Cultural trust bill advances in Legislature

June 30, 2001

Cultural Trust Wins Support in the Oregon House

(Salem) \”This is a big moment for the State of Oregon,\” said Representative Ben Westlund (R-Tumalo) as he urged fellow members of the Oregon House to support
House Bill 2923. He later added, \”twenty years from now we will look back and say we were part of it.\” The measure establishes the long awaited Trust for Cultural Development. HB 2923 passed by a vote of 53- 3 this evening.

\”This is a culmination of a great deal of effort, by a great deal of individuals,\” noted Westlund making special mention of the Joint Interim Task Force on Cultural Development established by the 1999 Legislature. Representative Westlund said the Task Force traveled \”all over the state meeting with*thousands of concerned citizens.\”

\”Oregon ranks 53rd* in public funding for arts and culture\”, pointed out Westlund. This legislation seeks to turn that around. Over the next ten years, supporters hope to raise up to $200 million dollars for the Trust.

HB 2923 provides several funding mechanisms including tax credits, the sale of special license plates, and revenue from selling surplus state properties. The Oregon Council for the Humanities wrote in a recent letter that, \”the Trust will stimulate private giving and provide funding for arts, heritage, historic preservation, and cultural activities to local groups and tribes throughout Oregon.\”

Many call this a landmark piece of legislation. Charles Walker, the Chair of the Task Force put it best by saying the Trust will, \”create a true cultural awakening, something that lifts the arts, the humanities and our cultural heritage to a new and pivotal level capable of touching the lives of every Oregonian and strengthening the quality of life in our state.\”

HB 2923 now heads to the Senate floor for a vote.


For more information contact:

Dawn Phillips
Legislative Assistant

Oregon House approves wilderness school regulation

June 30, 2001

Wilderness School Regulation Takes Big Step Forward

(Salem) \”This is the first step in knowing our children will be safe when left in the care of these programs,\” said Lynn McAward today, after the Oregon House passed House Bill 3330 by a vote of 57-0. Lee is the mother of 15-year old Eddie Lee who died during while attending a wilderness school in southeastern Oregon last fall. \”I don\’t want anything like this to happen again in Oregon,\” said Representative Tim Knopp (R-Bend),

Knopp co-sponsored the bill along with Representative Ben Westlund (R-Tumalo), and Representative Jim Hill (R-Hillsboro). HB 3330 requires Outdoor Youth Programs to be licensed by the State Office for Services to Children and Families.

These programs which help children with behavior, mental health or substance abuse problems in an outdoor living setting. Knopp described them as programs which \”take troubled kids into the forests and prairies around our state for several weeks for some tough love and some professional treatment.\” HB 3330 would not apply to most church camps or organizations like the Boy Scouts.

Representative Westlund told his colleagues on the House floor, \”it is a very difficult decision for parents to send their children to these programs*they are at rope\’s end.\”
Representative Hill said he was \”amazed we let organizations take kids out into the woods without any regulation.\”

SCF will work with a special Outdoor Youth Program Advisory Board to craft new regulations and will begin issuing licenses the first of next year. Representative Westlund pointed out the industry supports the legislation and he said \”these are valuable programs and do make a difference in the lives of hundreds of troubled teens.\”

HB 3330 now moves to the Senate floor for a vote.


Dawn Phillips
Legislative Assistant

PUC \’number pooling\’ to extend life of 541 area code

Number Pooling to Extend Life of 541 Area Code

June 29, 2001 (2001-27) (UM 953)

Contacts: Roy Hemmingway, Chairman, 503 378-6611; Roger Hamilton, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Joan H. Smith, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Bob Valdez, Public Information Officer, 503 378-8962

Salem, OR -The Oregon Public Utility Commission has decided to activate number pooling measures in qualified areas of 541 area code on July 1, 2001, and delay the 503/971 implementation date from October 1, 2001, to no later than the end of the year.

The latest projection by the North American Number Planning Administrator (NANPA) shows the 541 area code will exhaust its numbers by the third quarter in 2003. However, Commission staff is confident the new measures will extend the exhaust date well beyond 2003.

The first test of number pooling will be in larger communities now being served by more than one telecommunications carrier such as Eugene, Roseburg, Medford, and Corvallis.

