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South Hillsboro plan has major flaws

I don’t blame this Hillsboro City Council for creating the South Hillsboro roads mitigation mess. They inherited it from former councils and especially from former administrators.

The problem is, their now-adopted plan to fix the situation that allows them to continue to move forward is terribly flawed in its reliance upon the use of other jurisdictions’ money to solve off-site road capacity problems and the plan’s failure to acknowledge off-site livability impacts.

More specifically, the city plan’s flaws include failing to address what happens if you are unable to guarantee through written contracts the many hundreds of millions of dollars necessary to rebuild many Aloha-Reedville roads to urban arterial standards — and to repurpose the entire road system of the adjacent community to serve new South Hillsboro resident trips.

And the flaw that the plan fails to address is impacts to property values within the adjacent community caused by the new function of the local road system, such as reduced driveway access to homes and 24-hour arterial traffic with its inherent noise and smog. This South Hillsboro site’s specific problem of relying upon the adjacent community to bear the burden of new trips created by 30,000 people being dropped into this now mostly vacant location has been there from the beginning, 15 years ago.

And as an appointed representative to the South Hillsboro planning process for the 60,000 residents of Aloha, Reedville and Cooper Mountain, I have consistently pointed out this fact over the entire 15-year process.

Unfortunately, it has only been in the last year Hillsboro has officially recognized this and began to accept even some responsibility for off-site mitigation. Meanwhile the city and the site developers are 15 years into assigning uses to locations within the site and building their expectations of development splendor.

What I am saying is, the present Hillsboro City Council is stuck between two unpleasant choices. They can continue the process as they have been doing so far and know that they most likely will not be able to live up to the high expectations. In this case — and I believe this to be the most likely outcome — their financial plan fails while the development continues and the neighboring community is catastrophically impacted and forever mortally wounded.

Or the city council’s other option is — and this is what my 15-year effort is finally reduced to asking for — they can suspend the South Hillsboro process now and do some comparison shopping for residential opportunities that are less expensive to mitigate and that will cause minimal impacts to property values of adjacent neighborhoods.

This option carries with it the possibility of legal action against the city by the developers who talked them into this location 15 years ago.

When you really think about it, my situation is in some ways the same as the city council’s. I find myself in a situation which is not of my doing. In my case, I have diligently and consistently worked for these 15 years to avoid this situation, but did not have the power to sufficiently change the outcome.

So I too have two options only. I could choose to give in to the status quo as the city council is apparently choosing to do. Or I could step up and advocate for solutions that do not penalize the neighbors who have consistently said they are not in favor of this particular South Hillsboro proposal. I think that is what leaders naturally do. Persist to the end to protect the innocent.

I believe it is still the hope of all adjacent neighbors, both inside and outside the city, the city council members will choose to be leaders and correct this land abuse process before all the wrong people are forced to suffer financially — and by having their community’s livability and identity destroyed.

Steve Larrance served on the Washington County Board of Commissioners from 1987 to 1993 and currently serves on the Citizen Participation Organization representing the Aloha-

Reedville area.



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