Letter to the Editor: Clackamas County planning commissioners were right to reject Molalla
Published: Thursday, April 14, 2011, 5:45 PM Updated: Thursday, April 14, 2011, 5:53 PM
Molalla ignored the state Department of Land Conservation and Development since a February 2007 letter noted that Molalla was not expected to have a land deficiency in the future. Molalla didn’t accept the department’s advice in 2008, when the city was urged to immediately adopt “safe harbor population,” the Downtown Master Plan/211 Streetscape Plan, the Parks Plan and model codes. Those actions alone could have moved Molalla forward toward smart, sustainable growth within its blighted urban growth boundary.
Instead, Molalla continued, year after year, to produce legally indefensible revisions. Letters piled up from the DLCD and the county noting the flaws. Behind-the-scenes staff meetings advised Molalla that the urban reserves could not be approved.
As recently as last month, former Board of County Commissioners Chairwoman Lynn Peterson told Mayor Mike Clarke at a public meeting that the urban reserves were out of scale with county growth projections. Molalla’s biggest “achievement” is a growing deficit that reached $442,343 by the time the Clackamas County Planning Commission recommended to deny.
The February foreclosure rate in low-quality Molalla was a whopping one house out of 321, over twice Oregon’s average. Molalla’s crumbling downtown is a case study in urban decay, many blighted neighborhoods are poster children for low development to land value sites, and Molalla can’t afford to maintain its current infrastructure. Molalla’s “experts” failed to produce an inventory of buildable lands for the Planning Commission.
It is long overdue for Molalla to stop the charade of 50-year “aspirational” planning based on sprawl. Molalla, a former timber-resource based town, has severe geographical and economic limitations. Any hint that new land may be available will further entrench Molalla’s ghettos and further erode property values in the current urban growth boundary. The Clackamas County Planning Commission must be commended for shutting the door on this pie-in-the-sky urban reserves proposal, which was only created to serve the “needs” of greedy local land speculators.
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