Hmmm... While I think ?land of statewide importance? is fine, I?m afraid I get to be the cynical one today. My biggest concern is the 1,000,000 person growth forecast and making rather questionable decisions based on it.
Please explain to me just how do we expect this growth to be realized by 2025? We don?t have the working class brick apartment forests that east coast and mid-west cities do. Our working class neighborhoods are subjects of arguments over ?gentrification? while environmentally minded folks scream about too much commuting. They are symptoms of the wall this 1,000,000 number will hit: we have no new affordable housing for the working class within responsible range of the jobs they need.
We have an extreme unwillingness to build affordable housing upwards (multi-story) to allow real people a chance to live close within our limited urban space. This means that matching people, transportation, and employment will make any decision, however well intentioned, moot when election season comes around and voters can force land use laws to change again.
We keep playing the ?last man in? game, saying in effect, ?now that I?m in the lifeboat, we can leave everyone else behind to sink.? In less caustic terms, we are here and things shouldn?t be allowed to get any worse, but we shouldn?t have to give anything up to provide that. Well, if the forecast is right, we are either all going to be crammed into the same boat or a lot of folks will look for something better that isn?t overloaded and ready to sink.
So lets pretend for a minute that we can find living wage work for an additional 500,000 folks, where do we think they are going to live (along with their 500,000 dependents)?
The point is that without adequate affordable housing for working class earners within realistic commute range of living wage employment, one of two things is exceptionally likely to happen:
a) the growth estimates will prove overblown and things won?t really change much in my community (or the entire Willamette valley, for that matter), no matter what the land use laws are, or
b) the population explosion within relative commute range will force urban gentrification and suburban sprawl around the valley (I know it will also impact the other side of the ditch as well, but they aren?t under Oregon?s land use laws) with growing public pressure blowing any land use restriction out of the water at the ballot box.
I suspect it will be ?a? rather than the alternative, because I don?t see the industrial base or services industry being able to keep enough folks working to afford home and shelter for their families. No significant increase in demand means no real impetus for change.
Added: Now for the fun part, any bets on whether the conversation on air will be even close to what I read the questions to mean? I'm personally guessing I have less than a 50% chance, but that's based on history, not on how I read the topic... ;|
This task force should have been disbanded after the passage of M. 49. The recommendations of this task force do the bidding of Oregonians in Action (OIA). I attended the March 15 land use forum held by OIA and was totally disgusted by the speech given by Big Look Task Force member David Bragdon. He sounded just like OIA's Dave Hunnicut!
The BLTF recommendations of local control and "significant" land are euphemisms for the end of Oregon's land use laws. We compromised enough on M 49; end of disussion.
"The BLTF recommendations of local control and "significant" land are euphemisms for the end of Oregon's land use laws."
Yeppers! Conservative/Libertarians fiercely attack any rational and logical land use laws that have anything to do with with actual scientific data.
Tom's observation may sound extreme, but we may only look to our neighbors to the north for evidence of what local control of land use really looks like. In Washington State, there is strong local control with the only checks and balances being state oversight by a weak state agency (Washington Dept. of Community Trade and Economic Development, CTED) and special hearings boards where local governments can be challenged by enviros, developers, and [rarely] state agencies charged with protecting public resources [like CTED, and the departments of Ecology and Fish and Wildlife].
Washington has a lot more sprawl than Oregon. That is a simple fact. Part of this is due to local control, where zoning and land use and development regulations are defined by local governments with a vested interest in growing their property tax revenue. Oregon's LCDC is a state-wide agency, and has more oversight power to check local governments tendency to want to rezone land to grow their property tax revenue.
For great maps illustrating Washington's sprawl vs. Oregon's more compact development see
Washington also has a system that attempts to define forest and agricultural lands of state-wide significance, to protect these lands AND to free-up non-significant lands for rural residential development (read: sprawl!). Here again it is the fox guarding the hen house. Local governments control the definition of lands of state-wide significance not the state - go figure!
