Services Departments Government

Land to grow jobs

Long-term priorities focused on job growth

Employment lands

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.

Read our strategic plan to grow jobs.

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:

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:

The board is examining whether some areas currently designated as rural reserve should be changed to undesignated lands. This study affects less than 2% of the county’s 68,700 acres of rural reserve land.

Reviewing the reserves

Clackamas County is preparing to review three rural reserve areas to determine if it would be more beneficial for the economic growth and the creation of jobs to change all or part of these areas to “undesignated” land. The county will review the following areas:

This study affects less than 2% of the county’s 68,700 acres of rural reserve land.

Rural reserves review, 2016

A safety valve for future generations

The rural reserve areas the county is considering for undesignated status cannot be developed until the following occur:

These undesignated areas should be considered as a possible safety valve for future generations and not as land for near-term development.


One other factor that the board must consider is that residents of the city of Damascus voted to disincorporate on May 17, 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. On Sept. 27, your 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.

Damascus Summit audio recording

Damascus Summit, Sept. 27

Each agency may have a significant role in the development of 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.

Our goal is to ensure that any resolution of issues in Stafford provides the best possible options—now and in the future—for current and future county residents and businesses.

Moving Forward

While we do have a need for additional long-term industrial lands, we also recognize that one of the very special qualities about our county is that fact that we have all types of land available – 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 any future decisions. We acknowledge our role as stewards and take seriously preserving what makes Clackamas unique.

There are no easy decisions. Your county commissioners have difficult choices and negotiations to make. We all want to ensure we have enough industrial lands available for strong job growth while preserving and protecting our farmland, forests, and natural features.


"We are somewhat dismayed by recent public discussion of removing land currently in the Damascus Urban Growth Boundary and using it to 'swap' land into the UGB somewhere else."

Clackamas County to Metro
July 19, 2016
Read the letter

"Collectively this means that over 11,000 acres of the original 28,000 acres Urban Reserves are either unavailable, or of limited usefulness. We believe it would be irresponsible to ignore this fact."

Clackamas County to Metro
Nov. 10, 2015
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“We recognize that jobs in other counties can serve Clackamas County residents. However, we believe our 395,000 residents, the region and the transportation system are better served if we also pay attention to our sub-regional needs.”

Clackamas County to Metro
Oct. 6, 2015
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“It is our view that, by working together in good faith, we can build trust and may find solutions to the issues in Stafford. However, beginning the hearings process before the facilitated discussion has even begun forces the parties to devote limited public resources to building the record for a possible appeal.”

Clackamas County, West Linn, Tualatin, Lake Oswego to Metro
Sept. 24, 2015
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“We believe it is premature to begin holding hearings on October 8th. Beginning a hearings process now could force the cities of Tualatin and West Linn to devote their energies to building a record for another appeal. This seems inconsistent with the notion of the parties entering into good faith negotiations to resolve the appeals.”

Clackamas County to Metro
Sept. 16, 2015
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“Metro intends to fully participate in the facilitated dialogue that we have agreed to jointly fund with Clackamas County to attempt to resolve the concerns of cities in the Stafford area regarding future development there. However, we see no reason not to begin our work to respond to the remand while that dialogue is advancing.”

Metro to Clackamas County
Aug. 28, 2015
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“The County shares Metro's desire to put the Urban and Rural Reserves process behind us. However, we have to balance that desire with our duties to County residents.”

Clackamas County to Metro
July 15, 2015
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“The Clackamas County Board of Commissioners (BCC) agreed on June 30, 2014 there is presently a deficit of 1,100 acres of non-retail employment land in Clackamas County, including a need for additional large lot industrial lands.”

Clackamas County to City and Regional Leaders of Clackamas County
July 13, 2015
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“ I am writing on behalf of the Metro Council to propose that we establish a joint work plan between Metro and Clackamas County to address the issues raised by the Court of Appeals’ remand of Metro’s designation of urban reserves in Clackamas County.”

Metro to Clackamas County
April 2, 2015
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