BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors met with Deschutes County Commissioners Tuesday to talk growth management. It's estimated that seven people move to the area each day, and government leaders say it's hard for the city and county to keep up.
Deschutes County Commissioner and local developer Phil Henderson warned Councilors it's important to offer a range of housing options. "What I hear a lot from the city is this emphasis on 'density here' and 'rural here.' Well, there's a lot of us - and I'm one of them - that like a little bigger lot, so I can have a front yard and a backyard, and I can have gardens or my kids can play at home. And, that's kind of been lost, yet I think it's still pretty popular. I don't think we should necessarily discard that."
City Councilor Nathan Boddie says everyone recognizes the housing need, but a plan is necessary. He tells KBND News, "I think no one has yet connected the dots to how cheap land gets you cheap housing; It just doesn't really make sense from a market-based perspective. It's kind of an attractive 'Econ 101' statement but it doesn't really make any sens on the ground. Housing policy is much more complicated and home prices have a lot more to do with local policies, incentives, loan programs; there are many things that factor in."
Officials expect it will take five to 10 years to add housing in the recently extended Urban Growth Boundary. Councilor Boddie says Council has discussed where to start, "Those will probably begin in the southeast corner of Bend and in the central area; those are the two main areas that we'll probably start focusing on first. They kind of have the easiest lift to get where we need."
County Commissioner Henderson, though, would like to see things move more quickly. "I was concerned that the timelines they're having to project seem a lot longer than I was thinking they'd be. And, they don't really seem to be able to solve the kind of immediate problem, which I thought some of this would do. Now, they are turning inside and redeveloping portions of equal opportunity areas. But, I would like to encourage them to get there faster, if possible.