IN REPLY TO "BEST HEALTH CLUB GYM: JUNIPER SWIM AND FITNESS CENTER" (8/13)
What were you thinking, or were you?
In the recent "Best of" publication, you referred to lifeguarding as "a job that is about as challenging as a Jimmy Buffet song." That statement is demeaning, ignorant, and quite truthfully, stupid. You also called the lifeguards "sullen" and quipped "that the rest of us are having a great time at Juniper. So should you." What? For pool users it may be a matter of fun and games, but for lifeguards it is a matter of life and death, as well as injury prevention. They are not there for their own amusement. They are there to enforce safety standards that will protect the public. Lifeguards watch over our vulnerable toddlers in the wading pools, our carefree teenagers pushing the limits on the diving boards, and aging lap swimmers like myself who never know when physical problems could arise at inopportune times.
To the Juniper lifeguards, I say this: I prefer to think of you as serious, not "sullen." Thank you for taking your job seriously. Thank you for watching over all of us. The responsibility you have been given is enormous, which tells me that, for the most part, you are among the best and brightest of your generation. See you at the pool and I promise to smile more often!
I was shocked to read the flippant comment on "Best Health Club/Gym," re: Juniper Swim and Fitness Center... "But, dear teenaged Juniper Lifeguards: Sitting outside all afternoon by the pool is what is known as a 'cush' job. Please stop looking so sullen. Seriously, if you cannot find joy in a job that is about as challenging as a Jimmy Buffet song, you have a long road ahead of you."
Whoever is "PB," terms come to mind...twit, jerk, ass, etc. These lifeguards are highly trained professionals, even if they may be young. There is nothing "cush" about their responsibility. They need to be highly focused on their task of saving lives. I challenge the Source to do a story on their training and what they actually DO while in the pool area. If you knew, you would give them a hands-down "Best Lifeguards in Central Oregon."
IN REPLY TO "HOTEL, MOTEL, NEIGHBORHOOD INN" (8/6)
The growth of cities is complex and like it or not, Bend has become a small city. The reactions and attitudes on display regarding this issue of vacation rentals, like many others, represent a nostalgic yearning for an idealized "village" Bend of the past (which probably never existed in the first place), fixed at a certain population level which was long ago eclipsed.
Certain parts of America are full. The areas that are not full experience growing pains while they transition from one identity to another; Bend is no exception. These growing pains are manifest in a variety of ways—the vacation rental issue, endless placeless sprawl on the east side, thoughtless, low-quality residential development at an unsustainable scale everywhere else, staggering economic inequality among residents, and the grim rental market are just a few.
To me, all of these issues are side effects of a collective unwillingness to think about the future. To borrow a metaphor from the medical field, we need to treat the cause—not the symptom; we need to understand why these vacation rental properties have become so profitable, and discover a way to increase the societal value of the areas NOT in the immediate westside downtown core. The answer is pretty simple: it's the only area people actually WANT to be in. It's walkable. It has character. It has an urban scale and sense of life, yet remains personal, friendly, and full of readily available free outdoor and recreational resources. All of these attributes are directly related to issues of growth, density, city planning, and long-term thinking; all of these can be translated elsewhere through smarter planning and design.
All these attributes are also notably missing from nearly everywhere else in the city. There's a vibrancy to the west side that can be directly related to the confluence of residents of multiple demographics, who live and work in the area, and can coexist with those who are unlike them. Now take a look at the typical new developments—the relentless sameness results in stultifying segregation, and the impossibility of anything out of the ordinary to occur. These issues—economic instability, social and class segregation, urban sprawl, and gentrification—are urban planning issues, and are not going to go away no matter how much we wish that we could turn back the clock.
My point in all this is that it is futile to scream about the loss of neighborhood personality, and then suggest that we further ghettoize and stagnate the population by zoning separate districts for those who don't match the description of ourselves—evil tourists, evil college students, evil poor, evil Californians, and so on. The smarter approach is to be sophisticated in our thinking about the changes that are happening, allow for increased density in the areas where people want to live and work (we can't just keep making cottages forever), and take a seriously hard look at all of the "other" places, where the vast majority of the population exists without the diversity of planning and public resources to actually enjoy life. Basically, it's about changing our perspective from the current reactionary and subtractive stance, to a proactive, additive outlook about helping this place grow up with grace.
—John L. Brockway
I am writing to show my support for a recent movement to re-evaluate the permitting process for vacation rentals in the City of Bend. I am aware that many close-in Bend neighborhoods are now at 20 percent vacation rental occupation and that the number is increasing at record speeds. I am totally against the city issuing any more permits until this issue is seriously evaluated, and I hope that after that evaluation that the City Council will put a law in place that creates a wait list for any more permits.
I have lived in Bend for eight years and in that time have made three quarters of my income off the tourism industry. I worked for Visit Bend for a year and a half. I studied tourism marketing at OSU-Cascades and I'm now employed as the Marketing Director at Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe. I am not against tourism and see it as a vital part of Bend's economy.
