Washington County continues to steamroll over citizens

Carla Axtman

Update12:22PM: My paragraph at the the very bottom of this post is in error: there is no meeting of Metro on December 21st. There is a meeting on December 16th. Metro spokesperson Karen Kane just informed me that no formal discussion or vote on the Washington County proposal can take place at the December 16 meeting because it's not already on the calendar. The proposal would have had to been placed on the calendar yesterday in order to meet public notice requirements. It's possible that an informal discussion of the proposal could take place on December 16th if a Councilor asks, but that would be it. More on this as news breaks.

Sometimes with all the stuff that goes on at the federal level, people can feel like their voice has no impact. There are so many competing interests in such a noisy place that it can be very tough to be heard above the din. But when you narrow things down to the local level, citizens can have a greater impact. So keep in mind, to contact your Metro Councilor, go here. Washington Co. Commission contact info is here

Last week I reported on a plan by Washington County, Metro and the Director of Land Conservation and Development to change the 50 year plan for Urban and Rural Reserves. The plan included no more public process.

As it turns out, this plan had little or nothing to do with Metro or DLCD.

The main source for my reporting on this was a memo sent out to Washington County Commissioners by Chair Tom Brian and Chair-Elect Andy Duyck on December 4, 2010. The memo states:

Andy and I have been working with staff, legal counsel, Metro Counselors, and the LCDC director to develop this proposed response to LCDC’s decisions (and likely official order). We have reviewed substantial LCDC meeting notes and our staff and counsel have been working with their counterparts at Metro and LCDC to avoid misunderstandings and to hopefully, arrive at a response that is acceptable to our Board, the Metro Council and the LCDC.

As it turns out, Brian and Duyck were in touch with two Metro Councilors, according to Michael Jordan, Metro's COO. Jordan told me that Brian and Duyck and met with Kathryn Harrington and Carl Hosticka. But according to Jordan, no plan was agreed on or finalized. When the plan was shown to the public, Metro balked, with all Councilors professing opposition to the plan.

Not to mention the fact that Brian and Duyck decided to skirt the public and avoid our input in the changes.

Oregon Land Conservation and Development Director Richard Whitman had also been in communication with Washington County Commission. Whitman said that he was approached by Tom Brian and Andy Duyck at the Association of Oregon Counties Meeting. "Part of our job is to work with local government. To make sure there is no misunderstanding of the LCDC decision. It was informal feedback." Whitman characterized his discussions with Brian and Duyck as "very general". When asked about the maps from the memo, Whitman said he was "surprised" at them.

So what gives?

First of all, it's pretty clear that Duyck and Brian weren't working with Metro Councilors or Director Whitman to "develop the proposal" that was leaked last week. Calls to Duyck and Brian to clarify the memo were not returned.

However, given that history is the greatest predictor of future events, here's what's likely going on.

When Washington County released their first drafts of the urban reserves maps, the proposals were enormous. They asked for 34,000 acres. That whopper of a proposal elicited howls from all over the county and the region. The ploy by Washington County was, of course, to ask for a huge amount of acreage and settle for what they really want--which is still huge, just less so. A common negotiating ploy.

It would seem that Brian and Duyck are calling that play again.

Last week, the proposal included changing 625 acres north of the Sunset Highway, south of West Union from undesignated to Urban Reserve. 592 adjoining acres change from rural reserve to undesignated. In addition 900 acres between 185th and Cornelius Pass, further north than Germantown Rd and some west of Cornelius Pass, and convert it from rural reserves to undesignated. The encroachment into Helvetia is huge--and very contentious.

Surpise! Just in time for tonight's meeting, Duyck and Brian have changed the map again. Helvetia gets hit with 585 additional urban reserves and 290 additional acres of undesignated. Still HUGE. But you can bet that Brian and Duyck will be crowing about how much they've "compromised". They'll have whatever votes they need tonight to shoehorn this thing through.

And guess what? Still no public process.

It remains to be seen if Metro will go along with this. Metro's next meeting where they could possibly consider this proposal is December 21 (See correction at the top of this post).

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    There will not be a meeting of the Metro Council on December 21.

    The last Metro Council meeting of 2010 will be held this Thursday, December 16. The Metro Council will be on recess until January 4 when Council President-elect Tom Hughes is sworn in, along with Councilor-elect Shirley Craddick and re-elected Councilors Carlotta Collette and Kathryn Harrington.

    It will be up to Council President Hughes to schedule times for the Metro Council to consider a revised urban and rural reserves proposal for Washington County. More information will be made available at www.oregonmetro.gov/reserves before there is to be any decision by the Metro Council on a revised reserves agreement with Washington County.

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      Ken: You're correct that there isn't a meeting on Dec 21st. That appears to be my error, but I'm double checking.

      However, I'm not so sure this is going to be up to Hughes. The memo from Washington County from last week says that Metro will meet on Dec 16. I've got a call in with Metro to find out for sure. Will post the update when I have it.

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      Btw Ken, I had no idea that you work for Metro. You should say so. It would help me to take you at your word. :)

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        We've discussed urban and rural reserves on the phone before, Carla, though only once. (Feel free to call in the future on any questions relating to reserves: 503-797-1508.) And I am the Ken Ray referred to in Dana Tims' article from Monday afternoon about the current Washington County reserves proposal. (My posting here is consistent with what I told Dana.)

        I acknowledge that there is another Ken Ray who also posts comments on BlueOregon stories, and I rarely post here. Since a quick check of the hyperlinks at the top of our respective postings will reveal different Facebook photos and different listings of past comments, I will rely on the good judgment of BlueOregon readers to discern one Ken Ray from the other.

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    Wow, even though the issues are different, we are suffering from the same arrogance on the east side of the state. I read things like this and wonder who these people think they are. I know who they shouldn't be, county commissioners. If it can't be done in daylight, it shouldn't be done at all. Good call. Ride hard, baby.

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    Thanks Carla, there is very little reason to think that we would know about such machinations without your reporting. Please keep up the good work.

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    Washington County, old economic engine, will definitely need to be watched now that Hughes got in. I certainly appreciate the info, Carla.

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