Oregon Court of Appeals topples 50-year growth plan, setting stage for land use debate
Washington County used "pseudo factors" to determine urban/rural reserves...
By Christian Gaston - Oregonian, February 20, 2014
The Oregon Court of Appeals overturned a 50-year growth plan established by Metro and Portland-area counties Thursday, setting the stage for a debate about the state’s land use system.
In the opinion, the court critiqued designations of rural and urban reserves in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties and criticized state land use regulators for approving the plan.
The broad nature of the ruling means county and Metro officials will have to restart work on a plan that took years and millions of dollars to develop unless the Legislature steps in.
RAD: The primary culprits who caused the court to rule against the current plan were Washington County's board of commissioners currently headed by Andy Duyck. But the pro-developer mobilization of bias began with former Chair Tom Brian who got Metro to cave in to UGB slice and dice land swapping.
Since Brian is no longer chair the political fallout of the court's decision will rest on Chair Duyck who is facing a re-election bid in May against Allen Amabisca. This could easily be the main issue in two of the three county commission races, Duyck v. Amabisca and Terry vs. Furse.
Washington County residents have a choice between two visions of the county's future - unlimited pro-developer urban sprawl or smart growth which balances rural and urban spaces. Do we want a one-dimensional economy based on the traded sector or a diverse economy based on farming, small business along with hi-tech?
CG: Earlier this week Rep. Brian Clem, D-Salem, released a map of a modified reserve plan that he hopes the Legislature will pass this month.
His plan would lock some controversial farmland in the Helvetia area of Washington County and affirm a 2011 decision by Metro to open roughly 2,000 acres near Beaverton and Hillsboro for future development.
The Legislature set up the urban and rural reserves system in 2007 in order to provide more certainty for farmers and developers, but the designations became mired in controversy.
RAD: In an act of unbridled hubris the Washington County Board of Commissioners fought for including the Helvetia area within the urban/rural reserves which set off the legal battle now won by groups like Save Helvetia and 1000 Friends of Oregon. But the battle is not over!
Since the court remanded the issue back to LCDC, Metro and the three metro area counties, the battle royal may have just begun! And given the critical commissioner races in Washington County in May there could be a far different set of players at the helm come next January.
It all depends on the timing of rolling out a new map for urban/rural reserves. It's hard to imagine that any new map could be agreed to by the three counties, Metro and LCDC in an expedited process. It more likely will take at least a year of time and taxpayer money to straighten the mess out!
But hold the phone as noted above, there is a plan B working its way in the current legislature.
CG: If the Legislature acts, the planning effort could bypass much of the legal scrutiny that has bogged it down since local governments approved it in 2010.
But Clem’s effort is controversial. Washington County, Hillsboro and Metro officials have all said the so-called “land use grand bargain” that Clem is proposing would undermine local control over land use designations.
RAD: Of course the "good old boys in Washington County, Hillsoboro and at Metro who designed the now "failed" plan oppose the "grand bargain." But don't buy the argument they are trotting out about undermining local control.
The designers of Washington County's part of the plan weren't that keen on local citizen input mandated by state law, they gerryrigged a plan which was "developer" not "citizen" friendly. Their sudden conversion to "local control" is suspect to say the least.
Besides, Senate Bill 100 and LCDC were a creation of the legislature not local government. The prerogatives the legislature granted the Metro counties, Metro and LCDC can be taken away or modified. The legislature ultimately rules minus court challenge.
As they say in the movies - the plot thickens!
PS: For more on this...
Appeals Court opinion:
Carla Axtman, Blue Oregon
Furse response - the campaign has begun!
"Too often, the citizens of Washington County find their input is ignored and that the County Commission has made up its mind before any public hearing is held. With this victory, we can renew our commitment to protecting farms, forest lands, and open space for generations to come by electing new leaders who support Oregon's efforts to limit sprawl and protect our farmlands."