Updated: OTC/LCDC move away from State Planning Goals, towards building roads in response to development

Update: 1000 Friends has put their official comments to the workgroup (PDF, 245K) online.

A primary purpose of the Transportation Planning Rule (TPR), which implements Statewide Planning Goal 12 (Transportation), is to assure that land uses and transportation systems are planned together “to reduce reliance on the automobile so that the air pollution, traffic and other livability problems faced by urban areas in other parts of the country might be avoided.”

Because it is very difficult to construct a new road through a developed area and because a road once built is very difficult to move or remove, it is critical that land uses and transportation system be planned together to get the roads and other transportation facilities right the first time.

But a joint subcommittee of the Land Conservation Development Commission (LCDC) and the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) is looking to change the purpose of the rule to deemphasize coordinated land use and transportation planning and to emphasize building more roads to serve development that has already occurred — an approach that would likely cost taxpayers more, use up land quicker and be no more effective at controlling traffic congestion.

The subcommittee was originally created to address concerns about the extent to which there should be adequate transportation facilities to serve new development arising out of the Jaqua v. City of Springfield (PeaceHealth) case decided by LUBA and the Court of Appeals. But those issues were mostly resolved last March when LCDC clarified the applicable rules.

But now the subcommittee is moving forward to change other parts of the rule, with no mandate for doing so.

While the current staff proposal states that the TPR “implements Statewide Planning Goal 12 (Transportation) and provisions of other statewide planning goals related to transportation planning,” staff has so far ignored Goal 12 and the other planning goals. Rather, the real goal of the effort appears to be to satisfy certain vocal developers and other special interests to allow development with few restrictions — and to facilitate ODOT constructing highways after the fact in response to such development .

The next meeting of the advisory TPR Work Group, which consists of some interested stakeholders, is on Tuesday, August 2, 9 am – noon, at the ODOT HR Training Center, 2775 19th Street SE, Salem, OR 97302-1503 from 9 am – 12 pm. The next meeting of the joint subcommittee is on Friday, September 23, 8 am – noon, at the same location.

If you would like to know more, please contact me.

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