Meet Alexis Biddle

Mon, 02/26/2018 (All day)

Urban Circuit Rider

At the beginning of the new year, 1000 Friends brought on Alexis Biddle to be our new Urban Circuit Rider. Alexis has a strong passion for social justice, affordable housing, transportation, and sustainable urban design more generally. The Urban Circuit Rider will complement the work done by our Rural Circuit Rider, Meriel Darzen. The two circuit riders work out of our Bend office and, with the amount of travel these positions require, enjoy its central location; though, being avid outdoor adventurers, that is probably not all Meriel and Alexis are enjoying about Bend.

Alexis grew up on the edge of the metropolitan region of Cleveland, Ohio and experienced first hand the consequences of unfettered development. This has driven his passion for understanding the relationship between rural and urban areas and how they complement one another. Alexis educates people to understand that quality urban development creates not just more livable cities, but also a stronger regional economy and a culture that values farmland and farmers. To this end, Alexis will be monitoring urban planning processes by working with planning staff, communicating with local advocates, and testifying at public land use hearings.

One of the most pressing urban issues statewide is affordable housing. The crisis affects each city across the state. The issue is different in every city and Alexis has been traveling to meet with experts, partners, and local officials to gain an understanding of each locality’s opportunities and challenges. In places like the coast and Columbia Gorge, the prevalent housing issues center on the vacation rentals, where in some neighborhoods, only a few residents actually live. Eastern Oregon is facing workforce housing shortages in areas that are rapidly building data centers. Other regions, such as communities in the Willamette and Rogue river valleys, face a shortage of “missing middle” housing options, such as duplexes and townhomes, that keep affordable housing out of reach for many.

In his first month with 1000 Friends, Alexis has already traveled over 2,500 miles reaching places as distant as Lakeview and McMinnville. Through his conversations with local leaders, housing experts, and advocates, Alexis has come to understand more about Oregon’s housing challenges and the myriad of solutions required. Much of the need for affordable housing can be accommodated through a more flexible land use code that incentivizes smaller lot sizes with fewer restrictions on building siting or the number of units per lot. Other options that can catalyze the market for affordable housing include reducing parking requirements around areas with quality transit options or allowing dwellings that serve both as homes and as workspaces. Each community will be different, but Alexis knows that flexibility is key and that communities are coming together with fresh ideas to solve the housing crisis.

Alexis recognizes that each community best understands it’s own needs and that cities need to strike a balance between neighborhood interests and city-wide needs. Therefore, his collaboration with advocates and cities will focus on creating inclusive conversations to ensure that the most fitting housing solutions are implemented. Alexis encourages anyone with concerns about urban development, affordable housing, or transportation to reach out to him at alexis@friends.org.