3/31/2011 update: I hear we will have the great honor of addressing the BCC to put the final NAIL IN THE COFFIN OF THE URBAN RESERVES! Molalla is going to be stupid enough to waste the time of everyone to hear the final DENY. LOL! Bring your cameras, bring your tapes, come on down and see the Molalla SHIP OF FOOLS PLANNIN’ CIRCUS go to the BCC! HA HA HA HA HA……!!!!!! The LOSER MOLALLA “lawyer” is so pathetic he now has to go work for FREE at the final DENY hearing! HA HA HA HA….!!!!!
After last night’s total disaster for the City of Molalla at the Clackamas County Planning Commission hearing which resulted in a 5-0 vote to DENY the urban reserves (after the Staff said DENY earlier), will the pathetic “leaders” be stupid and disrespectful of their citizens and allow LOSER LAWYER CREAN, LOSER WINTERBROOK, LOSER FAKE MANAGER ATKINS AND FAKE PLANNER POTTER TO WASTE MORE MONEY AT THE BCC for ANOTHER DENY?
Last night was totally predictable – anyone who could read land use facts KNEW it was going to result in a DENY! The feedback I have heard from the members of the Clackamas County Planning Commission is totally negative – we all know that Crean is a joke, that he is egging the city on to waste more money trying for the unattainable to help land speculators. What lies – we all saw through the crap presented by Molalla.
If City Councilors are sincere about moving Molalla ahead they will demand to stop the idiot quest for urban reserves and pass the comp plan. The comp plan will be enough of a disaster, given what Molalla has for “staff” and for “legal advice”. LOL, my husband was correct – Potter, Atkins and Crean are gifts from God for anyone who opposes the urban reserves. Thanks TEAM FAILURE! You made our case last night in spades.
Wait till the BCC “tours” Molalla via the graphically hideous 185 photos of URBAN DECAY MOLALLA! Infill here we come – that is, if anyone is dumb enough to invest in Brokesville. Time to think for yourselves, City Councilors, you have been led by the nose into the canyon of no return. Your city is just about BANKRUPT thanks to TEAM PLANNING FAILURE! You paid big time for that noxious FAILURE last night!
Below is part of what I turned in for the BCC, less the lurid URBAN DECAY PHOTOS, the going broke fast budget, the Kyllo 2006 consultant report, and the 2007 newspaper story where big mouth Atkins blew the plans for 40-50 mansions out into public view. Talk about corruption! Talk about insider trading! Talk about NOT how Clackamas County is run!
Talk about a City run by a herd of cowards – the City Council needs to look in a mirror and accept what a pile of crap they are presenting to the world. The Planning Commission was hostile from the minute the hearing started and Molalla looked foolish beyond belief! Will the City Council continue to fund LOSING LIARS LIKE CREAN? He couldn’t tell a straight story if his life depended on it! What kind of unethical people are pretending to be “leaders” in Molalla? Will the CRAP ever end? Stay tuned!
“A person’s land or home is part of their soul – the spirit of land use must reflect the love and concern people have for their beloved “sense of place”. Bad planning “process” creates emotional unrest and anger – in the case of Molalla, that angst began years ago and there is no end in sight.” 8/20/2009 Statement to LCDC Citizen Involvement Advisory Committee about Molalla’s disrespect for Goal One
Re: ZDO 228, Proposed Molalla Urban Reserves
I oppose ZDO 228, the proposal to convert 2,290 acres of prime EFU farm/forest lands into an urban reserve for the City of Molalla.
I embrace the recommendation from Clackamas County Planning Staff to deny the application. I further embrace all submissions from Mia Nelson, 1000 Friends of Oregon, opposing this outlandishly large and legally indefensible urban reserve.
It is apparent that Molalla’s population projection is far too high and is not coordinated with Clackamas County. Molalla and Clackamas County must wait and use the new census and the impending new OEA state forecast that will be MUCH lower than the 2004 forecast Molalla is using now. It is vital to WAIT for current data so that Molalla is not allotted far too large a share of the County’s projected growth.
Clackamas County is under no legal obligation to accept or facilitate an urban reserve, since urban reserves are totally voluntary and not required of any city.
Molalla’s attempt to compare its growth to a city like Woodburn is laughable. Transportation links and geography are current economic and residential growth drivers. Woodburn is located on a freeway. Molalla’s only links to local economic hubs are long, dangerous stretches of two lane state highways 213/211. ODOT has no plans to improve 211 or 213; at rush hours, Molalla residents are already dealing with a choked traffic and the longest average commute times in the County. The majority of residents spend over 30 minutes each way commuting.
Molalla has a tradition of overestimating its potential population growth. Its early 80’s vintage comp plan claimed that Molalla would have 8,000 people by 2005. Even with the highly artificial housing “boom”, it took till 2010 for Molalla to reach that number of residents. Molalla currently has hundreds of acres of exception lands that it has not had the capacity to touch since that 80’s comp plan was written. Molalla admits that the current exception lands will be sufficient for the next 20 years of potential growth.
Molalla has planned backwards and should fully adopt a complete comp plan and 20 year urbanization plan BEFORE attempting to justify 50 years of growth. Without an approved facilities plan and a natural resources plan there is no confidence that Molalla can successfully map where to grow. Among numerous problems, water supply alone would be at issue if Molalla attempted to grow at its absurdly huge projected rate.
