Guest Column

Our community has some of the highest home prices and rents in the state. Over the past year especially, home prices in Bend have skyrocketed making it impossible for many who work in Bend to afford to live here. We hear stories every day of students experiencing housing instability, of small businesses that cannot recruit and retain top talent, of families who cannot find an affordable place to rent or buy. The housing crisis was exacerbated by the pandemic, and it disproportionately impacts low-income families and people of color.

City Council and Bend’s legislative delegation are keenly focused on increasing affordable housing and shelter as quickly as possible to address the mounting crises of unaffordable housing and houselessness. To make Bend a place where working families can afford to live, we must strategically leverage public funds and implement creative solutions alongside the housing market.

That is why we fought to pass House Bill 3318: crucial legislation to address the housing crisis here in Bend. HB 3318 creates a pathway to bring 262 acres of state-owned land at Stevens Road in southeast Bend into the urban growth boundary for desperately needed housing. Twenty acres of land will be conveyed to the city specifically for income-limited affordable housing, donation to community land trusts and educator housing. The bill is the result of negotiations between the city of Bend, our legislators, the Oregon Education Association, the Department of Land Conservation and Development and the Department of State Lands.

This piece of property is currently owned by the state, and it sits adjacent to our current UGB. It is Common School Fund land, which means the state has an obligation to maximize the value of the land for the school children of Oregon, either by selling it or putting it to use for our schools. HB 3318 does both: by bringing the land into the UGB we can greatly increase the value of the property, and the proceeds will benefit our schools. The bill also dedicates a portion of the land to workforce housing for educators and those who work in our schools, who live below certain income thresholds. This is a once -in -a -generation opportunity to allow Bend the opportunity to be creative in addressing our housing needs, while supporting Oregon schools.

We are ardent supporters of Oregon’s land use system. It is a major reason why Bend is such a great place to live and work. In the midst of our current housing crisis, HB 3318 expedites the state land use process for this piece of property to achieve a higher and better use of this land while ensuring our community has ample opportunity to participate directly at every stage of planning and that the City Council has the ultimate say in outcome.

We must act urgently: If we do not, Bend may no longer be the vibrant, inclusive and creative community we love. We are committed to making the dream of a secure home in Bend a reality for thousands of people who are essential to making this community work, from teachers and firefighters to grocery store workers and health care providers. HB 3318 will help Bend take a big step toward addressing our affordability crisis, with solutions specifically designed for this community. We hope that you will join us.

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Jason Kropf is state representative for House District 54, Gena Goodman-Campbell is mayor pro tem of the Bend City Council, and Anthony Broadman is a Bend city councilor.

(4) comments

Smedley Doright

When a politician says "We must act urgently"...watch out. Payoffs and backroom deals are hard to spot when action is urgent. Decisions made in haste can be hard to undo.

Also of note is that all three of these politicians live in nice Westside homes, far from the mess this long-lasting decision will make. This is the parcel that SHOULD have been the home of OSU Cascades, but now, it will be filled with endless tracts, no doubt built by the folks who line the pockets of these politicians.

Politicians who won't have to see the results of their decisions unless they are forced to mingle with us east-side lower-class people.

Follow the money...right into their pockets.

guest572

When exceptions become the rule, those without lawyers and money tend to lose out first. The next UGB expansion should be priority, and then this piece of land could have been admitted , while at the same time ensuring development and growth was equitably applied across town. If the leaders of Bend aren't proactively careful, the east/ west income divide will only become more prominent ... bringing all the problems of planned urban separation we have historically seen across America.

Skittish

There is either more to what you are saying that isn't being mentioned, or you are lacking clarity and focus. More land is clearly needed and I don't think this exception has been made a rule - N of one doesn't set a trend. Who cares about "equitablely applied across town"? Each area of town has its inherent differences and people should get to choose, based on their values, where to live. Of course there is a divide, but how does this impair anyone? The are several divides, not just east versus west. Those who complain of east versus west are just complainers and take for granted the advantages this provides.I have live all over town and appreciate the fact it is so different.

guest572

"There is either more to what you are saying that isn't being mentioned, .."

Yup. All you have to do is look at what, how developments are getting reviewed & approved, and why certain developments seem to overwhelmingly end up in certain parts of town, even when the complete neighborhood infrastructure isn't there to support them.

Welcome to the discussion.

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