The Commission noted the industry has stepped up to the plate in this effort. Companies currently holding 10,000 number blocks have identified 400,000 numbers that can be used by other carriers in cities projected for growth in the 541 area code.

Telephone companies, with the exception of wireless providers, will receive numbers in blocks of 1,000 numbers, not the 10,000 blocks of numbers used in the old allocation method. This will allow available numbers to be used more efficiently.

The 1,000 block number pooling assignment will be all but invisible to customers.

In addition, PUC staff projects, while there will still be a demand for new telephone numbers, it should be at a much lower rate.

Work on number pooling in the 503/971 area codes will commence in July with the objective of implementing number pooling no later than the end of the year.

The NANPA projected exhaust date in the 503/971 area codes is now the second quarter in 2008, an increase of 7 months from the projection made a year ago.

Preliminary data on the amount of numbers in the 503 area code that can be freed up for other carriers should be available in late August.

The Commission enacted the 971 overlay for most of the 503 area code October 1, 2000.


Redmond fire destroys two mobile homes, damages two others

REDMOND – A fire that began in a south Redmond field Friday afternoon quickly spread to a nearby mobile home park, destroying two homes and damaging two others before it could be contained. The blaze brought out crews from seven fire agencies around Central Oregon, prompted evacuation of the park and forced closure of Canal Boulevard for about eight hours.

Two of the mobile, or manufactured homes – one “single-wide,” the other “double-wide” – were destroyed, while another suffered attic damage and a fourth some less serious heat damage. The Salvation Army and Red Cross stepped in to help three newly homeless families find temporary quarters and emergency food, clothing or other supplies, said Redmond Fire Department Division Chief Tim Moor.

Firefighters were called to the park at 1833 S. Canal shortly after 2:30 p.m., Moor said. “A grass fire was started somehow,” in a field behind the city’s Safeway, about 50 feet from the park, “and it spread into some shrubbery that was contiguous to the trailer park. The shrubbery caught the mobile homes on fire. The first arriving crew found two trailer houses involved.”

There were no serious injuries, although Moor said some park residents suffered breathing difficulties from inhaling smoke, apparently as they tried to douse the flames. “I think they were trying to fight it, but there was no way they could stop it,” he said. “We had a light wind blowing out of the north. The fire, once it gets going at that pace, it creates its own wind.”

Residents of the two homes that were destroyed “didn’t even know what was going on” when they were evacuated, the fire official said.

Fire crews from Bend, Jefferson County, Sisters, Black Butte, Cloverdale and Crooked River Ranch were called in to help Redmond firefighters douse the flames and keep them from spreading to other nearby mobile homes, Moor said. The park has about 40 structures, he said, and “on the road that burnt, there probably were 10 to 12 homes, all threatened.” There was only one fire hydrant in the area, he added.

Losses pegged at $150,000; fire danger still high

Total losses initially were estimated at $150,000. An Oregon State Police investigator and the State Fire Marshal’s office were helping look for the cause of the blaze, which apparently was human-caused.

Moor said that despite some recent rainfall, the blaze that began in tinder-dry cheatgrass was a tragic reminder heading into the Fourth of July holiday period: “It’s dry,” and the fire danger remains very high.

Police wrap up pedestrian safety campaign in ‘fine’ fashion

Why did Jan Reeves, Faith McCullough and Mandi Nicholson cross the road – Newport Avenue, in this case – over and over and over again Friday afternoon?

As many Bend residents know by now – some more painfully than others – not just to get to the other side. Instead, Reeves, an administrative assistant in the Bend Police Department, and two community service officers, donned casual attire to play the role of everyday crosswalk users in the sixth and last in a series of pedestrian safety enforcement operations, held at problem crosswalks around the city.

The weekly campaign, one of 20 similar efforts around the state, was paid for with a $3,200 “mini-grant” of federal funds, distributed by the Oregon Department of Transportation. That paid for the overtime pay to have officers run the pedestrian operations. The goals are to raise driver awareness regarding pedestrians’ right of way, cutting the number of pedestrian complaints and, of course, the number of accidents. (In 1999, there were 70 auto-pedestrian accidents in Bend, most at crosswalks.)

Signs and cones are placed well back from the crosswalk during the operations, to warn drivers. The “pedestrians” step onto the crosswalk, trying to do so before the vehicles pass the cones. If drivers were behind the cones and still fail to stop, the driver is cited, with a fine of up to $175. Those who fail to yield to the pedestrian, but who were past the cones, only get warnings instead.