On Feb. 5, 2007 DLCD sent Molalla a letter rejecting a flimsy attempt at a new comp plan. Even during the height of the real estate boom, DLCD questioned Molalla’s UGB growth projection, noting under Urbanization: “… DLCD questions if this type of analysis belongs in a 20 year comprehensive plan since, at some point in the future, it is likely that Molalla will no longer have a land availability deficiency. DLCD suggests removing data on the urban growth boundary determination and use it when/if the City proposes a UGB expansion.” – Stacy Humphries, DLCD
Conditions in America have changed drastically since Molalla’s 2005 Hovee population study. The current drastic decline in birth rates will affect future population. Birth rates in America have dropped for the last two years and last year plunged to a record low. (footnote 1)
A further blow to potential growth in geographically isolated, low quality small towns like Molalla is shown in well documented demographic trends. People are migrating to metro urban cores and foregoing distant suburbs. Trends indicate that vibrant metro cores, like Portland, Oregon, which have multi-modal transportation, diverse job, educational, service, entertainment and commercial opportunities and walkable neighborhoods are attracting residents. Distant bedroom communities like Molalla with over long commutes and poor livability are rapidly losing popularity. (footnote 2)
Molalla facilitated an artificially large population boost during the real estate boom by not charging market rate SDCs. That allowed cheaper houses to be built and, in a time of lower gas prices, people chose the cheaper houses. Now with peak oil and with the real estate/economic collapse, Molalla’s foreclosure rate is over twice has high as the State of Oregon as a whole.
In Feb 2011 in Oregon, one house out of 676 received an foreclosure notice; in Molalla, that rate was a horrific one house out of 321.
That huge foreclosure rate means ongoing drastically reduced property values in a town that already has next to no money for needed parks, road repairs, sidewalks and other infrastructure. Sadly, Molalla’s outlandish URA reflects the naïve idea that building ever more houses will result in a greater tax base. Eben V. Fodor’s landmark study “The Cost of Growth in Oregon” proves that growth does not pay for itself.
Molalla has failed to embrace smart, sustainable growth and the need for compact cities.
It was ironic to see that County planning listed this proposal on the same page with the current work to provide sustainability-based development codes for unincorporated North County. Molalla needs to regroup and focus on infill and redevelopable lands.
Currently, Molalla is filled with acre upon acre of low development value to land value sites (photos provided). Most of the older downtown buildings are shabby, crumbling and archaic. Low quality, flimsy one story strip malls abound. There is a horrific mix of giant surface parking lots and abandoned industrial brownfields (including well over 100 acres of abandoned mill sites).
Blighted neighborhoods, which lack sidewalks and storm drains and which are in urgent need of road repairs, fan out from old downtown. Trash abounds and car, boats, trailers and even semi-trucks choke neighborhood streets and yards. Many acres of decrepit, old single wide trailer parks are in the core, as well as tiny, run down, ill kept homes.
Only constriction of land supply will force the redevelopment of the copious blighted sites and the re-use of the abandoned industrial sites. Allowing sprawl will entrench Molalla’s current state of urban decay.
In short, the “boom” is over and the world has passed Molalla by as it clings to a vision of big lot mansions sprawling over prime resource lands with commuters willing to travel long distances on choked roads in the growing age of peak oil. That vision of urban planning died with the real estate and economic crash.
Molalla has sadly wasted years and a fortune of public money on unattainable, archaic “aspirational” planning. Currently, Molalla has a rapidly growing planning deficit of over $400,000. The only purpose for this giant URA is to mollify local pushy, greedy land speculators who have no interest in solving the growing the quality of life problems, infrastructure problems, economic problems and blight problems within the current city limits. Only smart, compact growth will move Molalla forward toward becoming a 21st century sustainable city. Please DENY this proposal.
As a rural resident who has owned and improved 20 acres of farm/forest resource land south of Molalla since 1991, I am well familiar with the history of Molalla’s land use failures and economic failures. Molalla’s “aspirational” planning is totally out of touch with 21st century realities, it fails to accept Oregon’s land use goals and it does not comply with Clackamas County’s vision of sustainability and interest in protecting resource lands.
Molalla’s current comp plan, circa about 1982, listed about 3,000 residents and over 1,000 family wage jobs related to the timber industry. As Molalla grew as a rough and ready timber resource town, little interest was taken in esthetics, quality buildings or urban planning. With the demise of timber resources, in the 1990’s which in the 1990’s resulted in the closing of all but two local mills and the loss of most high wage jobs, Molalla turned to “building houses” as a false economy during the “boom” real estate years.
Throughout the “boom”, Molalla fostered an artificial population increase by failing to charge market rate System Development Charges. With the lowest (or no) SDCs, per the Builder’s Association, Molalla was able to troll in residents by offering cheaper houses. New residents were willing to drive the longest commute in the County – on average over 30 minutes each way to jobs. Molalla failed to foster new local jobs with all the house building. Without SDCs or professional planning, Molalla produced a low quality city, with cheap, cookie cutter developments and stubbed out dead end roads. Without SDCs, Molalla failed to keep up with needed infrastructure upgrades and failed to allot money and land for parks.
In other words, Molalla’s artificial population “boom”, based on cheap, low quality development, was not sustainable.
As the “boom” peaked in 2006, land speculators promoted “plans” to impact EFU lands. One speculator, Dennis Kyllo, promoted his prime EFU land for potential development in 2006 (see provided study). Molalla city leaders have promoted Kyllo’s plans and worked to protect the land from the Palomar pipeline in 2007 (see provided newspaper article).
In summer 2007 the City Council and Winterbrook consultants promoted a “goal” that called for “high end”. All the “planning” has been done to try to mollify land speculators and to eat up as much land as possible.
In spite of multiple official letters from DLCD and from Clackamas County noting that the population projection was not acceptable, Molalla has sadly continued to cling to the long outdated 2005 Hovee study. The city manager has publicly noted that the city has to continue to try for this legally indefensible urban reserve because land speculators like Kyllo have spent too much personal money for the city to give up. That waste of public money to “help” land speculators in light of the years of negative feedback about the legally indefensible population projection is reprehensible.
