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Methodology inadequate for employment land

Oregon attempts to force fit a demographic historical trend led housing model onto economic development. That works for grocery stores and dentists but not for traded sector.

Some cities have a desire and opportunity to grow for lots of good reasons. But under the existing system they have to prove they need to grow.

The current statutes, goals and rules authorize aspirational growth to help cities redirect their economic futures. But what ORS 197.712/Goal 9/div 9 give, Goal 14/div 24 takes away, or muddles. It is easy to appeal, and easy to jam up difficult local decisions. The lessons from the Scappoose EOA are useful, but cities are still very vulnerable.

In theory cities are to demonstrate they have a real opportunity to capture growth (not that they need it). If aspirational growth is allowed, opposing land use advocates ask how much? What is the limit? Who decides?

These are legitimate questions in a state that seems committed to some kind of land use program for many good reasons.

One seemingly attractive answer is to tie UGB expansion to the availability of infrastructure dollars. But that is essentially the same future planning trap of chicken vs the egg – only different.

Cities and land owners cannot afford to speculate on developed industrial sites. Adding raw land to the UGB helps with that a bit, but it creates inequities and bad politics.

What is needed – especially outside MPOs – is to enable cities to quickly and reliably say yes when someone proposes a development project.

Rural zones close to UGBs should function as a holding zone for important economic development projects. The legislature gets to set the quality bar – things below (gas stations, mini storage, etc) disallowed. The quality bar can be different for different regions or other reasons.

The city’s job is to understand their capacity to hook up new uses, and to have full SDC’s (or other secure funding) to the extent needed. The city must be required to annex and all service providers required to serve so no anomaly islands are created.

This approach would enable and require real investments with real dollars – an effective brake on speculation and sprawl. It would also make real projects open to local public review so public decisions about the benefits and costs of change can be transparent and real.