05/03/23 City Council Meeting Notes and Quick Voting Guide
How I am voting in the May 2023 Special Election
Before the City Council meeting, let's fill out our ballot real fast. As usual, I'll be using the voter's pamphlet, Laura Camacho's Voting Guide (give her money), and my somewhat extensive personal knowledge and opinions on local politics to inform my choices. If you don't live across the street from my house, you might have different things on your ballot. Good luck with that.
Central Oregon Community College Zone 6 Director: Jim Porter
Jim is the clear choice for this role. When people found out that daddy Sipe was running for another local election, there was a scramble to find a strong candidate to run for this role. Jim was the candidate who stepped up to the plate. Jim used to be our Chief of Police, but now spends his time volunteering and running homeless shelters. He's a truly good person who puts in the work to better our community. Thankfully, Sipe moved to Powell Butte and dropped out of this race, so the stakes of this vote have lowered considerably. Who the fuck runs for a local election while moving? Whatever. The worst person for the job dropping out doesn't make Jim less qualified. Give him your support!
Administrative School District, Director, Zone 3: Cameron Fischer
Picking the blue one instead of the red one here. Cameron has a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and seems well qualified for this role. Her opponent, along with just about every republican running for the school board, is super suspiciously silent about their policy positions, and I am not into that.
Administrative School District, Director, Zone 5: Amy Tatom
Not a hard choice. I love Amy. Amy is both a parent and a healthcare worker, and these qualities helped make her a great leader for our schools during the pandemic. She cares about our schools, our community, and our children. Amy should keep her seat.
Administrative School District, Director, Zone 6: Melissa Barnes Dholakia
Melissa is also an incumbent that has been doing a great job. #reelect_the_school_board_people_that_guided_us_through_the_pandemic_for_god_sake
Administrative School District, Director, Zone 7: Kina Chadwick
Another incumbent doing good work. Their opponent Elizabeth Justema is getting weirdly large amounts of money from GOP sources for reasons.
Bend Metro Park & Recreation District, Positions 1 & 2: Leave Blank
Did you know that our School Board and BPRD have the power to decide if the City is allowed to give tax incentives to high-density affordable housing projects? I didn't, until Dona Owens and Jodie Bram voted against approving the first project trying to utilize Bend's MUPTE program on Penn Avenue.
I thought I could not care about school and BPRD elections cuz Bend has a ton of people who care about our parks and children, but it turns out deciding if the City can give tax incentives to housing developments is determined by the number of housing advocates on these boards.
Both of these individuals are running unopposed, so I can't endorse an opponent. In the absence of the option to vote them out of their position, I recommend leaving this section blank as an ultimately useless, but satisfying protest.
Alternatively, feel free to write in "Tailor Glad" for giggles.
Deschutes Public Library Director, Zone 5: Ann Malkin
Not much to say, Ann has been on the board for many years and does a good job. She is running unopposed.
Fire Levy: Strong Yes
This is the most important measure on this ballot. Don't forget about it just because it is on the back. I've covered this issue a lot in past Meeting Notes. Augie did a good job compiling a list of all those meetings if you want to really do some research, but here is a picture that clearly shows the need for this levy.
We are only able to pay for our current level of service because the City used one-time American Rescue Plan Act money as emergency bridge funding to hold our emergency services over until we could pass a renewal of the levy. If this levy fails, we will have 1 year to try and pass another one before shit starts to really hit the fan. If we fail to pass a levy, we will not be able to staff Fire and Emergency services to the standard that has historically been the norm in Bend.
This means that it will take more time to get patients to the hospital, which means that more people in and around Bend who have a medical emergency will die, which means your insurance premiums will go up.
Please don't care about your property taxes more than keeping people alive and keeping the City from burning to the ground, thanks.
Wasn't filling out your ballot fun? I had fun. It is now time to have more fun. Onwards to our regularly scheduled programming!