Before official land use hearings began in 2008, DLCD urged Molalla to accept safe harbor population, adopt the professionally produced Downtown Master Plan and the Parks Plan, and to adopt codes based on the DLCD model codes. That would have been sufficient to move Molalla forward. Molalla chose to ignore that sage advice and proceeded to waste years and a fortune trying to justify the URA.
The land use hearings which began in fall 2008 made a joke out of Goal One, since the URA was already determined. Citizens were so confused about the process that a woman actually asked to buy a copy of the speech I made (footnote 3 “DEAD” speech) because she felt I was the only one explaining what had already been planned and how the process worked. Numerous citizens signed a “Citizens Action” letter (footnote 4) after the first hearing asking for an outside facilitator but we were refused. I have twice hand carried numerous citizen letters protesting the lack of respect of Goal One LCDC’s citizen involvement committee (footnote 5, example of complaint about Goal One process).
The Molalla Goal One process in no way conforms to the care Clackamas County takes in citizen involvement. Molalla’s lawyer actually lied to the citizens at the first hearing and said Molalla “had” to do a comp plan/URA.
The number of acres proposed has never changed over all the years, even after DLCD required that big lots, equestrian estates, golf courses and community planning areas be removed from the “plans”. The current outlandish proposal for 2,290 acres is nothing but an ill-considered free for all exercise in influence peddling by every local land speculator with the ability to bend the ear of Molalla “officials”.
Today, Molalla’s tanking budget and urban decay sites tell the story of a town that developed too fast on the cheap, without planning for adequate quality of life features, like roads, sidewalks, and parks.
That low quality has resulted in a foreclosure rate over twice the average in the State of Oregon. In Feb. 2011, one home in 676 received a foreclosure notice. In Molalla, that rate was one home out of 321.
With the longest commute in the County, on average over 30 minutes, raising gas prices and peak oil will continue to cause a decrease in property values.
The Molalla River School District enrollment is tracking lower than the lowest enrollment predictions in its demographic study “Molalla River School District Population and Enrollment Forecasts 2009-10 to 2020-21”. Over 800 students have been lost from the District in the past 4 years.
Molalla has failed to attract jobs. In fact, FAR more jobs and businesses have been lost than added. Recently, Molalla has lost numerous businesses, including Scott’s Fertilizer, the Chevy dealership, a large bed and breakfast, several restaurants, a glass repair business, a video store and a large car repair shop. Many store fronts in the old downtown are empty and even the newer Safeway strip mall has numerous suites available for lease. The few businesses that have opened are marginal or indicate urban decay, like a downtown gun store and a pawnshop. Run down bars round out the blighted old downtown core. Zoning is a nightmare, with industrial impacting residential.
Molalla produced, via large public grants, a 2007 Parks Plan and a Downtown Master Plan/211 Streetscape Plan. The Parks Plans calls for $33 million of parks improvements over 20 years. Molalla has less than $100,000 in its parks fund and has not been able to implement any improvements to parks or purchase new park lands. The Downtown Plan calls for $63+ million in street improvements over 20 years. Nothing has been done to implement the 1-5 year priority street improvements in run down neighborhoods. Molalla is preparing to ask residents in specific neighborhoods to agree to pay for bonds to fix crumbling city streets.
Molalla lacks sidewalks and bike lanes and the entire city scores very low on the walkabity score charts. Residents continually complain about giant, dangerous ditches that line the routes to Safeway and to downtown. Cars are the only safe way to travel because without sidewalks and bike paths residents are at risk traveling along the main roads.
Molalla has failed to listen to DLCD and consultants who have called for SDC reform so Molalla can build funds to improve quality of life in the current city. In fact, Molalla offers a million dollar waiver that was supposed to attract jobs. The waiver language was so weak that a developer is attempting to use it to build 170 apartments with attached commercial space.
The professional economic study provided by an ODOT grant for the proposed apt/commercial mixed use site states that a slow build-out of the apartments would be the safest bet because of uncertain demand for more housing and because the demand is very low for commercial/office space. To date, the developer has not found funding for the project, which would require millions of dollars to improve the downtown intersection; Molalla does not have available street funds to fix the intersection.
Finally, all economic indicators say that the dream of home ownership/big backyards for everyone is not part of the future in America. Even Suzy Orman, a popular financial advisor to everyday Americans is noted as changing her opinion on homes as investments in a discussion about the real estate picture in America:
“In her latest book, The Money Class, she also recently delivered a pretty striking declaration: that the American Dream – which, for many, includes home ownership and upward economic mobility – is as dead as a doornail. To back this up, she points to huge numbers of jobless and what she sees as the near impossibility of getting credit these days.”
If professional economic advisors think it is dangerous to quickly add 170 apts. to Molalla’s housing market, what would over 2,000 acres of reserve do to the current property values and the need to fix blight?
In summary, Molalla does not have the financial capacity to grow infrastructure beyond the current city limits because it can’t afford to fix the glaring needs backlogged in its Park and Downtown Master Plans. See provided 2nd quarter budget – Molalla has only $150,000 in street SDC funds and only $150,000 in urban renewal funds. The Planning deficit, when “loans” from other departments to planning are included, exceeds $400,000.
How can Molalla pretend it can grow outward in the face of its extremely poor financial picture?
INFILL OPPORTUNITIES/ REDEVELOPABLE LANDS:
Molalla has failed to embrace sustainable growth and the need for compact cities.
