BEND, Ore. - A Bend city councilor unveiled what could be a controversial proposal to raise money for roads, by charging builders more. Councilor Bill Moseley said something has to change, and that might need to start with developers themselves, and the city fees they pay.
Moseley said one way to provide more housing options is to boost transportation system development charges. Those charges, calledSDCs, are fees placed on new development. Because of Bend's recent urban growth boundary expansion, more land for housing is available, but Moseley said the city does not have the money to build or expand the roads in those areas.
He also said the cap on transportation fees is well below what's needed, at $5,000. He said it's far more realistic to charge $10,000 and put it to the roads where development is happening.
If that doesn't happen, Moseley worries major roads like Empire Boulevard, Murphy Road and Purcell Boulevard will become more congested.
"The housing crisis we face in Central Oregon is the No. 1 issue changing our community, and I am terribly concerned about the impact on everyday people -- not just the poorest of the poor, but all the way up in middle and upper-middle income people," Moseley said. "The choice we are really confronted with right now is either not build housing or coming up with the infrastructure we need to build it."
Moseley said the median price for a home in Bend has risen to about $400,000, but the median income for a family in Bend is just $57,000. That means houses are well outside many residents' ability to buy them.
"Tacking on additional fees to new houses can drive prices up," Moseley said. "But how high are those prices going to go if we don't build those roads and don't build those houses?"
However Mayor Pro Tem Sally Russell said she's worried about a big jump in fees without understanding their real impact.
"There are lots of different ways to pay for roads, and system development charges are only one of them, so I am thinking of the affordability issue and how it might affect it negatively," Russell said. "I think we have a lot of other tools in the toolbox, not just system development charges, and I am not sure this way is really healthy for our community."
Moseley said he wants to work with the development community about which roads they need to get more housing built.
Most councilors supported having staff draft some options for a transportation fee hike. They expect to bring the options back to the council for more discussion in the near future.