If there was an express bus to Hillsboro, would you use it? Would you feel more connected to downtown Forest Grove and downtown Cornelius if it was easier to get there by foot? If there was a carpool serving your neighborhood and workplace, would you commute as part of it?

Those are some of the questions facing regional planners who will be tinkering with Portland-area development during the next few decades. As part of the process, those planners want to hear what you think.

Metro — the regional government responsible for most large-scale planning goals — and your local communities are in the midst of the “Climate Smart Communities Scenario Project.” The idea is to create development guidelines that cut the amount of miles we drive each year and establish neighborhoods, parks, recreation and business districts that reduce our carbon footprint.

By December 2014, Metro and its community partners hope to approve a climate smart plan that builds on the 2040 Growth Concept developed nearly two decades ago. That proposal helped shape the region we live in by focusing on healthy communities along with safe and reliable transportation systems that move people to their jobs and goods to market while protecting our air and water.

One other big part of the plan is the Legislature’s requirement that the state reduce its greenhouse gas emissions significantly during the next two decades. Metro will develop a plan for the Portland area to do just that, and present it to the 2015 legislative session.

The 2007 Legislature approved a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the state to 75 percent of the 1990 level by 2050. The 2009 Legislature told Metro to help achieve that goal by reducing emissions from cars, light trucks and sport utility vehicles. The target eventually was set at 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2035.

Here’s where you come in. To develop the plan, Metro needs people from across the region to be part of its Opt In survey. By joining the online survey, residents can voice their opinions about a range of options and help drive the planning process. It’s particularly important that they hear from residents of western Washingron County, which is on the edge of some of the most dramatic growth in the Pacific Northwest.

You can register and take the survey at

Some of the questions you can help answer are:

n How can the region support state and federal efforts to transition to clean fuels and technology?

n How do we pay for investments needed to realize our shared vision for walkable communities, job creation and affordable housing and transportation choices?

n How much frequent transit should the region provide, and what areas should be a priority? What other investments are needed to complement this strategy?

As Metro Councilor Sam Chase told Hillsboro Tribune reporter Jim Redden: “I want to live in a region that’s doing everything it can to reduce global warming and make communities healthier and better places to live, and that’s what the Climate Smart Communities project is all about.”

Thanks to Pacific University's Center for a Sustainable Society, Forest Grove already has a some of examples of things planners have considered in the climate smart process with a new car-sharing program and programs that promote not only reccyling, but re-using items headed for landfills.

Metro will discuss the Climate Smart Communities research next month at two meetings with local officials. A recommendation will go to the Metro Council, which will decide where to focus the research.

What’s at stake is continued smart growth of our neighborhoods, our cities and our counties. By guiding the planning today, our children — and their children — will live in a region that respects its environment, attracts good jobs and puts more businesses and services within walking distance of most neighborhoods.

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