Currently, Molalla is filled with low development value to land value sites. Most of the older downtown buildings are shabby, crumbling and archaic. Low quality strip malls round out the downtown. Within the old downtown core, there is a horrific mix of giant surface parking lots and abandoned industrial brownfields (including well over 100 acres of abandoned mill sites).
Blighted neighborhoods that lack sidewalks, storm drains and that are in urgent need of road repairs fan out from old downtown. Trash abounds and car, boats, trailers and even semi-trucks choke neighborhood streets and yards. Many acres of decrepit, old single wide trailer parks are in the core, as well as tiny, run down and ill kept homes.
All of the above sites can provide Molalla with many decades of redevelopable lands. Constriction of land supply is the only way these extremely decayed buildings and neighborhoods will have values. If developers are given the ability or even hope of vast new land, the urban decay in Molalla’s core will continue unabated.
Photo documentation has been provided of some of the hundreds of decayed sites/underused sites/empty commercial sites within Molalla’s city limits. Molalla has failed to consider the need to account for all these hundreds of acres of infill opportunities.
Molalla has submitted outdated population projections and has abundant opportunities within the current city limits for infill. Molalla’s Goal One process was disrespectful to those with opposing views and the URA was determined far in advance of any wide public participation. Molalla’s dire financial state precludes any ability to improve or expand urban infrastructure. Molalla’s sprawl vision isn’t consistent with Clackamas County’s sustainability goals and would allot far too much future urban land to Molalla in relation to the rest of the cities in the County.
Please DENY this application – it would set a dangerous sprawl precedent for our County.
1. Amid Recession, Birth Rate Plunges to Record Low:
As U.S. Birth Rate Drops for 2nd Year, Experts Say People Are Putting Off Having Children Due to Economic Downturn.
August 27, 2010
(AP) The U.S. birth rate has dropped for the second year in a row, and experts think the wrenching recession led many people to put off having children. The 2009 birth rate also set a record: lowest in a century.
Births fell 2.7 percent last year even as the population grew, numbers released Friday by the National Center for Health Statistics show.
“It’s a good-sized decline for one year. Every month is showing a decline from the year before,” said Stephanie Ventura, the demographer who oversaw the report.
The birth rate, which takes into account changes in the population, fell to 13.5 births for every 1,000 people last year. That’s down from 14.3 in 2007 and way down from 30 in 1909, when it was common for people to have big families.
“It doesn’t matter how you look at it fertility has declined,” Ventura said.
The situation is a striking turnabout from 2007, when more babies were born in the United States than any other year in the nation’s history. The recession began that fall, dragging stocks, jobs and births down.
“When the economy is bad and people are uncomfortable about their financial future, they tend to postpone having children. We saw that in the Great Depression the 1930s and we’re seeing that in the Great Recession today,” said Andrew Cherlin, a sociology professor at Johns Hopkins University.”
2. Demographic trends now favor downtown…
Growth across the country moves away from suburban and exurban fringe,
The urban renaissance in cities such as Portland, Ore., is making the bedroom suburb and the strip mall seem positively dull.”
By Jonathan Weber
updated 5/20/2009 7:00:41 AM ET 2009-05-20T11:00:41
“Location, location, location” has been the mantra of the real estate industry for as long as anyone can remember. Still, as the national economy transforms in the wake of the economic crisis, the power of place will prove to be ever more important for a broad range of small businesses.
Most demographic and market indicators suggest that growth and development across the country are moving away from the suburban and exurban fringe and toward center-cities and close-in suburbs.
What’s behind this shift? Empty-nesters don’t need the big house and don’t want to mow the big lawn. High gas prices are making long commutes less practical. The urban renaissance in big cities ranging from New York to Portland, Ore. — and the revival of charming, vibrant downtowns in small cities like Missoula, Mont. — is making the bedroom suburb and the strip mall seem positively dull.
Retailers are the most obviously affected by these trends. For decades, locating a store in a mall on the fringe rather than downtown had a lot of obvious advantages: plenty of easy parking, tons of drive-by traffic from big-box neighbors, and newer buildings with better infrastructure.
These benefits won’t disappear overnight. Over the long run, though, they will diminish in importance, especially if more big retail chains and shopping-mall operators go out of business. Downtown shopping districts, meanwhile, will benefit from increased investment and more proximate residents. If we assume, as many economists do, that the country is “over-retailed,” some downtown development plans based on more shopping will stall, but the center will still prosper relative to the fringe — and more businesses might find the downtown storefront affordable.
Indeed, the advantages of a good downtown location extend to many businesses that are not dependent on walk-in traffic. At NewWest.Net, our alley storefront with a prominent sign is probably one of our best bits of marketing. Every month, we host an art show as part of the downtown “First Friday” art walk, which brings a lot of people into the office and gives us a chance to chat them up about NewWest.Net. Most meetings don’t require getting into a car. Our very effective Downtown Association offers kinship (which can lead to deals) with neighboring businesses.
Locating downtown is sometimes associated with the “buy local” movement — the idea that the community benefits if businesses and consumers spend their money with independent, locally owned businesses. But you don’t have to buy into this ideologically to position yourself as the friendly, local alternative to the big national chain, and part of the way to do that is to locate in a cool space — in a historic building, say — rather than a sterile strip mall or office park.
All of this might seem counterintuitive, as the Internet revolution was supposed to render place less important, even irrelevant. If we can all telecommute from our bedrooms, buy our supplies online, and serve our customers over the Internet, why does that pesky and expensive office or retail store even matter?
The answer is simple: Humans are social beings, and all the time we spend at our computers makes us, if anything, even hungrier for real-world interactions. The Internet, paradoxically, is making place even more important. Marrying great online services with appealing real-world presence will be the secret to success for many a company. So pay attention to where you are and to where your community is going.”
