Bend is facing many issues as it grows as a city.
Sally offers her take, in her own words, on these issues.

 

LIVABILITY

Bend is one of the most special places on Earth.  I live here and work here by choice, as many people do, and I don’t take one a single mountain view, mountain trail or pristine river for granted.  

In every decision I make for our City, I strive to preserve its “soul.”

I’ll make sure your City Council continues to work on identifying solutions that take care of all our diverse residents and businesses.

Livability means different things to different people – noise levels, getting where we want easily and quickly, jobs that provide “living” wages, access to parking, seeing the stars at night, access to open spaces or the mountain, quiet nights...  Serving an entire community well means taking all of out diverse needs and values into account in our decisions.

Here’s an example of how I approach many problems. In July I spent two hours driving around town in a truck with a local garbage company. We talked about the many difficulties both the community residents and the garbage company experience. Then we looked at ways we could work together to address issues. Surprisingly, many solutions cost little or no money. I have already seen changes to their route and timing. Good, easy changes for all.  

I promise to continue to work hard as your City Councilor to keep Bend’s soul intact, both inside the City and for the region we live in.


AFFORDABLE HOUSING

I intend to keep working to ensure that the people who work in Bend can live in Bend.  

A huge proponent of using the “carrot” more than the “stick” to make it attractive for builders to construct housing at prices our local employees can afford, I have supported, and will continue to support Council measures that allow builders to partner in building this very needed inventory. Working with the Affordable Housing Committee, I have supported five different policies/ordinances passed by Council plus a $5 million package of low interest loans and funds from the affordable housing fund which can be leveraged up to seven times.  Now that’s using your dollars wisely.

Many appealing American cities see affordable, workforce housing as a very significant issue. We’re a place people want to live in, play in and retire in.  That drives up real estate prices.  In 2016, 2,000 multi family units have been constructed which will have an immediate effect on the availability and affordability of housing in Bend.  Just this September Council approved deferral of System Development Charges C’s for multi family units until completion, keeping costs down for future residents. At community encouragement, Bend Parks and Recreation also joined in with this deferral program.

This is an issue that still needs more work. Solid working communication and partnerships with Housing Works and affordable housing developers, as well as streamlining the planning process, will accelerate building these needed homes in our community.

Measures taken by Council last year that I support:
    • 50% SDC Credit for Affordable Housing, $500k annual cap
    • Density Bonus
    • Cottage Code
    • Restored Affordable Housing fee to pre-recession levels (.2 of 1%)
    • Accessory Dwelling Unit Code update
    • SDC Deferral for Multi-Family Units until Certificate of Occupancy
    • Added specific properties to Urban Growth Boundary with Affordable Housing covenants


GROWTH

Change and growth can be frustrating, but it also brings benefits as well. Smart decision making is about being sensitive to the core values, -- what brought us here to Bend in the first place.

Crowded streets in the summer,  parking problems,  slow traffic in the morning and afternoons can be frustrating. But new jobs, better education, more service businesses to serve you, better grocery and good choices also come with growth.

Working with residents throughout the community, I want to understand what bothers them the most and then go to work on making a difference in their every day lives.  It looks different for everyone.  Bend needs to work for its many diverse residents, and I work for everyone here.

Urban Growth Boundary.
I’m excited by what Bend’s most recent work on our Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) can mean for our community and natural areas going forward. Councilunanimously supported the current proposal to expand the UGB.  

Building and maintaining infrastructure for our community is very expensive, so the more we can revitalize older areas inside our City, the more cost effective it will be for all our residents and businesses in the future. I will work to continually identify and support efficiency measures inside the existing UGB.

Infrastructure – Sewer, Roads & Stormwater.
Bend is underway with huge sewer projects, the SE interceptor already being built and some are still in the planning stages. Part of this is to serve areas inside the UGB that have been waiting for sewer access. It’s astounding that 33% of our residents are in homes still on septic in SE Bend.