I work as Washington state agency representative charged with reviewing and commenting on local government land use plans and proposed development under a "local control" scheme. Trust me, we don't want this in Oregon!
Senate Bill 82 ([url]http://www.leg.state.or.us/05reg/measpdf/sb0001.dir/sb0082.en.pdf[/url]) created the Oregon ("Big Look") Task Force on Land Use Planning to:[quote]... study and make recommendations on (a) the [i]effectiveness[/i] of Oregon's land use planning program in meeting [i]current and future
needs[/i] of Oregonians in all parts of the state ...[/quote]This charge from the Oregon Legislature raises several fundamental questions:
[list]What are the current and future needs of Oregonians?[/list]
[list]How effective would the existing land use planning program be in meeting these needs?[/list]
[list]How would proposed changes to the program improve its effectiveness?[/list]
Of course, it is hard to know with certainty what the future needs of Oregonians might be. But recent experience suggest that these future needs will likely include the following:
[list]Sufficient food to feed Oregonians despite changes in global markets. (Note recent global increases in the prices of grains, etc.)[/list]
[list]Sufficient energy to power Oregonians despite changes in global markets. (Note recent global increases in oil prices, etc.)[/list]
[list]A reduction in greenhouse gas emissions linked to global warming. (Note recent record temperatures throughout Oregon.)[/list]
It would be helpful to learn how the Big Look Task Force's recent proposals address these fundamental questions.
"What should win out -- commerce or countryside?"
If you're interested in the history of how that question worked out I recommend a book by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto titled ?Civilations: Culture, Ambition, and the Transformation of Nature?.
Or even quicker, look up the ancient city of Ur.
The constant demand for economic growth in the human economy is really the equivalent of the constant demand for growth in the human body by a malignant cancer, they both eventually kill their local host. History shows us that fact over and over both in humans and in civilizations.
So I suggest that a better question is "how can we learn to control and eventually stop growth completely and maybe even reverse it in order to get back to a sustainable pattern and stable dynamic balance".
Historically, humans have overgrown and killed their local environment and then just moved on to another to do the same, but we're running out of planet to do that to and we really don't have the capability to go to another planet.
Or like Agent Smith's soliloquy in *The Matrix*: Humans are a virus ... and we (the agents) are the cure. He he he. We humans tear up everything and we're lousy stewards of natural resources.
I never saw "The Matrix". I get the feeling I missed a cultural icon.
It's never too late.
Yeah, I'll have to consider renting that.
It's funny, I used to travel around building movie theaters as the project foreman and now I watch movies less than I did before I worked on theaters.
On edit: probably should read "I watch fewer movies". (Just to acknowledge that grammar topic from a few weeks ago.)
I hate the idea of 1.7 million more people living in Oregon. Oregon has too many people already. I want to hang up a sign kindly encouraging people to move elsewhere. The land I occupy might become important to the state if the Fremont bridge is ever extended. I prefer to see a moratorium on building. Strip malls, warehouses and clone subdivisions that have cropped up on beautiful farm land in the last 25 years are double plus ugly. Oregonians must insist on protecting important and unimportant land from the rapacious short-sighted land developers. Money and tax base doesn't mean much when life quality is deteriorated too far.
Where should those people go? Just not in your (or our) backyard? Where do we draw the line? Should we all move out of Oregon? Are you a Native American?
With 1.7 million more people on the way, these are important questions. And rather than viewing growth as a problem, to be dealt with, I see it as a solution. I hope the Big Look Task Force can as well.
My last trip to the gas station cost me $66! My car gets 30 miles per gallon, and the only way I can avoid this new expense is when I have choices for how I get around. The great thing about land use planning in Oregon is that new growth can be clustered around existing urban areas. The shorter the distance we have to travel from home to work to school or to the grocery store, the more choices we have for getting around.
New growth can be a solution, if it is focused in existing urban areas, on major bus routes, and inside small town centers can help us gain freedom from the high price of gas. When enough people live along a bus route, that route can support frequent service. When our neighborhoods include complete streets, sidewalks, and bike lanes we have some choices for getting around. By concentrating growth near existing infrastructure we make it easier to invest in all types of transportation choices.