The city conducted extensive advance publicity about each location, and if the weather threatened to be a factor, the event was delayed (as this week’s was, from Wednesday to Friday).

In six weeks, more than 160 tickets, 26 warnings – and a lot of attention

Nevertheless, here’s the tally:

–First week, May 23, Columbia and Galveston: 23 citations, five warnings, three other tickets (for charges ranging from driving with a suspended license or without insurance to lack of safety belt, marijuana possession or outstanding warrants).

–Second week, May 30, 12th and Newport: 20 citations, three warnings, three other tickets.

–Third week, June 13, Eighth and Norton: 39 citations, four warnings, two other tickets.

–Fourth week, June 15, Franklin and Harriman: 40 citations, no warnings, seven other tickets.

–Fifth week, June 20, Neff and Shepard: 15 citations, one warning, two other tickets.

And as the final minutes ticked down Friday afternoon at Eighth and Newport, in front of Kenwood/Highland Elementary School, the unofficial three-hour tally: 26 citations, 13 warnings.

That makes 163 tickets, 26 warnings and at least 14 unrelated citations for the six operations. The goal didn’t have to do with ticket tallies, as much as public awareness – and for that, it was a big success, said Capt. Matt Fine.

“All the letters and phone calls we’ve had, thanking us for doing this, all of the talking about it around town – it’s been the greatest since I’ve been with the force,” said Fine, who’s been with the Bend police for 28 years. There even was a letter from a Sisters resident, saying publicity about the Bend crosswalk operations – police consider the rules fair enough to avoid the label “sting” – had made a difference even in that town, miles to the east.

“People have been hollering for it for a long time,” the captain said.

Warning cones, signs, publicity aimed at fairness, avoiding `gotcha’ mentality

There have been no injuries to the various participants, Fine said, although in the first week, a motorist drove out and around “pedestrian” Capt. Jeanette Cleaves as she crossed the street – and into the oncoming lane. Do the crosswalk users ever feel in danger? “Oh yes!” Nicholson said.

A video camera is trained on the crosswalk for evidence, and a spotter helps direct waiting police to the crosswalk-runners. The orange cones that mark off the operation are set at a safe stopping distance for a vehicle traveling 10 mph faster than the posted speed limit – on Friday, that was 161 feet.

“We play by the Marquis of Queensbury rules,” Fine said. “We want to make sure it’s a clear violation. We’re not out to write a lot of tickets, but to enforce the law and raise awareness.”

And yet, at one point Friday afternoon, Fine, working from a motorcycle, pulled over three motorists at once for not stopping for a pedestrian in the crosswalk.

“Usually, when we talk to them, it’s, `Did you see the sign?’ `No.’ `The cone?’ `No.’ `The pedestrian?’ `No,’” Fine said. “Or, `I thought I had the right of way.’”

“They get focused, driving down the road, and don’t look at the periphery,” he said. “They get focused on what’s going on at home, or their next stop.”

Truckers fare surprisingly well in police eyes

And here’s something that some might find surprising: “The trucks are usually the best,” Fine said, in respecting the pedestrians’ right of way, as well as speed limits. “People say trucks speed on Newport, but by and large, they don’t,” he said. “The thing is, their size is so big,” they can appear to be going faster than they are, Fine said. “The trucks stop constantly for kids” in school zones, he said. “They get a bad rap.”

Reeves had never faked being a pedestrian before, and she said the experience was an eye-opener.

“I am surprised that people aren’t a little more observant when driving,” she said. “Most are, but there’s always a few.” (Fine said one violator stopped during the Franklin operation was talking on his cell phone as he drove by.)

Sitting under a shady tree and watching Friday’s action was Rian Johnson, who lives near Drake Park. “It’s definitely a great thing,” he said of the police effort. And he called it “amazing” how many people were unaware of the operation. “It’s in the paper, it’s on the news, they’ve got the signs – people still blow through.”

Another administrative assistant, Kim Morse, was tallying the citations and warnings for the afternoon, aided by Mike Walsh on the radio. She said some real-life pedestrians have unintentionally helped police during the various operations, as drivers didn’t stop for them, either – and they were promptly cited.

