create a development plan if one or two groups own all the land in the area than it is if a bunch of individual property owners with smaller lots have to come together.

Last year, the Bend City Council increased fees on water, sewer and new buildings to fund the extensions of two major roads needed in the expansion areas: Empire Avenue in northeast Bend and Murphy Road in southeast Bend. Committees working on an area plan for the 474-acre elbow-shaped expansion area to the southeast and recommendations for redeveloping areas in the core area of Bend with higher density have met several times this year.

While the city is focused on the elbow-shaped southeastern lot and the core of Bend, development is moving the fastest in the area on the west side. Developers there expect to present a master plan and annexation agreement to the City Council in May or June, Grayson said.

Builders then plan to start installing infrastructure and grading surfaces later this summer, with the first house available more than a year later.

In the elbow, a new high school will open in fall 2021 but the rest of the land will take longer to develop, Grayson said. Because multiple landowners hold property in the area and roads won’t fit solely along property lines, it will take a lot of work to come up with a plan for the area, he said.

“Realistically, that’s probably three to five years out at this time,” he said. “Who’s building what when and who’s going to get easements through all these properties in the meantime?”

At least 820 homes are expected in the elbow.

A developer in the 465-acre northeast expansion area has been working with the city for six to eight months and expects to have a master plan approved late this year, he said. Construction could start in that area, which is expected to add 1,090 homes, in 2020.

A 35-acre area between Bear Creek Road and U.S. Highway 20 is targeted for affordable housing and was approved under a legislative pilot program that intends to test if Oregon’s restrictive land use laws contribute to a statewide affordable housing crisis. A master plan for that area, which will add 394 homes, also is expected to be approved this year or next.

A 188-acre triangle-shaped area north of town will have a new elementary school, North Star, that is scheduled to open this fall, but other development in the area depends on infrastructure improvements. That area is supposed to add 510 homes.

“A lot of it hangs on how we get tens of millions of dollars worth of sewer infrastructure in there, just to get a pipe to their front door,” Grayson said.

The 362-acre area owned by the Department of State Lands near southeast Bend is expected to add at least 1,000 new homes, but it’s still two to five years out, Grayson said. City staff have had preliminary conversations with landowners in southwest areas that are expected to add a combined 279 acres and 510 homes, he said.

“We hear all the time ‘We need to expand the UGB. We need more land. We need more land,’” Grayson said, referring to the urban growth boundary. “You can expand the UGB all you want, but it costs millions and millions to get that land usable.”

—  Reporter: 541-633-2160; jshumway@bendbulletin.com