Bend residents love their local parks, trails and recreation opportunities. Chances are you have visited a park that was built using park system development charges. System development charges (SDC) are fees charged to developers when a new residence is built. Sometimes they are known as impact fees. Through this fee, newcomers to the community pay their share of the costs to build the new parks, trails and recreation facilities needed to serve them.
What are SDCs and why are they important?
System development charges are fees paid by developers on new homes and hotel rooms to help fund the purchase of land and construction of new parks and trails. These fees ensure that as new residents and visitors are added, everyone can enjoy the same recreational opportunities, or level of service, that the existing community has come to value.
In a place like Bend that grows quickly, keeping up with growth is important. Without SDCs, funds would not be available to build new parks or trails. Existing parks and trails could become over-crowed and some parks and amenities like Al Moody, Discovery, Rockridge, Canal Row, Wildflower, Pine Nursery, and the south canyon pedestrian bridge, wouldn’t exist today.
During the public input phase of the District’s 2018 comprehensive plan, residents consistently supported retaining the existing level of park and recreation service as Bend grows, rather than have parks become overcrowded, or leave areas of town without close-to-home access to parks, trails or recreation facilities.
How are SDCs calculated for parks?
System development charges are based on the cost to purchase land and to construct the park, trail or amenity improvement. In most cases the District must purchase land at fair market value, so there is a direct link between increasing land costs in Bend, SDC fees, and our overall ability to build new parks and trails. SDC fees are reviewed each year and adjusted based on an index of current land and construction costs.
What kinds of projects do SDCs pay for?
SDC funds can only be used on park and trail projects that are needed as a result of community growth. SDCs cannot be used to cover operations or maintenance costs (think mowing, trash removal or restroom servicing at your favorite park). They also cannot be used to repair or simply replace an existing park or park feature (e.g. Juniper Tennis Courts, Farewell Bend Bridge). SDCs can only be used for new parks and trails or for improvements to existing parks that expand capacity to serve the growing community.
It is important to note that SDCs are only one piece of the pie that helps fund and build your local parks. Funding for parks and recreation comes from a number of sources, including:
- Property Taxes
- User Fees and Charges
- System Development Charges (SDCs)
- Donations and Grants
- General Obligation Bond
However, SDCs are the primary source of funding for system expansion, so that other funds may be used for system rehabilitation and maintenance.
SDC update process and timeline
Bend is growing and park needs are changing. Bend Parks and Recreation District is updating its SDCs with the goal of making the program more flexible. A flexible SDC methodology will help us fund the right kinds of parks at the right level of service for the future. Some of the changes the District is studying as part of the methodology update include:
- Expanding flexibility to allow SDCs to fund a wider range of parks and recreation projects identified in the new comprehensive plan (such as indoor recreation facilities).
- Aligning SDC fees with local discussions about affordable housing
- Considering the viability of creating a non-residential SDC fee
- Reviewing administrative policies and procedures
The Board of Directors will discuss the District’s SDC fees in the coming months to make sure our approach to addressing growth and providing service is on the mark to continue to give residents the park and trail system they value.
Overall, SDCs are regulated by Oregon State Law. The District’s SDCs fees are established through adoption of an Ordinance and Methodology by the Board of Directors. They were last adopted in 2009.
- October 2018-April 2019: Research and stakeholder conversations
- March 2019: Draft report and 60-day public review
- May 21, 2019: Public hearing and methodology adoption (requires Board approval)
- July 2019: Implementation
Public and stakeholders input
Stakeholder Feedback is Informing the SDC Update
The District is engaging local developers and other interested parties as it updates the methodology, to ensure that the update takes into account a range of needs and concerns.
As part of the process, The District is holding three meetings with residential and commercial developers, affordable housing groups, local agencies, and other interested parties to get feedback on the SDC update process. Three meetings will provide information about the process and invite input from a wide range of perspectives:
Meeting #1 – Held October 24, 2018
Bend Park & Recreation District, 799 SW Columbia St., Bend, OR
Introductory meeting to orient interested parties to the SDC update and hear preliminary feedback on a range of issues including projects to be funded by SDCs, a potential nonresidential SDC, options for supporting affordable housing goals, and administrative changes. Residential developers, homebuilders, realtors, affordable housing groups, and agency representatives attended and provided input that the project team is considering in the SDC update.
Meeting #2 – Held December 6, 2018, 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Bend Park & Recreation District, 799 SW Columbia St., Bend, OR
Meeting to review and seek input on the same information and issues as the October 24 introductory meeting, from an expanded group of stakeholders. The purpose of the meeting is to seek to broaden feedback for consideration in the SDC update process.
Meeting #3 – Held January 16, 2019, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Bend Senior Center, 1600 SE Reed Market Rd, Bend, OR
Meeting to share and discuss a preliminary analysis of options that address potential tied residential SDC by home size, potential nonresidential SDC, and project list. This meeting was a follow up to the first two stakeholder meetings. BPRD sought feedback on the preliminary analysis and potential SDC options in advance of presentation at the BPRD District Board meeting on January 29, 2019.
Public Feedback Helped Pave the Way
Extensive community input was gathered as part of District’s recent comprehensive plan process. During that two-year public engagement process, 3,000 Bend residents met with staff or provided their comments to influence the next ten years of parks, trails, amenities and facilities.
The SDC update process will use that community feedback as a guide to ensure that SDCs fund the types of parks and recreation amenities that community members want to see.
Additionally, the District will engage local developers and other interested parties as it updates the methodology, to ensure that the update takes into account a range of needs and concerns.