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Cities agree on Clackamas Town Center boundary line


Leaders are pleased that Clackamas County-mediated discussions between the cities of Happy Valley and Milwaukie have led to a draft agreement that the “natural” boundary of Interstate 205 will limit each city’s expansion efforts.

Cities eventually plan to annex a large unincorporated area around the Clackamas Town Center area. But if one of the cities got stuck with hundreds of houses on septic systems and lost the valuable commercial area, then it wouldn’t have the tax base to connect its citizens to sewer systems without severe cuts to its other services.

Draft plans allow Milwaukie to claim jurisdiction of a vast area through approximately the 9000 block, including Clackamas Town Center. Its current eastern boundary doesn’t extend past the 6600 block. In return, Milwaukie has agreed to give up on its claim to areas east of I-205, which allows Happy Valley to take over the rest of West Mount Scott, including valuable medical centers and a smaller commercial area.

In recent work sessions, both the Happy Valley City Council and the Milwaukie City Council reached consensus that the plan is of mutual benefit. City managers hope that the agreed-upon dividing line will allow both communities to plan for long-term growth, and city councilors would vote separately on any proposed annexations in the future.

“The boundary line shown in your draft urban growth management agreement allows each community to plan and budget for its public facilities needed to serve out to its ultimate boundary,” Milwaukie City Manager Bill Monahan wrote in a letter supporting Happy Valley’s plan.

City Manager Jason Tuck attributed the success in reaching a tentative agreement to good working relationships throughout this process. Clackamas County, city councilors, leaders of neighborhood groups and service districts met throughout the process to understand their needs and concerns.

“I believe this tentative agreement responds to what we heard,” Tuck said. “The point of the (agreement) updates are to determine where the ultimate potential expansion boundaries are for the jurisdictions, and to clearly identify who will provide the necessary services in the future for areas that might become part of one city or the other.”

Next steps

Clackamas County will benefit, Tuck argues, by having a clear understanding and agreement on where each city will eventually be responsible for providing service.

“The county will be able to plan for a scale down in their urban-service delivery as the urban unincorporated areas eventually become part of the cities, which is accommodated by state law,” Tuck said.

During the next few weeks, Clackamas County staffers will review and possibly edit the document through a series of correspondences with attorneys before it goes to each City Council and the Board of County Commissioners for final approval.

“I would imagine there would be an interim point of check in with the elected officials to make sure we are on the right track,” Tuck said.

The documents, which are more than a decade old, needed an update since Happy Valley has grown outside its current urban growth management agreement boundary. Leaders at both cities are happy to be able to plan for delivery of services in advance of property owners wanting to become part of either city.

“We are confident both cities will continue to work together to preserve the lines of communication as we plan for the futures of our communities,” Monahan said.


An earlier version of this online story made a geographical error in describing Milwaukie’s readiness to give up on claims east of I-205. We apologize for our upside-down compass.