Metro's Urban/Rural Reserves Program: Our Region's Future

By Ben DuPree of Portland, Oregon. Ben currently serves as a member-at-large on the Metro Regional Government's Committee on Citizen Involvement. He has previously served as Reed College's Student Body President, staff associate for Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams, Outreach Coordinator and member-at-large for the West Los Angeles Neighborhood Council, and in public relations for healthcare locals within the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Have you heard of the Metro Regional Government's work with urban and rural reserves? Over the next 40 to 50 years, Portland and its surrounding region will see an influx of population growth. How we plan for and accommodate this growth is pivotal to the ongoing sustainability and character of our region. And that's why Metro, three Counties within the metro region (Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas), and numerous constituent groups are going to be working over the next few years to define how that urban growth is managed while preserving our essential rural, green spaces. Essentially, they're planning our region's land-use future, working to define and areas that may be better-suited for new, necessary growth while protecting valuable farmland, forests, and other areas local residents view as irreplaceable green-space.

How is this process going to work? Last year, Oregon Senate Bill 1011 called for the creation of these urban and rural reserves. Since then, a Reserves Steering Committee was created to facilitate an examination process: in consultation with the public, this committee will advise Metro and the three Counties on potential urban/rural reserves, with a decision coming by agreement of the four Commissions/Councils in 2009.

But, what does this all mean? The Portland metro region currently wears the mantle of being an exceptionally sustainable area. But, if we don't prepare for the upcoming population boom through appropriate land-use planning, we put our future sustainability at risk. Indeed, the Metro Council and the Commissions of Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties are forward-thinking; they want to be able to point our region in a sustainable direction and then work with all of us to achieve the best-possible vision of tomorrow. As is laid out on Metro's website:

The designation of urban and rural reserves will assist the Metro Council and local communities in the implementation of the 2040 growth concept, the region's long-range plan for managing growth that was adopted in 1995. The 2040 Growth Concept seeks to: encourage more efficient use of land in cities, in business centers, on main streets and on major transit routes protect natural areas, parks, streams and farmland both inside and outside the urban growth boundary promote a transportation system that includes all types of travel, such as bicycling, walking and using mass transit, as well as cars and freight work with neighboring cities outside of the Metro region – such as Canby, Newberg and Sandy – to keep the separation between communities promote diverse housing options for all residents of the region.

Land-use planning, sustainability, transportation, business, affordable housing programs, and the community at-large all have a tremendous stake in this process. Our actions and thorough planning over the next few years will define our region's course for the next half-century. As a member of Metro's Committee on Citizen Involvement, I will be working in oversight, to ensure that urban/rural reserves public involvement plan is as inclusive and thorough as it can be.

In that spirit, I invite you to visit Metro's urban and rural reserves website and Metro's 2040 growth concept website, so you can begin to learn where we've come from and where we're going. And stay informed: this process cannot function without adequate public input from all affected stakeholders. I'll do my best to keep you up-to-date, both here and at Witigonen, where I write as a political blogger. But I'll need all the help I can get.

It's our future; let's plan it together.

  • (Show?)

    A guest column by Ben DuPree! Let me guess: he'll be the next announced new BlueO "regular contributor" who just happens to be a Merkley blogger on the side.

  • hubbird (unverified)

    So basically the idea is to spread the it out -- identifying land that is good for UGB expansions and land that should not be included prior to the formal expansion process?

  • Garlynn -- (unverified)

    I think future urban reserves would make most sense as pearls on a necklace, that is, as clusters around future transit nodes. For instance -- eventually, it would seem to make sense to run commuter rail out the Hwy 30 corridor. Bringing Columbia County into the mix and adding clusters around potential station locations on that line would seem to be some rather low-hanging fruit for the region.

    Similarly in the McMinnville corridor -- another potential commuter rail line, with many opportunities to locate pearls along the RR string.

    Or the Columbia Gorge corridor -- pearls in Troutdale and Hood River.

    Maybe it makes sense to ignore the surrounding counties, but I think not. As the region grows, I think it will become more apparent that the remaining non-urban areas of the tri-counties will need to stay mostly non-urban, while the greater opportunities for growth will come by adding electric high-speed passenger rail connections to further-out communities, and allowing those communities to share in the economic bounty of the Portland region.

