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Bend Mayor Kebler displays pride flag at City Hall after rash of downtown coffee shop thefts; councilors voice support

(Update: Adding pride flag video; Tracee Tuesday talks with Melanie Perkins on Affordable Housing Fund)

'This is a part of our community that is unfortunately still under attack.'

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – A rash of seven recent pride flag thefts from outside a downtown Bend coffee shop led to a recent visit from Mayor Melanie Kebler and her City Hall pride flag display and remarks at Wednesday night's city council meeting, as well as a show of support from fellow councilors.

Kebler noted that Turtle Island Coffee on Oregon Avenue had security video of some of the thefts. The mayor said the crime “says something about how far we still have to in our community.”

Kebler said the coffee shop staff told her they “would like to see solidarity from other businesses and the community.” And she said Bend has several queer-owned businesses that are “not just part of our community, but part of our economy.”

The mayor said she “wanted to make that statement of solidarity” and also to make people aware that the Winter PrideFest is coming up March 7-10. She mentioned a website, that has maps of gay-owned businesses.

“This is a part of our community that is unfortunately still under attack,” she said.

Councilor Ariel Mendez said while some people believe this is about gays wanting special rights, it is “not about inequality. To me this flag represents equality. It represents human rights. It represents opportunity, an a recognition that some people don’t have all those opportunities.

During his meeting wrap-up, City Manager Eric King announced that Bend has been chosen to host a major conference on its volcanic setting, the 13th International Cities on Volcanoes Conference, in July of 2026.

“That’s why it’s necessary to fly a flag like this,” he said, “to show a support for opportunity,” whatever one’s gender and sexual identity.

Councilor Barb Campbell told the audience, “I had a pride flag stolen from my home, by someone who trespassed onto my property.”

Campbell pointed to the Bend Police Department’s online crime reporting system, and said people should report them, “no matter how small,” as the information can be valuable to police.

She urged residents not to think, “’Oh, it’s just my Pride Flag – no! Make that report. You never know, it might help them with the data to figure out who is doing this.”

Councilor Megan Perkins said the fact that this is happening repeatedly, “right downtown show we still have a lot to do.”

Councilor Mike Riley said he has people in his organization (The Environmental Center) and in his family who are queer.

“People are asking to be seen, and to be heard, and to be accepted,” Riley said, adding that he is “proud to have that flag in front of us, sharing our support.”

The council Wednesday evening also approved the 2024 Affordable Housing Fund recommendations from the council-appointed Affordable Housing Advisory Committee for three communities, totaling $1.3 million, to support the creation of 98 affordable housing units. 

The projects selected to receive funding this year are:

  • Housing Works; for the development of 59 units of affordable multifamily housing in northwest Bend.
  • Thistle and Nest; downpayment assistance (or other mortgage buy-down assistance) to support 30 families in purchasing townhomes in southeast Bend.
  • Bend Redmond Habitat for Humanity; for downpayment assistance (or other mortgage buy-down assistance) to support nine families in purchasing townhomes in southeast Bend.

Here's more about the program from the city, in a news release:

The Affordable Housing Fund program started in 2006 as a solution to develop a wide variety of housing throughout Bend. Since its beginning, the Fund has contributed to obtaining or creating over 1,000 affordable housing units. Thanks in part to this fund, 10% of all housing created in Bend last year were affordable.

The Fund collects one-third of one percent of building permit fees submitted to the City of Bend and uses the proceeds to acquire land for deed-restricted affordable housing, develop land, build homes or rehabilitate homes. This Fund seeks to catalyze affordable housing development in Bend, and this year is supporting $31,863,445 in leverage funding from other sources that will directly benefit our economy. Each of the awarded communities have procedures in place to assure that units will remain available only to low-to-moderate income persons in perpetuity.

On May 1, the City Council will decide on recipients for the Community Development Block Grant program funding. The CDBG is a federal funding program that provides assistance for housing and community development activities that benefit low- and moderate-income persons. The City expects approximately $415,000 will be available to distribute to organizations operating in Bend that support community members.

Both the Affordable Housing Fund and Community Development Block Grant programs are guided by the City of Bend Consolidated Plan, a comprehensive housing and community development strategy that was prepared with extensive public involvement. Learn more about the City’s Affordable Housing Program online at


Also during his meeting wrap-up, City Manager Eric King announced that Bend has been chosen to host a major conference on its volcanic setting, the 13th international Cities on Volcanoes Conference, in July of 2026.

Article Topic Follows: Government-politics

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