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CITY COUNCIL: Housing, BEDAB and Planning Commission

Courtesy: Tor Hanson, Bend Chamber Special Projects Reporter


City councilors checked in with several committees at the October 18 meeting. Presenting were Jon Skidmore, Assistant City Manager; Kristin Chatfield, vice chair of the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee (AHAC); Erich Schultz, Chair of Bend Economic Development Advisory Board (BEDAB), and Bill Wagner, Chair of the Planning Commission.

Before the presentation, City Manager Eric King reminded the councilors the quarterly meetings are a chance for the councilors to check in with the committees on how their work is aligned with council goals and ask for course corrections if needed.

Jon Skidmore kicked off the presentation with a recap of how the different committees’ work is aligned with goals 1 through 3.


Goal 1: Implement a growth plan that is consistent with community goals for the economy, environment and affordability.

Skidmore mentioned UGB planning and developing a new comprehensive plan are top priorities. And, within that scope, the development of annexation codes is the top concern for the committees. The goal is to make a formal presentation to the council at the first meeting in December. There is still the thorny issue of determining which development has the highest priority, expansion or opportunity areas.

Skidmore also noted an upcoming presentation in front of city council by Economic Development Manager Carolyn Eagan regarding Urban Renewal.


Goal 2: Move people and products around Bend efficiently, safely and reliably.

This year, the city council decided to spend money on improving the road infrastructure around town to the tune of $9.1 million. The money has been spent on upgrading the downtown Bend corridor plus many other street projects, including Wall and Bond streets, Portland Avenue, Wilson Avenue, and Neff Road. The massive street maintenance and improvement project included 94 lane miles of pavement. Currently, Bend’s Pavement Condition Index (PCI) hovers around 70% and council and staff have expressed a wish to the move the metric closer to 73%.

The city is also implementing a new snow removal personnel scheduling system that will increase efficiency 23% over last year. Although last year’s winter conditions have been described as a 25-year event, Department Director Davis Abbas is taking no chances this year. Councilor Campbell asked Abbas later in the meeting if the city had reached out to the two private garbage companies in town about attaching snow scrapers on their trucks to help the city plow during snow events. Abbas told Campbell such discussions had occurred, but the companies’ garbage trucks are not suitable for such modifications.


Goal 3: Increase affordable housing options.

City council has made a concerted effort to develop efforts to increase the affordable housing inventory in Bend together with the AHAC and Bend 2030. Skidmore highlighted the city already has a good record on hand. Since 2004, the inventory has increased with 1,100 units.

Currently, the Planning Commission is weighing in on two Bend 2030/AHAC recommendations allowing three/four-plexes in residential neighborhoods and reducing parking requirements (pushing out residential parking into the streets).

Skidmore also mentioned the city is hitting on all fronts, including affordable housing fees, removing regulatory and financial barriers, and increasing land supply.


COMMITTEES:


Affordable Housing Committee

Kristin Chadfield echoed many of the points made by Skidmore and mentioned AHAC is hoping to capitalize on the entrepreneurial spirit of Bend when it comes to affordable housing through a robust incentive package, engaging small and medium-sized builders. Currently 62% of Bend’s households are cost-burdened, meaning they are paying more than the recommended 30% of household income towards housing.


BEDAB

Erich Schultz with BEDAB stressed the number one priority for the committee is to get movement on Juniper Ridge. Currently, commercial land availability hovers around 4% and the committee is concerned about incoming businesses finding a place to land, making a point to make sure public land gets into private hands. BEDAB would like to create a subcommittee to study the situation.

The second major BEDAB goal is to prioritize the Bend Airport Master Plan. Schultz mentioned there is a great interest from the business community regarding a better utilization of the airport.

The third overarching goal on BEDAB’s horizon is to see council focus on the Comprehensive Master Plan. Schultz cautioned the councilors that the missing plan is affecting many Bend companies and their employees. Retaining and recruiting employees hinges upon locating affordable housing in Bend, which is currently a challenge. Schultz hoped the council would move quickly on completing the master plan for this reason.


Planning Commission

Bill Wagner with the Planning Commission highlighted that they are ready to present their findings regarding the comprehensive master plan by January 2018. Asking for guidance from council when it comes to other pressing goals, Councilor Boddie asked the Planning Commission to quickly weigh in on the issue of allowing three/four-plexes in residential neighborhoods.

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