Urban renewal will help Beaverton create a vibrant downtown
- Mark Fagin
- Beaverton Valley Times - Opinion
As you begin looking closely at Beaverton's Urban Renewal Measure 34-192, it is important to understand first of all that a 'yes' vote for urban renewal does not add a new tax, does not increase the city's property tax rate and does not approve a new general obligation bond. The Central Beaverton Urban Renewal Plan has been in the works for a long time, and it all started with citizen input.
A few years ago, when the city formed its visioning process, a group of citizen volunteers went out into the community and talked to roughly 5,000 people. The Visioning Advisory Committee wanted to listen to as many people as possible. The visioning committee went to where the people were: the Beaverton Farmers Market, MAX stations, the library and many community meetings. The goal was to reach all the people of our community, so we provided information and collected ideas in six different languages.
In total, about 6,500 ideas were gathered and documented. The visioning committee was so thorough and ran such a good process that the program has won a regional award (beating out projects from Seattle and Portland) and a national award (beating out programs from across the country).
A large number of the ideas were focused on improving the downtown area. Beaverton citizens want to make downtown a destination by expanding employment, housing, arts, culture and entertainment. We want a 'look and feel' for our downtown with easy transit access, convenient parking, improved walkability and more green spaces. Beaverton residents want to stimulate downtown redevelopment by removing barriers, recruiting anchor tenants and encouraging sustainable design in our downtown. We want the public involved in the whole process.
The community wants to create a vibrant downtown Beaverton!
One question we didn't ask in the visioning process, because it would have stifled the imagination, was 'How?' How are we going to pay for it? How feasible is it?
Through visioning we were able to capture the ideas and the vision of a future downtown that holds true to the desires of the community.
The city then worked with the public, community partners and experts to develop a strong list of projects to accomplish the community's vision and make the downtown a better place for people and businesses.
The 'How' is what urban renewal helps us with.
Urban renewal will provide private landowners and businesses with certainty about Beaverton's commitment to our downtown, which is necessary to encourage new private investments in our downtown. It will provide us with an important financing tool necessary to bring the community vision to life.
The Central Beaverton Urban Renewal Plan is being held up as an example to follow throughout the state. It is a sensible plan that will provide crucial funding to complete the projects and enhance our downtown. Thanks to the highly collaborative process used to develop the plan, it has earned unanimous resolutions of support from our partner taxing districts:
The reason for the broad range of support is simple. It is a sensible, fiscally conservative plan. It does not add a new tax. It does not increase the city's property tax rate. It does not approve a general obligation bond.
It allows the city to borrow against future increases in property tax collections, but only if the bond market believes we can pay them back. Borrowing is limited to $150 million over 30 years and it may be less if revenues are lower than anticipated. All the money will be spent in the urban renewal district on projects identified through the city's public process - chosen to encourage private investment.
A 'yes' vote for our Central Beaverton Urban Renewal Plan is important for our city. It will provide an important financing tool to help achieve the Beaverton Community Vision.
Please join me and vote 'yes.'
Mark Fagin serves as chairman of the Beaverton Visioning Advisory Committee.)