BEND, OR -- As we get closer to the February Legislative session, Bend City staff are identifying priority issues they’ll be watching. City Manager Eric King says Affordable Housing is a key state issue that could have big local impacts. He tells KBND News there is talk lawmakers could look at freeing up resources to build more housing. "But also, is there something that can be done on the land supply side of things so that we can make it easier to increase the land supply? We’ve got a very regulatory process with land use in Oregon. I think Bend is almost a poster child for having both of those issues of limited land supply and this affordable housing problem, so how can Bend position itself to be part of that compromise, or at least bring awareness to how that’s playing out on the ground?"
King says they're watching anything land use related. "There’s a technical fix on Urban Growth Boundaries that’s very important to us. As we’re getting close to having that complete we just want to make sure the rules of the game aren’t changing. There are also some issues around property tax reform – just tax reform in general that’s needed at the state; really some inequities in the system." He's also hoping for tax reform, specifically in regards to the transient room tax. "That’s the tax that folks pay when they stay in hotels. [The city is] Wanting more flexibility for how those resources can be used. It’s one thing to promote tourism, but we want to make sure that once visitors are here, we have the facilities to support tourism – good roads and good facilities. Right now, the state restricts a lot of that as a revenue option for the city."
Other priority issues for Bend include recreational marijuana regulations and public transit funding. Lawmakers open the short session on February first.