Guest Column

The podium at Bend Venture Conference at the Tower Theater in Bend October 20, 2017. 

Recently it seems that all our local politicians are calling for more “affordable housing.” No one has taken the time to explain the real need for more inexpensive homes or even what those homes might cost, and it seems clear that few builders would sacrifice profit developing property for less than the current market value. In any community there are multiple factors that determine the true market value of any property and home prices vary widely. For example, a one bedroom apartment in Manhattan would be considered “affordable” if listed for under $1 million while in Bend an “affordable” home might sell in the range of $275 -$300k. No matter the given location, home sales are based on current market values. Unfortunately our local leaders are planning on what amounts to “government subsidized housing” to increase Bend’s tax base, expand our city boundary, and further dilute our livability standards.

If the projected growth in Bend for 2020 is 1,000 new houses and each new unit brings two cars, then we will have 2000 more cars on our roads per day. Meanwhile, it’s become painfully obvious to any Bend resident that our increased traffic and parking problems are major irritations and only getting worse. And those main arteries into Central Oregon (highways 97, 26 and 20) are not simply congested, they’ve become downright dangerous. Our current infrastructure is barely adequate for the existing population yet some are lobbying for new housing developments. We often talk about “reducing our carbon footprint” in Central Oregon, but adding thousands of vehicles in the Deschutes Basin makes any climate goals disingenuous and laughable.

Also being impacted by massive growth are the wild lands.

Since most Bend residents bike, kayak, hike, fish, hunt, climb mountains or just enjoy the beauty of Central Oregon, we bare witness to the crowded streams, lakes and trails. The problems of litter and human (dog) waste has become so severe in the last few years that the Forest Service will be imposing a daily fee on trail usage and campsites beginning next season.

Though the wilderness seems vast and almost infinite, we do not have unlimited resources. As we’ve seen over many years, there is a constant battle for water rights in the Deschutes Basin between agricultural interests, urban usage and requirements for fish and other forest critters. We are not making any more water.

Unbridled growth puts more pressure on our limited water supply.

In short, Central Oregon has been discovered in a big way and everyone seems to want to visit or move here.

While that is understandable, it is the responsibility of our local leaders to preserve and protect the livability (i.e. quality of life) for people who already live here.

So as not to solely complain but also offer some suggestions, here are a few ideas:

1) Stop advertising Bend. You have been beyond successful!

2) Preserve more “natural” landscaping in future developments. Require more open-space. Remember that rocks and juniper trees are part of the High Desert charm.

3) Resist state mandated growth. Do we really want to become like Portland?

4) Say “NO” to urban sprawl.

5) Update our road infrastructure before building more homes and large hotels.

Given our current rate of growth, Bend will become unrecognizable in 10 years. Can we identify any local leaders who make livability a high priority? Can we remember why we moved to Bend in the first place ?

Given our current rate of growth, Bend will become unrecognizable in 10 years. Can we identify any local leaders who make livability a high priority? Can we remember why we moved to Bend in the first place ?

Bill Eddie lives in Bend.

(5) comments

Thom

Better idea. Send all the Californians back.

bend 80

LOL would be nice .

davidw

I get the spirit of this, but here's the problem: the demand is there to live in Bend, so if we don't increase the housing supply, then Bend becomes a wealthy enclave served by people living in Redmond, LaPine, Madras, and so on.

Congratulations! Now you just got people driving further, which is bad for them, our environment and the roads too, and they've still got to live somewhere.

Rather than having useless 'green space' that's often just wasted, let's try and efficiently use the space we do have for homes, in order to preserve space outside of town, which we all treasure.

Do we really want our kids' teachers, nurses, firefighters and so on to be living the stressed commuter lifestyle, rather than living in the community they work so hard for?

SISTERSFORESTPRODUCTS

100% Correct. Central Oregon is the Poster Child example of Strip Mall Overdevelopment.

gsr

That honor might better fall to Beaverton.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.