men holding the cubes

One day the area between the Bend Parkway and Third Street may be a thriving part of Bend’s downtown. The city has some plans in the works designed to make that day come sooner. But not all of the changes may be welcomed with open arms.

The city is looking at reducing barriers in the city development code for what it calls the Bend Central District. The Bend Planning Commission is scheduled to hear the proposals on Jan. 13. The proposals would then go to the Bend City Council.

There are three basic changes under consideration — eliminating requirements for mixed-use, maximizing buildable space and reducing parking requirements. There’s a lot of good reasons to consider changes. For instance, since the area was rezoned in 2016, no new housing developments have been proposed. Bend needs housing. The proposed changes could make that easier.

The mixed-use change would allow buildings to have more flexibility and occupy commercial space with residential use. Maximizing building size would do things such as reducing setback requirements from the property boundary. There has also been some discussion about allowing more wiggle room in building height up to a maximum of 85 feet in the district. That is allowed in some cases under current code.

Then there is parking. Debates can heat up quick when you start talking about parking. What the city is recommending is reducing requirements and allowing more flexibility. For instance, residential parking requirements would be reduced to half a space per unit from 1 space per unit in some instances. Townhomes would still be required to have 1 space per dwelling. The suggested changes would increase developable land and density and encourage more alternative means of transportation. Of course, some people may see it as Bend planting the seeds for parking problems.

If you have an opinion about these changes, you should let the city know. More details are available on the Bend Planning Commission’s website. There’s more to it than what we summarized here.

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