Thursday, June 12, 2014

OSU-Pumice Pit battle: Rich vs Rich

For decades, a few power-brokers in Bend decided what was best for the city and did whatever they wanted.

They were successful in some things and attracted a few subdivisions' worth of wealthy people to Bend.

Now that the old power-brokers want to shoe-horn a four-year university on waste land next to a gated community of mostly rich residents, the battle of wallets is on.

The formal opposition, called Truth In Site, has hired a land-use lawyer and a traffic engineer who spoke out against the siting of OSU-Pumice Pit at a public hearing this week.

And, according to quotes in the daily newspaper, they were good.

Attorney Jeffrey Kleinman said, "The applicant has put the cart before the horse, and has asked everyone to wear blinders and not look at the full project."

Exactly. That's how Bend has always operated.

City staff have signed off on OSU-Cascades plan for the 10-acre parcel knowing full well that the bulk of the campus on the 46-acre pumice pit will stress the city's west-side infrastructure to the breaking point.

The traffic engineer, Rick Nys, pointed out that university's own traffic study and parking plan "don't match at all."

Also, he refuted the notion that students will walk or ride their bikes to campus, since they'll be forced to live miles from campus and our winters are not conducive to that kind of travel.

"If the area is so walkable and bikeable, why doesn't anyone do that now?" Nys was quoted in the paper. His analysis showed that only 1 percent of the current travel at a nearby roundabout is from cyclists and walkers.

The city extended comments for a second day and more opponents of the site testified.

That's all well and good, but comments from the general community, even when the majority are opposed to the west-side campus, mean nothing.

You need lawyers to gum up the approval process. And, you need money to hire a lawyer.

Which is why it so sweet to see Bend's old guard being challenged by well-heeled newcomers, who don't want to see Bend become a complete mess.

The hearings office will likely approve the permit for the 10 acres and this will be challenged in court.

It's clear from comments and letters to the editor that the overwhelming majority of Bend residents are opposed to the west-side campus and want OSU-Cascades built where it was intended and planned for: Juniper Ridge.

There is a small, vocal group of deep-pocketed supporters of this west-side campus, and they would normally win the day with ease, but now they face their counterparts who also have deep pockets.

Let the battle wage until the numbskulls at OSU-Cascades see the light and put their four-year university at Juniper Ridge where it can expand with the region.

1 comment:

  1. You think with the governor behind OSU Cascades that the governor appointed LUBA judges will overturn the approval of a ten acre site plan? The hearings officer will not be able to demand a master plan for property the university doesn't even own. I do think the TiS traffic engineer did a good job of discrediting the OSU Cascades parking and traffic plan.