In 2016, the city of Bend expanded by 2,380 acres to bring in more land for more housing and other development.
Roughly four years later, the city is gearing up to possibly expand again. On Wednesday, the Bend City Council heard a presentation from Brian Rankin, a long -range planning manager with the city, about different ways the city could move forward with expanding its urban borders.
In this Q&A, Rankin answered questions from The Bulletin about what the urban growth boundary, or UGB, expansion process looks like.
This Q&A has been lightly edited for clarity.
What is an urban growth boundary, which is often called a UBG?
It is a line drawn on a map that is approved by the council, the county commission and the state. It delineates an urban area from a rural area.
What does a UGB expansion mean?
It means the city and county have to agree upon that boundary to accommodate our future land needs, and then that has to be approved by the Department of Land Conservation and Development.
What is an urban reserve?
An urban reserve is a similar boundary that is established outside of an urban growth boundary to allow for future urban growth boundary expansions and urbanization over a longer period of time.
Why is the city talking about doing this again? Didn’t it just do this?
The answer’s yes. We did get an expanded urban growth boundary in 2016. But the land included in this boundary, which was adopted in 2016, does not have enough to accommodate 20 years of growth. The (planning) period ends in 2028. So that, plus the fact we’ve seen continued growth in Bend, as well as … price increases, are also local factors.
What does this mean in relation to Bend’s housing crisis?
The analysis requires us to look at the capacity of land in our current UGB and consider lands outside (of the UGB) to provide for additional housing and employment.
Who gets to decide where this land is and what it gets used for?
The process is driven by state law. And cities have the ability to implement those laws through the way they believe is appropriate for their community. In the past, these decisions have been decided by a combination of citizens, people in various agencies and ultimately local decision makers like city councils, planning commissions and county commissions. And it does have to be approved at the end by the state of Oregon.
So what’s next? What does the process look like?
We’re beginning these conversations with the current and new Bend City Council. The city council will create their goals for the next two years. We will build (a) budget to perform all kinds of work to meet those goals.
Once we get direction from our local officials, then we kick into all the details.
As a resident, if I have an opinion about the UGB, how and where do I get to share it?
You can reach out to your neighborhood leadership alliance. You can reach out to the city councilors, as well.
Once we have a project that is up and running, that input is directed into the project.
We fully anticipate lots of people will be interested, and we need that kind of input to get to the process successfully.
Right now, the council is in a position to choose between two options to get the process started. Can you outline those two options and their pros and cons?
The two main options are No. 1: to establish a new 20 -year UGB. The other option is to establish an urban reserve and a new 20 -year urban growth boundary.
Let’s talk … pros and cons. An urban reserve is simply that — it’s a reserve. It’s not necessarily developable land. It may not meet some new legal requirements of House Bill 2003. (This law, passed in 2019, requires medium and large cities to study the future housing needs of their residents and to develop strategies to produce the housing their residents need).
But, (the urban reserve) can look out a little further in time.
The urban growth boundary will create that 20 -year (land) supply for development rather than being a reserve.
I think if you boil it down: The reserve gets you a bigger area, but it requires the city to do an urban growth boundary expansion on top of that. It’s probably a more complex, a more time -consuming and a more costly process, versus the UGB, which you could do presumably faster, get a new supply for lands for development — in particular housing development.
If the new City Council deems this a priority, what kind of timeline is the community looking at it when it comes to having a new UGB expansion?
The last UGB expansion project took over a decade to complete because it was subject to legal challenges. The way we completed that project successfully in the end was about a three -year process that ended in 2016 with a new UGB.
My hope would be to do a similar kind of project that would take a few years to complete and to be completed successfully, but there are many details we need to figure out.
What lessons were learned from the last UGB expansion that can be applied to a future one?
I think some of the main takeaways I took were: invest in really good information, an excellent project team and a transparent decision -making process that involves the public.
I think if the city can stick to that model, then we have a really good chance of … getting the project finished and having a fantastic result.