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Boring talks about leaving Metro

Three months of discussion and a vote lie ahead for the rural community fed up with bureaucracy

On the surface, at least, it appears that the community of Boring is at a crossroads.

Over the next three months, its residents plan to decide which road they’ll travel.

The general question posed by Boring Community Planning Organization Chairman Steve Bates is “To Metro or not to Metro?”

While Bates might have some opinions about the matter, he wants local residents to express their views to help form the ultimate CPO decision.

The three choices, he says, are do nothing; ask that Boring areas outside of Metro boundaries be annexed into Metro; or ask to withdraw all Boring land from Metro.

What concerns Bates is the fact that only about one-half of the Boring community is included in Metro’s jurisdiction. Of Boring’s slightly more than 6,000 registered voters, nearly 2,800 are within Metro’s boundaries and paying Metro’s taxes.

He says that sets the stage for inconsistencies and unequal treatment of Boring neighbors.

Bates is looking ahead to a time when Boring would choose to become a city, proactively preventing any neighboring city (Damascus, Gresham or Sandy) from annexing part or all of Boring into their city.

But if the process begins for Boring to become a city, it would mean part of the city would pay Metro taxes and part would not; part of the city would be subject to Metro regulations and part would not.

Metro’s chief operating officer, Martha Bennett, says Boring would not be alone in that scenario. She told the Post that small portions of Sherwood, Cornelius and Damascus are either outside of the Metro boundary or the urban growth boundary.

“But in general,” she said, “it hasn’t been a large problem for those municipalities.”

But Bates says it would be more of a problem if Boring became a city because Metro regulations would either have to be applied to all Boring residents or just to those within Metro boundaries.

“Neither scenario would be fair or equitable to each and every citizen,” Bates stated in his draft statement, which is to be edited by Boring CPO members at their Sept. 3 meeting.

But Bennett said Metro’s rules comply with state rules, making them fair to all.

That edited statement is to be sent to Metro, with a request for its staff to come to the CPO’s Oct. 1 meeting and discuss the issue.

Clackamas County commissioners have been invited to attend the Nov. 5 meeting to state their views on the topic, and the Dec. 3 meeting is the time when the Boring CPO will take a formal vote on the direction it will take.

Bates’ draft statement, to be edited next Tuesday, Sept. 3, appears to be biased against previous Metro actions. He says Metro’s regional projections are inaccurate, and cities and counties are required to use those inaccurate projections to develop their comprehensive plans.

Bates also blames Metro for the green corridor agreement that allowed the city of Sandy to dictate what landowners along Highway 26 could do or not do with their land. Among several other criticisms, Bates says Metro subsidizes the Oregon Zoo with taxes from Boring residents, but zoo visitors are mainly from Portland.

“I understand the passion of the folks from Boring,” Bennett said. “Everyone cares about where they live.”

Metro Councilor Shirley Craddick, who represents the part of Boring inside Metro’s boundaries, said she would try to attend the CPO’s Sept. 3 meeting, but just to listen.

She has been asked to return Oct. 1 with Metro staff members to answer Boring’s questions or refute the claims in the CPO’s edited, 14-page statement.

Many of the claims against Metro in Bates’ statement relate to the use of taxes that Boring residents paid to Metro.

But Craddick says in order to be eligible for Metro funds an area must be a city inside the urban growth boundary and inside the Metro boundary.

Meanwhile, Bates says, one-half of the people of Boring continue to pay Metro taxes, with no hope of benefit.

“The taxes paid to Metro by the people of Boring,” Bates said, “could better be used by Boring families or for local government, or both.”

Craddick says it is good to talk about these issues, and she is looking forward to next week’s meeting.

“This is a healthy discussion to have,” she said. “It will help (Boring residents) know what they want to do next, and the direction they want to go.”