The curtain goes up on a new era of housing in southern Deschutes County.
La Pine is seeing historic numbers of homes go up around town this year as a result of a multitude of factors.
Data from the Sunriver/La Pine Economic Development Report revealed there are 466 single- and multi-family homes being built in town this year.
La Pine housing projects planned or underway
- Pine Landing — 10 lot single-family lot subdivision east of Highway 97
- The Reserves — 191 lot single-family residential lots, and two commercial lots with parks and open space located immediately east of Huntington Road and south of Crescent Creek subdivision
- Evans Estates — 61 lot single-family subdivision located immediately east of Huntington Meadows subdivision east of Highway 97
- Habitat for Humanity — Continuing to build approved 19 lot townhome subdivision with common area located along Little Deschutes Lane
- Star Storage La Pine LLC — 36 unit multi-family development
- Crescent Creek Subdivision No. 4 — 51 lot single-family housing
- West Pine Landing — 10 lot single-family subdivision
- Finley Butte Ranch — 89 lot single-family subdivision
- Finley Butte Apartments — 18 unit multi-family development
“This is a very large boom that is fueled by a number of different inputs and it is very out of the ordinary,” said City Manager Geoff Wullschlager. “We’ve not seen numbers like this really in the short history of the incorporation of La Pine.”
La Pine, which became an incorporated city in 2006, boasted a population of 2,512 people in the 2020 census.
The numbers of houses going up around town this year is a drastic change from the average.
“We might expect in a normal year, and when I say normal let’s go back to 2021, 2020. We might expect to see 20 new homes built in La Pine,” Wullschlager said.
That’s a 2,230% increase.
Wullschlager said he believes it’s due to a mix of supply, location, and change of lifestyle for many.
“First off, there’s 350 acres in what we call the Newberry Planning Area that is owned by the county and that land has been put aside for residential development, so we have a very large swath just in that area of land that is already zoned appropriately for housing,” he said.
“The fact that we have that much developable residential land within city limits is, I think, a huge input to what we’re seeing right now when you compare to other communities in the Central Oregon region that may not have that kind of inventory at their disposal for residential development.”
Central Oregon outdoors without the Bend prices
Another draw is the proximity to outdoor wonders without the Bend prices.
“I think Central Oregon has its own attraction and allure given the access to outdoor activities, which I think in people’s lives is becoming more important in this post-COVID era,” Wullschlager added. “We have adjacency to the Cascade Lakes just to the west of us, Mount Bachelor is 45 minutes away, all the amenities with our neighbors to the north, Sunriver, as well as the access to the Oregon outback for those who are into the more into off-highway vehicles or those who enjoy the desert areas.”
The shift to remote work during the pandemic was another factor in expanding the opportunities for people to live in more rural areas.
“A lot of what we’re seeing in Central Oregon and around the state for that matter is this new circumstance that we find ourselves in, that people don’t necessarily have to live and work in the same location that they maybe had to three, four, five years ago,” Wullschlager said.
Even with those factors, adding housing in a small community before a potential recession could be a risk.
Wullschlager said a year ago, a home in La Pine would sell within 72 hours. That has slowed to a 60-to-90-day maximum selling period this year.
Supply chain issues with building materials could also pose a challenge to completing the new structures. However, Wullschlager is not concerned about the demand for the new homes in town.
“It is my expectation that the builders and the developers have done their homework and done their math, and they fully expect a full occupancy in these homes,” he said.
The city also plans to use federal funds to upgrade their water and sewer system to sustain the various housing types.
“Like any forward thinking community, we would like to see diversity of housing types, not only for equity issues but also to support a well-rounded community,” Wullschlager said. “We need housing both at the low end and, at the high end, and in the middle. We need to attract a number of different types of residents here to support the number of businesses here, and businesses that may move here.”