Bend Set to Pursue Fast-Tracked UGB Addition | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Bend Set to Pursue Fast-Tracked UGB Addition

The one-time UGB expansion comes out of Senate Bill 1537 and could accelerate housing

On June 20, the Bend City Council decided to pursue a one-time urban growth boundary expansion, giving staff direction to move forward and solicit applications for the expansion. The expansion, which came out of Senate Bill 1537 as a possible means of expansion for cities that meet the qualifications, would help speed up growth.

The Oregon Senate passed the Emergency Housing Stability and Production Package, a top priority for Gov. Tina Kotek, which aims to create more affordable housing by supporting housing production and making it easier for Oregon cities to create infrastructure.

SB 1537 assists local governments with housing production and grants, giving cities the ability to undergo a one-time UGB amendment. The bill states that the expansion could be up to 100 net residential acres. The actual size of the expansion could be slightly bigger than that to account for road networks, open space and parks, according to Lynne McConnell, the City of Bend's housing director.

According to BreAnne Gale, a senior planner with the City's Growth Management Division, interest in this expansion is primarily driven by the need for affordable housing, to catch up on the City's underproduction. A traditional UGB expansion, according to Gale, can take several years to develop, plan and put into action. The addition outlined in the bill would streamline the process.

In order for the City of Bend to qualify for this one-time accelerated expansion, it needs to prove housing need based on rent burden. Today Bend qualifies, said Gale, but it may not in the future.

"Bend has seen some displacement in some of our lower-income community members because they were facing such severe rent burden," McConnell said at the council meeting. "What has actually happened in Bend very recently is that our rent burden percentage has actually decreased because of that displacement."

If this trend continues, the City may not meet the rent-burden requirements outlined in SB 1537. The City will obtain housing data from HUD later this summer, which will give staff members a better idea about whether the City will continue to qualify.

Because of this unknown data, City staff members recommended starting the process fairly quickly.

click to enlarge Bend Set to Pursue Fast-Tracked UGB Addition
City of Bend
A map showing eligible properties for the UGB expansion.

In the early stages of this UGB expansion, property owners and developers who are interested and meet the many specific requirements of the bill are able to apply to be one of the potential participants for an expansion.

Interested applicants put together a draft concept plan, showing how they met the requirements of the bill. For an applicant to meet the requirements, their site plan must meet affordability requirements that the bill outlines – 30% of units at 80% of the area median income for rent or 130% of the annual median income for sale. The bill also requires the site to have a mix of both residential and commercial development.

McConnell noted that the expansion is likely to develop in the mid-density ranges – small-scale apartments, middle housing and single-family housing. Also required in the bill are opportunities for public input.

The development must be in a single site, meaning that there could not be multiple additions in different places around the UGB equaling up to 100 acres. Gale, however, noted that multiple property owners could technically come together to develop a single area, but they'd need to be contiguous.

Other location requirements state that the site must be on non-resource land – not zoned for farm or forest.

The City embarked on its last UGB expansion in 2016. Even with the one-time addition coming from SB 1537, the City anticipates needing to expand further in the coming years. According to a housing capacity analysis taken to the City Council July 2023, the City will need to do another addition, Gale told the Source Weekly. Preliminary work indicated that the City will begin starting that process early next year, which will be a multi-year process.

Julianna LaFollette

Julianna earned her Masters in Journalism at NYU in 2024. She loves writing local stories about interesting people and events. When she’s not reporting, you can find her cooking, participating in outdoor activities or attempting to keep up with her 90 pound dog, Finn.
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