Middle housing code amendments go to a public hearing July 26th

A public hearing will be held during the regular meeting of the Planning Commission on Monday, July 26, 2021, at 5:30 pm. The hearing will address proposed amendments to the Bend Development Code to implement House Bill 2001, which requires that cities allow middle housing types where single-family homes are permitted. Middle housing includes duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes, townhomes, and cottage clusters.

This will be a virtual meeting. Bend residents can watch the proceedings or provide testimony during the meeting (see instructions below for how to participate). Written comments may also be submitted prior to the meeting.

  • To participate in the hearing, click here. Attendance instructions will be on the meeting agenda,  which will be posted prior to the hearing.
  • Written comments may be submitted by email to Pauline Hardie, Senior Planner, at: phardie@bendoregon.gov. Written comments must include the project number: PLTEXT20210421.
  • For more information on the proposed amendments, please see: www.bendoregon.gov/HB-2001.

To review an analysis of three specific problems with the proposed code changes, click here.

What is this website about?

This website is a call for more public engagement on middle housing code amendments in Bend, Oregon

The City of Bend should engage the public before holding hearings on proposed amendments to bring the Bend Development Code into compliance with House Bill 2001.

The Oregon Legislature passed House Bill 2001 (HB 2001) in August 2019 to provide Oregonians with more housing choices by increasing density in cities with more than 10,000 residents. To achieve that goal, this first-in-the-US legislation requires the City of Bend to amend its development code (BDC):

  1. to permit duplexes on each lot/parcel whose zoning allows for development of a single-family detached home, and
  2. to permit triplexes, quadplexes, townhomes, and cottage clusters within all zones where single-family detached homes are allowed.

These types of housing - commonly referred to as “middle housing” - already are permitted in various parts of Bend and thus currently are regulated under the BDC; however, HB 2001 specifically mandates changes to numerous BDC standards, including minimum lot size, lot coverage, and off-street parking requirements, to eliminate perceived barriers to the development of middle housing. Since HB 2001 is not designed to be a “one size fits all” directive, each city must determine the code changes that are appropriate and achievable within its boundaries.

Bend must formulate and adopt changes to the BDC by June 30, 2022. Given the City’s recent explosive growth and the myriad of likely impacts of increased density throughout the City, one would expect a rigorous implementation plan, including historical development and current needs analyses, citizen surveys and extensive public outreach. That has not occurred.

Instead, the Planning Commission simply approved formation of a “Stakeholder Advisory Group,” consisting of fifteen (15) members, to assist planning department staff in formulating changes to the BDC. Based on the input from that small group, City staff already has prepared draft language for all proposed changes. That 107-page document, which also tracks other changes to the BDC, can be viewed on the City’s website. Pages 67–68 (off-street parking requirements) and pages 77–82 (other middle-housing siting changes) are noteworthy examples of material proposed alterations.

Bend is Oregon’s 6th largest city and the one that has experienced the most rapid growth since 2010. Prior to May 10, the only mention of HB 2001 and coming changes to the BDC on the City’s website was a single page that included a brief summary of the legislation, a short description of the stakeholder group and a tentative schedule of public hearings. The website information finally has been expanded but only after all draft changes to the BDC were completed – essentially asking concerned residents for suggested ingredients after the cake already has been baked!

In contrast, a robust process is taking place in Eugene (3rd largest city), where extensive public outreach was the first step in their effort. Similarly, Beaverton (7th largest city) has performed both an in-depth residential development patterns survey and is soliciting public input on code change alternatives prior to drafting any proposed changes. In Hillsboro (4th largest city), city staff is doing extensive community outreach, including a public survey, both before and after drafting proposed development code changes. Each of these cities appreciates that securing the support of its residents, all of whom will be impacted, is essential for its successful implementation of HB 2001. Community support for more middle housing should be a goal for the HB 2001 process, but that does not appear to be the case in Bend.

HB 2001-driven changes to the BDC will affect every resident of Bend for years to come, yet this is likely the first time many people are learning about the legislation and its impact. Fortunately, HB 2001 provides large cities like Bend with an additional year to ensure that all stakeholders and affected parties, including its residents, have an opportunity to weigh in with their desires and concerns. That extra year does not expire until June 2022; however, the City’s current plan is to limit public comment, for already-drafted BDC changes, to hearings before each of the Planning Commission and the City Council.

Bend residents who object to that plan must act NOW. Here are some actions you can take:

  1. Read some of the informative HB 2001-related materials on the City of Eugene website.
  2. Review background and additional resources on OurBendHousingCode.com.
  3. Sign the petition calling on the City to slow the process and engage the public at https://tinyurl.com/PumpTheBrakes.
  4. Send an email to Bend’s City Council (council@bendoregon.gov) demanding that the public - like residents in Hillsboro, Beaverton and Eugene - be given the opportunity to provide comments and input before draft BDC changes are finalized.
  5. Email comments to the Planning Commission PRIOR to its work session on the draft code amendments scheduled for June 14, 2021 (CityPlanningCommissionAll@bendoregon.gov).
  6. Watch the Planning Commission’s virtual work session scheduled for June 14, 2021 @ 5:30 p.m. (pre-register to comment).
  7. Write a letter to the editor at the Bend Bulletin.
  8. Write a letter to the Source Weekly.
  9. Express opinions and concerns on Nextdoor or on other public forums / social media.

The density of housing development in Bend has, and will continue, to increase, but how that will occur is yet to be determined. Both residents and City leaders should be concerned that the community understands and supports the integration of middle housing into our neighborhoods.

We, the undersigned neighborhood association land use committee chairs and members, are distributing this position statement to inform the community of the important development code changes being proposed with a limited public engagement process. We call on the Planning Commission and City Council to follow through on the Council’s stated goal of expanding outreach and pubic engagement by implementing a robust public participation process similar to those being used in other Oregon cities.

~ Ken Atwell (Southeast Bend land use chair)
~ Ted Bayer (Awbrey Butte NA member)
~ Bill Bernardy (Summit West NA land use chair and HB 2001 stakeholder advisory group member)
~ Judy Clinton (Southwest Bend NA land use chair)
~ Jeff Conrad (Awbrey Butte NA land use chair)
~ Deby DeWeese (Southern Crossing NA land use chair)
~ Carol Elwood (Mountain View NA land use chair)
~ Dave Johnson (Old Farm NA board member and HB 2001 stakeholder advisory group member)
~ Karon Johnson (Old Farm NA land use chair)
~ Lisa Mushel (Century West NA chair and HB 2001stakeholder advisory group member)
~ Sara Santa (Southern Crossing NA member and HB 2001stakeholder advisory group member)
~ Sue Sullivan (Larkspur NA land use chair)
~ Mike Walker (River West NA land use chair and HB 2001stakeholder advisory group member)