    Of course, there are still plenty of pearl-on-a-string opportunities within the tri-counties. New rail connections to Forest Grove (maybe not light rail; maybe service using the other set of tracks in that corridor, allowing for express service to downtown Beaverton) could allow that community to grow and prosper. Similarly, a fast rail link to some of the further-out Clackamas communities (Estacada, etc.) could allow those pearls to grow.

    I'm not enamored of the approach that develops new greenfield communities without new fast rail connections to create a strong urban hub to anchor their center. It seems to make more sense to make better use of the existing pattern, and grow the centers that already exist.

  • (Show?)

    Yeah, it's (partially) about identifying ideal spots for expansion and for retention.

    As for the pearl-on-a-string idea, it's one I've heard before: small hamlets connected via mass transit options. And I agree with you: we cannot put the cart before the horse, literally. In advance or in conjunction with any development/growth plans must come a discussion of transportation solutions. And it all must fit into the ideal of sustainability.

    I'd say stay tuned and, when the opportunities arise, register your opinions and ask your questions. There will be a lot of time for public input and discussion, but it's crucial that everyone comes out to discuss.

  • Truxter (unverified)

    Don’t believe one optimistic word from any public figure about the economy or humanity in general. They are all part of the problem. Its like a game of Monopoly. In America, the richest 1% now hold 1/2 OF ALL UNITED STATES WEALTH. Unlike ‘lesser’ estimates, this includes all stocks, bonds, cash, and material assets held by America’s richest 1%. Even that filthy pig Oprah acknowledged that it was at about 50% in 2006. Naturally, she put her own ‘humanitarian’ spin on it. Calling attention to her own ‘good will’. WHAT A DISGUSTING HYPOCRITE SLOB. THE RICHEST 1% HAVE LITERALLY MADE WORLD PROSPERITY ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE. Don’t fall for any of their ‘humanitarian’ CRAP. ITS A SHAM. THESE PEOPLE ARE CAUSING THE SAME PROBLEMS THEY PRETEND TO CARE ABOUT. Ask any professor of economics. Money does not grow on trees. The government can’t just print up more on a whim. At any given time, there is a relative limit to the wealth within ANY economy of ANY size. So when too much wealth accumulates at the top, the middle class slip further into debt and the lower class further into poverty. A similar rule applies worldwide. The world’s richest 1% now own over 40% of ALL WORLD WEALTH. This is EVEN AFTER you account for all of this ‘good will’ ‘humanitarian’ BS from celebrities and executives. ITS A SHAM. As they get richer and richer, less wealth is left circulating beneath them. This is the single greatest underlying cause for the current US recession. The middle class can no longer afford to sustain their share of the economy..... Their wealth has been gradually transfered to the richest 1%. One way or another, we suffer because of their incredible greed. We are talking about TRILLIONS of dollars. Transfered FROM US TO THEM. Over a period of about 27 years. Thats Reaganomics for you. The wealth does not ‘trickle down’ as we were told it would. It just accumulates at the top. Shrinking the middle class and expanding the lower class. Causing a domino effect of socio-economic problems. But the rich will never stop. They will never settle for a reasonable share of ANYTHING. They will do whatever it takes to get even richer. Leaving even less of the pie for the other 99% of us to share. At the same time, they throw back a few tax deductible crumbs and call themselves ‘humanitarians’. Cashing in on the PR and getting even richer the following year. IT CAN’T WORK THIS WAY. Their bogus efforts to make the world a better place can not possibly succeed. Any 'humanitarian' progress made in one area will be lost in another. EVERY SINGLE TIME. IT ABSOLUTELY CAN NOT WORK THIS WAY. This is going to end just like a game of Monopoly. The current US recession will drag on for years and lead into the worst US depression of all time. The richest 1% will live like royalty while the rest of us fight over jobs, food, and gasoline. Crime, poverty, and suicide will skyrocket. So don’t fall for all of this PR CRAP from Hollywood, Pro Sports, and Wall Street PIGS. ITS A SHAM. Remember: They are filthy rich EVEN AFTER their tax deductible contributions. Greedy pigs. Now, we are headed for the worst economic and cultural crisis of all time. SEND A “THANK YOU” NOTE TO YOUR FAVORITE MILLIONAIRE. ITS THEIR FAULT. I’m not discounting other factors like China, sub-prime, or gas prices. But all of those factors combined still pale in comparison to that HUGE transfer of wealth to the rich. Anyway, those other factors are all related and further aggrivated because of GREED. If it weren’t for the OBSCENE distribution of wealth within our country, there never would have been such a market for sub-prime to begin with. Which by the way, was another trick whipped up by greedy bankers and executives. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. The credit industry has been ENDORSED by people like Oprah, Ellen, Dr Phil, and many other celebrities. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. Now, there are commercial ties between nearly every industry and every public figure. