2021 Awardee – North Bend Downtown Form-Based Code

North Bend has branded itself as a community that’s easy to reach but hard to leave. The city, which has about 7,000 people, is a livable small town with a lot of character and natural beauty. Its secret is its people.

Mayor Rob McFarland describes the community as one that people want to be part of.

“People engage with each other, they care about their community,” McFarland said. He said the community cares about taking care of natural resources, which North Bend has in abundance. “We are folks who believe in the principles that guide our state in ensuring we’re taking care of those things while acknowledging that we are a growing society.”

To prepare for anticipated growth, city officials assembled a variety of stakeholders to develop plans for how the town should evolve while maintaining its charm and sense of community. The city council, staff and planning commission engaged community members to develop the Downtown Form-Based Code.

With Mount Si as the community’s iconic backdrop and quick access to both mountains and sound, North Bend is an established outdoor recreation destination. The community-wide commitment to preserving the environment, cultural history and identity has helped guide the downtown commercial zone project to encourage people to stick around after they’re done playing outside.

The project’s goal is to revitalize the downtown core into a social, cultural and entertainment destination. There will be more housing options and new public spaces to enhance the community. The project means more housing types at a wider range of price points, which means more people can enjoy life in the community, McFarland said. It also means more amenities for people who are already there.

“It’s absolutely looking down the road,” he said of the project. “It’s looking for a way to accommodate the changes that we know are coming and to find a way to allow for a vast variety of uses and changes.”

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