BEND, OR -- Candidates for Bend Mayor discussed affordable housing, homelessness, transportation, and the Bend Central District at a forum Monday night.
City council member and mayoral candidate Melanie Kebler says housing is a middle-class issue, “We need to work to make sure all kinds of housing are more affordable. And we’re not losing people like nurses, teachers, or just the person who makes your coffee, or pours your beer. And we also need to look at our UGB, and it’s really important who is in charge.”
Mayoral candidate and former council member Chris Piper wants to hasten the home building process to address workforce housing. “We need our state and local governments to amend land use policies to make housing development easier. Stream line notoriously cumbersome permitting processes, and lower taxes or unnecessary requirements that depress development,” he said.
Piper has a goal for the bus system, Cascades East Transit. He wants to “stay involved with CET’s plan to provide better connected routes and have open discussion to have CET become its own district, currently being funded by the City now and from payroll deductions.”
Kebler says transportation in Bend is at a critical point. “So that’s been a priority for me on council as we move through the bond projects the voters approved and we’re implementing is to make sure we’re always thinking about prioritizing safety. Especially when it comes to giving people options to go by bike or by walking,” she said.
With those options in mind, Kebler is excited for the prospects of the Bend Central District. “The opportunity we have to build incredible housing infrastructure in this area that’s going to support transit and help businesses as well. We already know that sprawl as a solution isn’t going to work and this one of our best chances to really create the housing we need without doing that,” she said.
Piper believes communication with those involved in the Central District is key. “We need to erase the uncertainty that the BCD stakeholders are feeling with the city. This can be done by including stakeholders at a participatory level well in advance of when decisions and policy are being drafted that may impact prospective development,” he said.
City Council positions 4, 5, and 6 are also open. All Council candidates agreed affordable housing and transportation are Bend’s most pressing issues.
Voter’s pamphlets will be in mail boxes in about a month.