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Sunriver seeks to ease employee housing crunch

Wants county code change for employee housing in Business Park

(Update: Adding info on hearing, continued until Dec. 12)

SUNRIVER, Ore. (KTVZ) -- About 1,000 resort employees work in Sunriver during the summer, according to officials. A major problem the community continues to face is finding a place for all those employees to live.

Sunriver Resort is working on a possible solution.

The resort currently owns a 3.25-acre parcel of undeveloped land in the Sunriver Business Park District, across South Century Drive from the resort community. Officials are looking at building employee housing in that area for 200 of the resort's employees.

Employee housing is considered an apartment or dormitory structure to serve the needs of a workforce.

Tom O’Shea, Sunriver Resort’s managing director, said Thursday employees would not need to fit within a certain wage bracket to qualify. Instead, it would be based around the employee’s need for housing, which O’Shea said is prevalent in the community.

"We hire a lot of students, also overseas students, as well, and the first (thing) you will be asked is, 'Do you have housing?'” O’Shea said. “We have a real shortage of housing right now. If we can do this, then we can take some of the stress out of the system."

Tanya Saltzman, an associate planner for Deschutes County, said a lack of employee housing is a problem Sunriver faces more than other places in Oregon.

"Having all these destination resorts is a unique situation,” Saltzman said. “A lot of counties in Oregon don't have the number of destination resorts, as well as the housing pressure. So, I think it's a little bit unique."

Current Deschutes County regulations don't allow for employee housing in the Sunriver Business Park District. Saltzman believes that’s because the issue is rather new and has not been addressed until now.

"I think it just wasn't considered,” Saltzman said. “It wasn't really addressed earlier. The housing wasn't in as much of a crunch as it is now, so I think those pressures have just been growing and growing. As the region grows, it's just harder and harder for everybody to find homes."

Saltzman proposed text amendments to the county Planning Commission Thursday evening so employee housing can become a permitted use in the district.

The next step would be a public hearing in front of county commissioners to discuss the change. Saltzman said she expects commissioners could give their stamp of approval by the end of the year.

Once that happens, Sunriver Resort can then submit its specific housing development proposal.

Saltzman said the planning commission continued the public hearing until Dec. 12, as questions arose over a few issues, primarily parking and employee eligibility.

Central Oregon / Deschutes County / Government / Money / Top Stories

Max Goldwasser

Max Goldwasser is a reporter and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Max here.

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