Clackamas County should reject low density within Metro
I have grave concerns about Clackamas County commissioners considering policies that would allow urbanized incorporated areas like Jennings Lodge and Oak Grove to avoid infill. A Dec. 4 policy session about low-density zoning noted:
"The second part of this project is in response to work program suggestions submitted by the Jennings Lodge and Oak Grove community planning organizations (CPOs) and the McLoughlin Area Plan Implementation Team (MAP-IT). Oak Grove Community Council and MAP-IT cited the McLoughlin Area Plan Phase II priority to modify the existing zoning to better protect neighborhoods from up-zoning and incompatible development. Jennings Lodge CPO asked to have R-10 zoning frozen in their area, higher standards for zoning approvals in their area, and/or a limitation on the amount of development or infill allowed in their area."
How could any county commissioner honor elitist NIMBY demands of Oak Grove and Jennings Lodge for special treatment to avoid infill and higher density? Those places, like all the urbanized unincorporated areas of Clackamas County, enjoy all the benefits of being in Metro — transit choices, services, jobs, entertainment, etc. — yet continually want the self-governing choices of cities without having the courage to incorporate to direct their own futures.
Long ago I heard a county presentation about the need for these urbanized unincorporated areas to incorporate or to annex into existing cities. As a rural resident of Clackamas County, I am shocked that county commissioners would ever consider giving special treatment to those specific areas, no matter how vocal their CPOs are about planning. CPOs are not city councils.
Higher density should be a priority goal for all low-density areas of the urbanized county. There is a dire need for affordable housing, so it is beyond ludicrous to see any discussion of giving any urbanized areas special treatment. It is long overdue to provide a diverse mix of housing opportunities in all areas of urbanized unincorporated Clackamas County.
To protect Clackamas County from sprawl that eats up resource lands in rural areas, those in urban areas need to accept that the trade-off for living urban with all the urban perks is increasing density. I support infill and higher density in all urbanized areas that don't have physical limitations. Any commissioner supporting density exceptions for "pet" areas like Oak Grove and Jennings Lodge will be showing extreme bias and favoritism. The BCC should encourage those areas to incorporate if they wish to make special rules for their so-called "communities" — otherwise they need to accept that higher urban density is necessary to provide the mixes of affording housing we lack in Clackamas County. The county will set itself up for land use challenges if it allows "special" low-density zoning.
Contact the BCC and tell them it is not acceptable to allow CPOs to define "incompatible development" or to reject much needed infill.
Susan Hansen is a resident of rural Clackamas County, south of the city of Molalla.