The City of Bend held its State of the City in the form of a community gathering on Sept. 8 at Alpenglow Park. In addition to offering live music, food trucks, activities and information on various City departments, Mayor Melanie Kebler spoke to the community about City goals and priorities.
Kebler discussed the future of Bend and how its leaders will attempt to address and meet the challenges of growth. During the speech she focused on the city's triumphs and goals regarding affordable housing, keeping the community safe, improving city transportation and conserving water.
Bend is expected to see 40,000 new residents over the next 20 years, Kebler said. "It's vital that we plan for a sustainable future, one where everyone in Bend has the chance to thrive, with a place to live that they can afford, a job that pays the bills and a community where they feel welcome and safe," she told the crowd.
With Bend's median listing home price hitting $895,000, yet another record this summer, Kebler addressed concerns many residents have around the cost and availability of housing. "We need more housing, and we need housing that people can afford," she said.
The City, according to Kebler, has taken several steps to address these issues and will continue to do so, recalling the City's support for the creation of nearly 1,000 deed-restricted homes since 2021 and changing codes to allow for easier ADU building.
Kebler listed the issue of homelessness in the community as a top priority. With homelessness increasing every year in Bend for the past decade, Kebler showed her support for the city's current efforts to house people and help them out of homelessness, pointing to the acquisition of shelters offering services to those who need it.
Additionally, Kebler applauded the city's efforts to conserve water and expressed a need to maintain and enhance its conservation efforts.
"Though Bend uses only 2% of the water in the Deschutes Basin, we must continue to plan and conserve our water," said Kebler.
"If there's one thing I know about Bend, it's this — we are a community that has always adapted to meet the challenges of our times," Kebler said.