Upzoning Leads to Sharp Growth in Construction in Bend

After Oregon legalized 'missing middle housing' in cities statewide, Bend, the first city to comply with the state law, has experienced a significant boost in mid-density housing construction.

1 minute read

January 30, 2022, 7:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

An aerial image of Bend, Oregon, covered in snow in the winter. The Deschutes River cuts through the middle of town, below an old mill.

Mike Albright Photography / Shutterstock

Upzoning efforts in Bend, Oregon have yielded unexpectedly positive results, reports Jack Hirsh, with 650 housing units currently under construction, compared to just 62 units built in the last six months. Local leaders attribute the boost in production to recent zoning code changes that permit more mid-density housing such as duplexes and fourplexes.

The changes at the city level are partly a response to a state bill passed in 2019 that downsized parking requirements for 'missing middle' housing types, essentially legalizing small multi-family buildings—what some call 'gentle density'—in many parts of the state. Bend became the first city with a population of over 25,000 to comply with the law, approving updated development codes that allowed duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes in any single-family neighborhood in September 2021. The code changes, aimed at increasing housing affordability, also reduced parking requirements and added regulations for short-term rentals.

Across the country, the movement to legalize and stimulate the production of 'missing middle housing' is gaining ground as housing and density advocates look for ways to make living in cities more affordable and sustainable without encouraging sprawl and car-oriented development.

Monday, January 24, 2022 in KTVZ

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