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Measure 3-388 is by far the better choice for Clackamas voters

Clackamas County voters have a choice in the Nov. 8 election between two measures that would require voter approval of urban renewal districts. One of these proposals - Measure 3-388 - would allow each community within the county to decide if it wants to use urban renewal as a tool to encourage new jobs, economic development and public safety.

Voters should approve that measure, while rejecting a competing measure - No. 3-386 - that would have the likely effect of shutting down urban renewal in unincorporated Clackamas County by requiring a countywide vote for each new renewal district.

Urban renewal has been used in unincorporated Clackamas County to achieve such notable ends as the development of the area around Clackamas Town Center or the revival of Government Camp. Mostly, the dollars generated by urban renewal districts have been used to fund basic things that all citizens want - roads, sidewalks and related infrastructure.

However, critics of urban renewal argue that the tool has been abused and that it siphons money away from other government services. There is a grain of truth in such arguments, of course, but what taxpayers must recognize is that urban renewal costs them almost nothing, but still allows the county to pay for things that otherwise would have to be funded through direct taxation.

This topic is being debated in Clackamas County because opponents of urban renewal gathered sufficient signatures to place Measure 3-386 on the ballot. That measure would require all voters in the county's vast expanses to approve any new renewal district or changes to an existing district. That means voters in Stafford or Welches, for example, would have a say in whether urban renewal should be used to help build sidewalks along McLoughlin Boulevard in unincorporated Oak Grove.

The measure, however, wouldn't apply to urban renewal within cities - meaning that it would cut off opportunity only in the unincorporated areas while municipalities could still derive benefits from urban renewal.

Clackamas County commissioners responded to Measure 3-386 by placing the more reasonable Measure 3-388 on the November ballot. It still requires a vote by the people who live within the boundaries of a proposed urban renewal area before such a district could be formed. In that way, it provides voters - but only local voters - with the right to judge each renewal district on its own merits.

An impressive coalition of organizations and businesses have coalesced in support of Measure 3-388. These groups support the county's alternative because they realize that the most important priority of today is to create jobs through economic development. Voters who want to see Clackamas County attract new jobs and businesses should reject Measure 3-386 and approve Measure 3-388 in the Nov. 8 election.