Saturday, November 29, 2008

Abuse of Public Process by the City of Bend

The upcoming Bend Planning Commission meeting on Dec. 8th is a fine example of the abuse of public process by the City of Bend. The last item on the agenda of this meeting is one given little attention, one that is a gift to developers, and one with a preconceived outcome.

This item is a Code change that will give developers an unlimited number of extensions on their approved plans, even if there are changes in the applicable criteria.

The reason for providing additional extensions as needed is stated in the Transmittal Memo provided to the Planning Commission:
DISCUSSION: Because of the current economic crisis, many developers are unable to execute their approved planning permits, which requires the initiation of construction. These developers intend to build their projects and desire to keep their planning approvals active until the market allows them the financial ability to submit their building permits, pay their SDCs and commence construction. As the economic climate continues to stagnate, these developers are approaching the end of their one-year extensions. The proposed Code amendment will give the City Council the ability to recognize the economic environment of today as a reason to authorize one or more additional extensions.
So, in fewer words, developers are nearing two years since gaining their approvals, and still can't find financing with which to actually start building. They have already received a one-year extension on the original one-year approval period, and want more time. As much as they need.

Now this may be well and good for the developers, and perhaps even for the city if these developments, like Mercado, eventually gain financing and are built. The city stands to eventually gain income from permit fees and SDC fees when the developers finally find financing. If the underlying economic reasons for these developments continue to exist, of course.

But before we get to the question of the underlying economics to further development in Bend, lets look more closely at the legally required public process being followed to implement these code changes. From the already posted official Recommendation to the City Council
On the basis of this record, there is a public need or benefit for the requested text amendments to the City of Bend Development Code, the request is consistent with the applicable State land use law, and the request is consistent with the applicable Bend Area General Plan goals and policies.
So what exactly is this public record? After all, the first I have heard of this is in a comment on the BendBubble2 blog.

Looking at the recommendation again, it states before the conclusion that:
1. The applicant, City of Bend Planning Division, initiated the Development Code text amendment on November 5, 2008.

2. The application was submitted in accordance with Section 4.1.300 of the Bend Development Code. Timely and sufficient notice of the public hearing, pursuant to Section 4.1.315 of the Bend Development Code, has been provided.

3. On December 8, 2008, the City of Bend Planning Commission conducted a public hearing to accept testimony on the request. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Planning Commission voted to recommend that the Bend City Council approve the proposed text amendment. The Planning Division staff report and recommendation together with the testimony of the persons testifying at this hearing have been considered and are part of the record of this proceeding.
Re-read item 3, noting the date.

Yes, on the day this recommendation is going to be voted on and submitted to the City Council for a rubber stamp vote, a public hearing will be held and the city staff already knows what will be said in the public hearing. And they know how the Planning Commission voted.

Amazingly prescient. These city staff guys are good, no?

Or are they just trying to sneak something through without real public review, but only the appearance of a public process?

Let's look at the actual code change, to see what really is being proposed:
Proposed Bend Development Code Text Amendment
(New language is underlined; deleted language is struck-through)

4.1.1310(C) Extensions:

1. The Planning Community Development Director may grant one extension of up to one year for a land use development approval or a phase of a land use development approval, unless the applicable criteria have changed, if:

a. An applicant makes a written request for an extension of the development approval period; and

b. The request, along with the prescribed fee, is submitted to the city prior to the expiration of the approval period.

2. The Community Development Director may grant one or more additional extensions beyond one year if authorized by a City Council resolution which recognizes a city-wide need for an additional limited-duration extension. The additional extension may be granted if:

a. The applicant has exhausted all other extension opportunities; and

b. The applicant satisfies the submittal requirements of (1)(a) and (b) of this section.
So we see the power of granting unlimited extensions, even if "applicable criteria" change, devolve into the hands of a single person--Mel Oberst, Director of Community Development. To me, Mel is one of the good guys, but this is disturbing.