Copyright Washington Post.Newsweek Interactive
3. Oct 14, 2008 “DEAD Speech” at the first “official” comp plan hearing:
I am outraged and disappointed that we are all here tonight to hear about a plan that is going around in circles, like ground hog day, with no resolution in sight. Molalla refuses, year after year, to follow the land use goals of the State of Oregon. I have attempted to participate in this planning process since June of 2007 and have felt angry and abused from the start.
In June 2007 I read a real estate listing for EFU land south of Molalla. The flyer bragged that this farmland, far from the current city limits, would soon be in the urban growth boundary. I spoke with the realtor who glibly described the “new” urban growth boundary that she claimed would soon be in place. I was outraged since I have lived and worked for 18 years on land that adjoins this boundary.
Soon after, I went to the first land use meeting presided over by the outside planning firm, Winterbrook. It was one of the most disturbing and insulting meetings I have ever attended. Limited planning handouts were available – “planner” Shane made sure they were given to every developer and lawyer in the room. The two copies left were flipped at the 10 or so concerned citizens present and we were told to “share.” It was obvious we were not welcome and that attitude has been the prevailing one at every planning meeting since.
I could spend a great deal of time detailing objections to the plans tonight, but I will submit those in writing to DLCD. These objections include the lack of good protection for important Oregon white oak habitat, lack of viable economic growth to balance residential housing, the inflated population figures, the low proposed density, the phony attempt to earmark 50 years of land, the fact that sloped lands are perfectly capable of hosting dense development, the need for strong historical protection for archaeological sites south of the city, and the cavalier attitude about potential water supply conflicts.
I have read the comments that DLCD has made in numerous letters and I feel confident that DLCD will guide us away from the insane land use Molalla is proposing. Tonight, I want to fully address the abuse of process that has occurred.
Land use planning in Oregon is built on a pyramid of 14 Goals. They are building blocks and until all are fulfilled there is no expectation of new lands being added to city boundaries.
Goal One is citizen involvement. Molalla’s comp plan states that citizens should be heavily educated and engaged from the start, and the greater the planning effort, the more care should be taken to ensure that all citizens fully understand the planning issues and the process. Molalla has not even scratched the surface of this primary Goal.
Molalla has followed another path described to me by a planner who advocates for citizens. He labeled the backward process that Molalla and the vultures disguised as outside planners use with four letters: D-E-A-D.
In the DEAD process, instead of engaging a diverse group of local people, per Goal One, the city started with the letter D, to Decide where they wanted to add land. In this case, the decision was the “view” EFU lands south of Molalla, as described in detail by that land speculator realtor. That realtors’ insider description of the urban reserve border in June 2007 exactly matches the line on today’s map.
Next, the E in DEAD was imposed as Evaluate by hiring a fleet of expensive Portland outside planners to generate reams of convoluted reports in an attempt to push the public and DLCD into believing the need for what had already been decided. In a fair process, everyone in the city and the study area would have been notified about the study areas from the start.
I was outraged when I had to massively enlarge Winterbrook’s highly reduced study area map to try to figure out where my property stood in the plans. I am angry about deceptive soil class mapping done by highly paid professionals. I am insulted for us all that this July 2007 meeting had “High End” directly stated as a planning goal.
Next, the A in the DEAD process came into play as Advocate. The city manager outlined in the Pioneer plans the city advocated for Kyllo Tree Farm, an EFU property far from the city borders. This “High End” development, per the interview, was planned for 40-50 luxury homes, a tennis court, swimming pool, and hiking trails. Obviously, this luxuryville would be divorced from any connection to the reality of downtown Molalla, with it’s broken roads, empty storefronts, inadequate parks, and a city pool struggling to survive.
Molalla continues to advocate for outrageous land use by proposing an equestrian zone in the current plans. This ridiculous zone would allow a horse on a tiny urban lot 3 days out of 7, and would be abusive horse keeping. The code mandates that no flies or manure smells can occur. I won’t bother to point out the myriad of pitfalls of this big lot fiasco. Several of us objected to this proposal at a planning commission meeting in the winter and we were shouted down with the jeer “Don’t you want High End to come to Molalla?”
In April and tonight we were presented with the final D in the DEAD process, which stands for Defend.
In April, the adult center was packed with people to hear the city defend the land use plan they have bought for a high price and wish to impose on the clueless public. The room was filled with elaborate maps of what the city wishes the public to believe is a done deal.
Those of us who had the audacity to question the need for or the content of the plans were shot down at the April meeting by the hired gun experts. Winterbrook actually refused to answer my question about why we were starting with Goal 14 instead of Goal One!
Luckily, finally we have moved on to the truth telling stage in this process, a stage that takes Molalla right back to the drawing board.
In Feb 2007, and July 2007 DLCD sent letters that outline in detail the facts that Molalla is under no legal need to do this plan or to expand, that the DLCD believes that little population growth will occur here in the future, that Molalla might wish to withdraw the quest for urban growth, and that the DLCD has a free, award winning program for tiny cities like Molalla who voluntarily wish to upgrade their comp plans.
In March 2008, DLCD wrote a letter stating that, despite the $20,000 spent to generate an inflated population projection, Molalla’s only legal path is to use the much lower safe harbor figures.
I have been appalled that city leaders have little understanding of a process that has wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars generating a plan that is in direct contradiction to these letters sent by DLCD. I sent a copy of the Feb 2007 letter to Winterbrook in hopes that, as highly paid professionals, they would advise the city to follow the sage advice of DLCD. Evidently in these hard times people who call themselves professional planners are more interested in porking a small city for all it is worth than in producing defendable results.
