The current issue of Business Week has a fascinating story headlined, "Once booming, Bend, Oregon tumbles." It runs through the all-too-familiar litany of woes: home sales and prices tumbling, unemployment soaring, businesses closing.
That's not the fascinating part. The fascinating part is a quote buried down in the story. It's from former Bend mayor and present City Councilor Oran Teater.
Talking about the boom years, Teater says: "It was a frenzy for quite a while. We knew it wasn't going to sustain."
That last sentence bears repeating, with emphasis: "We knew it wasn't going to sustain."
How's that again, Oran? If "we" (by which we presume you mean yourself and other community leaders of Bend) knew the breakneck pace of growth would not - COULD not - continue forever, why did "we" act as if it would?
As described in a story in today's Bulletin, city staff determined in early 2007 that Bend needed to bring only about 3,100 more acres inside its Urban Growth Boundary to accommodate the next 20 years of demand. But the city council pushed and prodded to bring as much land as possible inside the UGB, which ended up swallowing more than 8,500 acres.
If "we" knew the boom wouldn't last, why did "we" do that? Why did "we" accept the premise - already obviously bogus by early 2007 - that the rate of population growth Bend had seen in the past two or three years would continue for another 20?
And why did "we" - in this case, the present city council - go ahead and pass an ordinance adopting the overblown UGB in January 2009, even though the boom is long over and the local economy is in near-collapse?
The answer, of course, is that the BRDs (Builders, Realtors and Developers) and the GOBs (Good Old Boys) wanted that land brought inside the UGB, and in this town, by damn, whatever the BRDs and the GOBs want they get.
And now the city (i.e., the taxpayers) must bear the expense of defending the ludicrously bloated UGB in court. And the city (yes, that means us again) also will have to foot the bill for the roads and sewers and other stuff needed to serve those 8,500 acres.
"It boggles my mind how we're going to get out of this," Erik Kancler, executive director of Central Oregon LandWatch, told The Bulletin.
Maybe the only way to get out of it is to follow the example of other Bendites, load up the U-Haul and get the hell out of Dodge.