Bend Bulletin UGB Article
Bend inches closer to boundary proposal
Panel OKs bringing 1,800 acres into city.
By Tyler Leeds / The Bulletin
Published Oct 23, 2015 at 12:03AM
Certainty is beginning to creep into the city of Bend’s urban growth boundary expansion, as the body overseeing the process voted at a meeting Thursday to approve a preliminary version of the city’s new, vaster footprint.
As members of the steering committee noted, however, anything the city decides must be approved by the state. In 2010, the state rejected a bid by the city to expand its boundary, which separates urban from rural developments, by 8,000 acres to accommodate population growth through 2028.
The current process is pegged to the state’s earlier criticisms, among which was the observation that Bend should focus on becoming more dense and urban instead of spreading out.
The reception of this directive among those on the steering committee ranges from incredulous to supportive, with Councilor Casey Roats being particularly in favor of a larger expansion. The committee is composed of the seven-member Bend City Council, two planning commissioners and Deschutes County Commissioner Tony DeBone.
The proposal approved by the committee Thursday will bring in about 1,800 more acres to the city.
The state requires Bend to look at a number of factors as it designs an expansion, including the cost of new infrastructure, how driving habits will be affected and any impact on elk and deer range.
At the meeting, the committee heard a presentation from city staff and consultants who tested how three distinct expansion scenarios scored on the state’s factors.
A citizen advisory group had been looking at the results for a few weeks and recommended the committee back a modified version of what has been called scenario two.
Instead, the committee blended the original scenario two with the advisory group’s modified version.
Councilor Nathan Boddie supported the approved plan over the one recommended by the advisory group in part because that group’s plan shifted additional housing to the city’s western flank.
Boddie said he was concerned about the prospect of putting more homes closer to where some of the city’s more devastating wildfires have hit. He also observed the cost of any homes built on the west side is likely to be higher than those built on the east side.
Councilor Victor Chudowsky pushed back, saying he liked the advisory group’s plan because it better balanced growth on the east and west sides.
“As the city urbanizes, there’s going to be both benefits and burdens,” he said. “The city is going to be a more pleasant place to live with more employment opportunities, but the burdens are more congestion and push back from neighbors over development.”
Chudowsky said the plan the committee approved could be perceived to benefit those on the west side who don’t want to see any more growth.
Brian Rankin, a city planner overseeing the expansion process, noted this expansion could represent the city’s last growth toward the west, as a number of developers are considering projects on county land between the city’s boundary and protected forest land.
Jumping off of this, a majority of the committee argued the city should focus on east-side growth to build a foundation for future expansions of the urban growth boundary.
Roats reiterated his argument that an expansion as small as the one being proposed is unlikely to create enough new houses to bring the cost of living down.
“We aren’t exactly asking for the world,” he said. “We’re just kind of, sort of grabbing pieces here and there on the periphery of the city.”
The plan approved by the committee will provide the basis for the city’s expansion going forward. However, the committee asked for changes that haven’t actually been mapped yet, as city staff still need to look at swapping in and out individual parcels of land to follow the committee’s direction.
That direction involved shifting some land included in the south toward the northeast, as well as moving the location of a large industrial site.
The city hopes to finish its proposal and submit it to the state in 2016.