Budget Committee Meeting
I am about as excited to cover this Budget meeting as I am to vote for Biden again in the 2024 General Election. Still going to do it though.
Council and Staff are in the process of drafting Goals and a budget the City will try and follow over the next two years. It seems very important. I definitely understand the process, why it is the way that it is, and what this 30-minute meeting will be about.
The Finance Director is here to try and educate me. The Budget Committee is currently 7 Councilors and 6 other members. All the members of the Budget Committee have big budget binders. This meeting is presenting the budget. After this, there will be several Budget Deliberation meetings. Part of today's meeting is a public hearing about how to use shared revenue coming from the State.
Manager King says that the budget reflects the city's goals and reflects revenue pressures. There is an imbalance of money coming in, versus money coming out of most funds. This is because of inflation and a slowdown of new development due to increasing interest rates. The new budget reflects changes to fees and rate increases to make up for some of these inadequacies.
There has been misinformation about the fire levy. If the city passes the levy, the money coming out of the general fund for fire and emergency services will not change. I wonder if I can find this budget on the City's website. Oh hey, I found it! Here is the letter that Manager King is reading verbatim. Here is the proposed Budget. It is 669 pages long and I will not be reading it. The Council Goals framework is tied to this budget.
A growing community like Bend will always bring a certain number of challenges, with funding being among them. These challenges also tell the story of a community asking its leaders to not only preserve what makes Bend great, but to ensure it is better for generations to come. This proposed budget reflects Council’s goals and strategies for the 2023-2025 biennium, and makes great strides to serve everyone equitably, create a more connected community and preserve Bend’s character as we grow
The finance director is now showing everyone where to find these documents, which makes me feel a little less cool for finding them on my own. After an overview of the table of contents, the committee also wants to remind all of us who may be watching that the property tax laws Oregon passed in the 90s froze our tax rate to 1980s levels, and this continues to fuck us. (my words). The theme of this budget seems to be "maintaining current service levels". Councilor Riley wants to talk about trying to expand our reserves. It is good practice to have a longer runway than we have.
State Shared Revenue
The state shared revenue Bend will receive over the next 12 months totals 3.7 Million dollars into the General Fund, and 8.2 Million for Streets and Operations.
Public Comment on how to use this money: No Comments
The Budget Committee voted yes on whatever it is they are voting about. The Budget Meeting is adjourned and the 6 non-council members of the committee have left the dais.
On to the work session
Solid Waste Franchise Reporting
Bend has two franchises the City contracts with to dispose of trash, recycling, and yard debris. They are Republic Services, and Cascade Disposal, and they are here to give an overview of some of the challenges they are looking at. Their presentation is apparently "nifty difty". This is their first joint presentation.
"We love talking trash" Republic services the North part of the City, Cascade Disposal services the south. The companies cannot operate with more than a 12% profit margin.
Councilor Perkins and Mayor Kebler went on ride-alongs last week. The Knott Landfill is scheduled to close in 2029, we're in the process of trying to site a new landfill.
The services are going to come to the city soon asking for a rate increase. Over the last few years, these service providers have seen a large increase in costs. This is from an increase in labor costs because of the cost of living, and increases in the cost of fuel. Labor costs increased $200,000 in 2022. Fuel prices doubled from 2021 to 2022, this softened in 2023. It costs the service providers more to sell recyclable material, than it costs the providers to collect it. Disposal fees are going up at the landfill.
Rate increase discussions will come back to Council in June for potential implementation in July. The rate for both services is expected to be the same. The City is in discussion with the County about changing oversight of the collection service providers to the county. The County manages the landfill, and they would be able to better coordinate oversight across the county.
Councilor Mendez (maybe Riley) points out that we have a lot of waste. We as a city could take steps to discourage wasteful packaging, though it would be more effective coming from the state.