I have continually worked hard to stabilize the increase of sewer and water bills, and connect charges with use. By better understanding future water needs, and encouraging conservation of water use today, Bend can slow down its investment in future infrastructure for water supply. This is a huge “win” for the entire community.

When I was elected, Bend was experiencing 9-12% increases in utility bills.  Today, residents pay for the services provided and the rate increases fluctuate between 3-5% annually.  I insisted on the lower rates.

When I was elected I promised that all users would pay for their cost for using the City system. Today that has happened.  With the implementation of the industrial extra strength sewer charge passed by Council in June 2016, the final step towards reaching that water and sewer rate equity is now in place.


COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT
 

Sally Russell for Bend City Council

I believe strongly in broad outreach to the community for input on issues.  I think my job is to listen to all the people who live, work and play in this City.

Often, politicians are tempted to try to slap a code in place to try and fix a problem.  I believe it’s better to reach out to the community to get a clearer grasp on the underlying factors, and then address those.  That’s how to make our City a much more fair, workable and enjoyable place to live, work, go to school or retire.

During my tenure on Council, Bend has started Councilor hours, strengthened Neighborhood Associations, created short-term work committees, televised Council’s work sessions, and updates the website and outreach tools. The Parking Study, the Central Westside Plan Advisory Committee, the Affordable Housing Committee, Neighborhood Associations, and the Bend Urban Growth Boundary TAC’s have all been tools I’ve supported to tackle livability issues, and engage community members in shaping and developing plans for the future of Bend.
 
We’re all better served when we work together to find solutions. The greatest degree of success on issues will come from the broadest understanding and engagement from our community.


SUSTAINABILITY
& CONSERVATION

Climate Change Resolution.
As a mother of two daughters, I understand the importance of leaving the City in better shape than when I came here. This means a City that is healthy environmentally and also financially.  Without both, it is no place to live. Sustainability and affordability can -- and should -- be linked in all conversations. Using fewer resources saves dollars all around the table. 

As controversial the climate change conversation has been, I believe the Climate Change Resolution Council passed on September 7th can be highly beneficial to the entire community in both a financial and environmental way.

This resolution provides the structure to highly leverage very limited City resources, and to pull in and engage diverse partners and voices throughout our community
     • in creating the Climate action plan and also
     • sharing in funding the work plan.

Conservation and sustainability policies must include grounded economic considerations. I supported this resolution because it allows builders, residents, realtors, environmentalists, small businesses and others, to help craft a plan that acknowledges their goals, and leans on the value of education and understanding about sustainable policies that result in savings for all.

Water Policy Sustainability Work.
Working with businesses and local irrigators to reduce water use, both from the City’s system and also directly from the Deschutes River Basin, can have huge dividends.  Efficiency in delivery and use has huge benefits to City rate payers, and also to the Deschutes River in flows, especially when the river is unusually low.  

When the City’s new software is implemented, “time of day” and “volume” can be synched more accurately, and conservation incentives could be encouraged in new ways.


TRANSPORTATION
& ROADS

Transportation
Increased frequency for transit, targeted corridors for shuttles, smarter connections for employees of large employers who have larger population clusters in various areas of the city – these are all opportunities for our region and City to address in the near term. 

It’s critical that the City locate and protect ongoing funding so it can continue the UGB planning work, in which there is a huge transportation component. For every person who chooses to get to his or her destination other than using a car, there is more room on the road. When Bend completes its sidewalks, bike routes, and increases its transit frequency -- making it more efficient for those who want to use that system--, more capacity will be freed up on our road system.  

We should also continue to partner with Bend’s Parks & Recreation District and the School District in identifying multi-modal means for people to travel to school, recreation and leisure activities.

I’ll also continue to work for a generous, functional funding program from the State Legislature this season. Bend and Oregon sure need it!!

Road Maintenance and Repairs
As Council Member who is single handedly responsible for the Bend Summer Pothole program I recognize how to make positive changes for our community with just a little bit.