Is this good for Bend?

Should we have a more open public process before making such decisions that impact our city income and landscape?

If you think so, you should go to the City Council bio page, where you can click through to each members bio and email address, and tell them you ARE paying attention.

Also send emails to the following staff, asking them about the public process and how you can be involved:

This ongoing trait of minimal public involvement in city decisions must come to an end if we are to survive the current financial crisis. With good management, realistic management, we will work towards filling all the commercial and residential real estate that is empty now, rather than trying to build our way out of this mess.

Sanity must prevail in the long run.


Anonymous said...

It's not unusual to extend a building permit. Only someone who has never built or owned a home would find this strange.

What if most interesting is that BP who writes this blog is a renter, and doesn't know shit about the construction biz.

Many builders put forward real money, over $10,000 to secure a building permit, and after a year if it's not worked on at least once every 30 days they can lose the permit, and have to pay the money all over again.

Given that real-estate and building own this town, this is not a strange request.

I think the real reason for these laws is to kick the builder in the ass, as if we didn't have laws like this all the building would never get finished, and the town would be full of rebar sticking out of all the buildings like in Mexico.

bruce said...

Actually, this is to extend the time before the get the permit and pay the (now deferred) SDCs.

From the part of the Transmittal Memo I quoted in the post: "...keep their planning approvals active until the market allows them the financial ability to submit their building permits, pay their SDCs and commence construction."

Anonymous said...

I'll write about UGB, cuz I was involved with UGB as SB100 back in 1972 in Salem.

Unlike HBM who just moved here like the BP pussy, these KUNTS don't understand what the fuck is going on.

First of all UGB is a line in the sand around city's and it looks like a gerrymandered map, some lucky ducks are in others out.

When this first became law, those IN saw their land go UP, thoses OUT, saw their land collapse in value. Shortly thereafter insiders in GOV, bought the LOW priced, and then lobbied to have that land 'included'.

It's NOT about selling, its about the lever of power to DROP or INCREASE land value.

Everybody in Bend near the fringe of the UGB boundary, wants to be IN, so their land value is UP, so they can sell and get the hell out. Also if you can lobby to have someones property be removed then you can collapse their value, get their property CHEAP, and then re-lobby to have it back in.

Drawing the boundary is just a pencil, and a few LCDC ( land control ) administrators in each region get to make the choice. Since 1972 the people controlling the UGB pencil in ORYGUN have been the king-makers of wealth.

Now WHO created UGB? Why it was Tom McCall back in 1972 as luv-guv, who was a PUG, and who paid? Why it was Mike Hollern ( black butt ) who owns BEND, and it was OMARK's John Gray who owned Sunriver. Back in the day these two birds were the richest men in ORYGUN.

Jump, hop, skip to today, and guess who owns almost all the land north of Bend, and around Juniper-Ridge? If you guess HOLLERN then you get to stick your finger up BP's ass and smell it all week.

The above is ALL you need to know about UGB. Then just apply the same to every fucking city over 25k in the state, and the racket is all played the same.

What NEWBIES who come from say CALI who buy this FRINGE land don't understand is that their value can go 10X either way over night by the flick of someone on HOLLERN's payroll.

I love Bend.

Unlimited worthless desert land, just rock outcropping, turned into pure GOLD.

Anonymous said...

If you bother to read the Suterra Sales agreement posted here, you'll see that sections #30-37 are contingent upon a 1031 exchange??

Very timely.

Anonymous said...

If you bother to visit the 'CACB' google financial page, you can click Patricia Moss's SEC trading, you'll see that she gets $200k/yr in stock from MDU, the parent of Knife-River.

Patricia Moss sits on the Juniper-Ridge Board.

Patricia Moss is the Secretary of "Western Communications" the parent of the BEND BULLetin.

All the money for all time on Juniper-Ridge, taxpayer money, ten's of millions of dollars has gone to Knife-River ( MDU ).

How about it BP, how about a story???