There have been many negative comments about the Clackamas County Commission’s choice to study changing the long term zoning designations on three areas amounting to 1625 acres. These areas are currently planned as rural reserve. We proposed to mark them as “undesignated”. The total of these properties are less than 2% of the county’s proposed rural reserve designation and less than 0.5% (1/2 of 1 percent) of the county’s foundation farmland.
This proposal is not as aggressive as what the Clackamas County Business alliance and the County’s own Economic Development Commission support. Even the opponents of development agree that if development ever occurred it would be 25 years out. No economic development study was done prior to these lands being designated. Metro says they have no responsibility for economic development. But as a county it’s our responsibility to look out for economic development. Urban rural designations were and experiment to create 50 year rural reserves. It has not played out in any of the other counties in the state. Urban/rural reserves were so screwed up in Washington County that the legislature had to intervene.
Please note that undesignated can change to urban designation only after many stars align. Those requirements include:
1) 75% of the county’s 13,800 acres of urban reserves have to be used up first.
2) Metro must approve of the change in designation.
3) A city must agree to annex it.
4) Infrastructure must be in place.
When could/would that occur? None of the current EFU zoning would change on the affected properties. It would still be protected farmland until all of the above occurred. There isn’t anyone who has told me that a change to urban designation would occur before at least 25 years. Some would have you believe that the bulldozers would arrive any day. It just isn’t so.
The golf course property is adjacent to I-5 and bifurcated by Hwy 551. This is exactly the kind of location that industries want. As our regional leaders continue to ignore our traffic needs and instead over invest in light rail we will need job producing lands that are close to major freeways. Metro projects that 400,000 more people will move here in the next 20 years. I think it’s more than that. The Oregonian recently published a story that claims that there are 111 people moving to the region each DAY! That’s over 800,000 in the next 20 years if that rate of influx continues. Where are our grandchildren to work? Metro’s own projections say that the majority, if not all, of the approximately 6,000 acres of available employment lands in the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) will be used over the next 20 years.
Metro foolishly planned for 1200 acres of foundation farmland in Boring to be urban reserve. I would gladly send those acres back to the rural designation in exchange for the three studied areas receiving the undesignated status. Boring will never develop because the possibility of infrastructure from the City of Damascus went away with disincorporation and Gresham has no interest in supplying services.
The 800 acres south of the Willamette River is bordered on the South by a busy and growing airport. An airport is fairly industrial as far as activity goes. Even my opponent Jim Bernard has said on record this is the type of location that Intel and Google would want to be at.
The “French Prairie” that everyone talks about being threatened is nearly 150,000 acres. We’re talking about 800 acres here. Since I’ve been a boy I heard the claim that “in a few years” it would be solid city all the way to Salem on I-5. It never happened. It likely never will.
One last thing I need to say about congestion. Officials have estimated that it will take 1.4 billion dollars to fix the three key traffic “choke points” in the region. Those are Hwy 217, I-205 and I-5 at the Rose Quarter. Regional leaders say that there is no money to fix these important problems. Yet those same regional leaders say that we should spend 3 billion dollars on a 7-mile light rail project up Barbur Boulevard to Tigard. Misplaced priorities.
Thanks for listening.
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Northwest Connection.)