I celebrate that some good has come out of this corruption. A growing number of citizens in our community are waking up to realize that our quality of life is at stake.
The crossroads is here now – we can surrender our future to land speculators, corrupt city officials, a city manager and outside planners who have no interest in our future except for how big a paycheck they can collect on our backs – or we can demand that all of us participate from the start in realistic community based planning that reflects our true demographics and the needs of everyone.
I salute the city leaders who are starting to understand and question the planning process. Deb Leighton, Steve Clark, Jim Needham, and Mary Jo Mackie have been willing to engage in lively dialogues. I urge everyone to call on all city leaders to read every letter from DLCD so they understand why this DEAD ground hog day planning nightmare must end.
Modern planning in Oregon demands that compact growth be the primary outcome. Compact growth will protect us from the need for expensive infrastructure, will save resource lands, and will help protect the values of existing properties. The current proposal promotes sprawl based on insider trading and influence peddling for the benefit of a few local good old boys and would impose ugly, draconian codes that threaten our rural character.
Our properties are not worthless pawns to be manipulated by strangers who have no connection to our community – these lands represent our lives, our dreams, our livelihoods and our futures. Our future is for us to decide.
4. October 15, 2008 Citizen Action Demand Letter (asking for better Goal One process – totally ignored by the City of Molalla):
Please enter this account of the Molalla Planning meeting 10-14-08 into the official record of the Comprehensive Plan Update effort with DLCD and Clackamas County.
Most of the signers attended the planning meeting at the Adult Center in Molalla 10-14-08 and all are residents of the greater Molalla community and will be affected by land use actions by the city of Molalla.
While we understand that the meeting was recorded, we believe a few observations should be entered into the official record:
When the large audience was asked to show by hands how many in the audience could even name 2 of the 14 Goals, only 2 people in the audience (out of 100+ citizens in a crowded room) raised their hands.
When asked by a show of hands to indicate how many landowners were interested in having their property incorporated into the city only a few, if any, raised their hands.
Among 9 or so speakers, the only person in favor of adding land to the city was a land use lawyer representing a large landowner who did not attend the meeting and who apparently does not live in our community. All the rest of the speakers were anti-growth, anti-comp plan and those speakers got loud and enthusiastic applause.
People were eager to hear any truth or fact about the comp plan effort that was not the “official line” the city has fed them. It was stated that most public information has come from citizens writing letters to the editor because of the failure of the planning department to provide HONEST information.
Citizens are CONFUSED and VERY ANGRY about the process they have been subjected to.
One citizen was so eager for information that she rushed up to Ms Hansen at the end of the meeting and offered to buy a copy of Ms Hansen’s speech!
It was highly apparent that few people understand that the State and County governments have to approve any UGB or comp plan proposals. In conversations after the meeting, many citizens were surprised to learn that, after 5+ years of Molalla’s promotion of a “plan”, the final say does not rest with Molalla City government. This in itself is proves a massive failure in the outreach efforts per Goal One.
Our community has been systematically fed erroneous information (many interviews and statements at meetings where city officials –AND THEIR LAWYER – have said “we legally have to do a comp plan” and the fact that the ENTIRE focus of all these meetings has been on what lands to add to the EFU without the explanation that that is the very LAST issue the city should be trying to address are two glaring examples of this abuse of process).
We believe that if Molalla continues the comp plan effort, a straight forward information sheet, with information approved by DLCD, that is written in lay person terms, should be mailed, published in the local paper, and available at EVERY MEETING to tell citizens the truth about land use planning.
We suggest that a simple to understand flow chart showing what stage the city has entered in the plan, what Goals must be met, how they will be met, the time frame, how the citizens can make meaningful comments and have their questions answered (provide contact names, addresses, email addresses, phone #’s and the contact’s function in the land use process) and what agencies – state (DLCD, LUBA, Dept of Transportation, etc.), local, Clackamas county – must approve what elements of the plan before anything is fully approved would be a start toward Goal One implementation.
It has been deceptive and unfair to the spirit of Goal One to hold “Kangaroo Court” hearings with an intimidating panel of “experts” without the citizens having the above simple to understand information sheet/flow chart that lists the Goals and the process.
We demand that the city of Molalla immediately facilitate meetings where people can interface and discuss their visions and concerns outside of the “Kangaroo Court” format we have been subjected to at every planning meeting so far. To continue to pretend that our community has generated the proposals before us is a total lie; to subject citizens to outside planning firms like Winterbrook and to pretend that anything produced by Winterbrook or other outside planners is “ours” is a TOTAL FRAUD!
The anger at last night’s meeting proves that the citizens of our community have ideas and visions for their own futures that are diametrically opposed to the ideas presented by Molalla planning, their pompous lawyer, and the raft of outside planning firms, like Winterbrook, who have produced the “plans”.
If the planning commission is not honest and brave enough to understand the growing opposition, then the city leaders should step in and work for the citizens to provide such forums. It is now apparent to everyone that the “plans” have been going around in circles for years – it is time to give citizens generous and friendly opportunities (surveys in the mail, focus groups without the “outside planners”, open meetings without the Kangaroo Court format etc.) so they may state their interests in the future of Molalla.
Molalla is under NO MANDATE TO GROW. The mood of the citizens last night was that they value their rural properties and have NO INTEREST IN BEING “TAGGED” TO BE PART OF A CITY. Attendees who live in the city also expressed grave concerns about the state of the city or the need for growth, and noted the crumbling infrastructure and the inability to provide local jobs. Concerns were raised about the indisputable fact that Molalla is losing residents and that there is no need to grow in the face of this population loss.