How did it happen?

A constituent and I went out to look at potholes. He said something had to be done.  I agreed.  Doing the pothole “bandaid” this Summer would improve visitors’ experiences in Bend, and save our residents thousands of dollars on alignments and wheel and tire replacements if the potholes were filled.  The temporary street maintenance team repaired 1,000 potholes for $65,000. It was a good investment for all.

Finding sustainable road maintenance funding is still a huge challenge for our City.  Limited income since 2006, and no dedicated street revenue stream, left our City with roads failing faster and faster. (Councils have not found a sustainable source of funding for roads since 2009). I’m disappointed the fuel tax failed, but now I insist we keep working on new ideas to catch up with our crumbling roads.  From my perspective, I refuse to accept NO Council movement on this critical issue.  I’ve sat through three Council Budgeting sessions that ignored information that by doing nothing our community loses $2 million/year in the value of our street infrastructure.

Instead, I support looking for dollars under every rock to fund our transportation infrastructure, for both the businesses who use roads for their vehicles, the children who need safe sidewalks and bikeways to get to schools, and everyone in between.

Neither the State nor the Feds have stepped forward. So, where does the City get the money?  The wait to dedicate on streets repair has increased the City’s cost from $16m in 2009 to $80m in 2016.  Neither the marijuana tax, the tourism tax nor taking from other City needs will entirely dig the City out of the street funding hole it has found itself in. We will all need to work together to identify a dependable long-term source of funding to maintain our roads.


Encouraging a healthy, sustainable business economy that complements basic Bend values and can withstand the national boom and bust economic cycles is critical to our City and region.  Bend and the region need to invest more in supporting and building jobs in sectors with growth potential that align with Bend’s “sense of place” and our core Values.
New and increased emphasis on high tech, recreational product development, food product development, and similar types of businesses, will bring Bend higher wage-paying jobs, stabilize economic volatility, and assist with our housing affordability issue.  That’s why I would like to see less reliance on our economic success from recreation tourism (I didn’t say “reduce”).

Within the City’s financial capacity, I am looking for new ways to support business growth and development without taking away for other needed services from other sectors within our community.

Let’s look at ways we can streamline and assist business interaction at the City level.  For instance, I believe that finding ways to keep our Community Development and Long Range Planning Departments staffed through economic downturns would hugely benefit businesses and our entire City; they would be in place and ready to operate efficiently at the front of every economic up-cycle!

The current boom and bust cycles inherently create a planning system that reacts rather than prepares for the economic cycles.  Laying off City planners and then not completing work during the downturns that prepares Bend for the upturns, ultimately becomes an obstacle for solid economic growth.

Finally, the addition of a Sustainability position through the Climate Action Resolution contributes to identifying the potential for greater efficiencies throughout the City, generating cost savings and reducing the City’s and community’s GHG emissions and carbon footprint.

All of this works in a productive way to keeping the Bend we enjoy today a livable place for our residents of tomorrow.

Business &
Economic Development


Bend’s revenue constraints will always force us to look for new ways to get things done.  The more closely we can link any decision to tangible, financial benefits, the more likely it will stand the test of time. With a frozen tax rate in place, there is a strict limitation on annual tax increases.

I am working on finding more ways to ensure visitors contribute to the infrastructure and core services we provide for them. So our residents aren’t the only ones carrying the financial load.  That’s why I personally believe it was right to put the fuel tax on the ballot.  It was the closest we could get to a “user” fee for roadways, including visitors and workers who live outside the City and use our road facilities.

We need to focus on more robust working partnerships -- public-public as well as pubic-private. City staff and some Councilors are already working on this.  This work should be continued – it’s key to finding efficient and effective solutions to so many needs in this very fiscally restrained environment in which we operate.

I will look carefully at City functions, finding ways the City can streamline and assist business interaction at the City level.  Within the City’s financial capacity, there are many ways to support business growth and development without taking away for other needed services.

fiscal responsibility