News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

City of Sisters bulletin

The City of Sisters is celebrating its 75th anniversary of incorporation this year.

Over the decades, there have been many topics and issues that have created conversation, and sometimes controversy, in the community. Fortunately, the people here and now in Sisters are willing to come together for vibrant discussion, putting the bigger picture above their perspective and interests, acknowledging the challenges of balancing many factors and constraints.

Most notably are those at the City who volunteer to be elected on City Council or appointed to a City committee. There are several dozens of these community members dedicating their time to shape Sisters through countless past and current projects.

Over the past few years, the City and numerous other community partner organizations have reached out to hear how we can best shape the future of Sisters. It was a year-long planning process in 2018/19 to create the Sisters Country Vision led by the Vision Action Team consisting of 31 members.

The vision we created for ourselves is “the overarching aspiration for this place we call home. Incorporating input from participants across the community, it reflects the ideas and words of Sisters Country residents themselves — and their intentions for a more prosperous, livable, resilient, and connected community.”

It includes 20 strategies, five per focus area, that were thoroughly developed, vetted, and ranked by the community. Under “Prosperous” there is the strategy Forest Service Property Development: “Facilitate the development of a masterplan on the U.S. Forest Service property that is compatible with the community’s character and identity, combining mixed-used commercial, residential, and recreational facilities that anchor and define the community, create new jobs, and provide housing options.”

Balancing factors and constraints, there has been progress towards that strategy. To get a good sense of where the community is going refer to the strategies in the Vision as the Vision Implementation Team (VIT) continues to work together to further those community priorities through action items.

Everything is more complicated than it seems and often it is not easy to understand. The people that make up the organization at the City of Sisters want to educate, engage, and empower the community — we work in public service for those reasons.

The ongoing Comprehensive Plan Update that started last fall is incorporating the Vision and other community feedback into the City’s overarching legal planning document. It is the “teeth” that allows us to manage and shape growth.

It is too simplistic to say either pro-growth or anti-growth. We must plan intelligently for the community we want tomorrow and pull the levers within our control. Among other things, we cannot defy the state’s land-use planning system, and Sisters does do not exist in a bubble immune to a global pandemic creating “Zoom towns.”

I enjoy working in Sisters for a variety of reasons. One reason, especially in the political culture lately, is that the distance between constituents and representatives is measured in feet and city blocks, not hundreds or thousands of miles. Unfortunately, some do not see the value of that distinction. I can say confidently that the City is made up of people who are welcoming and want to help. We offer invitations to participate and proactively engage to the best of our ability. The reality is if you want to get involved you can, and it is as simple as calling me if you want to learn more about anything related to the City.

I may not have all the answers, or tell you what you want to hear, but I will always have an open, honest, fact-based conversation, and thank you for your input.


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