Wednesday, March 3, 2010

We're Forever Blowing Bubbles

Posted By on Wed, Mar 3, 2010 at 11:59 PM

The front page of the Local section of today’s Bulletin brought more proof (not that any was needed) that the bubble years are over for Central Oregon: Enrollment dropped in all of the region’s school districts over the past year.

Bend-LaPine enrollment this school year is down 0.9% from the 2008-09 figure. Other area districts saw shaper declines: Redmond 2.1%, Jefferson County 2.4%, Crook County 3%, Culver 5% and Sisters 11.4%

According to the story, “locally, district officials say the decreases are likely connected to a depressed economy, with families moving out of the area because of high unemployment.”

Gosh, ya think?

Meanwhile, the city of Bend keeps wrangling with the state Department of Land Conservation and Development over the proposed expansion of the Urban Growth Boundary. The DLCD has a number of problems with the way the city has drawn the new UGB, but the fundamental one is that it’s just too damn big.

City staff originally mapped out a much smaller one, but the city council, under pressure from the realtor/builder/developer axis, ordered them to expand it and bring in more land on the northwest side – where some of the local Good Old Boys owned property – rather than the east side, where it would be cheaper to supply sewer and water service for new development.

Blogger and downtown businessman Duncan McGeary has a funny post about the UGB battle in which the state plays the role of an exasperated grownup and Bend is a recalcitrant child:

“Come on Oregon, can't you give me a C- for old time's sake?” Bend whines. “You're going to keep us from being the big time city we always knew we'd become.”

“Sigh. I'll explain again,” says the state. “Your plan is too big and your locations are not supported by the evidence.”

“I'm baffled!”

The state “puts head in hands and groans. ‘You have failed to use proper terminology and zoning codes. We have no way of knowing what you're talking about.’”

“I'm mystified!”

“Oregon throws up hands. See you in the appeals process …”

Maybe several years and many barrels of taxpayer dollars down the road, city officials and the special interests who pull their strings will figure out that once a bubble pops you can’t re-inflate it.

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