Councilor Broadman wants to hear more about the workforce challenges. How many folks live in Bend, or do they have to commute in from somewhere else? Do your wages allow people to live within the city? Service Providers said that they had a lot of attrition because people had to move away, they increased wages by 5% and added other incentives. Their rates are competitive, and increasing pay has lowered turnover. Republic says half of their workforce lives in Bend, the other half would love to be able to... Staffing challenges have gotten a lot better over the last year or so.
State Legislative Priorities / Update
Our City Lobbyist is here to update us on what's going on in Salem. We're coming up on the end of this legislative session. The big budget items generally happen here at the end. The City has 3 formal capital requests:
We have a 10 Million dollar request for Hawthorne Bridge. (Yes please). The delegation for this request has been well coordinated. There isn't any organized opposition to this request. Our Bridge request is somewhat (tied to? overshadowed by?) by the big ass interstate bridge people want to do down in Portland. Knowing how funding for this project goes is not going to come in until the very end.
The other two capital requests are 19 Million for Outback, 8 million for water, and 8 million for sewer improvements. I'm not totally sure what any of these mean or if I got these numbers right. The way the lobbyist guy talks is something.
The City wants ongoing funding for shelter and homeless services. The State has been shoveling money into new facilities, but funding for existing operations is not a part of that. We are asking for this kind of support with Beaverton and Medford. We want 4.4 million annually. It's looking good, but again, we won’t know if we get this ask until the end.
Councilor Mendez wants to know if there are any bills for changing how ODOT is able to handle dealing with camping in their property. Not right now, if we want to pursue that we should do it in the short session.
Councilor Broadman wants to know if there are still CFEC funding bills floating around? Yeah, but it was not included in the Governor's budget and there are some challenges of getting consensus in the legislature.
The City has been in extensive conversations with the development community on two bipartisan bills to expand urban reserve planning options and allow better UGB expansion without introducing sprawl.
Councilor Riley wants to make sure that we are focusing on our infrastructure capital costs. What is happening with those bills? There are two big bills. HB2980 which gives a revolving loan fund for the city to opt in to for building affordable housing. Developers would apply for these loans and the city would decide whether to grant these funds. (YES.) HB2981 has 80 million dollars for a collection of infrastructure projects. Both these bills are looking good.
Council is finishing their work session in non-public executive session to talk about current or possible litigation and to talk about a property transaction.
Chuck is a service provider that helps people on Hunnell road. He wants the city to implement an overlay zone that will allow people living in RVs to live there without harassment.
Nicholas is also an unhoused service provider. Hunnell and other areas like it are like neighborhoods. Please make this a safe place.
Michelle lives on Hunnell and has a petition signed by everyone that lives on Hunnell supporting this district proposal.
Eric says the 24 hour movement requirement in the camping code harms people. Issuing 72 hour notices is causing harm. It is preventing people from asking for services and pushing people out of the city. Repeal the code.
James has been a Bend resident for 11 years. He serves coffee on Hunnell Road. He is frustrated because he loves these people. There are more than 50 fine human beings living there who are poor. He thanks the City for delaying enforcing the camping code on Hunnell when he asked earlier this spring. He has 1 goal and that is to find a place for his 50 friends to sleep.
Consent Agenda: Passed
Notable Items on the Consent Agenda: Nope.
Adopt a resolution approving the creation of a temporary committee to develop and propose potential amendments to City codes and standards for tree preservation
This resolution would approve the creation of a temporary committee to develop and propose potential amendments to City codes and standards for tree preservation. This motion approves the creation of a Tree Regulation Update Advisory Committee (TRUAC), a temporary committee to develop and propose potential changes. The Council has goals on the Environment, Climate, and on Housing. On March 15, 2023, the Bend City Council held a work session to review existing standards for tree preservation. After discussion, the Council was supportive of considering updated and/or additional standards applicable to large scale developments. The Stewardship Subcommittee discussed the formation of a committee and was supportive of a temporary committee composed of members from various other committees, organizations, and professions.
