Mayor: For Beaverton, it would be hard to top 2019
Mayor Denny Doyle says completion of the Public Safety Center this spring will add to Beaverton's long list of accomplishments during the past 12 months.
Doyle made the observation Thursday, Jan. 9, as he spoke about the state of the city, which he says is healthy on virtually all fronts.
"This will be our very first police facility in our city in 126 years of its existence," he said to a crowd of almost 300 at the Greatroom event space. "Thank you to the voters for making the Public Safety Center a reality."
Voters approved a $35 million bond in 2016 for the center, which will house police and emergency management for the first time in their own building. The center is on the southwest corner of Hall and Allen boulevards. Police are currently housed in the former City Hall on 4755 S.W. Griffith Drive, which falls within a federally designated floodplain.
Project costs are expected to exceed $35 million, but the exact amount will be determined only after the center is completed. The City Council will have to figure out how to cover the excess.
Also on the horizon for this year, Doyle said, are bicycle and pedestrian improvements, a new electric vehicle charging station near Beaverton Town Square, and a "maker space" within the Beaverton City Library.
But Doyle said it would be hard for the city to top 2019.
Beaverton again placed on Money magazine's top 100 places to live in America. It ranked 63rd; other Oregon cities on the list were Portland's Pearl District, 13; Bend, 34, and Salem, 97. The website livability.com ranked Beaverton the nation's third-best city to raise a family in 2018, and 14th-best for entrepreneurs in 2017.
"We are keeping and adding good jobs and building a stronger workforce because of Beaverton's 'open for business' approach," Doyle said. "It's no surprise that we continue to be recognized, both locally and nationally, as a great place to live and raise a family."
Several major public and private projects broke ground during 2019, among them the long-planned Patricia Reser Center for the Arts and a seven-story parking garage next to it. The garage is scheduled for completion in spring 2021, and the center in fall 2021, both part of a Community Vision Plan adopted in 2010 and updated in 2016.
"Soon, we will have a world-class destination for touring and local performances, lively space for events and gatherings, a home for arts and culture, and a new public parking garage serving our downtown community," Doyle said.
"We can finally say once and for all that 'Art lives here' in Beaverton."
Private fundraising for the center continues and Doyle said it has reached $9.8 million, 97% of its target.
It wasn't the only project that got underway or was completed in 2019:
• New hotels: Ground was broken for a 117-room Marriott and a 107-room Westin in the Cornell Oaks business park, and a 125-room Hyatt House near the arts center and City Hall/The Round. An 89-room Hilton in northwest Beaverton has won city approval. Counting a 112-room Marriott opened in late 2018, Beaverton will increase the number of hotel rooms by 50% over its 2014 level.
• New restaurants: Eight more opened in downtown — including Ex Novo Brewing's first site outside Portland — bringing the downtown total to around 60. The city also has sold the Bank of Beaverton building to a Portland developer for a high-end restaurant and bar.
• New housing: The 230-unit Rise Central apartments opened. Fifteen of its units will join 44 in the Cedar Grove project in northwest Beaverton — now underway — and 54 in the Mary Ann Apartments that have won city approval near Beaverton High School as "affordable" for people now spending more than 30% of household incomes on rent and utilities.
In addition, Doyle said, the city issued 175 permits for new development on South Cooper Mountain, which came into the city's urban growth boundary in late 2018. A redevelopment of Cedar Hills Shopping Center, which has won city approval, would add 509 apartments and retail across from Sunset Transit Center. The first phase of a mixed-use redevelopment is underway at Tualatin Valley Highway and Murray Boulevard, where a Kmart store once anchored the northwest corner.
• Water projects: The city is about to issue $30 million in revenue bonds, repaid by water customers, for system improvements. It also has a pending application for a $60 million federal loan for improvements, and the city in 2019 formally joined the Willamette Water Supply Program, which will be a backup source for the city starting in 2026.
• Homelessness: Two pilot projects for vehicle camping were launched on lots owned by the city and Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District. The City Council is about to approve an ordinance to allow more sites under specified conditions, such as sanitation facilities and trash disposal.
• Other: The City Council approved a climate action plan that pledges zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050 and a 50% reduction in fossil-fuel use and carbon neutrality by 2030. State law intervened to ban most single-use plastic bags.
No talk about charter changes
During his 30-minute talk Thursday about the state of the city — including a video presentation and an appearance by one of the city's police dogs — Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle was silent about one matter.
He did not mention a pending ballot measure that would shift executive authority from the elected mayor to a City Council-appointed manager, the form used in all other Oregon cities except Portland. The council plans hearings Jan. 14 and 28 before referring it to a public election May 19. If voters say yes, it would take effect in 2021.
Doyle is seeking a fourth term in the same election. He is being challenged by Councilor Lacey Beaty, who backs the proposed change. Doyle presides over council meetings but has no vote except if there is a tie, and he has not yet said much about the council-driven changes.
Under the proposed charter changes, the mayor would remain full time as a city representative, but the city manager would hire and fire department heads, prepare the annual and oversee city operations. The mayor would gain a vote, and a sixth member would be elected to create a seven-member council.
Beaverton switched from a council-manager government to a strong mayor-council form in 1980. There has been only one voter-approved change to the charter since then.
— Peter Wong
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