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. So don’t fall for their ‘good will’ BS. ITS A LIE. If you fall for it, then you’re a fool.. If you see any real difference between the moral character of a celebrity, politician, attorney, or executive, then you’re a fool. WAKE UP PEOPLE. THEIR GOAL IS TO WIN THE GAME. The 1% club will always say or do whatever it takes to get as rich as possible. Without the slightest regard for anything or anyone but themselves. Reaganomics. Their idea. Loans from China.. Their idea. NAFTA. Their idea. Outsourcing. Their idea. Sub-prime. Their idea. The commercial lobbyist. Their idea. The multi-million dollar lawsuit.. Their idea. $200 cell phone bills. Their idea. $200 basketball shoes. Their idea. $30 late fees. Their idea. $30 NSF fees. Their idea. $20 DVDs. Their idea. Subliminal advertising. Their idea. Brainwash plots on TV. Their idea... Prozac, Zanex, Vioxx, and Celebrex. Their idea. The MASSIVE campaign to turn every American into a brainwashed, credit card, pharmaceutical, love-sick, couch potatoe, celebrity junkie. Their idea. All of the above shrink the middle class, concentrate the world’s wealth and resources, and wreak havok on society. All of which have been CREATED AND ENDORSED by celebrities, athletes, executives, entrepreneurs, attorneys, and politicians. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. So don’t fall for any of their ‘good will’ ‘humanitarian’ BS. ITS A SHAM. NOTHING BUT TAX DEDUCTIBLE PR CRAP.. In many cases, the 'charitable' contribution is almost entirely offset.. Not to mention the opportunity to plug their name, image, product, and 'good will' all at once. IT MAKES THEM RICHER. These filthy pigs even have the nerve to throw a fit and spin up a misleading defense with regard to 'tax revenue'. ITS A SHAM. THEY SCREWED UP THE EQUATION TO BEGIN WITH. ITS THEIR OWN DAMN FAULT. If the middle and lower classes had a greater share of the pie, they could easily cover a greater share of the federal tax revenue. They are held down in many ways because of greed. Wages remain stagnant for millions because the executives, celebrities, athletes, attorneys, and entrepreneurs, are paid millions. They over-sell, over-charge, under-pay, outsource, cut jobs, and benefits to increase their bottom line. As their profits rise, so do the stock values. Which are owned primarily by the richest 5%. As more United States wealth rises to the top, the middle and lower classes inevitably suffer. This reduces the potential tax reveue drawn from those brackets. At the same time, it wreaks havok on middle and lower class communities and increases the need for financial aid.. Not to mention the spike in crime because of it. There is a dominoe effect to consider. So when people forgive the rich for all of the above and then praise them for paying a greater share of the FEDERAL income taxes, its like nails on a chalk board. If these filthy pigs want to be over-paid, then they should be over-taxed as well. Remember: The richest 1% STILL own 1/2 of all United States wealth EVEN AFTER taxes, charity, and PR CRAP. A similar rule applies worldwide. There is nothing anyone can say to justify that. Anyway, there is usually a higher state and local burden on the middle class. They get little or nothing without a local tax increase. Otherwise, the red inks flows like a waterfall. Service cuts and lay-offs follow. Again, because of the OBSCENE distribution of bottom line wealth in this country. I can not accept any theory that our economy would suffer in any way with a more reasonable distribution of wealth. Afterall, it was more reasonable 30 years ago. Before Reaganomics came along. Before GREED became such an epidemic. Before we had an army of over-paid executives, celebrities, athletes, attorneys, investors, entrepreneurs, developers, and sold-out politicians to kiss their asses. As a nation, we were in much better shape. Lower crime rate, more widespread prosperity, stable job market, free and clear assets, lower deficit, ect. Our economy as a whole was much more stable and prosperous for the majority. WITHOUT LOANS FROM CHINA. Now, we have a more obscene distribution of bottom line wealth than ever before. We have a sold-out government, crumbling infrastructure, energy crisis, home forclosure epidemic, 13 figure national deficit, and 12 figure annual shortfall. ALL BECAUSE OF GREED. I really don't blame the 2nd -5th percentiles. No economy could ever function without some reasonable scale of personal wealth and income. But it can't be allowed to run wild like a mad dog. GREED KILLS. Bottom line: The richest 1% will soon tank the largest economy in the world. It will be like nothing we’ve ever seen before. and thats just the beginning. Greed will eventually tank every major economy in the world. Causing millions to suffer and die. Oprah, Angelina, Brad, Bono, Drew, and Bill are not part of the solution.. They are part of the problem. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A MULTI-MILLIONAIRE HUMANITARIAN. EXTREME WEALTH HAS MADE WORLD PROSPERITY ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE. WITHOUT WORLD PROSPERITY, THERE WILL NEVER BE WORLD PEACE OR ANYTHING EVEN CLOSE. GREED KILLS. IT WILL BE OUR DOWNFALL. Of course, the rich will throw a fit and call me a madman. Of course, their ignorant fans will do the same. You have to expect that. But I speak the truth. If you don’t believe me, then copy this entry and run it by any professor of economics or socio-economics. Then tell a friend. Call the local radio station. Re-post this entry or put it in your own words. Be one of the first to predict the worst economic and cultural crisis of all time and explain its cause. WE ARE IN BIG TROUBLE.