After a slight modification, to make the "other member" section more generic, here is the list of who Council wants on the committee:
Approval of 2023-2027 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Consolidated Plan and 2023-2024 CDBG Funding Awards
This motion is to approve the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) plan and funding awards. The City receives CDBG funds from the federal government each year, which are then carried out and implemented using these plans. Adoption of this plan will allow Bend to receive $606,136.00 in Federal CDBG funds. They presented about all of these projects in the last meeting. These are the projects this plan allocates money to:
The way this money has to be allocated sounds incredibly procedural and confusing.
Authorize a guaranteed maximum price amendment to the Construction Manager/ General Contractor agreement with K&E Excavating, Inc., for a portion of the Wilson Avenue Corridor Project (1GWAC)
Another Council Meeting, another agenda item about the Wilson Corridor Project. This is the fourth and final price amendment for this project. This price amendment is for Phase 3 of the project, and covers improvements from the railway( 9th St) all the way to 2nd street. 15th and Wilson is opening soon!
It looks like this project will finish $10 Million over budget. 15-25% of this cost increase is inflation, the rest of it was because the scope of the project was increased after the first open house.
On the other hand, look at the concept for redoing the third intersection. I don't think crossing this on a bike will make me feel like I'm about to die! The new crossing will also have car traffic efficiency improvements, so it will be faster for cars to get through the intersection too!
Councilor Mendez notes that we are adding more dura curbs. He thinks that the jersey barrier is the same cost. Why are we not doing those instead? Jersey barriers are very tall and it restricts sight across the barrier, it would limit sight distance throughout the corridor, which is bad because there are a lot of driveways. It would be a safety hazard.
Awbrey Butte Distribution Improvements project (1WABD)
The stormwater drains in the Awbrey Butte waterline are rotting away because they are over 70 years old. Here is a picture of what some of them look like.
This project tries to address this problem and will roll out in 2 phases over the next 3 years.
Go Bond pedestrian improvements on Awbrey may be done at the same time as this project in some areas. (Yes, give me a nicer way across Portland, please)
Councilor Campbell wants to know how this impacts her in-conduit hydropower dreams. The possible in-conduit hydro is not negatively impacted.
Council Actions, Reports and Surprise Motions Sometimes
Oooh, we are doing top 3 things now. Maybe I can actually summarize these this time.
Councilor Perkins went to the Core Area Advisory Board. They had a cool presentation about privately owned public spaces. She went to a meeting of the governing board of the coordinated office. They talked about the strategic plan, she expressed urgency that we need to move quicker to submit stuff to the state on time. They talked about consolidating service provider councils to exhaust them less. She had some great conversations about hate speech and bias incidents in our community and what we can do as a city.
Councilor Riley went to the Bethlehem Inn event last week. Good turnout, inspiring stories. Went to the Wilson project open house. Tomorrow begins the COIC budget process. He would love input about that.
Councilor Norris attended two Neighborhood Association Meetings. She met with City Staff and talked about adding Childcare at the new City Hall and the Public Works Facilities.
Councilor Broadman was campaigning about the fire levy. Only 2.85% of ballots have been returned. Please vote.
Councilor Mendez went to two MPO meetings. There is some money that could be found for projects by getting carbon reduction grants from the Federal Government.
Councilor Campbell also went to MPO. We are getting a multi-use path by Simpson avenue. She described her experience walking with Sherry and Jason from the Streets and Operations department and Code enforcement at Hunnell and the Lighthouse Navigation Center.
Mayor Kebler met with local representatives of our state leadership. She did a ride along with our Trash Collection service providers. She went to the BCD mixer. She met up with LGBTQ leaders to prep for pride.
Manager King Update
Go to bendoregon.gov/budget if you want to learn more about the budget. We have issued bonds for a bunch of projects. We still have our AA+ bond rating and got a 3.74% interest rate. Slurry seal stuff in residential areas is happening soon. That Wilson Roundabout and the Newport one should both open in the next couple weeks!