20 years ago I moved to Bend in April of 1996 with my wife Wendy. Bend was a different city than what it is today. Back then, small town politics had created a rift between the City Council and the city manager. There was internal conflict within our beautiful little town that later became a standoff between the ‘pro-growthers’ and ‘no-growthers’. Compounding the problem was that the City Council seemed to do just about anything they wanted with little or no communication with the citizens they represented or were supposed to act on the behalf of.
I moved to Bend to make a difference. So, joining a small band of civic advocates (which now City Councilman Jim Clinton was one of), I helped form some of our community’s first neighborhood organizations. Tired of not having a voice with the Bend City Council, I banded with the Board of Directors of The River West Neighborhood Association, and armed with my experience as a civil engineer and my penchant for smart community planning, I quickly was appointed to be the RWNA’s land use chair. As a leader within this organization, I helped plant ‘urban renewal’ trees along the Newport Ave. corridor, and in the triangle of 12th St. & Union Ave., started the community seeds of what later became ‘Doug Jones Park.’
Meanwhile, Bend’s west side was growing, and the advent of new neighborhoods on the town’s (now more of a small city) perimeter meant more than 1200 cars a day started bisecting our quaint downtown Awbrey Road historic neighborhood. We were trading growth for character, new neighborhoods were being built at the expense of inter-urban older ones, and while the City of Bend collected SDC (System Development Charges) to help alleviate this cut-through traffic congestion, these funds were not being spent locally within the street corridors directly affected most by growth. Since this time, there has been local street traffic challenges all over the city that our government has tried to grapple with. Unfortunately, these decisions continue to be made to increase circulation, rather than to promote quality of life and preserve community character.
While ‘Promoting Quality of Life’ and “Preserving Community Character’ were harbingers of my activism at the neighborhood association level, these guiding principles soon became cornerstones of my civic work at the Deschutes County Landmarks Commission (vice chair) as well as the City of Bend Planning Commission (chair). Every decision I have made while serving on these important committees over the last decade (or more) has been made with an eye toward enhancing these ideals. Whether it be Bend’s new Solar Ordinance, improvements to Bend’s Development Code, or necessary modifications to the Sign Code, I have argued and voted for legislation that has improved Bend. Sometimes this has resulted in streamlining the development process (good for our economy and less red tape) while other times it has meant creating more restrictions (keeping our community looking good, and attracting people who want to move here)…
Moving forward, it is my hope that Bend realizes its fullest potential. This means as a City Councilman, doing everything in my power to Promote Quality of Life, Preserve Community Character, Ensure Future Fiscal Health, and Encourage Economic Vitality.
I look forward to meeting each and every one of you who have concerns about the way your community is shaped and to receiving your vote!
Douglas G, Knight, PE