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UPDATED: LCDC rejects Forest Grove, Council Creek plots, accepts remainder of urban reserves

While it isn’t official, the Oregon Land Conservation and Development Condition is set to issue a ruling accepting all of Metro’s recent designations of urban and rural reserves, without amendment, according to Metro councilor Robert Liberty.


Councilor Liberty’s report of the Oregon LCDC affirming all Metro urban/rural reserves designations was in error. Today, the LCDC issued their recommendations, and many environmentalists are happy–whereas the mayors of Cornelius and Forest Grove, both of which were looking to add industrial tracts within their respective city limits, are not. The Council Creek parcel–a 624-acre plot north of Cornelius was rejected outright, and a plot north of Forest Grove was remanded for further consideration. The list of rural reserves was also remanded for further investigation, with metro permitted to add these plots to rural reserves if it deems appropriate, and find other parcels (including those currently designated as rural, but less suitable for agriculture) to add to urban reserves instead.

The remainder of the Metro’s recommendations, including all designations in Multnomah and Clackamas Counties, were accepted.

Due to the delays involved in the partial remand of the designations, Metro stated that it was unlikely any UGB expansions would occur until next year.

(The remainder of the post below the line is the original content, which is preserved–but is now largely superseded.)

While it isn’t official, the Oregon Land Conservation and Development Condition is set to issue a ruling accepting all of Metro’s recent designations of urban and rural reserves, without amendment, according to Metro councilor Robert Liberty. The decision, which was set to be announced last Friday and delayed, is expected this Friday (the 29th). Quite a few objections and amendments were raised to the LCDC, which rejected the lot of them. The LCDC only has authority to rule on legal objections, not technical objections.

While the LCDC is expected to approve the designations, it did have a few sharp words for the process–suggesting that Senate Bill 1011, the 2007 legislation which created the urban/rural reserves designations, results in a more politicized process than the prior method. This claim drew a rebuke from Mr. Liberty, who articulated the opposite opinion–that the UR/RR process involves more technical analysis, and less horsetrading, then before.

One example of that, of course, is the Stafford Basin. The basin, an area which is surrounded by urbanization on three sides, bisected by I-205, and is too hilly to be useful for agriculture, had nonetheless resisted any urban designations for years–unsurprising given that its full of wealthy homeowners living on large lots. The three cities bordering the basin–West Linn, Lake Oswego, and Tualatin, all oppose its inclusion, and were busy trying to convince the LCDC to overrule Metro on its inclusion.

Other parties bound to be disappointed by the upcoming ruling include 1000 Friends of Oregon, who were hoping that LDCD would overturn the inclusion of Washington County farmland in the Cornelius area into the urban reserves. It would be interesting to see how Bob Stacey, should he win next Tuesday, goes about implementing a decision he disagrees with.

Setting Course for the 22nd Century

Metro is just beginning an update of the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP).

Every four years, Metro is required to update our transportation plan to comply with state and federal planning requirements. I’m excited to announce that this update will be done in a different way than past updates, and, hopefully, give us some direction out of a future increasingly congested, consumptive of time, energy and dollars

Instead of providing a long (and unfunded) list of the transportation projects based on traffic projections, which past updates have done without regard for whether we can pay for them, this RTP update will ask you what your transportation priorities are and what are you willing to pay for. What is more frustrating than a long shopping list and an empty wallet?

You may have read stories in the newspapers about a new report that found congestion in the region negatively affects businesses and residents in the region and statewide. This report, entitled “The Cost of Congestion to the Economy of the Portland Region,” found that the congestion will only get worse as more people move to the region unless we either raise significant new revenues for more highways or adopt new strategies such as congestion pricing or beefing up non-auto choices.

Because it will start with the fact of limited resources, this RTP update will force us, as a region, to determine how much we are willing to invest in improving our regional transportation systems or open the conversation on trying new approaches that achieve our goals.

What are some of these promising new approaches? Some are familiar, like using land use to ensure that there are employment, stores and schools located closely to homes and others are more adventurous, like tolling the freeway system to manage traffic and using cell phones and PDA’s to set up “smart” carpooling. As a short feature in Sunday’s NY Times Magazine lays out, “controlling” congestion finally being recognized as impossible. Indeed, the places with the most congestion in the country have spent the most on highways (the top 5: Los Angeles area, San Francisco, DC area, Atlanta and Houston).

Other new trends that the new RTP will have to address in addition to funding constraints are rising oil prices, continued high population growth and implementing an updated 50 year land use plan. In addition, it will also be a good time to examine and update regional decision making and governance (e.g., why does Multnomah County have responsibility for 5 of the 12 bridges across the Willamette River? (the rest are ODOT but one. Can you guess which?)

Over the next few months,we will be ironing out the details of this update, including a public involvement plan. This update will be closely coordinated with the work that we are doing with the 2040 New Look and by 2008 we will have a new 2035 RTP incorporating new policy direction stemming from the 2040 New Look. But I expect there to be lots of interesting output during the coming year, as well. I urge you to stay tuned for next steps by checking out the RTP web page or by calling call Regional Transportation Planning at (503) 797-1839 or send e-mail to trans@metro-region.org. The hearing impaired can call (503) 797-1804.