By Jason Boone
The westside of Bend has long been a hotspot in Bend real estate, popular with both longtime residents and new arrivals to this fast-growing town on the High Desert.
This is no accident, of course. The west side has much appeal. The majority of Bend’s historic homes rest on the west side. And an awesome array of new developments, such as Northwest Crossing, have only added to the character of the area.
The west side is popular for other reasons, too. The area has truly come of age, with many of the city’s best restaurants, breweries and shopping residing west of Third Street. Perhaps most appealing of all, is that the west side is closest to many of the outdoor amenities that drew so many of us here to Bend in the first place: Phil’s Trail, Mount Bachelor, the Deschutes River and much more make the west side the area’s gateway to the outdoors.
Of course, with so much appeal comes inevitable growth. We have seen plenty of it already, and with the controversial OSU-Cascades campus now a reality, even more growth is a certainty.
Last week, a citizen committee concerned with the future of the west side offered its recommendations to the city, according to The Bulletin. And the committee shed some light on how the area should grow.
The biggest concern, of course, is transportation. And the committee backed projects that are aimed at allowing transportation — be it by foot, bike or car — to flow through the area a bit easier. In addition, they put on an emphasis on how the three modes of transportation can coexist safely.
Among the ideas, according to the Bulletin story:
- Emphasising travel by bike or foot rather than by car. Specifically, creating new bike boulevards that give preference to bicycles. And add more crosswalks.
- A buffer area that protects the character of existing neighborhoods, including the area’s single-family homes, from new development.
- But it also recommended identifying “opportunity areas” for future mixed-use districts that include more multi-family housing. That, in part, complies with a state recommendation for Bend to plan for more density.
- Perhaps most important, the committee called for more citizen engagement on the issue of growth on the west side.
The plan essentially lays out recommendations for growth until 2040, and it is betting that the culture will shift away from automobile dependence. That is hardly a new trend in city planning.
Regardless of whether or not the committee’s recommendations are ever fully adopted, having the conversation itself can only be a positive.
Planned for correctly, and growth can add to the area without significantly diminishing the quality of life that we all enjoy. Planned for inadequately, and growth will forever alter Bend’s west side.
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