The Board is concerned about pending legislation that would change Bend’s UGB in the name of settling a favor for one legislator

Below is an analysis of HB 2282, which concerns 261.6 acres called the Stevens Road tract.  This land is presently owned by the Department of State Lands and is outside Bend’s newly created Urban Growth Boundary (UGB).  The tract borders the 382-acre Stevens Ranch property which was recently incorporated into Bend’s UGB.

The City of Bend did not ask for this legislation. This bill would prevent the Stevens Road tract from being used for affordable and middle-income housing and override the City in determining its land use.

For this, and the reasons stated below, the board of the Old Farm District Neighborhood Association strongly opposes HB 2282.

Background on HB 2282

Developers headed by Sisters realtor Shane Lundgren planned to build a resort on the Metolius River.  In 2009, the Legislature protected the Metolius, and the developers lost their opportunity to build there.  As compensation the Legislature gave them a “Transfer of Development Opportunity” (TDO) to build a “small-scale” resort on land in another county.  They had three years to exercise the TDO, but the deadline was extended multiple times because they were unable or unwilling to do so.

Now, Rep. Brian Clem (Salem) is proposing to pay the debt he thinks the State owes to Mr. Lundgren by converting the TDO to build a small-scale resort into a TDO to develop 261.6 acres east of Bend with houses, businesses, and other urban uses.  He has introduced HB 2282, which rescinds the legislation passed in 2009 granting Lundgren the TDO and then declares that the “owner” of that old TDO now gets a new TDO to develop the Stevens Road tract.  Mr. Lundgren and his associates will be able to sell the new TDO for whatever price they can get

I. The bill unlawfully removes land use decisions from the City of Bend

Oregon’s land use laws have been successful in containing urban sprawl and protecting our forests and farms.  This is accomplished, in part, by requiring that any urban development occur within the UGB of that city.  Any expansion of the city boundaries must be justified:  the proposed use of the land; that the land is needed; the impact of the land on costs, such as infrastructure and transportation; and its impact on other developments.

Bend just completed an expansion of the UGB by 2,380 acres.  This expansion was reviewed and approved through an exhaustive public process that included more than 60 volunteers on three technical advisory committees and more than 70 public meetings.

Oregon law requires the process to produce specific and detailed results, not just general wishes, for how a property is best used.   For example, Bend was required to plan the uses for the Stevens Ranch tract at the time of its incorporation into the UGB:  163 acres of residential, 60 acres of residential/public facilities, 46 acres of commercial and 93 acres of industrial.  This is what Bend determined it needs for future growth.

HB 2282 takes this important land use decision away from Bend.  Section 9 specifies the ways the Stevens Road tract is to be used, but in general terms.  Section 9 calls for “adequate housing,” “adequate” employment lands, “areas” for recreation and open space, “adequate” land for housing, etc., but fails to designate how many acres for each.

This determination should not be made by the Oregon Legislature, but by the City.  For example, the Stevens Ranch tract is deliberately dedicated to uses which generate employment:  industrial, commercial, retail.  The City may decide that, given the number of jobs which will be created in the Stevens Ranch tract, Bend’s best use of this adjoining 261.6 acres should be for affordable and middle-income housing.

Why should the Legislature determine how Bend may use this land?  What expertise does the Legislature have on how Bend will solve its housing problems?

II. HB 2282 removes public debate on an important land use decision

Extensive public participation is the cornerstone of the Oregon planning laws, which are structured to make planning a local matter, undertaken after full discussion and consideration by all a city’s residents.

HB 2282 limits the public’s knowledge of and participation in the land use decision concerning the Stevens Road tract.  The very fact that this bill is not proposed by the City of Bend necessarily excludes its residents.  If the City had decided to sponsor such a bill, that decision would have been public.  Notices would have been published in the City’s online sites and sent to the Neighborhood Leadership Alliance, every neighborhood association, and every newspaper and TV station.  And every commercial and building associations.  There would have been public hearings before the Planning Commission and the City Council.

But the City has not notified the public of this proposal nor has it invited the sort of robust public discussion we would expect from legislation involving 261.6 acres on Bend’s boundary.

Instead, the citizens who were fortunate enough to hear about HB 2282 had to find the time of the bill’s hearing and go online to learn what it was about.

In short, the present process violates the very nature of Oregon’s land use laws:  that decisions on land use be made by the people living there.

III. HB 2282 serves the interests of private parties, not Bend

This bill is not designed to benefit Bend.  Rather, it was introduced by a legislator from Salem to satisfy a debt that Clem believes the State owes Mr. Lundgren.  Rather than holding Mr. Lundgren to the original bargain–that he find some place to build his resort–Mr. Clem is proposing to exchange the resort-TDO with a TDO allowing him to build a fully urban community.

There is no logic behind this proposal.  What does urban development in Bend have to do with a resort on the Metolius?  And why this particular land?  Why is it good for Bend?

More to the point, what is the hurry?  Why does this need to be done now, some 12 years after the Lundgren consortium received its TDO?  It appears that the secrecy and hurry behind this legislation is formulated to avoid public knowledge or input.

Finally, this deal fails to pass the smell test.  A TDO to develop 261 acres of urban land is vastly more valuable than a TDO to build a small-scale resort.  Yet HB 2282 gives it to the Lundgren consortium to sell, presumably for vastly more money than he could otherwise expect.

Learn more

Read the text of the bill here (PDF).

Read the testimony provided by the Oregon Chapter of the Oregon Planning Association (PDF).

Find more information about this and the broader Stevens Ranch project at our page dedicated to it here:

Contact your representatives

If this bill concerns you, contact your representatives.

State Representative (HD-54) Jason Kropf
Phone: 503-986-1454

Bend City Council
Email all councilors at once:
Phone numbers and individual emails here.

County Commissioners
Email all commissioners at once:
Phone numbers and individual emails here.