From Parking To Density, Bend Weighs Affordable Housing Ideas

By Amanda Peacher (OPB)
July 20, 2017 2 p.m.

The Bend City Council heard a set of recommendations Wednesday to help create more affordable housing. The 12 suggestions came from a diverse work group including builders, environmental activists and residents.

Erin Foote Morgan from the nonprofit Bend 2030 said the city has done a good job at incentivizing new low-income housing.


"But what kinds of tangible solutions can we come up with that would really increase housing supplying the middle market?" Foote Morgan said.

Andy High, chair of the city's affordable housing committee, said one suggestion is to reduce parking requirements for new development. 

"Right now, we’re seeing a lot of people move into Central Oregon that maybe only have (half) of a car, maybe they share it with another person," High said. "Or they just don’t need it cause they’re working from home." 
The work group also recommended modifying city rules to allow for taller buildings and denser development.  

Another recommendation was to modify the fees the city charges developers for new construction to incentivize smaller houses or multi-family units.

Currently, a developer is charged the same amount whether she builds an 8,000 square foot home or a 1,200 square foot home.

“There’s an incentive right now to build as large as possible,” said City Councilor Bruce Abernethy.

Another idea was to incentivize affordable housing construction in Bend’s recently expanded urban growth boundary before other forms of development.

“We don’t have the staff capacity to bring these all in at once,” Abernethy pointed out.

As the city implements the new boundary, one option might be to prioritize approval in some areas.

The committee will host a series of meetings for public comment on the suggestions this fall.

City councilors promised to look carefully at the recommendations and see which ones might be adoptable as policies.