By Jason Boone
Bend residents probably didn’t need the U.S. Census Bureau to tell them that the population of their town has increased in the last couple of years.
There are signs, perhaps more anecdotal than data-driven, that would tell them the same thing: grocery stores that are more crowded, traffic that is thicker, class lists from their children’s schools that show more and more parents sporting mobile-phone numbers with an area code something other than 541.
The Census Bureau recently estimated Bend’s July 2015 population at a hair more than 87,000, 3.4 percent greater than in 2014. The one-year increase in the Bend-Redmond metropolitan area was 2.9 percent and ranked eighth nationwide among metropolitan areas.
This growth calls to mind an important and enduring question: Where will the newcomers to Bend live? The subject is especially acute given the low rental vacancy rates in Bend and the historically low inventory of homes for sale in recent months.
The city of Bend is in the process of revising its urban growth boundary in a plan designed to provide enough land to accommodate growth through 2028. Bend submitted a proposal for expansion of the urban growth boundary in 2010, but the state rejected parts of that plan. The 2010 plan proposed bringing about 8,000 acres within the boundary, whereas the latest version of the city’s plan calls for the boundary to expand by about 2,000 acres.
Having the 2010 proposal remanded to the city indicated that to accommodate growth, Bend would be expected to increase the density of residences within its current boundary and build up, not merely out. The city is attempting to meet those expectations in at least a couple of ways.
* The city has made it easier for homeowners to have accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, on their property. ADUs, also called mother-in-law cottages and granny flats, are relatively small, discrete living units constructed on a lot that already has a home.
Relaxed conditions for ADUs include doing away with the requirement of obtaining a conditional use permit (and with it the right of neighbors to object to the plan); reducing the cost of a permit by nearly 70 percent, from $2,600 to $800; and easing a requirement for automobile parking.
* The Bend Planning Commission and the City Council will review a draft of what is known as the Central Westside Plan, completed by a 22-member citizen advisory committee in early spring. The plan calls for increased density of buildings — including mixed-use areas with buildings five stories high.
Bend’s need to constrain sprawl isn’t unique. Land-use laws enacted in 1973 are meant to protect forests and farmland throughout the state. In Portland, population growth combined with scarce land for housing has led to controversial infill development — such as demolishing older homes and putting multiple structures on the same lot. And as noted in a Bulletin article about the Central Westside Plan, “[T]he prospect of greater density, and the profits it can bring, can entice developers to tear down and rebuild.”
Whether you are a recent migrant to Bend or a long-established resident, I can help you find the perfect Bend home or market your home in this environment.
To learn more about the Bend real estate market, get started with listing your Bend home, or view area homes, contact me at (541) 383-1426, or visit Bend Property Search to connect with me through my website.