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City planning in Newberg needs to change to keep up with demand ... and history

To the editor:

Thank you for your article on Newberg's discussion of tiny homes. I attended the meeting when it was discussed by Newberg's Housing Committee.

At that meeting, I shared my experience 50 years ago of driving through King City when they were burning down the barn to build a shopping center. Now, you can drive through subdivisions from that shopping center all of the way to within less than a mile from Forest Grove.

In Newberg, at our current trend, development will reach Carlton in the next 50 years unless we change. Adding fees to pay fees for affordable housing is not the change that we need.

On the social economic scale, housing needs range from the super rich to the person sleeping on the sidewalk. In Newberg on that scale, a college-educated teacher with teaching credentials and a job cannot afford to live in Newberg. Everyone below that level also cannot afford to live in Newberg. That is a major problem. Tiny homes seems a reasonable option except that our code does not allow them.

When I first moved to Newberg, I lived in the brick apartment building on College Street near the railroad tracks. It has eight studio apartments. I was happy there. The site had room for a second building. However, the city rezoned it R-2. Now, you would be lucky to get at most five dwellings on it.

During my career as a civil engineer and land surveyor, one of the most successful development projects that I worked on in Forest Heights was Miller House, a townhouse development on steep ground with lots as small as 1,180 square feet. Newberg requires 3,000 square feet for R-2 and R-3 zones.

We in Newberg are wasting time trying to determine whether or not accessible dwelling units need to be attached, whether or not a tiny house is the same as a recreational vehicle, whether or not additional water and sewer hookups are necessary, etc. In the mean time, nothing is happening.

When America developed, it often went from an Indian village to a trading post to a few settlers, then a village, then a city, then skyscrapers. Our development code does not allow this natural transition, nor can we afford the standards that we set for ourselves.

We are progressing in the wrong direction of history. My impression of Newberg's planning department is that they are so bogged down in review of applications to ensure that they meet the volumes of city requirements, that they do not have time to plan for the future. When buying a house what is most important to you, the size of the kitchen or the width of your side yard?

Perhaps, to get one quick answer, we, to follow the natural progression of history, should allow an automatic zone change from the existing zone to a higher zoned adjoining property. Another is to allow higher densities within walking distance of downtown Newberg and to encourage more stories in a building.

Otherwise, Newberg will continue to be for the more fortunate only, our surrounding farmland will be converted to subdivisions and traffic will be intolerable.

Leonard Rydell, Newberg


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