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We can stop subsidizing growth

Metro Councilor Carlotta Collette introduced Metro's new program 'Making The Greatest Place' to the West Linn mayor and councilors and asked their cooperation in making the Metro area ready for an influx of one million people.

West Linn's government seems ready to do that and this paper's editor, Dan Itel says, 'I couldn't agree more.'

But the editor, in his article last week reflected on a survey that told him that citizens disagree and say that while the city is an excellent place to live today they do not think it will stay that way because of growth.

This dissatisfaction with growth is consistent with surveys in other Oregon locations showing that most Oregonians think the state's population is either too big or just right and they want government to try to slow down growth.

One would think that if growth is unpopular with the electorate, elected officials would work hard to develop ideas that would accommodate citizens concerns about growth. Unfortunately Collette seems bereft of ideas to mitigate growth saying, 'I don't see how we could.'

Perhaps she is just not trying.

There are smart ways to move toward the inevitable end of growth and the beginning of sustainability. Here are a few. We can stop subsidizing growth with taxpayer dollars. After all, it is the taxpayer who does not want the growth, so why are politicians spending the tax payers money for exactly what the people do not want?

Subsidies that fuel growth includes those that pay for the infrastructure required by growth, tax incentives for business and economic development and subsidized planning and development services.

Elected officials can also work to eliminate illegal immigration and ensure that family planning is available to all and the state can identify those areas of our economy that are unsustainable and work to convert them to sustainable pursuits.

To really have a big impact on growth, Collette and the other Metro councilors could inform the Oregon Legislature that it is time to repeal those laws that require cities to have 20 years of buildable land available for developers. This law was passed for development interests and effectively gives control of a city's development to the developers. Repealing this law would once again allow the people, not developers to control the size of their neighborhoods, their towns and their cities.

But instead of working toward a sustainable future determined by citizens, Collette seems bent on working for those who profit from growth. She wants us to know that one of the great challenges 'is to find funding sources' and Metro has big plans to partner with business and spend billions of our tax dollars for infrastructure to accommodate business and an ever increasing population.

Collette tells us to be resigned to growth because Oregon is nice place and people leave California every time there is a fire.

But she failed to mention that the primary reasons people leave California are congestion, long commutes and crowded neighborhoods, all brought on by what Collette is advocating: growth.

So it seems that Metro's program of 'Making the Greatest Place' is a misnomer: it's really about making Metro 'One Big Congested City.'

John Kovash is a West Linn resident.