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Beaverton's urban renewal is different

by: Submitted photo Lorraine Clarno

Three years ago, the Beaverton Area Chamber of Commerce participated in the City Charter review and supported a charter change ballot measure to allow for the use of urban renewal financing in our city.

State law requires a municipality to form a separate urban renewal agency to oversee urban renewal plans, and we insisted that - in addition to community representatives - one board seat should go to a representative from one of the affected special districts. We did not want Beaverton's urban renewal agency board to consist of only the seated city councilors and mayor. We also insisted that all proposed urban renewal plans be put before the voters for approval (this is not required by state law). We were successful on both of these counts. This is unique and important!

Your chamber had representatives on both the Citizens Advisory Council and the Technical Advisory Council for the development of the Urban Renewal Plan, as did each of the special service districts potentially affected. United and collaboratively, we insisted the plan would not include any 'public amenity projects' such as a performing art center, city hall, parks or fire stations. This is unique and important!

As Beaverton citizens, we have an exciting opportunity to activate a key economic development tool that will help bring our vision for Beaverton to life. The proposed sensible and conservative urban renewal plan is an outcome of a four-year visioning process involving thousands of citizens, businesses and volunteers. Our city asked, we answered, and they listened.

This plan does not create any new taxes or increase the city's tax rate.

The projects identified focus on infrastructure, utility and transportation improvements and will attract private investment to downtown Beaverton, resulting in job creation, improved traffic flow and greater livability.

The Central Beaverton Urban Renewal Area would encompass areas near transit stations, historic Old Town, the central Beaverton office and commercial area, and the employment area east of Highway 217.

The Beaverton School District, Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue, Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District and Washington County Board of Commissioners support the plan.

As congestion issues are addressed and fixed, more consumers will return to Beaverton to do business and bring dollars into our local economy. The urban renewal plan will improve our community by encouraging business attraction and expansion and will keep Beaverton thriving.

Join the Beaverton Area Chamber of Commerce in voting 'yes' for 34-192.

Soapboxes are guest opinions from our readers, and anyone is welcome to write one. Lorraine Clarno is president and CEO of the Beaverton Area Chamber of Commerce.