We don't agree on everything.
We root for different sports teams. Some of us don't even like sports. We go to different churches, or other houses of worship. Some of us don't worship at all. Our jobs aren't the same. Some of us aren't actually employed.
Our taste in food is different. The way we get around the region is different. Our personal politics are different. We live and love in different ways. We laugh and cry at different things.
But one thing it seems we can agree on is that we choose to live in this part of the world, in this particular piece of the Portland metropolitan area, because there's something about it that we love.
This probably won't come as any surprise, but a new list of the "Best Places to Live in Oregon" puts Portland's southwest suburbs squarely at the top. According to HomeSnacks.net, rating Oregon's cities for the sixth year in a row, the top five:
- Lake Oswego
- West Linn
With the exception of Milwaukie, that group is dominated by suburban communities in our area. Tigard is just a little further down at No. 7, and Hillsboro and Beaverton come in at Nos. 10 and 11, respectively. (You have to go quite a bit further down to find Wilsonville at No. 25 and Portland, our polarizing metropole, at No. 33.)
In a separate ranking for "Best Towns to Live in Oregon," which focuses on communities between 1,001 and 5,000 people, King City comes in at #3 and Durham is #9.
Clearly, we're doing something right on the Westside.
HomeSnacks isn't the only website that comes up with these lists, and every ranking system has its own proprietary algorithm, often relying on publicly available data and figuring out particular ways to quantify, weight and order it. In HomeSnacks' case, they evaluate crime, poverty and unemployment rates, education and health insurance coverage levels, commute times, median home value and income, and population density, then rank cities and towns accordingly.
Agree with the algorithm and its conclusions or not, it's nice to know someone out there has crunched the numbers and found that, mathematically, we're spot-on wanting to live and work here.
Here's the trouble, though — these rankings aren't all that surprising. Sherwood and Tualatin were both in the top three when HomeSnacks ran the numbers last year. Tigard, Lake Oswego and West Linn, among others, have stayed in the top 10.
It's no secret that the Westside is a desirable place to live. After all, there's a reason — really, a whole bunch of reasons — why Washington County is growing faster than the rest of the region. The local economy is humming, the dining and arts scenes just keep getting better and better, and crime remains relatively low.
Growth inevitably leads to anxiety. Some of those concerns are well-founded. Many of the responses online to The Times' story about South Cooper Mountain expressed worry about the traffic impact in an area that isn't well served by TriMet's transit network, a concern we share. Our sister papers in Forest Grove and Portland recently published another story about the sharp rise in the number of serious crashes on Tualatin Valley Highway in between Hillsboro and Cornelius, two fast-growing cities linked by a highway corridor that wasn't built to accommodate the traffic it now sees every day nor the needs of residents who must cross the five-lane roadway to catch an eastbound bus.
But growth is also an inevitable consequence of having a good and desirable place to live.
Most of us can't claim to have deep family roots in cities like Tualatin and Sherwood, which were barely dots on a map until their populations exploded late last century. Even Beaverton and Tigard have swollen dramatically from what they were before World War II transformed the region's economy.
We have it good here on the Westside. We can't be surprised that other people want to live here as well. And even if they're a few years, or decades, later to the scene than we or our parents were, they have every right to enjoy our communities the same way we do.
Growth hasn't forced places like Sherwood off the list so far. We should accept growth as a reality while advocating for that growth to be smart and deliberate. With good planning and a welcoming spirit, we can ensure that our communities stay "the best" even as they get bigger and bigger.
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