White paper on Bend’s noise ordinance

BNC’s policy research work group completed its first white paper, which is on the city’s noise ordinance. We have met with the city manager to discuss these issues and will plan to follow-up with staff and city councilors to determine next steps.

Major Findings:

  1. Bend’s Noise Ordinance sets limits on noise that are substantially higher than those in Salem, Corvallis, and Portland Oregon, as well as Austin, Texas and Charlottesville, Virginia, two cities with universities and vibrant music scenes.
  2. Bend routinely issues permits that allow event organizers and establishments to exceed the noise limits, not only for special events like October Fest or Munch & Music, but for outdoor patios of restaurants or bars that abut residential neighborhoods – greatly impacting residents. Other cities are more selective.
  3. Certain Bend zoning issues increase the likelihood of generating conflict over noise.

Major Recommendations:

  1. That the City Council create a committee to review the Noise Ordinance, including noise limits, and bring those limits in line with other cities.
  2. That this committee also review the newly issued criteria used to approve or deny permits to exceed noise limits. Approving these permits should be the exception, not the rule.
  3. Bend needs to draft an enforcement protocol so that the city, police, and residents know how to proceed to initiate, respond to, and follow up on complaints.
  4. Bend should use zoning to encourage entertainment venues, especially outdoor venues that use amplified music, to locate where they are less likely to negatively impact residential neighborhoods.

To read or download the white paper, click here.

BNC calls for policies that minimize conflicts

On Thursday, April 21, 2016, the UGB Steering Committee discussed proposed changes to the City’s Comprehensive Plan coming out of the UGB process.

BNC submitted comments to the public record asking that policies in the housing chapter include the idea of minimizing conflicts from “offsite impacts and nuisances” (including noise, vibration, odor, and parking and traffic problems) spilling over from non-residential zones into residential areas. This often means establishing a buffer area adjacent to a residential neighborhood where the permitted uses are limited and other code restrictions apply.

More urbanized cities, like Portland, have policies to avoid conflicts that would otherwise require expensive city resources, including police and code enforcement staff, to manage on an ongoing basis. As Bend grows, it also needs a policy infrastructure that allows businesses to prosper AND residents to peaceably enjoy their homes without intrusions and disruptions from adjacent higher-intensity zones.

The Bend Neighborhood Coalition requested that staff be directed to add language to the housing policies that would allow for the creation of neighborhood compatibility zones and other methods to minimize conflicts.

Having these policies available will allow Bend to successfully manage increased density and large developments, like the new four-year university campus, without the constant expense of enforcement and the negative effect on our quality of life that results when conflicts are allowed to be built-in to the fabric of the community.

To read or download the letter to the UGB Steering Committee, click here.


Neighborhood compatibility zones

City staff presented the Central Westside Plan (CWP) to the Planning Commission on April 11th. The plan calls for “neighborhood compatibility zones” along Commerce and Simpson, areas where residential and mixed use zones border one another.

At the Planning Commission work session on the CWP, Bill Bernardy endorsed the concept, but pointed out that the dotted lines on the map are suggestions for what is only a concept — no such thing currently exists in the Bend code.

He asked that the PC recommend creating neighborhood compatibility zones to the City Council and request that staff follow through on developing and implementing the concept.

Continue reading “Neighborhood compatibility zones”

Citizens’ lobby wants to keep Bend livable

A new citizens’ group has been formed by dozens of Bend residents dedicated to “keeping Bend livable for those who live here.”

Organized by experienced community volunteers, the Bend Neighborhood Coalition, Inc. wants to be the leading voice influencing public policies that protect the quality of life in Bend’s residential neighborhoods. Members will also advise one another on how best to address local concerns and foster an ongoing civic dialog on neighborhood livability.

The group held its kickoff meeting on January 27, 2016 at the Deschutes Public Library; the event was attended by 64 Bend residents.