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Top Letters of 2015 

Good times this past weekend with the Northwest Express opened for the first time of the season. Follow him on Instagram @rexshepard.

Photo by Rex Shepard.

Good times this past weekend with the Northwest Express opened for the first time of the season. Follow him on Instagram @rexshepard.

We've heard you loud, clear, angry, and sometimes not so clear. But by asking you to sign your letters, we're proud to say it's creating some healthy competition, and we're stoked to see more and more rolling in. Some of our readers don't want growth, others want to see Mirror Pond return to a free flowing river, many of you love Troy Field, and no one likes driving on roads with watermelon-sized potholes. And when it comes to housing, well, maybe all of your letters would offer more solutions than are currently on deck. So here are some of our favorite letters, gripes and all, from 2015.

INTOLERABLE (3/24)

Regarding Bend's Lifestyle

I have lived here for some 39 years and it just seems some of the current trends need a reality check. To me they are becoming intolerable.

There is no reason to tolerate that just because the Deschutes was dammed up 100 years ago, that it must remain that way in perpetuity. Let it run free, like God intended.

There is no reason to tolerate dogs off-leash when you have thousands of open acres of forest to take your crotch-sniffing, undisciplined dog out to wander around.

There is no reason to tolerate open and legal use of a mind altering drug like marijuana.

It is an evil plot to make otherwise intelligent people more pliable to the agenda of uber rich like the Koch Brothers, who envision a race of slaves serving the moneyed classes while having no hope of improving their own fortunes.

There is no reason to tolerate homes that cost over a quarter million dollars, for a starter home. We don't all need to live in McMansions to feel the pride of home ownership. I have always thought Oregon's Land Use laws were good, but it's just plain sad that all the new neighborhoods, where homes are just 10 feet apart with no yards, are destroying the character that once made Bend such a desirable place to live.

Period. End of Rant!

—Dave Stalker

A HOMEBUILDER'S TAKE ON AFFORDABLE HOUSING (5/5)

Regarding Bend's Affordable Housing

The Source Weekly has done a good job in recent articles pointing out the complexity of the "affordable housing" issue in Bend and the difficulties resolving it. As has been written, SDCs are one factor that has pushed up housing costs, but clearly they are not the most impactful cost. In my opinion, they are not the most important, either. Eliminating them would help housing costs, but there should be equality and fairness for the cost of new housing. Why should one homeowner pay for roads, streets, parks, and sewers, and another homeowner not pay. The Source has also pointed out that the conversion of over 500 homes to vacation rentals has taken many potential existing homes off the market and that won't change anytime soon. Vacation rentals are apparently lucrative.

As a homebuilder, the other top three factors prohibiting "affordable housing" locally are: 1) Land prices are very high in Bend. The current shortage of buildable land because of the restricted UGB and the purchase of most developed lots that existed in 2009 by developers in the years since, leave few places to put new homes, duplexes, or apartments, outside a limited number of areas which are under developers' control.

2) Housing costs are no longer possible with expensive materials and labor, unlike they were 30 to 40 years ago. Increase in production costs—whether concrete, drywall, roofing, fixtures, etc.; upgrades in building code requirements; or recent increases in construction labor (caused by the shortage of skilled labor)—have made "affordable housing" all but impossible.

3) People don't want small houses like many of us grew up in. As a society, we have incurred square footage "creep." No one is satisfied now with "smaller" homes. My personal family home for my first 18 years was less than 1,500 square feet. What happened to family homes with one car garages, one bathroom, and three small bedrooms. I don't think any builder will build these anymore. They would just not sell. However, they would be more "affordable."

—Phil Henderson, Phil Henderson Homes

IN REPLY TO "FREEDOM IS NOTHING LEFT TO LOSE" (7/1)

Regarding the Downtown Exclusion Zone

This decision reeks of elitism, and I question its constitutionality. If someone commits a crime, whether downtown or in any other part of Bend, arrest them and give them due process. Someone in this thread said it earlier—Bend is becoming like one big homeowners association in an elite gated community. Heaven forbid there should be anything remotely distasteful, heaven forbid we should let "those people" move freely in our picture-perfect town. I don't like it at all.

—Viki Wooster

RIDING FOR THE "FREEDOM" TO OPPRESS OTHERS (7/7)

Regarding the Bend Freedom Ride

So, as a relative newcomer, let me see if I "get" this July 4 tradition: Freedom somehow means a bunch of white people get to exercise the privilege (not quite the same as freedom) of throwing empty beer cans and other trash all over Pioneer Park for some underpaid city worker (perhaps a person of color to boot?) to clean up? Well, that's great. Riding bikes in funny costumes on the 4th is clever, but leaving a mess behind for somebody else to deal with isn't. Rights and freedoms come with duties and obligations; we don't live alone, but in a community with others. Freedom doesn't mean being a jerk.

—Judy Ridner

IN REPLY TO "YOU CAN, BUT YOU SHOULDN'T" (9/30)

Regarding our Boot about flying the Confederate Flag.

So what is the author's opinion of the Mexican flag and Cinco De Mayo celebrations? Beyond the obvious prejudice the author towards the southern states the question has to be how does the author know what is in someone's heart. This article is just another cowardly hit piece by the Source. The author/authors did not even have the conviction to give their names. Typical liberal cowards.

—Anne Lee-Smith IN REPLY TO "RUNNING ON EMPTY?" (8/12)

Regarding Bend's Road Infrastructure

Mankind has been building roads since about 3,000 BC, and Bend has been building roads since 1905, but somehow our City Fathers missed the memo that roads also need to be maintained. I don't deny our roads need attention, but I can't believe that The City Council has had no plan in place for funding the repair that roads obviously require and has seemingly been caught so unprepared that their only solution is to raise taxes. If Bend is really that short of money, then they obviously can't afford to buy crumbling obsolete dams, and should focus more on taking care of the crumbling obsolete infrastructure they've already got.

—Dave Neil

IN REPLY TO "BUILDING BEND'S FUTURE" (8/5)

Regarding Bend's Affordable Housing

To me "affordable housing" means crime and trash. I moved here for the reason of nature and pretty land. Why are we not cleaning up the areas that look run down already? Why are we needing to clear more land? Makes no sense and now with a 4-year college, ugh, traffic and parties here we come!!!!! Even Prineville and La Pines housing is going up up up!!!!

—Heather Valentine

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