While no pedestrians have been hit, some vehicles have almost rear-ended ones in front that stopped for the crosswalk users. “We had a couple of really close calls,” Morse said.

Motorists apparently more likely to stop for women than men

There have been male “pedestrians” used as well, including Les Shores, the city’s streets supervisor. Morse said it seems clear that more drivers stop for the women in crosswalks than the men. “They will blow through here if a man is walking across,” she said. “With Les, it was incredible how many wouldn’t stop for him.” Fine remarked, “That’s human nature.”

It was altogether fitting that the last pedestrian safety operation came as the Fourth of July holiday approached, and police across the region begin a week-long “Seatbelt Blitz.” Police across Oregon, Washington and British Columbia are beginning their quarterly “Three Flags Campaign,” stepped-up enforcement efforts aimed at seat belt use, drunken drivers and speeders. Violating Oregon’s decade-old, voter-approved safety belt law can bring a $77 fine.

Fees to be charged at Ochoco\’s Deep Creek Campground

Ochoco and Deschutes National Forests and
Prineville District, Bureau of Land Management
Office of Communications
Working as One to Serve Central Oregon

News and Information Contacts: Virginia Gibbons
For Immediate Release (541) 416-6647
June 29, 2001

Camping Fees at Deep Creek Campground

PRINEVILLE, OR-Starting in early July, fees will be charged at the Deep Creek Campground, located three miles east of Big Summit Prairie on the Ochoco National Forest. Camping fees will be $8 per night with a $3 fee for each additional vehicle.

“We’ve kept it free as long as possible but we need to start charging fees in order to keep the campground well maintained for public health and safety,” said Lookout Mountain District Ranger Art Currier.

Deep Creek Campground is a popular primitive-style campground that has six tent/camper sites, potable water, concrete toilets and fishing along the North Fork of the Crooked River, a designated Wild and Scenic River.

Recent improvements to the Deep Creek Campground include resurfacing of the roads and parking spurs.


Redmond police captain heads for FBI National Academy

FBI News Release

For Immediate Release
Date: June 29, 2001

Contact: Beth Anne Steele
(503) 552-5238

Redmond Police Captain chosen for FBI National Academy

Captain Wayne E. Shortreed is taking on one of the toughest challenges available for local law enforcement officers: the FBI National Academy. Starting July 1, 2001, Capt. Shortreed will join three other Oregon law enforcement officers in Quantico, Virginia for a grueling 10-week training session.

\”Being selected to attend the FBI National Academy is a true honor,\” said Redmond Police Chief Lane Roberts. \”Capt. Shortreed has earned this honor through hard work and dedication to this profession. The FBINA is a rewarding experience. Wayne will leave here as a good police executive and return to us even better.\”

There is a highly competitive process that local law enforcement officers must go through before being selected for this honor. That process includes a nomination by the candidate\’s top departmental official, interviews of the candidate and his co-workers to determine leadership skills and abilities, a background check, a determination of physical fitness and support of former National Academy graduates within the candidate\’s organization.

\”We take the best of the best,\” said Philip F. Donegan, Jr., Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Portland Division of the FBI. \”And when they come out of the Academy, they are even better. Capt. Shortreed is an example of an excellent law enforcement officer who is constantly searching for new ways to push the bar higher — both for himself and for those around him.\”

Capt. Shortreed started with the Redmond Police Department in 1973 as a reserve police officer. In 1974 he moved to the Bend Police Department where he stayed for about 10 years. Before going back to the Redmond Police Department in 1985, Capt. Shortreed spent a year devoted entirely to the ministry. Since 1985, he has worked his way up the ladder from patrolman to sergeant to lieutenant and finally captain. He is now responsible for the entire patrol division, the traffic team, and the police reserve program, and he shares budget and other administrative duties. Capt. Shortreed also has continued his ministry work both in his church and by serving as the Chaplain for the Redmond Police Department.

During the 10 weeks of training, local police officers and deputies will spend most of their time in the classroom. They have the opportunity to take classes in criminal law, police management, behavioral science, forensic science, and law enforcement communications. In addition to the classroom work, they will have physical training classes and activities.

Each year, the FBI sponsors four sessions of the National Academy. Each session includes about 270 local law enforcement officers from around the United States as well as from around the world. While in the Academy, the officers and deputies will live in a dorm-like setting. The FBI does not charge U.S. students for tuition, books, equipment, meals, lodging or travel to and from their home.


County official named to Habitat prison partnership post

MEDIA NOTICE For Immediate Release –
Contact: Jenny Scanlon, 330-4640

Bend, Oregon, June 29, 2001-

LaCombe Appointed to Advisory Board for Prison Partnership Program

Bob LaCombe, Program Manager at the Deschutes County Community Justice Department, has been named to the National Advisory Board of the Prison Partnership program of Habitat for Humanity International. Currently in the U.S. there are 75 active prison partnerships, which offer offenders opportunities to volunteer with Habitat affiliates in building houses with families in need of simple, decent and affordable housing.

An enthusiastic advocate of Habitat for Humanity, LaCombe persuaded his supervisor, Dennis Maloney, to explore the feasibility of a long-term partnership with Bend Area Habitat for Humanity. Chuck Tucker, the executive director of the affiliate, reports that the partnership has produced two houses and is beginning a third one. LaCombe and Maloney travel nationwide to promote Habitat for Humanity as a means of achieving the restorative justice principles of developing youth offenders’ job skills, empathy skills and social skills.

The purpose of the Prison Partnership National Advisory Board is to provide guidance and support to the partnership in implementing a strategic plan, which calls for providing opportunities to offenders to help restore neighborhoods and communities and to make positive contributions to society. The plan also seeks to promote growth and development so the offenders can return to the community as a valued member. Accordingly, one of the Prison Partnership’s goals over the next two years is to develop a certification program that would assist offenders in seeking post-release employment and reintegrating into the community.

Habitat for Humanity’s Prison Partnership program was officially launched in July 1999. In volunteering with Habitat, offenders learn marketable construction skills, improve their self esteem and self worth, develop the values inherent in helping others, develop strong relationships with the community into which they may be released and learn to respect the lives and property of others. In partnering with Habitat for Humanity, correctional systems experience improved intra-facility relationships, reduced offender idleness and enhanced academic and vocational education programs.

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry dedicated to eliminating substandard housing worldwide.

Bend\’s third OLCC liquor store opens on Eastside Monday

For immediate release: For more information:
Friday, June 29, 2001 Ken Palke, 503-872-5002

OLCC opening Bend\’s third liquor store on July 2

Bend\’s third state liquor store * East Bend Liquors * is opening 10 a.m. Monday at 527 NE Bellevue Dr., behind Crossroads Plaza (at the corner of 27th Street and Highway 20), the Oregon Liquor Control Commission said today.
Mark S. Merrick, of Bend, was appointed agent for the new store in February. He previously owned a marble manufacturing and installation business and had operated retail stores.
The new 1,800-square feet self-service store will be open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and closed on Sundays. It is the OLCC\’s 237th store in Oregon.
A third liquor store was added, on the east side, to accommodate Bend\’s increase in population and tourism. The other Bend liquor stores are located at 61153 S. Highway 97 and 2040 E. Third. There are four other liquor stores in Deschutes County, including Redmond, La Pine, Sisters and Sunriver.
\”With this new store, we\’re happy to be able to meet the needs of the citizens in Bend,\” said Pamela S. Erickson, OLCC director. \”They made it clear to us that an additional store was needed in the community.\”

Get in front of growth boom’s impacts or be a victim, expert warns

Government rules or actions alone can’t keep a fast-growing city from going down the tubes – only a strong common vision and clear path that everyone buys into can pull off that very tough balancing act, an expert in the field of “community stewardship” told a Bend audience Friday.

“Change is inevitable. We can either be victims of rapid change, or we can shape it and be better off,” said Luther Propst, executive director of the Sonoran Institute (, a Tucson, Ariz.-based nonprofit group that works with communities to conserve and restore important natural landscapes.

Propst’s 11-year-old organization has worked in areas across the West to promote community-based strategies that both preserve the integrity of protected lands, while meeting the economic aspirations of adjoining landowners and communities. And yet, he prefaced his remarks by saying that the Bend forum, sponsored by the Oregon Environmental Council (, was his first talk in Oregon, a state he knows relatively little about.

That Propst hasn’t been invited to Oregon to speak previously could be seen as a salute to the state’s much-touted land-use planning laws. (Coincidentally, the Environmental Council’s concluding event in its 2000-01 Forum for Business and the Environment series also marked its first such gathering in Bend.) Propst pointed to voter-approved Measure 7, which lawmakers are struggling to come to grips with, poses a new challenge, since it could require compensation to landowners for any government actions seen as reducing property values. The Environmental Council plans fall forums in Portland and Bend on the issues surrounding Measure 7.

Propst, a former senior associate with the World Wildlife Fund and The Conservation Foundation, showed slides from communities across the West that have struggled in varying ways with the impacts of growth, some more successfully than others. Early on, he showed a crowd of fishermen lining the water: “This is what we call `combat fishing,’” he joked. Later, he showed a photo of a giant potato on a flatbed truck, one Idaho town’s proud symbol.

“Tourism is really an enigma,” scorned in an overly harsh manner by some communities, while naively seen as a savior by others, Propst explained. But no one doubts that dependence on tourism has impacts on an area’s economy and quality of life, oftentimes unintended ones.

West fails to properly tax tourism for its impacts, Propst says

“We still don’t tax tourism very well,” Propst said, a theme he would repeat in a town that, as he may not know, is currently debating whether to boost its hotel/motel room tax.

Moab, Utah doubled its visitor count in five years, as sort of a “ski area without skiing,” Propst said, with sweeping social and fiscal impacts that prompted one official to remark, “We went fishing for a little tourism and hooked a great white shark.”

He told the apocryphal story heard in such tourist destinations of the guy who arrives in town in his cutoffs with a $20 bill – and when he “leaves town a week later, hadn’t changed either one of `em.” In Moab, the Bureau of Land Management established a campground, and the fees helped provide revenues for resource protection, restoration and law enforcement. “Visitor satisfaction went up,” Propst said. “People were happy to pay.”

But problems persisted, such as a hospital that had to add on a wing to meet “the health demands of middle-aged men in Spandex,” but which sat idle for much of the year. Then there was the 350 percent jump in property taxes over eight years. The Sonoran Institute helped the town figure out how to “make growth pay for itself” (a common term in Bend) and that made the cost vs. impact “much more close to neutral,” he said, adding, “They still fight over other things.”

“I don’t want to paint too ugly a picture,” Propst said. “Often, disagreement is not over goals, but the means to achieve those goals. … People often share more common ground than they realize.” Just about every city wants “an economy that balances the old and new,” he said, “to promote locally-owned businesses downtown, rather than big boxes on the edge of town.”

But in establishing dialogue and coming up with “a shared local vision of what the community can be,” Propst said, the biggest challenge can often be, “How do we learn to listen to each other? You know, the opposite of `talk’ is not `wait’ – it’s `listen.”

In the town of Red Lodge, Mont., the biggest issue turned out not to be one of land use at all, but that “kids didn’t have anything to do.” So all segments of the community came together to create a Boys and Girls Club. “It was a confidence builder, that they could work together to solve problems,” Propst said. That led to 15,000 acres of conservation easements around town, keeping those lands in local ownership.

The town also enlisted the help of powerful Sen. Max Baucus to keep the U.S. Postal Service from moving Red Lodge’s post office out of downtown. The new facility is downtown, he said, but the Postal Service did one more thing to thumb its nose at the locals: “They built a porch on the north side, where the ice never melts.”

Tourism is not the same thing from one town to next

Along with a joint vision, communities need to build local policies around the special assets that make an area unique, Propst said. An agricultural landscape “is often one of the most important assets to people,” he said.

When one isolated Wyoming town lost its sawmill, town leaders decided “about the only game in town is tourism.” But they didn’t want the kind of “high-volume, bass `drive-by’ tourism, or `industrial tourism’ faced by Jackson Hole, 50 miles away. Instead, they brought together numerous agencies and created the National Bighorn Sheep Center, right downtown.

“I wish we had 20 names for tourism, the way the Inuits have 60 names for snow,” since the label covers many types of development that can be good, bad or in between, Propst said.

The challenges are not ones to be solved by government regulation, he said. “The fact is, regulations are too blunt a tool,” Propst said, since they “establish a minimum code of conduct that’s better at preventing the worst then bringing out the best.”

Displaying a photo of identical A-frames lined up on a hill, Propst said regulations often result in standardized, least-common-denominator answers that “don’t respect the unique local character” of a community.

