Panorama, as seen from Bend from Pilot Butte Neighborhood Park, Oregon

Bend from Pilot Butte

Rising home prices and rents in Bend are inescapable. So much growth so fast has had fallout. The prices and growth keep going up.

There are different ways to meet that challenge. They clashed Tuesday at the meeting of Bend’s Neighborhood Leadership Alliance. The NLA is made up of representatives from Bend’s 13 city-recognized neighborhood associations.

Some leaders of those neighborhood associations believe the city is going too fast to make code changes to allow more housing. And they are not convinced what the city plans will help. Others argue the city can’t act soon enough. Bend is in a housing crisis and the city needs to move, they say. Who is right? Who is wrong? Whatever the case they are very motivated because what the city decides to do will change Bend and its neighborhoods.

Some background: The city is in the process of making code changes to comply with state law — House Bill 2001. It passed the Legislature in 2019. A quick way to understand it is with an example. In theory, a home could be torn down next to your home and a quadplex put up in its place. That might not be what you want, though unless you have existing CC&Rs (covenants, codes and restrictions) blocking that in your neighborhood, that’s what the law says can happen. It could create more housing. It could change the feel of neighborhoods.

The law says cities over 25,000 in population must allow more “middle housing.” Duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes, cottage clusters and townhomes can be built in areas zoned residential. Bend has until June 30, 2022, to get its code revised to allow that.

The city has limited wiggle room. It can have some design and siting requirements for middle housing “provided that the regulations do not, individually or cumulatively, discourage the development of all middle housing types permitted in the area through unreasonable costs or delay.” That is not a lot of room to wiggle.

Bend has also been looking at other, related code changes, such as reducing or eliminating parking requirements citywide. That wouldn’t mean builders and developers would not build any parking on a property for homes or apartment buildings. For instance, homebuyers generally want parking on their property. So that’s what homebuilders build.

Put new housing types in existing neighborhoods together with reduced or eliminated parking requirements and it gets people stirred up.

Hans Jorgensen, chair of Bend’s Neighborhood Leadership Alliance and representing the Awbrey Butte neighborhood, and Lisa Mushel, vice chair of the NLA and representing Century West, penned a letter calling on the city to slow down. They argue Bend has not held the kind of robust community discussion about these changes that they warrant. They point out Eugene has held more than 30 public meetings. Bend has held a mere fraction of that. There is no proof that accelerating this will create more affordable housing, Jorgensen said Tuesday.

Well that letter was tabled for now. Mayor Sally Russell popped into the Zoom meeting, urging the committee members to get more information and listen to the discussion at Monday’s planning commission. Other neighborhood association members, notably Rev. Morgan Schmidt of Larkspur and Summer Sears of the Orchard District, spoke out against the letter. Schmidt said Bend is in a housing crisis and “I am not willing to pump the brakes.”

Should the city slow down, seek more public comment and get more community involvement? Or should it move fast? Let the Bend City Council know what you think. Email them at council@bendoregon.gov.

(10) comments

summersears

Upcoming opportunities to learn more and provide input -

June 14th Planning Commission Meeting https://www.bendoregon.gov/government/committees/planning-commission

June 17th City Club forum https://cityclubco.org/event/bends-parking-requirements/

PJSBend

Any discussion of housing absent a discussion of the horrifically out-of-date transportation system is moot. I live in the Orchard District and the primary roads through our neighborhoods are completely engulfed with residents from the Mountainview and Boyd Acres neighborhoods who could be traveling on 97, Greenwood, and Empire if the City, County, and ODOT had actually used their brains when designing those roads.

I could not disagree more with the person speaking for our neighborhood. We need to slow this down. A few more housing units won't make Bend any more affordable but would make our neighborhoods a lot less livable.

SBB

Thank you! You are spot on. The traffic and congestion issues are being overlooked by the council. Please sign and share:

https://www.change.org/p/bend-we-need-a-transparent-public-outreach-plan-for-middle-housing-code-changes-in-bend

9999

Parking is a big deal. Bend does not have a good mass transit system, at the same time everyone in Bend values the outdoors and has a vehicle to access the wonderful outdoors around us. So parking needs to a big consideration under changes to the codes for HB 2001. Parking must be considered. If Parking is considered then we need to think about Traffic. This must be addressed the City of Bend Planning Commission. I do not believe any of our citizens want to go the way of Portland...duplexes, quadplexes, townhomes, etc. without parking.

91184

I do. Plenty of parking on the street, but that's besides the point. Removing parking requirements doesn't mean developers will stop providing garages and driveways, it just removes unnecessary building regs that has the potential to decrease the cost of building homes and allows for more options for home buyers.

ReimagineBend

I do too. Much of our citizenry is is afraid of going the way of California with exclusionary zoning, even higher housing prices, and uncontrollable sprawl and traffic. If you are concerned about traffic you should be concerned about enabling people to live closer to where they work / live. Ultimately sharing my street parking with the quadplex next door is a more favorable outcome than 4 more single family homes on the outskirts of town with regards to Bends livability. Interesting that this proposal seems to be getting the most support from neighborhoods that are most likely to be changed (those older ones without restrictive CC&RS) while opposition is coming from associations like Aubrey that are least likely to see changes.

SBB

I couldn't agree more! Please sign and share this petition:

https://www.change.org/p/bend-we-need-a-transparent-public-outreach-plan-for-middle-housing-code-changes-in-bend

62444

Smedley Doright, I believe your comment is in jest, however know that there are limits being propose on turning these units into vacation rentals, you wold not be able to turn all 4 into such. Please look into the details of the proposed code amendments.

Smedley Doright

62444 No jest, my reading of the permitting system is that it is address based, at least for those of us with the original permits. The city would have a legal battle on their hands, and would likely lose it if they tried to create new limits on existing properties. As long as the units share a common street address, I don't know that they would be able to restrict it. As it stands, I can (legally) separately rent the little ADU from the house, and I report each separately for the TOT. I think I have good precedent to simply double the number of rental units. They city should be thrilled, they'll get double the TOT to spend on marketing the city for more tourists to come and sleep in my units.

Smedley Doright

I love this idea. I have a small vacation rental near Spork. If this works, I'll tear it town in a second and have four vacation rentals. I'd make a killing and there's nothing the city or my neighbors can do to stop me.

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