The Bend YIMBY group was founded because Bend needs more housing of all shapes and sizes. There needs to be enough room for everyone. Bend has a serious housing problem. Many people who work here cannot afford to live here, and the high price of housing is a primary driver of homelessness. The latest estimates suggest that Bend is short over 4000 homes compared to our current demand. You can see the effects of this shortage everywhere, from the lines of cars driving in from Redmond and beyond, to the help wanted signs in the windows of every business, to our neighbors wondering whether they’ll have a place to live in a month as their rent climbs.
This election cycle, Bend YIMBY sent out a questionnaire to every candidate running for local office to ask them their positions on housing. These responses can be found below. After reading these responses, Bend YIMBY has selected candidates for endorsement. Not all candidates responded to the survey, and only candidates that responded have been considered.
We have tried to approach this endorsement process, our first, with a focus on housing and land use, a non-partisan lens, and an eye for the details. It’s easy to say generic things about needing to “do something” about housing, but another to discuss what the position you are running for will enable you to do.
Melanie Kebler has shown real leadership on housing and we’re proud to endorse her. She has both the detailed policy knowledge and political skills to keep moving housing in Bend in the right direction – more of it, of all shapes and sizes. Melanie Kebler was pivotal in making Bend the first major city in Oregon to implement HB2001, a bill that re-legalized building middle housing like duplexes and triplexes in residential zones. She helped bring new land into the city in a way that serves Bend’s housing goals, adding thousands of new homes of varying types that will be built in “complete neighborhoods”. This means that people who live in these homes will need to travel less to get the goods and services they need. She has been a strong advocate for improving the permitting process, and continues to focus on reducing obstacles of all kinds that make housing more expensive and difficult to produce. We were especially impressed that she took the time to attend the YIMBYTown housing conference this past spring to learn about what other communities with severe housing shortages are doing to remedy the situation.
Council Position #4
Barb Campbell has done a lot of work with the affordable housing committee, and is the chair of the Bend Urban Renewal Advisory Board, the board in charge of overseeing the development of Bend’s Core area. As the only candidate or councilor with more than 2 years of experience, much institutional knowledge will be lost if she is not re-elected. In our survey, Barb provided concrete details about how she thinks we could improve and simplify Bend’s permitting process and speed up the development of the Core area. She is running for a two year spot, and we’re proud to support her.
It is worth mentioning that her opponent, Karon Johnson, has a track record of denying and delaying housing.
As a planning commissioner, Ms Johnson voted against apartments on the west side. Using her position on the board of a Neighborhood Association, she sought to delay and water down Bend’s implementation of HB2001 – going so far as to take out a full page ad in the paper. Her idea of using “inclusionary zoning” (forcing developers to build 20% of housing at below market rate) is one that has been tried in Portland and considered something of a failure.
Council Position #5
Ariel Mendez has taken important action on affordable housing as a member of the board of Bend Parks and Recreation. He is passionate about making it safe for everyone to get around Bend safely, whether they walk, bike or drive, and understands that land use and transportation are intertwined. We love the idea, in his response to our questionnaire, about reducing the number of zones in Bend so as to simplify the system and make it easier to build more housing as well as neighborhood amenities like corner stores.
Oliver Tatom has been an enthusiastic participant in our group and has some good ideas about what the county can do to help out with housing, like leasing land it owns long term for affordable housing and maximizing the amount of housing that gets built rather than maximizing revenue when land is sold. He deeply understands that we need more housing of all shapes and sizes.
About Bend YIMBY
Bend YIMBY is a chapter of YIMBY Action, a network of people who advocate for abundant, affordable housing and inclusive, sustainable communities across the United States. YIMBY Action is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization.