We had returned north to Bend with the idea that maybe it was time to see about a possible move back to be with my mother. She’s in great health, but at 86, things can turn on a dime. We discussed various possibilities and scenarios, none of which seemed to be the ideal.
Let me just rant here a moment about Oregon’s land use laws; some of the strictest in the nation. Parcels are zoned like in any other state but the huge difference is that every community in Oregon has a designated urban growth boundary. This was supposedly done to nullify the hop scotch countryside development often seen in other states. If a parcel is drawn into the boundary then it is possible to split larger parcels into smaller more numerous ones. If a parcel exists outside the boundary then the current zoning stands, regardless of circumstances and no changes are allowed. Many parcels are purposely zoned for farm use so requirements for building are onerous. Just east of Bend for instance, a parcel isn’t considered a “buildable” lot unless one has title to a minimum of 160 acres!
The problem is that a city will only do a review and possible expansion of its boundary as its land inventory of buildable lots falls below a certain point. Bend reviews their growth boundary every TWENTY years then will annex in enough land to provide the next batch of buildable lots. My parents purchased ten acres which lies about three miles beyond the growth boundary and hope was that eventually it could be subdivided. However, the latest annexation moved in a different direction so the chances now of that happening are probably not in any of our lifetimes. Growth boundary annexations can be capricious, governed by city and county politics, and probably rife with cronyism.
However, the main detriment to growth boundaries in my opinion (as a long time real estate Broker in the state of Oregon) is that it controls the level of inventory of bare buildable lots and thus creates an artificially high price because quite simply, there never seems to be enough. Scarcity=higher demand=high price. This is the story of Central Oregon since it’s “discovery” by the yuppies, who have arrived here since the late ‘90’s and caused such explosive growth to the area that the town is now not recognizable to those of us who remember it from the late 1980’s.
To make a long story short, mom’s property, which is way too much for her to care for, is not splittable so that we could build and live here with her, even under a hardship condition. Even worse, after a two week exhaustive search of suitable land upon which to either build or place a manufactured home on, we have come up empty-handed. There is not a larger than postage stamp sized lot in Bend suitable for our needs for less than $90,000 and even that is in an area formally known as not-so-desirable. The only truly affordable (a relative term let’s not forget) land available seems to lie in LaPine or Crooked River Ranch. LaPine has the reputation of being one of Oregon’s heaviest meth user locations, is colder and snowier in winter, has no city services like medical and just does not interest us in the least. Crooked River Ranch is a nightmare to access and sits a long distance from Mom. Other country type parcels we have looked at could require wells as deep as 700 feet, long runs to bring in electric, and cap and fill sand filter septic systems so would literally double the price of the property to develop with utilities.
For the time being, mom has decided to stay put for awhile and we, more than likely, will never again be investing in Central Oregon. It’s a rich man’s place now so don’t plan on coming here if you don’t have gobs of money. Since we didn’t really want to return here anyway, it is no great loss to us, but does place a heavy burden on our hearts regarding her situation.
We’re re enjoying great weather, simple pleasures and relaxing. Marc’s sister will be up from northern California to visit for a few days this coming week, where she is looking to our advice regarding an RV purchase. We are tossing around the idea of heading for the Oregon coast for awhile but haven’t made any decisions as yet. Rocket loves it here and despite being on leash still manages to catch his fair share of lizards which I must pry out of his mouth. All in all, not a bad way to pass a summer and way nicer than sitting in Yuma’s 118 degree days.