A recent article in the "Portland Monthly" addressed the growth challenges for Portland. While Portland is a much larger city, many of the concerns there are similar to what we hear voiced in Bend—providing some interesting information to consider.
According to Wikipedia, Bend's land area is about 33 square miles. Portland's is about 133 square miles, or four times that of Bend. Roughly 60 percent of our state population resides in the Portland area. Portland has three times the land area of San Francisco and twice that of Seattle. Both cities have experienced a high rate of population growth, a shortage of affordable housing, and are struggling with meeting housing needs.
Since 2012, Portland has added 14,000 apartment units, and according to Metro, the population has grown by 20,000 more people than predicted over the last year. According to the article, 60 buildings in Portland over 100 feet tall are currently in the works, with 15 of them being more than 200 feet tall. Building higher and adding more apartment buildings are topics being discussed on a smaller scale for Bend—but they're also met with objections by many who don't want to see vertical growth in existing neighborhoods. The "Portland Monthly" article concedes that we cannot prevent growth and we cannot expect things to stay the same forever, so it's important to make the growth positive for all.
The article presents some good arguments for higher-density housing in terms of efficiency by building higher, building more apartments, providing zoning for tiny homes, and not demolishing small homes and replacing them with 3,000-square-foot homes. The developed areas already have the infrastructure of utilities and roads, which also makes it more efficient to develop higher-density housing in those areas, as opposed to expanding the urban growth boundaries, which requires infrastructure expense, providing incentives to developers, etc. The article addresses traffic and parking concerns by pointing out that parking garages can be made to be a requirement for taller and higher density structures. The article also points to the highly-desirable pedestrian friendly zones of downtown Portland, where many have given up their cars in favor of using the great public transport options available there.
I personally like the character of our small town, but the reality is that growth is inevitable and we are experiencing high population growth. We have to figure out a way to make it work for everyone, and sometimes learning about how other cities handle things can give us ideas on how to do it more efficiently, and therefore more affordably.
1319 NE Butler Market Rd., Bend, OR 97701
3 beds, 2 baths, 1,080 square feet, .2070 acre lot
Built in 1983
Listed by Fred Real Estate Group
21177 Ritz Pl., Bend, OR 97702
4 beds, 2.50 baths, 3,110 square feet, .13 acre lot
Built in 2005
Listed by John L. Scott Central Or Bend
2743 NW Nightfall Circle, Bend, OR 97703
3 beds, 3.5 baths, 5,625 square feet, .70 acre lot
Built in 1998
Listed by Keller Williams Realty Central Oregon