The planned destruction of Scouters Mountain in Happy Valley has started.
If you want to see it, go to near the entrance to the Happy Valley Nature Park on 145th Avenue and look to the east and north. You will see a huge area of former forest and field that is being clear cut and denuded of vegetation by powerful machines. Think of the thousands of animals and birds and amphibians that are being killed and displaced by this activity. Think also of the beneficial effects of the old forest of large fir and other trees that are being removed.
The Nature Park should be renamed "Zoo," because it will be surrounded by dense housing development, and the natural wildlife corridors to it are being eliminated. This is only the beginning and the development will spread across the mountain and the rest of East Happy Valley. Future generations will look back at this era and wonder why we let this happen.
This environmental disaster is brought to you by the city of Happy Valley's mayor, City Council, Planning Commission and Planning Department that approved this excessive development of Scouters Mountain. It is also being done at the urging of Oregon Metro that pressures city governments to quickly approve any form of urban development to encourage hundreds of thousands of people to move here. These governmental organizations ignore their own numerous policies that require environmental considerations to be given weight in approving developments. The rules are bent or broken to favor developers and rapid development. These agencies have also created processes that effectively reject any opportunity for the public to have meaningful input into these decisions. Oregon does not provide a real legal option to challenge these developments, because the appeals have to be made to the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) that approves nearly every development inside of urban growth boundaries.
I asked the LUBA board member who approved the city's Scouter Mountain development what should people do if a city's land development process is blatantly biased in favor of developers, and unfairly rejects all input from citizens and the public. Her surprising answer was that LUBA is not concerned about whether a city's development approval process is fair or unfair; if that is a problem, there is a political solution for it. If you care about the future of Happy Valley and don't want to see it paved over, the only option is to elect city representatives who do not primarily represent business interests, and who will take a more balanced approach to property developments, and listen to the citizens they are supposed to represent.
Jim Jordan is a resident of Happy Valley.