More than six years after its original Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) proposal was rejected by the state, the Bend City Council has unanimously adopted a forward-thinking set of plans to guide Bend’s future growth in a first reading Wednesday afternoon. This comes at a time when residents are experiencing the pressures of living in one of fastest growing communities in the country.
Central Oregon LandWatch, a land use advocacy group that works to protect the things that enhance Bend’s quality of life, was a lead opponent of the 2009 UGB proposal because it allowed for massive sprawl and would have expanded the city by more than 40 percent. Now, after a vigorous public process, LandWatch is a lead champion of the current UGB proposal and supported the City Council’s unanimous adoption of this plan on Wednesday.
“People live in Bend because we love to be near the beautiful mountains, forests, and high desert landscapes that surround Central Oregon,” said Connie Peterson, a Bend resident and native Oregonian. “This is a plan to accommodate Bend’s future population growth while protecting those natural surroundings. It is all made possible by Oregon’s visionary land use system”
In order to provide for compact development and efficient use of infrastructure, the plan focuses density and redevelopment in several “Opportunity Areas.” Brian Rankin, the City’s long-range planning manager, emphasizes that increased density in this plan is not designed for established neighborhoods. “The Opportunity areas where four to six story mixed-use development is allowed do not include any residential neighborhoods,” said Rankin. “These key redevelopment areas are to complement the existing neighborhoods so that more people have more options for economic services, grocery shops, and dining out closer to where they live.”
The plan adds 2,380 acres to Bend’s Urban Growth Boundary and allows for zone changes in designated areas within the current city boundaries. Landowners who want to develop their land according to the new Comprehensive Plan rules will have to follow a public process that requires them to show how any development will affect transportation, sewer, water and other city infrastructure.
Central Oregon LandWatch has been involved in the public process, advocating for a limited expansion to prevent urban sprawl, protect wildlife habitat, encourage cost-effective growth, and foster affordable housing. LandWatch’s Executive Director, Paul Dewey, says his organization now supports the UGB proposal because “it is a carefully constructed plan that will lay the groundwork for creating the type of city Bend residents will enjoy 50 years from now. The stakes couldn’t have been higher and this community knocked it out of the park.”
Central Oregon LandWatch’s public comments on the UGB can be viewed at: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0Bze8S6HGyo80eWR5VzZXc2d6T0k