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Bend considers ‘micro-units’ and ‘smaller dwelling units’ to meet 2021 housing goals

(Update: Adding video, comments from senior planner)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The city of Bend is working on updating the development code to expand housing types in residential zones, in part due to new requirements enacted by the state Legislature to address a need for more affordable housing.

Among many proposed code changes, the city is looking to add "micro-unit developments," also known as single-room occupancy units, or SROs.

The micro-units include one room for living and sleeping and one bathroom. A typical unit size ranges from 150 to 400 square feet and does not include a full kitchen. 

Pauline Hardie, a senior planner with the city, said Monday the city is also adding "small dwelling unit" developments, which consist of lots as small as 1,500 square feet.

"The micro-units are allowed in all of the residential dwelling zones, as well as some mixed-use zones, and the small dwelling units are limited to the standard-density and medium-density residential districts," Hardie said.

Hardie said they function very similarly to an apartment, but with shared common spaces.

She said micro-units are geared toward renters and the small dwelling units are geared toward potential homeowners.

The micro-units and small dwelling unit developments are part of the council’s goal to permit 3,000 new housing units by next year.

“A lot of them are young professionals who don’t want roommates any more," Hardie said. "It’s also geared towards young adults who just finished college, who can’t afford to pay a lot of rent.”

The planning commission holds a work session on the proposals Monday night and plans a virtual public hearing about the changes on Monday, Aug. 24 at 5:30 p.m.

The Neighborhood Leadership Alliance is accepting community input on a survey open until this Thursday.

The proposals are expected to go before city councilors next month.

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Rhea Panela

Rhea Panela is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Rhea here.



    1. I agree. How about the city council just finally saying no more building for now. We cannot handle the big influx of people coming from other states and California? Oh, I forgot, the majority of people on the city council are Californians. Bend is not Portland, Eugene or Salem. It does not have the infrastructure to handle the major influx of people moving here from out of state on a daily basis. These prison cell projects that will be built are proof of that. Profit is the top priority over urban sprawl the city council is allowing. They are use to it though, because they moved away from it, only to bring their urban sprawl ideas with them.

      1. I’ve shared this info before, so… state land use laws don’t allow moratoriums on building without a major case being built on lack of adequate infrastructure – AND a plan to get that infrastructure in place as fast as possible, because the Oregon land use laws (upheld by voters several times in the past) require all cities and counties plan for 20 years of projected population growth. So between the courts and the Legislature, it’d be… a tough road. (Because in general, folks have the right to move to, live and build wherever they want, if they follow the rules… no checkpoints, no moats, no domes…)

        1. That case built on lack of adequate infrastructure should be an easy one, since Bend has had a lack of adequate infrastructure for a while now. If they require a place for 20 years of growth based on thepast 2-5 years model… BLM is going to have to give up some land. We are already building on top of each other around here. Anyone notice the traffic? Even our transportation infrastructure can’t handle it.
          Theses so called micro units with just a kitchenette is a good example of some developer reaching the limits.

          1. Just get up 10 minutes so ya don’t have to rush to work. Hellacious traffic is in soo many other places besides Bend. Problem here the number of semi-pro car/truck/motorcycle/bicycle racers in a hurry to roll through the next stop sign!

          2. You are new to Bend aren’t you? It’s so funny how every 5 years we have to teach all the newbies the land use laws once again! 22 years ago I had to learn as well!

            1. if that was directed to me. No, I’ve been here since 1998
              This town has never properly set up for growth. Especially the kind of growth we are seeing since the last 7 years or so.

  1. Hopefully planning will include on-site parking, trash enclosures etc.
    Right now ADU’s require upgrading the streets to include sidewalks and such.
    Will the micro-units follow these guidelines?

  2. Affordable housing needs to be affordable for all income groups. The limitations they put on affordable housing is ridiculous. You must meet poverty standards to qualify for affordable housing and yet are still being charged too much rent. These “micro-units” will be like the small houses. You see where that market went. 200K
    I would say the demand for these “cutesy” apartments will drive the cost up to around 1100.00 a month. West siders will love them.

    What we need are apartment and houses that different income brackets can afford without loading up roommates in a 3 bedroom unit.

    1. The trick is: Those projects have to either pencil out for developers or require major public subsidies, since the government can only do so much to affect the economic “laws” of supply and demand. (Yes, growth issues are one area I allow myself to do more than just respond to questions, etc. Not because I am ‘pro’ or ‘anti’ growth, just sharing background to be aware of, after decades covering such issues.)

      1. Wallowa has had virtually zero growth in ten years and are doing just fine, and the people are are a little better off than the rest of us, and definitely happier. No growth isn’t bad

  3. Well, Bend did go Democrat and Democrats are well known for their “housing projects”! Won’t be long before one area becomes known as “The Slums” in Bend (Deschutes River Woods?) and don’t forget the increasing numbers of homeless and those living off the system. Another 25 years and Bend will be known as “Little Portland”. Glad I moved when I did!

  4. Allow them in the gated communities and the destination resorts and then see how far it goes. This idea creates garbage neighborhoods with no place for parking and you won’t be able to drive down the street. First place they should be allowed in rich neighborhoods.

  5. Already happening. Some sort of small “micro” development with 5 small units off 27th street. Doesn’t look like they have a garage so all cars in the street.

    It’s a tough thing. Land laws as stated require growth, but go the other way and you get a park city or vale where the “common” people who work in all the Resturants and service jobs live 30+ miles away just to afford a place. The new Stevens Rd project will be stuffed with these micro, mini and whatever else will fit.

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