Unfortunately there is a flip side to this coin. Rural subdivisions, destination resorts, and remote country estates leave new homeowners with no choice but to drive everywhere while their houses threaten Oregon's prime farm land. Make no mistake that when the Task Force is talking about "lands that are not of statewide importance" they are talking about rural land that will be eligible for housing development. This is a bad idea.
New Oregonians should not be chained to their vehicles in the face of rising gas prices. And new growth should not threaten Oregon's working farms and forests.
One principle that I'd like to see embodied in this discussion is, "every inch of "your" land is also part of my environment." This is the reality of land use.
Should water quality and a sustainable environment be criteria for selecting future land uses?
Should increasing local food production be a priority? It seems to me that the globalization of our food supply is increasingly a bad idea for so many reasons...
"One principle that I'd like to see embodied in this discussion is, "every inch of "your" land is also part of my environment." This is the reality of land use."
In the United States all land is owned by the People of the United States in the form of the US government. People are allowed to own, buy, and sell "Deeds of Use" for a portion of US land but the actual land is non-transferable. I can't sell my land to say, Japan and have it become part of Japan, it is always US land.
And We the People have every right to regulate how our land is used or misused.
So I agree with your statement.
I am concerned about the change to local control will essentially mean more development. Your listeners should ask themselves whether they know the names of their local Board of County Commissioners or City Council, and how many of their friends know those names. I'd wager that very few know. But you'd better bet that all the large local developers not only know their names, but have them to lunch, cocktail parties, and golf rounds on a regular basis. In short the ability of large developers to influence local gov't is enormous. Although big developers have some long term interest in preventing the impression of sprawl, they also have a very strong short term interest in building the next subdivision on the edge of the urban growth boundary. The effect is sprawl.
If we send decision making back to the local government, the effect will be sprawl.
- Pam Hardy
I was wondering if I was the only one who makes a connection between land use policy and the availability of affordable housing? I am in the process of trying to become a first time home buyer, and we are finding that we will have to leave our close-in apartment for a suburban or other outer-metro area. If you look at these neighborhoods, you overwhelmingly see other families like ours: hardworking, lower income, often minorities. How can we be sure that as we limit urban growth that we can keep the urban areas affordable to the vital, diverse population?
We ought to go back to basics and re-look at the idea of ?resorts?. Isn?t that really the idea that some people have made their normal home and locality so crappy that they want to be able to escape on the weekends to someplace that has not yet been crappified ? But in the process of building the new resort they crappify someone elses home locality.
How does that make any sense? Where is the logic in that? Wouldn?t it be rational to protect the original home and locality from being crappified and so keep the wonderful livability that kept the originals home?
Fouling ones own nest and then moving on vacation to foul the nest of another is an ugly idea.
I suggest that cleaning up ones own nest is the better idea, making ones own home a wonderful place to stay and relax in.
Are these resorts being built ugly? Are the "native" people living in these areas already taking part in "cleaning up ones own nest?" As I've travelled Oregon, I have always been incredibly disappointed at how aesthetically unfortunate most of the rural towns are. Such beautiful scenery and little man-made to complement it.
I am a City Councillor in Tangent. We are a rural community in the center of the Willamette Valley and close to both Corvallis and Albany. One of the unique features of Tangent is that a large part of our incorporated city is OUTSIDE of our urban growth boundary.
We, as residents, depend on Land Use Planning, and the force of state law, to maintain the ag land around us to prevent our being swallowed by the nearby cities. The force of state law also prevents wild variation from year to year as personalities come and go from city government. Visits to Colorado over 40 years gives me a huge appreciation for the system we have compared to the land gobbling mind set there!
I am personally very apprehensive about the Big Look changes. Valley ag land has a huge number of demands and development seems to muster the money to get what it wants. Power follows money and I hate to see what will happen in the future, here.
