Clackamas County commissioners oppose land use ‘grand bargain’

The Oregonian – February 25, 2014

The Clackamas County commissioners oppose an amendment to the land use “grand bargain” that is expected to move quickly through the Oregon Legislature this week.

The commissioners think the amendment to House Bill 4078 favors Washington County at the expense of Clackamas County, and legislators should wait until the 2015 session before making any decisions.

Political reporter Christian Gaston explains the amendment in his story on the amendment:

Rep. Brian Clem, D-Salem, is crafting an amendment to House Bill 4078 that would clear a legal cloud over growth plans in Washington County by designating land to be brought inside the region’s urban growth boundary and by redrawing a 2010 plan to designate parcels as urban or rural reserves.

The Oregon Court of Appeals dismantled the reserves plan that Metro and Portland-area counties established, saying Washington County relied on “pseudo factors” when deciding what land to protect from development over 50 years.

“We’re going to be impacted negatively,” said Commissioner Paul Savas.

Savas worries that the plan creates barriers to providing infrastructure to rural areas and expanding transportation capacity to high-employment areas in the urban part of the county.

The emphasis on solving Washington County’s land-use problems also leaves Clackamas County to figure out how to deal with the Stafford area, which is deeply divided over its urban reserves designation, which opens the farmland area to future development.

Several commissioners also complained that the amendment was ironed out by developers, conservationists, local government officials and farmers during long meetings Friday and Sunday, rather than the usual legislative process that would give commissioners time to wrap their heads around all the nuances of the deal.

“I don’t like deals being cut, even in non-smoke filled rooms,” Chairman John Ludlow said.

The commissioners are staying neutral on the original bill, which mostly affirms the urban growth boundary adopted by Metro and signed off by the state Land Conservation and Development Commission.

But they oppose the amendment, which should be introduced soon.

“And it’s not just a no, it’s a heck no,” Commissioner Tootie Smith said

Molly Harbarger

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