The council chambers rang with applause and accolades on Wednesday as Bend City Council unanimously approved the Urban Growth Boundary Remand Project.
“All-in-all, I think that this process is as good as could have been hoped for,” said Bend City Councilor Casey Roats. “It’s not short of a small miracle that we’re where we are now.”
Roats admitted he was skeptical a consensus would be reached due to the robust process that took place with various viewpoints. He added that he wished the city had more flexibility, but the rules the state had to work with during the process were limiting when it came to topics like solving the west side growth concerns and rezoning the exclusive farm use parcels on the east side that have not, and mostly likely will never, be farmed.
“What I’ll be measuring between now and the next time we start this process… is did we really meet any of our objectives? Is there any more affordable housing as a result? Is the crisis lessened in any way, shape or form? We’re definitely doubling down on a compact, more-dense version of Bend … and I’m ok with that assuming that we do make some strides towards those goals. If we don’t… I would advocate that we think outside the box.”
On Aug. 24, the Bend Chamber sent a letter to the Bend City Council and Deschutes County Board of Commissioners stating:
“Passage of the UGB would provide more opportunities for housing residents and workers, land for jobs in targeted sectors and industries where Bend has strong employment growth, and creating more certainty for the future. These are all significant needs for not only our members but also our community at large.”
The letter also encouraged councilors and commissioners to start now in planning for the Urban Area Reserve lands.
“The diversity of our upcoming “new economy workers” will need us to be looking forward with this kind of planning,” wrote Bend Chamber EVP of Community Affairs Jamie Christman in the letter.
During the special meeting on the Bend UGB Remand, City of Bend Planning Manager Brian Rankin said a number of new codes and policies will have to be created to get the plan off the ground. He said the capital improvement program – which identifies infrastructure improvement projects, within a 5-year time period that are necessary to enhance service levels, fix existing deficiencies, and provide for future growth – may also need to be adjusted.
“There’s perception this is going to happen overnight, but there’s a lot of proceeding steps,” he said.