Molalla has run its planning effort solely for the benefit of a few speculators who are pushing to be “tagged”. It is overdue for the vast majority of citizens – both inside and outside the city – to have their vision of “no or little” growth heard!
Please provide dates and formats for a citizen forum run by citizens for citizens – without outside lawyers, outside planners or any of the ugly Kangaroo Court features that have been inflicted upon us to date. Molalla has absolutely FAILED at citizen’s outreach and we will push for CITIZEN CONTROL at every meeting in the future until Molalla accepts that people are hungry for HONEST information. Concerned citizens will work doggedly to find a way at every turn to thwart the misinformation and blatant lies that we have been told so far!
Citizens here are committed to their rural properties and the city dwellers are committed to small town life. Citizens deserve far more than pompous, imperious panels of untrained local “experts” and reams of meaningless gibberish produced by “big bucks” outside planners. We are real people with real lives and real concerns! Last night’s hearing proved that in no uncertain terms!
Please inform us how we may obtain the list of attendees from last night’s meeting – if the city refuses to act, we are sure the citizens from last night’s meeting will be eager to participate in a CITIZEN’S PLANNING MEETING to plan to stop this abuse and TAKE BACK OUR OWN FUTURE! We would be more than happy to help produce user friendly, truthful information for our valued friends and neighbors in the greater Molalla Community.
Signed by numerous local Molalla citizens
5. 8-20-2009 Statement of Concern to LCDC Citizen Involvement Advisory Committee (6 other letters from local citizens decrying Molalla’s “process” were also delivered to the meeting):
Dear Citizen Involvement Advisory Committee,
Oregon’s Land Use process has become “top down” and disrespects the intention of Goal One.
In a prolonged, 5 year voluntary land use “process”, Molalla, a struggling, formerly timber resource based city of 7,000 residents, has thoroughly alienated local residents and wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars of public funds on indefensible “plans”. Led by a “Planning Director” without a degree and backed up by an uninformed “Planning Commission” headed by a man who lives in a different county, a year of formal hearings on a new Comp Plan has yielded no results.
Molalla’s driving interest is big lot sprawl. When formal hearings started last fall, citizens began to look to DLCD for answers about what was legally defensible. As the year unfolded, many flaws in DLCD’s “process” have emerged. In this packet are included the comments from a diverse group of citizens who have attempted to participate. The comments are provided to foster better process for Goal One. My ideas about what could be improved to help citizens have a fair chance in land use processes in Oregon include:
1.Initial mailed notices need to include details about proposals:
When a mandated notice is mailed to landowners to announce a formal process, the mailing packet should include detailed information that clearly and simply states the process that will occur via the hearings, the list of “deciders” that will be involved in the process, and contact addresses/phone contacts for more information. In Molalla, a great number of landowners came to the first “hearing’ and were dissuaded from further participating because the city lawyer, outside consultants and Planning Commission made it appear that it was all a “done deal”.
2. DLCD/ODOT/the County should have a representative at the first noticed hearing so citizens have the opportunity to hear the facts about the proposed “process” from an oversight agency:
Although the first Molalla “hearings” started in October 08, and continue to present, to this day many landowners believe that the Comp Plan and UGB growth are just up to what the City Council wants and thus those citizens never bothered to try to participate. DLCD/County/ODOT reps need to be present so citizens have the opportunity to hear from land use experts. Molalla has worked very hard to keep citizens in the dark about the “process”. DLCD has come to two closed to public questions “joint” Planning Commission/City Council meetings and has stonewalled the public.
3.Handouts should be provided that clearly explain the benefits of whatever planning “process” is underway in layman’s terms, should relate to the Goals, and include flow charts:
Citizens won’t be motivated to participate or support the effort if they don’t feel that they have a stake in the results. Handouts should clearly outline the “process” and the steps the city will have to take to achieve the desired results. The information should be in simple, easy to understand terms with information about where people can go to get more detailed information about land use rules. Clear flow charts are essential.
4. DLCD should include all interested parties on “official” replies.
There should be no holding time on releasing official DLCD reports – any interested party should be added to the direct mailing/email list so all affected/interested parties receive information at the same time. Interested parties should not have to keep filing public information requests for “official” items like PAPA responses. There should be no “holding period” – all official responses should go to all interested parties at the same time.
5.When cities enter into voluntary PAPA planning process, DLCD should consider the financial health and skill level of the participating city:
DLCD should create benchmarks/clear deadlines with realistic goals to be achieved. In the case of Molalla, years of legally indefensible planning have left the city with a planning dept approaching a quarter of a million dollar deficit and not a single element has been adopted. Citizens should not be asked to participate in or fund via their taxes a “process” that is so unwieldy that it is doomed to failure.
6.When grants are accepted by cities for planning, then there must be consequences if the city fails to implement what the grant produced:
Grants in excess of $100,000 have been used in the Molalla “process” to produce wetlands reports and a Downtown Master Plan/Streetscape Plan. Citizen’s can’t proudly support or participate in a “process” that wastes their public monies.
The wetlands study maps, produced by professionals via a DLCD grant, show wetlands that the city has failed to show in their wetlands display maps because Molalla is attempting to protect a large EFU property that wants into the UGB.
The expensive Downtown Master Plan/Streetscape Plan, finished long ago, sits unadopted and is in danger of becoming obsolete. There is no return on citizen participation/investment of public funds/agency time if such grants don’t produce adopted results.
7.Clear guidelines should be provided to cities about providing access to planning documents for citizens:
In Molalla, minutes were not produced in a timely manner, and citizens had to hound the planning dept for months for access to a “Comp Plan” file for public viewing. Finally, planning “files” were thrown on a cart as a jumbled mess. Two visits via formal public information requests by several citizens to review COMPLETE files proved that the files were not complete, since they lacked the large reports private consultants had turned in during months of hearings.