What I am against is turning Bend into Sunriver. That town was built primarily as a transient community, where one of the best qualities of Bend is the sense of a close-knit, permanent community of like-minded citizens who are lucky enough to call this place home, but who also have made a lot of financial sacrifices to live in a place where many can only afford to visit. We make less money because we live here. It is well documented by EDCO that the same jobs in Portland and California make a third or double an equitable job in Bend.
I have directly felt the effects of this transition from residential to vacation rental housing on Bend's west side. Prior to moving to where I now live, I was looking for a full year for a single bedroom apartment or a small house that I could afford. Apartments and homes were taken within hours of being posted. I have heard the rental market has never been this tight in Bend.
Currently I'm being evicted from my apartment because my landlord wants to make the last bit of summer vacation rental income that he can. The apartment I pay $750 a month to rent gets $200 a night when marketed as a vacation rental.
As one of my final projects when doing some post-baccalaureate work with Kreg Lindberg at OSU-Cascades, I studied unsustainable growth patterns that occurred in Aspen, Telluride and Moab when those cities got on the national radar as outdoor meccas. The situation got out of control and city governments didn't react fast enough and most "locals" that actually worked in the towns themselves where forced to move to neighboring towns. Some cities went so far as to build government subsidized housing within the city limits to cut down on commutes and traffic.
Out of control growth patterns in Bend have gotten both the city and the people who live here in a lot of trouble in the past. Let's collectively put on the breaks for vacation rental permits and follow in the footsteps of other cities around the state that recognize the value of residential neighborhoods.
I echo Amy Meadow's concern as a westside tenant who lives in fear of losing their place in the community. It's not even about wanting to be in a "desirable" location. In preparation for what very well may come (my place being sold out from under me to vacation developers), I look up available rentals often as an option if we are sent packing and they just plain are not out there. Part of this is no doubt due to quite a few residents having been displaced by their long-term rental locations being sold into short term rentals. The extra frustrating part is I am looking for a first-time home purchase which is becoming more out of reach every month as property values balloon to absurd amounts during this latest land-grab. This is city wide, not just in the "desirable" parts of town.
WAGES IN THE LOCAL ECONOMY
The Source Weekly's "big picture" of Bend's economy ["Putting Together the Pieces" 8/13] covered a lot. But you missed a major component—wages. As Barbara Ehrenreich, author of "Nickel and Dimed," asks, "What is the economy for if not to provide people a decent life?"
Jim Long, Bend's affordable housing manager, nailed it when he said we have "a hospitality-based economy, with its attendant low-wage structure." Wages in tourism and service dominate our local economy.
Leisure and hospitality, retail, food service, call centers, and customer service account for more than 9,000 local jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says average Deschutes County jobs pay 10 percent below the national level.
In May, local media reported that Ibex Global, a call center, will hire 450 more workers by the end of the summer. Starting pay is $10.50 an hour, going up to $12 an hour after workers complete training.
This mirrors Oregon Employment Department projections that Central Oregon will add 12,000 jobs by 2022, with 5,000 of them in leisure and hospitality, services, and retail trade. These low-wage jobs are a drag on our economy.
The same report projects the largest regional job growth in health care—which includes unionized nurses in the St. Charles medical system. Unions are largely responsible for good paying jobs in our hospitals, school districts, fire departments, law enforcement, state and county agencies, public transit, and building trades. They improve living standards and working conditions, help to raise the community wage, and are good for our local economy. Organize!
IN REPLY TO "GOT BIG FEELINGS ABOUT THE UGB?" (8/5)
According to yesterday's (8/16) Bulletin, nearly half of the proposed UGB remand committee's members are made up of representatives from the development, construction and real estate industries. It's pretty clear who calls the shots at City Hall. Any attempt to promote the perception that the UGB process is "public" is just window dressing.
Sorry "pissed off taxpayer," but I think you have it backward. Being a Bend native, I know that one of the things that attracted people to Bend was actually urban sprawl and the green space and small town feel that came with it. When you restrict the urban growth boundary you limit the supply of land to be developed and drive up the price of housing and your taxes. You may not realize this, but the promotion and tourism of this town also drives up the land prices and attracts people, driving down wages. So you could say the promotion of this town for any reason is killing our livability here. The only real winners of promotion and exploitation of this town are the land investors and the businesses surrounding them.
—Wade P Fagen
IN REPLY TO BEST OF CENTRAL OREGON 2014 COMPLETE WINNERS LIST
Let me set something straight here: Baldies and Pizza Mondo are not the best in Bend. They are not even good. The perennial presence of these mediocre-to-poor entities on this list makes me question the legitimacy of everything else. I am quite serious.
Letter of the Week
We also question the legitimacy of the moon landing, the 2000 presidential election and cat videos. But we certainly don't question the legitimacy of our readers' opinions - and we don't question the excellence of the coffee at Palate. How about combining those two by stopping by for a $5 gift certificate as the winner of the Letter of the Week!