Local governments can, however, “provide a positive example,” such as in Pittman Center, Tenn., which prides itself on retaining the historic character of the mountain community. But they can also provide awful, negative examples, Propst said – pointing to his own town of Tucson, which heavily promotes low-water-use xeroscaping, then put in acres of turf lawn around its new “monstrosity” of a library.

Propst sees need for `hometown heroes, `quality of life lobby’

Non-profit land trusts are an important tool, Propst said, as are “hometown heroes” and a “quality of life lobby” that can help towns get past the divisive, “us vs. them” mentality and true dialogue “beyond the plethora of public hearings and single-issue advocacy.”

No doubt unaware of the recent tussle between Bend officials and the Chamber of Commerce over a new sign code, Propst showed dramatic before-and-after slides of a busy Lubbock, Texas highway that saw its big, garish business signs give way over just two years to smaller, monument-style signs – and a whole lot more blue sky. “This was done without heavy reliance of regulations,” he said, and in fact was an effort led by that city’s chamber, in which businesses agreed to change their signs, so long as they “all hold hands and jump in the lake together.”

“Smart communities,” Propst said, are discriminating about new development. “If communities don’t decide what they want to go on the land … they often end up with lowest-common-denominator, cookbook projects.”

“Rural communities cannot ignore the changing economic reality,” he said, and that means focusing on protection of cultural assets.

But it’s not an easy task, by any means. Propst noted that U S West chose Boulder, Colo., for a new research facility, having scoured towns across the West – even though Boulder officials gave them no incentives and in fact rejected their No. 1 choice for a location. But the town has become so attractive, and housing costs have risen so much that only the firm’s highest-paid engineers can afford to live there. Others are among the 40,000 who commute into and out of Boulder each day, an “island” that has “created a huge traffic imbalance.”

“Balance is the key for communities to prosper,” Propst said.

Propst sees `no magic word’ to overcome polarization

The first question to Propst: “How do we overcome the hurdles of polarity?” – came from the most likeliest of questioners, Bend City Councilor John Schubert. And the answer, about determining common community values, ended with something perhaps as predictable: “There’s no specific, magic word that causes it to happen.”

Asked what cities can do about “the big-box (store) problem,” Propst said one key is for a community to invest in infrastructure where it wants development to happen, typically the downtown core. “Invest in the downtown, solve the problems they have,” he said. “Build a community ethic around downtown.”

“Limiting the size of a single business is permissible,” said Propst, (who, again, is not familiar with the limitations imposed on communities under Oregon’s land-use planning rules).

The affordable housing issue also came up, and again, the solutions aren’t easy, nor are they usually best from government, in Propst’s view. He noted that Aspen, Colo., built 1,200 low-income housing units and “they have not fixed the problem. If you have to solve the problem by public construction of units, you’re already way too late.” Instead, he urged a “balanced zoning code … changing the zoning around to promote cluster, high-density housing.”

On the issue of tourists and taxes, Propst answered a questioner by noting that the West has done well historically at taxing the extraction of natural resources, but that system originated decades ago, when “tourism wasn’t part of the formula.” Impact fees or sales taxes make more sense than a “burdensome property tax,” Propst said: “We don’t want to have sales taxes. … If you want to tax tourists, you’ve got to tax tourists, rather than rely on the property tax.”

City Councilor Kyla Merwin told Propst of the Your Community 2000 vision process in the 1990s, and of recent meetings that took place between Bend’s environmental and business leaders, to seek out common ground, But after a few meetings, she said, “we were sort of dead in the water.” She said they couldn’t decide whether to “do one small project, to show we can work together,” or stake out a joint position paper, so it “kind of fizzled out.”

It’s not enough to talk vision; institute helps create `confidence-builder’ projects

Propst called that outcome “unfortunate, because it creates a sense of failure.” Having been involved in “a couple of dozen such processes,” he said, the Sonora Institute changed its ways from the early role of a facilitator. Instead, it now goes into projects with a two-year commitment, and the backing of such groups as the National Association of Counties.

He said they also assure there’s funding up front, roughly $200,000, from a community foundation or the like, so that the community discussions can translate into some action, “so we know things can happen.”

The idea, he said, is to “do both short-term, confidence-building things, and lay the groundwork for long-term policy changes.”

Whether the Sonora Institute could be called upon for that sort of role in a place like Bend is anyone’s guess. But he did give the audience another perspective, and some views worth thinking about.