When questioned about these obviously missing reports, the “planner” pulled thick stack of reports off a shelf in his office and said he would not allow citizens to view them because he was “working on them”. Further protest to the City Manger resulted in further refusal – access to these important reports was only gained because citizens petitioned the Distract Attorney about this public information refusal. DLCD can’t allow a “process” to occur where citizens don’t have full access to all reports and documents.
8. DLCD should provide a liaison for local CPO’s or “friends of” groups who may oppose or question a city’s “proposals”:
As citizens in the Molalla area worked to understand and participate it became clear that DLCD is working for/with cities – where is the information/support for the “opposition”? There is no “go to” DLCD rep for those who seek clear understanding of the “process” and the obstacles to planning success – the “process” should be completely transparent to all sides. In our case, the more questions citizens raised, the more silent DLCD became until we were driven to file formal public information requests and pay a great deal of money to read internal DLCD files and emails. Citizens should not have to become detectives to participate in planning.
9. DLCD should vet citizen participation opportunities in advance of hearings/land use actions by providing the city with guidance about what real citizen participation entails:
DLCD needs stronger rules about citizen involvement oversight – in the case of Molalla, all committees are appointed solely by the Mayor. The planning commission is a direct path to city council via appointments from the planning commission to council when turnover occurs so there is an incestuous relationship between the council and planning commission. The person working as “planning director’ has no college and no planning training. The Chair of the Molalla planning commission lives in Woodburn, Marion County.
There is nothing impartial or fair about the “process” we have been subjected to when “insiders” serve on all committees. All the aforementioned forces consistently shoot down and reuse to consider citizen input or to answer questions if the questions/input appear to oppose the ‘plans” of the local land speculators and their lawyers/consultants who are the driving force in Molalla’s “process”.
When outside consultants are paid by public funds, citizens should have access to the consultants to ask questions about the methodology and plans that are promoted by the consultants. In the case of Molalla, arrogant outside consultants not only wrote most of the plans, they refused at hearings or meetings to interact with citizens who had direct questions. In one case, an outside consultant refused to answer a citizen’s question because that citizen had already called the firm to question the honesty of soil maps. The consultant acted like a planning “god” who felt that interaction with concerned citizens was beneath his dignity.
The concern about abuse of process was so strong in the Molalla area that some citizens went to other cities to understand how citizen involvement is handled. Only by visiting a great planner in Silverton did we find the “Putting People in Planning” booklet. We question why DLCD did not insist that Molalla heed the advice in that booklet and make that information available to all citizens.
10. DLCD should vet maps for accuracy before they are displayed in public:
In the case of Molalla, zoning was projected and displayed far in advance of any legal ability to project zoning – these maps were only withdrawn after a call to ODOT, which informed the city it was far premature in showing zoning changes. Soil class maps and wetlands maps have been inaccurately portrayed – in the case of soil maps the “planner” admitted the maps was incorrect yet it continues to be displayed. Molalla has shown Urban Reserve Maps for over two years, yet DLCD tells concerned rural residents that it is “premature” for DLCD to interact with concerned rural residents. These kind of “premature” and inaccurate postings by cities cause anger and worry for residents.
11.If DLCD is going to tell citizen groups that it is “premature” for rural citizens to get answers from DLCD, then DLCD needs to directly explain why it is premature:
In Molalla’s case, citizens are up in arms about the Urban Reserve mapping. If DLCD means by “premature” that such “growth” is not likely, the citizens deserve to hear an honest and direct answer about why it is “premature” to be concerned.
12. Citizens should not have to fight for access to DLCD:
If a “process” is underway, all Oregonians who are attempting to participate under Goal One should be allowed access to DLCD staff. DLCD should be allowed to frankly discuss benefits and downsides of land use proposals with concerned citizens. Why do cities have designated staff contacts while our local Molalla CPO has had to grovel and beg for an open meeting where citizens can ask questions of DLCD, a publicly funded state agency?
13. DLCD should insist that a neutral mediator be available early in the process:
In our experience, the first official “hearing” in October 08 caused such outrage that a group of citizens wrote immediately to DLCD and Molalla with a list of demands to open up the process. DLCD weakly “suggested” that a neutral mediator be provided so the city, the county and the citizens could learn to “own” the process – but the city refused.
Now, months later, DLCD has met internally with conflict resolution staff from Clackamas County and with a PSU conflict mediator about the “Molalla situation”. I find it ironic that local concerned citizens were refused access to a mediated session last fall and now DLCD finds it must research, via its own session with conflict mediators, how to resolve the “Molalla conflicts”.
DLCD needs to put some teeth in Goal One by providing assistance and oversight to ensure that a fair “process” occurs that respects Goal One. Our experience has left us all with ongoing hostility and disrespect. Currently there is no ability for the city and the rural residents to work together to ensure the best future for our community. DLCD needs to promote Goal One from the start – otherwise we are stuck with anger and resentment over “top down” planning that makes a mockery of Goal One.
The Big Look funded a report that noted that Goal One is the hardest Goal to enforce or codify. I believe that Oregon has badly slipped into “top down” planning via professional consultants, agency staffs, lawyers, and disrespectful local staffs that seek to railroad their will in the planning “process”. Citizens deserve to be treated as valuable allies, not as chattel to be dismissed or ignored.
A person’s land or home is their soul – the spirit of land use must reflect the love and concern people have for their beloved “sense of place”. Bad planning “process” creates emotional unrest and anger – in the case of Molalla, that angst began years ago and there is no end in sight.
Thanks for the work you do to help Oregonians preserve and protect our “sense of place”.