Infrastructure was completely ignored when the last addition was made to the UGB in the 1990s. The results of that lack of planning on the east side of Bend are clear to all.
This time all the land contiguous to Bend has already been purchased by developers. Prices about five years ago started at $200,000 per acre in anticipation of being included soon in the next UGB expansion. This speculation meant that the Bend-La Pine School District could not afford to buy land for future needs. Adding land before infrastructure is planned will only increase the traffic problems on the Westside, which works well now due to its old grid pattern streets and the roundabouts paid for by developers concurrently with development.
The poor traffic conditions exist on the eastside because of little planning or purchase of right of way by the city during the last UGB expansion. As a result, 10 years later, southeast Bend is still not served by the city water system, nor has it sufficient connecting streets and arterials; there isn't even enough water pressure to fight fires.
Is this what we want the new UGB expansion to look like? What's the rush in this market downturn? The city should plan first and attend to the prior obligations that resulted from the last UGB expansion.
Bend can't afford anymore large or small, unconnected subdivisions. Spot planning development by development with no regard for an overall plan of how Bend will look or operate in the future (band aid planning) has resulted in the infrastructure mess we are in today. A master plan done by the Long Range Planning Dept. (a department which is treated as only an appendage to local planning, funded only when needed and overdue to be on the regular city payroll) is needed now. Redmond is already using a master plan, why not Bend? Wilsonville with its concurrency policy has sustained livability while it grew for more than 20 years now. Ashland has also planned far ahead. The quality of life has been their standard.
Master planning would be a huge cost savings for both the city and the developers. It would give the city control over how the infrastructure should work instead of the piecemeal approach by the developers. There would be one traffic plan and one traffic study done by the city as well as studies for water use, storm water drainage and schools. (No more unsafe modulars!) They would be completed before development is allowed.
Meanwhile, we live with 5,000 unsold vacant homes, one of the most overvalued, real-estate markets in the country, a council deferring systems development changes to jump start even more building and a UGB expansion for thousands more homes. What can this council be thinking? It certainly isn't the big picture or the inability of future citizens in our ever-growing city.
Barbara McAusland, Bend