Wednesday, June 10, 2015

OSU-Cascades wins okay to build 10-acre campus
A four-university is supposed to fit on just 10 acres
Predictably, OSU-Cascades survived another round when the state Land Use Board of Appeals affirmed its right to shoe-horn a four-university on 10 acres on Bend's cramped west side.

Since OSU-Cascades owned just 10 acres, it was not required by the city to provide a master plan for the project.

The state agreed.

Afterall, we get four-year universities all the time in Bend, like strip malls. No need to have a master plan for something so routine.

Oh wait, this is the only four-year university this city will ever have.

But, there is no need to have a master plan or any plan for that matter.

This is Bend, where "planning" is a four-letter word. Yes, we can't count either.

With this land-use success, OSU-Cascades will try to add more space in increments of less than 20 acres so that it won't ever have to submit a master plan that could be scrutinized and rejected by the public land-use process.

As I've posted before, this was a simple case of a land scam by a few landowners getting rich at taxpayers's expense. Having the state's taxpayers fund the rehabilitation of contaminated land was an opportunity that city oligarchs couldn't pass up.

Even though OSU-Cascades is primarily for students in Central Oregon, today's ruling ensures that those from anywhere outside of Bend's west side are not welcomed at the university because of its inaccessible location.

But, there will be unintended consequences from Tuesday's ruling.

First, and foremost, is the fact that Bend's west side, with its upscale subdivisions, including NorthWest Crossing, will become less valuable as gridlock and noise grip the area.

This could make Bend's eastside more valuable since it'll be less congested, quieter and more livable.

Since there are no plans to build much housing near the school and its hoped-for 5,000 students, commuting from Bend's northeast side, the most affordable area in the city, to the west-side campus will negatively impact all areas in between.

And, of course, we can't further subsidize public transit because, well, that's like communism or socialism or Islamism or whatever is convenient to scapegoat.

The battle between the formal opposition, Truth In Site, and OSU-Cascades' brain trust obscured the fact that most citizens in the region reject the west-side location.

Even OSU-Cascades' own internal (re: biased) polling from April, and only partially released in an editorial this past week in the daily newspaper, shows that support for OSU-Cascades has dwindled from more than 80 percent to 59 percent. And that's without knowing where the actual campus would be located.

The arrogance and condescension displayed by the handful of supporters of the west-side campus toward anyone who opposed the contaminated site, helped fuel the general dissatisfaction toward the school.

This does not bode well for the long-term prospects of OSU-Cascades.

After it blows through the initial state funds just to rehabilitate the pumice pit, let alone the former county demolition landfill, OSU-Cascades will ask Bend residents to pass a bond to build the actual classrooms for the campus.

Since the leaders of OSU-Cascades, through their underhanded way of siting the school, obviously do not care what most Central Oregonians think, they'll find out that widespread financial support is gone with the broken wind.

In fact, this is the most damaging aspect to all of this. By dismissing all concerns about the west-side location as the product of NIMBY whiners, OSU-Cascades has enraged the very people it needs to ask for continuing support. Most Central Oregonians were offended by OSU-Cascades' condescending approach to the opposition.

In essence, OSU-Cascades' leaders have demonstrated that they do not care about the Central Oregon community at large. They'll find out that most residents won't care about the school when it starts begging for money.

This is all so sad. We could've had a well-regarded four-year university in Bend. Instead, we'll have a tiny school built on a terrible site to enrich a handful of landowners at the expense of a promising future for the public at large.

Welcome to the 21st Century. Today, the goal of civic "leaders" is to rip off the taxpayers. It's a far cry from the days when donating land to create a college, like OSU in Corvallis or COCC in Bend, was meant to foster a wider sense of community.

Those days are long gone.

1 comment:

  1. Bravo! Since I moved to Bend in 2011 I have supported a four year university in Bend; I lived for 20 years in a small town (albeit a suburb of Baltimore) and graduated from University of Maryland Baltimore County that had the foresight in 1966 to plan ahead for expansion. Indeed, in 20 years, UMBC went from a sleepy but well regarded campus to a powerful university with close ties to business and the community. I looked forward to a similar success story with OSU-Cascades. However, the brain trust lost my support entirely when it felt the need to follow a course akin to the proverbial camel with its nose under the tent, leaving Bend residents to eventually wake to find themselves out in the cold. Shame on you OSU-Cascades leadership, City of Bend, and the handful of people who will make a lot of money off of this unconscionable deception.