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To urbanize Stafford Triangle or not, that is the question

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With the possible exception of the Borland area, the Stafford Triangle does not need to be designated an urban reserve for the next several decades. Here are five reasons.

Community Values: The West Linn, Tualatin, Lake Oswego communities and the residents of the Stafford Triangle collectively do not want urbanization.

The three cities have been fighting expansion of the Urban Growth Boundary into Stafford for decades. The costs of infrastructure, lack of resources to pay for the infrastructure, impact on quality of life and lack of the transportation system to absorb the increased population makes the addition as an urban reserve problematic.

Infrastructure: The cost of providing the infrastructure (roads, water, surface water, wastewater, parks etc.) will be enormous.

The three cities face a challenging enough problem maintaining/improving their existing infrastructure, much less taking on infrastructure of the Stafford Triangle. The three cities' Capital Improvement Plans (CIP) collectively show $994 million of projects of which only $133 million are funded. They are not going to have the funds to pay for the infrastructure requirements in a challenging topography.

Transportation Impact: Where are all the additional cars going to go? Stafford Road, Rosemont Road and McVey Avenue are, for the most part, two-lane roads that will not be expanded. I-205 between Oregon City and I-5 is unlikely to be expanded sufficiently in the foreseeable future, despite the best efforts of Clackamas County, Metro and the State of Oregon. Congestion on I-205 will be pushed onto roads that can't handle increased volume and can't have additional lanes added.

Growth: Population inside the present UGB is expected to increase between 300,000 and 500,000 people between 2010 and 2035. The Portland metropolitan area is densifying. In 1990 the density inside the UGB was 4.74 people per acre. In 2010 the density inside an expanded UGB was 5.81 people per acre. Existing programs and policies, unless changed, will continue increasing densification of the metro area. Making the Stafford Triangle an urban reserve means it will be an area pulled into the UGB when Metro decides it needs land for expansion. Metro contemplates a density of 10 to 15 households or more per acre. If 1,500 acres are added at 10 to 15 households per acre and 2.5 people per household equals 37,500 to 56,250 people, that's the equivalent of another Lake Oswego or more. None of the cities want that.

If the densification increase continues, whether it results in the lowest increase projected (300,000 people) or the highest projected (500,000 people) acreage needed can be accommodated by cities already desirous of adding acreage.

If the rate of increase in densification in the Metro area accelerates slightly, both cases of projected population increases (300,000 to 500,000), make an increase in the UGB unnecessary.

Population projections show the addition of the Stafford Triangle as an urban reserve is at best premature and problematic and at worst unnecessary for 20 or more years. The cities of Portland, Gresham, Hillsboro, Beaverton and Wilsonville through their comprehensive plans have demonstrated willingness and/or a geography to absorb almost all of the projected increase between now and 2035 or longer.

The mayors of Lake Oswego, West Linn and Tualatin generally agree with this position.

Jeff Gudman is a city councilor in Lake Oswego.