Long-term priorities focused on job growth
The future prosperity of Clackamas County will be built on good-paying jobs. Good jobs that support families are crucial to the long-term economic health of the county.
Currently, the Portland/Metro area faces a critical shortage of industrial lands. In Clackamas County alone, our 20-year supply of industrial land is short by approximately 1,100 acres. The shortage of industrial land threatens the job and economic growth potential for us all. As the population increases, more land is needed for the business and industry that keep our economy growing.
Your county commissioners have established goals to ensure there are plenty of family-wage jobs that promote healthy, thriving families and communities:
- By 2019, 10,000 new family-wage jobs
- By 2020, have and maintain a 20-year supply of serviceable non-retail employment land in the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) to encourage employers in Clackamas County
Designating employment land allows communities to plan the infrastructure needed and prepare for the future. The Board of County Commissioners can’t just pick a spot and designate it as employment lands, however. The county is constrained by Oregon state law and Metro restrictions. State law mandates that cities and metropolitan areas have plans in place to control urban expansion to protect farmland, forests, and natural resources. Metro is tasked with maintaining the Portland-area UGB, a legal boundary which separates urban from rural land, and is designed to reduce urban sprawl. It coordinates with the cities and counties in the area to ensure a 20-year supply of developable land.
Land outside the UGB
The county has land outside the UGB, and it is classified in three ways:
- Rural reserves are lands outside the UGB on which urban development is prohibited for at least 50 years. These lands may have working farms, forests or natural features like rivers, wetlands or buttes
- Urban reserves are lands outside the UGB that may be considered for potential urban development within the next 50 years
- Undesignated lands are lands outside the UGB that are neither in an urban reserve or a rural reserve. Generally, undesignated lands may not be used for urban development until much of the urban reserve lands are already developed
One factor that the board must consider is that the city of Damascus disincorporated in July 2016, and land use decisions there are now the responsibility of the county. The majority of the Damascus lands are in the UGB, but no land use plan was ever developed by the city. As it stands now, the county will be responsible for developing an urban level comprehensive plan. In September 2016, county commissioners and staff met with representatives from Happy Valley, Metro, Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, and Gresham to discuss the future of the area.
Each agency may have a significant role in the development of the area:
- Clackamas County has land use jurisdiction of the area that doesn’t annex into an existing city, including approximately 10,000 acres inside the UGB
- Happy Valley has begun to annex portions of the western area of the former city
- Metro oversees the UGB and is a key player in determining urban and rural reserves inside the UGB
- The city of Gresham is a possible urban service provider for portions of the area
- Oregon’s Department of Land Conservation and Development must approve any land use plan developed for the area
Stafford urban reserve area remand
The Stafford Triangle is a 4,200-acre area in rural unincorporated Clackamas County. It is located between the cities of West Linn, Tualatin and Lake Oswego, with Interstate 205 running east-west through the southern part of the area.
In 2010, Stafford was designated as an urban reserve.
This designation was appealed to the courts, which remanded the designation back to Metro and Clackamas County to show "substantial evidence" supporting the urban reserve designation. In January 2015, the state Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) affirmed the court’s request.
While we do need additional long-term industrial lands, we also recognize that one of the special qualities about our county is the many types of land – urban, suburban, rural and wild. Our county’s agricultural resources are second to none, and the need to protect our farmlands, forests and natural features will always be a major consideration in our decisions. We acknowledge our role as stewards and take seriously preserving what makes Clackamas unique.
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