Sherwood's choices: Smart growth, or unplanned growth
On Tuesday, the Sherwood City Council voted to hold the line on planned growth.
Which brings to mind an episode of "The Simpsons." When a comet almost hits Springfield but misses, the townfolk say, "Let's burn down the observatory so this never happens again!"
Agreeing not to grow now won't stop growth. It'll just take away the city's ability to plan for the inevitable growth of the region.
The metropolitan area population will continue to grow. Much of that will happen in Washington County, the western edge of the urban growth boundary — that invisible line around Portland and its suburbs, beyond which urban services such as water and sewer are not allowed. The cities of Sherwood, King City, Beaverton, Hillsboro and Wilsonville all are considering asking Metro — the regional land-use body — for expansions of the urban growth boundary.
But Sherwood has been all over the map. Earlier this year, the city had a plan to grow by 600 acres. In March, that plan shrank to 370 acres. Now the city has opted for zero acres. With the asterisk that they can rethink the issue in three to six years.
This week's vote goes against work that the city's Planning Department has been doing since 2016, and which is reflected in the city's Comprehensive Growth Plan.
Here is the reality: Washington County — and the cities within the county — can see planned growth or chaotic growth. There is no third option. The population isn't going to freeze, and everyone should hope it doesn't shrink (a la Dayton, Ohio; Detroit, Mich.; or Erie, Penn.).
By expecting growth, planning for growth, setting aside land for growth, and engaging the community in its visions for growth, a city can make the most of the changes ahead. Shutting one's eyes, crossing one's fingers and hoping that growth won't hurt too much is a recipe for disaster.
Because hope is not a plan. And burning down the observatory won't stop the comet.
(Note: Editorials express the combined opinions of the editorial board, which include the editor and publisher, but not reporters and photographers.)
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