The City of Bend operates on a two-year budgeting cycle. Before the budget is drafted, city councilors establish their goals and then align the budget toward accomplishing those goals.
The Old Farm District Neighborhood Association was invited to submit our goals for consideration by Council. We will present our recommendation to City staff and Council on Monday, January 11th, ahead of our Special Neighborhood Meeting.
Here is OFDNA’s priority as submitted to the City on a form they provided:
Click the arrows to move through the slides
Organization’s Mission: From the OFDNA bylaws:
The purposes for which OFDNA is organized are:
- To enhance the livability of the neighborhood by establishing and maintaining a line of communication and liaison between OFDNA, the City of Bend, and other Neighborhood Associations.
- To provide an open process by which all members of OFDNA may involve themselves in the affairs of the Neighborhood.
- To perform all acts related to these purposes.
- To perform only acts that will assist to serve educational, social and charitable purposes.
A presentation summarizing these goals is available for the January 11th meeting here.
OFDNA’s priority for the upcoming biennium is to improve outreach and communications in coordination with the City to allow more representative and substantive participation from all our neighbors regardless of barriers. In order to establish community trust toward that goal of improved outreach and to address our mission of improving livability, we hope the City may deliver on code enforcement, showing that the rules apply equally and may not be skirted without consequence by those with privilege and access.
This goal may be achieved in three parts:
- Implementing a tree code that is enforceable based on the analysis and recommendations provided by Karon Johnson at protectbendtrees.com;
- Providing more robust and consistent communications assets to all neighborhoods so that the quality of outreach communications does not vary based on the skill and availability of a rotating cast of volunteers;
- By the City making a greater effort toward educating members of the community about the resources and opportunities available through their local neighborhood association; and in promoting diversity among participants; and in providing Neighborhood 101 learning products so that everyone can participate meaningfully and capably.
What is the biggest problem your organization believes the city faces?
The biggest problem facing neighborhood associations like OFDNA is that we cannot achieve our goal of enhancing “livability” without broader participation. When we talk about “livability,” we should ask: livability for who? If all our neighbors do not have a seat at the table, then we are failing.
As volunteer-driven organizations with sometimes frequent turnover, we cannot accomplish this mission alone. Better investment from the City in communications resources can help us overcome that gap in representation.
The Board of OFDNA feels strongly that the objectives outlined in our Goals section above can be realistically achieved within the biennium and go a long way toward establishing broader community trust and participation.
Who could be other partners to address this problem? If we solved this problem, what would the outcome look like? Paint a vision.
The Neighborhood Leadership Alliance (NLA) could execute this goal with assistance from City staff and external partners or consultants. Support from Council will be key in establishing trust.
One of the most common complaints heard by OFDNA is that developers do not follow the rules, so community participation in the land use planning process feels pointless. We can change that. Goal 1 above addresses a part of the Bend Code that has been determined to be unenforceable – the tree code. It was named as the most urgent priority by OFDNA members in our 2020 annual member survey. If City Council were to revise the tree code to something that is in fact enforceable, that could prove a step toward establishing trust among those members of our community who feel that their voice is not heard in the land use process.
Regarding technical solutions to the communications and outreach pieces, City staff and NLA members do not have the necessary technical expertise or cultural competencies to handle this alone. Consultants may prove helpful in ensuring a solution can indeed reach our community members and be successful. Goal 2 above aims to ensure all neighborhood associations can engage their communities meaningfully.
With trust, we still need to reduce barriers to participation. You shouldn’t need to be a land use attorney to be involved in shaping the future of your neighborhood. This is why we include educational tools in Goal 3 above. When members of the community better understand how they can participate and that the neighborhood associations are a tool available to them too, we might finally see greater participation from our neighbors who previously didn’t feel welcome in the process.
If you know of suggested plans or objectives to achieve this change, please describe.
The City should hire consultants capable of providing expert advice regarding appropriate technical tools and to provide support in crafting better outreach plans for NAs. This work should place an emphasis on diversity and inclusion goals.
The City should provide more accessible, plain-language content that may be shared by NAs to their constituents. Several newsletters like the Weekly Road and Traffic Report are already available, but issues like land use are woefully undercovered or else left in the jargon of the Planning Department. Again, you shouldn’t need to be a land use attorney to know what’s happening in your neighborhood. More frequent, accessible summaries of Council action and other City business would help NAs maintain an expected level of service.
Land use notice emails should be available by subscription directly from the City. Between the multiple new land use tracking systems, community members should be able to subscribe to a digest of land use notices by neighborhood directly from the City. A volunteer with the NA should be able to go on vacation without worrying that their membership might miss an important land use notice. The City should not leave something so important to volunteers.
Basic website and newsletter capabilities should be available to NAs from the City. Several NAs have had trouble maintaining a consistent level of service to their neighbors when skilled board members exit. This may help maintain a level of service to all our communities regardless of volunteer capacity.
Educational products should be developed to empower more members of the community to engage via their NA. Often, participation in NA business comes from many of the same faces or people already well-versed and confident discussing development or other City issues. The City can work with NAs to build confident access for all on an equal footing via their neighborhood groups.
City staff and Council can work with concerned community members like Karon Johnson to implement a tree code that shows our development code is not toothless, nor optional. Analysis and recommendations are available at protectbendtrees.com. Other code modernization efforts may be considered as well.
Describe practical steps to measure progress toward the goal.
Progress may be measured by increased participation in OFDNA (and all NA) meetings, increased subscriber and engagement rates, increased participation in – or at least an increased sense of understanding and trust of – land use decisions, and verifiable compliance with City Code from developers regarding tree preservation.
Please let us know if you plan to attend the virtual meeting on January 11 from 3-5 p.m. and present this information to the City Council.
Yes. OFDNA Chair James Dorofi will deliver remarks and present based on the presentation linked here.