BPRD Communications & Community Relations Manager Julie Brown stated that BPRD, "Adjust(s) the SDC rates annually based on the construction cost index and Bend land values according to the county assessor." The Engineering News Record Construction Cost Index increased by 3.6 percent, while land prices jumped 12.92 percent, according to Lindsey Lombard, administrative services director for BPRD.
The City of Bend, meanwhile, is aiming to raise rates at a lower rate, between 3 and 3.6 percent, according to Russell Grayson, development services director for the City of Bend. "We raise rates annually to meet the engineering construction index, and they have historically been between 2 and 3 percent," said Grayson. Those SDC rate increases will theoretically not impact affordable housing projects, due to a city ordinance which waives 100 percent of water and sewer SDCs and 75 percent of transportation SDCs for qualified affordable housing projects. BPRD offers such waivers on a much more intermittent basis.
Speaking to the differences in protocol between BPRD and the City, the City's Affordable Housing Manager Jim Long says: "I am not sure if it is a disconnect, or more of a disregard concerning the lack of affordable housing. In the past, Bend Park and Recreation has not shown any interest in working with the City regarding affordable housing, and regretfully that appears to be the position of their new board."
Long notes the detrimental impact higher park fees may have on new builds, especially when affordable housing developers face potentially deep cuts at the state and federal levels. Asked if BPRD approached the city or the affordable housing committee to get their input on what would be an equitable annual increase, Long replied, "They have had no contact, no consultation, no questions to either me or the committee regarding their decision to raise SDCs."
Lombard from BPRD counters the affordability issue, noting: "The District sees this as an affordable-living issue and not just an affordable-housing issue...parks and recreation are part of quality of life. This benefit increases significantly as our community increases in residential density.
"As Bend grows, the level of service and opportunities the district provides for the growing community must keep pace. SDCs are the key mechanism to fund new parks and trails, so that new residents are allowed the same opportunities as we have provided long-time residents of the community."
Lombard also points out that the SDC fee increases are higher because "We must purchase land (most often at fair market value) to build new parks... the City of Bend does not have to compete with fair market rates and can often exact road right-of-way dedications and sewer and water easements as part of new developments, and therefore doesn't have the need to pay fair market value in order to acquire land in the same way as the district does for new parks."
City Councilor Bill Moseley observed the disconnect between parks and the city, noting the lack of a connected relationship moving forward on key issues facing Bend — most notably the housing affordably issue. "Bend's nationally recognized park system comes at a price," says Moseley. He referenced the slower growth in a Bend's family income when compared to the quick, rising fees from BPRD fees and taxes.
For comparison, the total general fund for BPRD for 2017 is slated to be $28.9 million, while the total general fund for the City of Bend is $55.9 million.
"Bendites are being squeezed by rising housing costs – fueled in part by BPRD's SDCs and taxes on apartments and houses," said Moseley. He praised the city for its affordable housing program as "a robust affordable housing program made possible by fee waivers from the school district and city. BPRD declined to participate. Those making the least are compelled to support ice skating rinks and whitewater parks. As Westside neighbors trot their dogs, working class residents pay more in park fees and wonder how they will get by till the next paycheck."
Meanwhile, Lombard says BPRD plans to possibly revise its SDC methodology after completing its comprehensive 10-year plan next summer.