Letter to editor (YOU get what YOU’RE willing to put up with!)

Below is a letter to the editor I sent to the Pioneer about important County meetings that Molalla’s “leaders” SHOULD be attending to gather ideas to apply to direct Molalla’s future. Since I take flack all the time for being “mean” for having the audacity to criticize Molalla’s bankrupt “leadership” it’s always fun to back things up with hard, cold facts. The fact is you get what you are willing to put up with as “leadership” in Molalla.

The hard cold facts are that Molalla’s King Clarke doesn’t bother to go to important meetings like REACT or C4 which strive to inform and connect County stakeholders. C4  “sported” Councilor Boreth at the last meeting. What was Boreth’s “contribution” to the high level round table comments about the ongoing financial crisis in our County and State and the need for sustainable practices to be quickly adopted County-wide? Boreth babbled something inane about his own little personal rain barrel! What a pathetic way to “represent” Molalla in a time of crisis – but who could be surprised, given Molalla’s “record”?

Molalla has been invited to attend monthly meetings of REACT, a round table discussion with ODOT, County transportation policy makers, and County stakeholders from outside Metro to address rural transportation needs – but Molalla never sends a rep.  REACT is in the process of forming a higher level group called an ACT to encompass region-wide long-term transportation planning.

Molalla “leaders” were invited to attend County meetings to help form the important ACT steering group – but Molalla again has been a “no-show” at the meetings. Nice work, Molalla. There is nothing as backward as refusing to join  discussions to help plan and solve the INTER-RELATED problems we face regionally. Stand alone these days gets you that fast trip to the bottom of the barrel, right where Molalla is apparently so fond of sitting due to all its regressive practices and its refusal to see itself as a very small ripple in a great big County and State planning pond.

The progressive County thinkers from C4 must go to bed every night comforted that Boreth is “leading” the way in Molalla with his rain barrel! In retrospect, given King Clarke’s “record”, Molalla should probably be glad that King Clarke doesn’t bother to show up at C4 or anywhere outside the city limits – his dumb dumb ideas about stuffing houses in without SDCs would get him laughed right off the County stage so fast it would make his empty head spin!

The real State wide laughter will come when Molalla tries to go out in the world to defend the 2,400 acre urban reserve. That’s when the real nasty exposure will occur – and I can hardly wait! Talk about a place that can’t see the “dead in the water” writing on the wall!

Here’s my letter to the editor about the last C4 meeting (and stay tuned for a future report about yesterday’s Natural Step sustainability training at the County):

Clackamas County has recently hosted some eye-opening opportunities to learn about planning, water resources, infrastructure and sustainability in the face of our shrinking County and State budgets.

Groups like REACT (addressing rural transportation needs) and C4 (a monthly roundtable discussion of County stakeholders) are emphasizing that limited funds for infrastructure and finite water resources will affect how we live and grow in the future.

The June C4 meeting included presentations from water districts. Local rivers have been oversubscribed for water rights. Peak water use comes in summer months when the natural flows are at the lowest. A water supply crunch is on the horizon.

Wilsonville’s Mayor Tim Knapp noted that a building moratorium occurred in his city in the past due to limited water resources. Sandy’s Councilman Jeremy Pietzold said that if the recent building boom had not slowed Sandy would have imposed a moratorium on new building permits due to water shortage. The strong message was that all County stakeholders will need to adopt conservation measures because rivers and groundwater sources won’t be able to sustain infinite growth and wasteful users.

The crushing cost of infrastructure will also restrict how and where we grow. Even when cities and agencies charge realistic System Development Charges, those SDCs don’t begin to cover the costs of roads, sewers and water systems. Planning for growth puts cities and districts in a double bind: if systems are built out in advance of growth and growth doesn’t occur as expected, rate payers get stuck with the cost of unused infrastructure. The most dangerous and expensive scenario is to attempt to provide infrastructure to far-flung areas with few subscribers – the cost of serving sprawl is prohibitive and can’t be sustained by taxpayers.

C4 participants gave a clear message that redevelopment of underused urban land will be necessary to accommodate growth rather than expanding urban growth boundaries.  Compact growth will also be emphasized because the State will soon issue greenhouse gas reduction guidelines.

City Councilwoman Teri Cummings, from “high end” West Linn,  noted that we will not be living in the same ways in the future because the clear trend is toward smaller, more affordable  houses, including co-housing. Clackamas County Commission candidate Paul Savas called for the enhancement of quality of life over rampant future growth and Dave McTeague, Fire District #1, wants better wild resources protection.

Molalla’s vision continually fails adopt the tenants of modern urban planning. Stakeholders County wide are embracing compact growth because of limited water, the need for quality development, and the prohibitive cost of infrastructure. Molalla is far behind the curve in planning for a sustainable future.

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