Mr. Whitman says we still need to be concerned about sprawl. Yet the Big Yawn TF won't consider a serious discussion about how our property tax system directly competes with our "smart" land use system and actually screams sprawl. Just look around! They claim they're interested in market-based tools, but they don't want to discuss how other states have restructured our speculation-laced property tax to work with a rural-lands protecting land use system.
I am concerned about the lack of opportunity for public engagement in the task force process. The task force has scheduled ten outreach workshops around the state to solicit reactions to their recommendations. Of those ten meetings, only one will be in the Portland area, yet roughly half of all Oregonians live in the Portland metropolitan area. Eugene is the only other workshop site in the Willamette Valley. Two-thirds of all Oregonians live in the Willamette Valley, yet only two outreach meetings will be held in the region. It's important that the task force involve Oregonians from all parts of the state, but the current schedule hardly gives most Oregonians a chance to show up and have a say.
Several points - "destination resorts" originated in Deschutes County to deal with Sunriver and Black Butte Ranch. It was never intended to create a vehicle to essentially develop subdivisions on rural lands by including a few rentals and a golf courses. That has been an evolution by our tendency to look for end runs in many economic areas. 2) Many small parcels within forest or efu lands were preexisting Senate Bill 100. 3) Much of the development in Central Oregon has come from outside interests - some of it is tasteful, some is not. But it is not limited to local residents. 40 The keys to living - clean air, water and uncontaminated soils along with open space have no economic value in our current system - the so called "higher uses" depend on economic returns.
Yep. Well writ.
This topic is so broad, literally and conceptually. There is definitely too much all-or-nothing in any discussion relating to development---and a whole lot of moralizing. There is the develop everything crowd---and the planet is fine china crowd, lets keep it as a museum---with not much in-between.
One fallacy that is seen over and over again is the ridiculous assumption that if it is nice or for the wealthy it is automatically more offensive. The hideousness of the Motel 6 is appropriate for rural areas, but not the aesthetic luxuries of The Four Seasons.
Much of these discussions are about aesthetics. Notice the mentions of farm land as if it were always for the greater good and it's taken as fact. You could argue that farm land in many cases is also aesthetically offensive and not to mention the crops. Just because you are growing something consumed doesn't make it any more pertinent then a manufacturing plant. A lot of crops are quite frankly luxury items---that are as frivolous as anything else.
Most of the problem doesn't lie just in the question of development, but more in how you develop. For instance if you were to build an eco-friendly sustainable bubble out in the rural areas, I assume this would be seen as a more acceptable form of development---as it probably should be---even if it's initial footprint is commensurate with some "resort."
Population growth has already diminished quality of life in Oregon. I have lived in Oregon 46 years and think that the land use program has had limited success. When you take an infinite number of bites out of limited resource, eventually you have nothing. I don't think we should passively accept population growth. Native born Americans have achieved replacement rate and the greater part of increase is from foreign born. It is even greater than census figures show, because the American-born children of foreign born parents are not counted, but would not be here if their parents were not here. We are enduring higher rates of immigration now than ever in our history. We can't do much about the legal immigrants, because that is controlled by national policy (although we could press our representatives to take a different stand than they do)We can, however, reduce the illegal immigrant numbers. Oregon is a "sanctuary" state, and Portland, Salem, and Marion County are "sanctuaries" under state law. This law should be repealed and local law enforcers should be permitted to cooperate with federal agents. We could drive the illegals out as Arizona has done. This would make a significant reduction in the number of people that have to be accommodated and especially, people that have a high birth rate.
Many policies encourage population increase. We need to reconsider tax breaks for businesses to locate here. Do they bring their own people? Do they attract more people? Do they get to relocate again after damaging us? Who pays for the infrastructure they require?
A study done at Portland State University just a few years ago showed that each new home cost existing residents $34,000 in infrastructure costs. Existing residents subsidize growth, growth which they mostly do not want.
Local governments cannot and will not control growth. That is why we had to have statewide planning regulations and why we still need them. There is no such thing as land which has no statewide significance.
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