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Letters 11/18-11/25

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Two vacation rentals located next door to my main residence, eventually, after three years, forced me to sell my home. Living next door to a short-term rental property is absolutely impossible. New guests weekly, new sounds weekly, new pets trespassing onto my property. Ban vacation rentals from residential neighborhoods. Period!

—Ribert Stiles

Owners of vacation rentals should live on the property, not rent them out through property management companies. The owners will then be responsible for, and be aware of, any problems with their guests. That was the main focus when vacation rentals began, and would alleviate much of the current hysteria with vacation rentals.


My preference is for a ban on vacation rentals in all residential neighborhoods. A compromise would be to ban them in areas zoned single-family housing and to allow owner-occupied vacation rentals in RM [medium-density residential] and RH [high-density residential] zones. Owner-occupied means that the owner lives on site full-time. Vacation rentals would be allowed in commercial zones too. I think this is a good compromise. Investors can have their VRs in commercial areas, homeowner-occupants can have theirs in RM and RH, and homeowners who bought in RS with the expectation that it's residential (and not commercial) can have some peace and quiet.

—A Good Compromise


Dear contractors in trucks and vans with ladder racks:

Please stop tailgating me and everybody else every morning on the parkway acting like where you're going is more important. Don't you tell your customers you'll be there between 9 and 5? What's the rush? The slick driving conditions lately make it extra dangerous and drivers like you cause accidents and usually end up walking away unscathed. Get over yourself and be more considerate; we're all trying to get where we're going safely.



I've heard several people conversing about their 45-minute commutes only a couple of miles across town yesterday. I too experienced these horrendous traffic conditions on my commute home. Perhaps this was an isolated incident, and surely it was a result of the road conditions. However, I think to myself, what is different than in years past? It certainly is not the roads. Yes, the roads have been challenging with all of the snow and ice this week, but nothing out of the ordinary for wintertime in Bend. The main difference that I see is the sheer magnitude of people in our town these days. Everyone keeps talking about how "crazy" it has been in Bend, particularly this past year. They are right! There are more people on the roads. More people at restaurants. More people at the trailheads. More incidents of theft and crime. And these people aren't just visiting anymore...they're staying here! Yet, no one seems to be talking about the decreased quality of life that we are all experiencing with all of this growth. Is it because everyone's businesses are tied to it? Ok. Mine is too. Let's at least start the discussion. When is enough enough regarding Bend's growth?

It seems that, in many ways, Bend has reached its carrying capacity. Despite these negative experiences and observations around town, people are still trying to shamelessly sell this town, particularly Visit Bend. Well, guess what people...if you haven't already heard, the WORD IS OUT ON BEND! Visit Bend, your work here is done! There are more people here than ever before. The recession is over, and businesses are thriving. Hats off to you, now it is time for you to move on or change your focus. That does not mean increasing shoulder season tourism, nor promoting businesses to move here, nor building more hotels. Perhaps Visit Bend should change their focus to figuring out how to solve all of these traffic problems that have been created. Give us a break already and stop selling this town. Our town has hit a snow bank, yet Visit Bend continues to have their foot on the accelerator. Could that be because their funding is tied to hotel taxes? Hmmmm. Think about it. The crowds won't stop here unless we at least start the discussion.

With the recent discussions on the Urban Growth Boundary of Bend, I find this discussion more important than ever. I am all for keeping our wildlands wild, and densifying urban population centers. Yet, the thought of a more densely populated Bend worries me. Our roads just aren't wide enough to accommodate all of these people. Are we willing to sacrifice our quality of life to continue growing our businesses?

In Visit Bend's most recent advertising video, which was beautifully done by the way, the closing statement is, "The best part of Bend are the people who live here and play here, and can't wait to share it with you." Barf. I think I just threw up in my mouth. It should've said something more like this, "...the select few people who live here and stand to gain economically from you coming here, can't wait to share it with you."

I think it is time to re-think our priorities Bend. And that starts with putting the brakes on selling this town; putting the brakes on Visit Bend. Let's let this town grow organically.



A few years back while working as field staff for Habitat for Humanity in the Western States, I met a volunteer and board member in Medford. She had recently shared her inheritance with the Rogue Valley Habitat. She felt that giving 10 percent of her inheritance to build with future Habitat homeowners was the least she could do. A staggering number of Baby Boomers were/are slated to receive inheritance. What if even one quarter of those fortunate retirees donated 10 percent or 5 percent to a local nonprofit that they knew were responsible and effective doers of their stated missions? I know of many people in our region who, upon hearing this idea, followed suit and substantially contributed from their inheritances. Driving by a Habitat house/family that benefitted bestows a contented feeling for years afterward. As would occur for a "drive by," other important causes whose tangible results might not be quite as visible!

—Annis Henson


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