  • Garlynn -- (unverified)


    Thanks for the response. I kind of alluded to a question that I'll now ask: If Metro decides that part of the solution may involve spreading growth around beyond the three counties that are currently within its jurisdiction, what mechanism would it use to, say, create urban reserves in Columbia, Hood River or Yamhill counties? Obviously, some growth must be accommodated entirely within the three-county area. But to what extent is extra-regional planning and cooperation built into this process, and are partners in those surrounding counties fully plugged in right now?

  • (Show?)

    Garlynn, that's an excellent question. Sure, developing a regional approach is crucial, but it's also important to look how our region interacts with neighboring regions (and the state as a whole). In terms of your question, I'm not sure. That's a question for Metro staff.

    I can go ahead and ask staff and get back to you all, but I'd also encourage you to send an e-mail to [email protected], the e-mail for the program.

  • (Show?)


    Here's a response I got from Metro staff:

    "The current reserves study and designation process led by the Reserves Steering Committee is not expected to consider the formal designation of urban and rural reserves in areas outside of Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties. However, we realize that how growth is managed within the Metro UGB affects how neighboring communities, such as Newberg, Estacada, North Plains and Sandy, grow. Accordingly there is one seat on the Reserves Steering Committee for a representative from neighboring cities (cities outside of the Metro UGB), and we are directly engaging neighboring communities (both cities and counties outside of the Metro UGB, including Columbia, Yamhill and Marion counties) in our discussions about growth management decisions.

    "We had our first neighboring communities discussion on January 12. Another meeting will likely take place in April. After our initial Jan. 12 meeting with the neighboring communities, the mayors from the neighboring communities selected Estacada mayor Bob Austin as their representative on the Reserves Steering Committee with Woodburn mayor Kathy Figley as the alternate.

    "Though the Reserves Steering Committee is only focusing on establishing urban and rural reserves in the tri-county area, Senate Bill 1011 (2007) grants Metro the ability to enter into agreements with any Oregon county -- not just Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington -- to establish reserves. If this current two-year process of designating reserves in the tri-county area is successful and there is consensus that the approach is a useful one, it is possible that, at some point in the future, the Metro Council and a neighboring county like Yamhill, Marion or Columbia may wish to establish urban or rural reserves through intergovernmental agreements."

    Further questions can be directed to the above e-mail address.

  • Garlynn -- (unverified)


    Thanks again for looking into this.

    I'm encouraged to hear that SB1011 (2007) allows for Metro to enter into agreements with surrounding counties to establish urban reserves. Looking at all the possibilities within the three-county region this time around, then expanding to look at other counties afterwards, is precisely the right approach.

    The tricky thing will be establishing the higher-speed electric passenger rail connections outside of the Metro region that would allow for making this agreements successful in the future. That's going to be a long process.

  • (Show?)

    Garlynn, I absolutely agree. It's going to take a great deal of time and energy, but that's why I posted this diary: to get people in-the-loop, so Metro can harness as much citizen involvement as possible. Knowing people care about the interaction between our Metro region and neighboring regions is just the type of information that they need.

    <h2>Thanks for your time in thinking through this. Stay with it as it goes on, and I'll do my best to continue to update (through new posts) as it comes.</h2>
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