Dear Clackamas County residents:

There have been many negative comments about the Clackamas County Commission’s choice to study changing the long term zoning designations on three areas amounting to 1625 acres. These areas are currently planned as rural reserve. We proposed to mark them as “undesignated”. The total of these properties are less than 2% of the county’s proposed rural reserve designation and less than 0.5% (1/2 of 1 percent) of the county’s foundation farmland.

This proposal is not as aggressive as what the Clackamas County Business alliance and the County’s own Economic Development Commission support.  Even the opponents of development agree that if development ever occurred it would be 25 years out. No economic development study was done prior to these lands being designated.  Metro says they have no responsibility for economic development. But as a county it’s our responsibility to look out for economic development. Urban rural designations were and experiment to create 50 year rural reserves.  It has not played out in any of the other counties in the state.  Urban/rural reserves were so screwed up in Washington County that the legislature had to intervene.

Please note that undesignated can change to urban designation only after many stars align. Those requirements include:
1)      75% of the county’s 13,800 acres of urban reserves have to be used up first.
2)      Metro must approve of the change in designation.
3)      A city must agree to annex it.
4)      Infrastructure must be in place.

When could/would that occur? None of the current EFU zoning would change on the affected properties. It would still be protected farmland until all of the above occurred. There isn’t anyone who has told me that a change to urban designation would occur before at least 25 years. Some would have you believe that the bulldozers would arrive any day. It just isn’t so.

The golf course property is adjacent to I-5 and bifurcated by Hwy 551. This is exactly the kind of location that industries want. As our regional leaders continue to ignore our traffic needs and instead over invest in light rail we will need job producing lands that are close to major freeways. Metro projects that 400,000 more people will move here in the next 20 years. I think it’s more than that. The Oregonian recently published a story that claims that there are 111 people moving to the region each DAY! That’s over 800,000 in the next 20 years if that rate of influx continues. Where are our grandchildren to work? Metro’s own projections say that the majority, if not all, of the approximately 6,000 acres of available employment lands in the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) will be used over the next 20 years.

Metro foolishly planned for 1200 acres of foundation farmland in Boring to be urban reserve. I would gladly send those acres back to the rural designation in exchange for the three studied areas receiving the undesignated status. Boring will never develop because the possibility of infrastructure from the City of Damascus went away with disincorporation and Gresham has no interest in supplying services.

The 800 acres south of the Willamette River is bordered on the South by a busy and growing airport. An airport is fairly industrial as far as activity goes. Even my opponent Jim Bernard has said on record this is the type of location that Intel and Google would want to be at.

The “French Prairie” that everyone talks about being threatened is nearly 150,000 acres. We’re talking about 800 acres here. Since I’ve been a boy I heard the claim that “in a few years” it would be solid city all the way to Salem on I-5. It never happened. It likely never will.

One last thing I need to say about congestion. Officials have estimated that it will take 1.4 billion dollars to fix the three key traffic “choke points” in the region. Those are Hwy 217, I-205 and I-5 at the Rose Quarter. Regional leaders say that there is no money to fix these important problems. Yet those same regional leaders say that we should spend 3 billion dollars on a 7-mile light rail project up Barbur Boulevard to Tigard.  Misplaced priorities.

Thanks for listening.

John Ludlow, Chair
Clackamas County Board of Commissioners


What it Means to be “Anti-Establishment” in Clackamas County

-John Ludlow, Clackamas County Chair

If there is one, consistent sentiment among voters this election cycle, it seems to be a wholesale rejection of establishment politicians that prioritize special interests over the needs of their communities. Many voters feel alienated from the process, left behind and think no one is listening to them.

As your Clackamas County Chair, I often feel this way when discussing policies that affect our daily lives. Clackamas County is part of a “region” in Oregon. Unfortunately, our regional partnership has come to mean that partners cannot disagree on what is good for their own jurisdictions. The Portland establishment is deciding the fate of our county and Clackamas County leaders are expected to agree with policies that are harmful to our residents.

When I ran for Chair in 2012, my message was centered on giving the public a seat at the decision-making table. In my view, it was crucial to establishing trust with our voters and moving the county forward.

Voters spoke loud and clear in 2012: they were tired of being taken for granted and fed up with Portland’s costly transportation and land use policies.

Flash-forward four years and here we are again, in the midst of a fight for Clackamas County’s self-determination. I have three opponents and each one has either proudly displayed the endorsements of leaders of Portland’s establishment ruling class or if elected, would prioritize “regionalism” even if it means Clackamas county taxpayers bear the brunt of these policies. If they agreed with my defense of taxpayers, then why are they running?
I suppose that makes me the “anti-establishment” candidate.

What does it mean to be anti-establishment in Clackamas County? It means standing up for our taxpayers against wasteful and reckless policies, even when you are left standing alone.

In 2012, I stood for public votes to approve tax increases that fund Portland projects, expansion of urban renewal schemes that siphon money away from our schools and public safety budgets, and public approval of any tax dollars spent on costly light rail transit. I opposed the Columbia River Crossing boondoggle that wasted nearly $200 million with nothing to show for it but taxpayer funded giveaways to Portland planners and developers.

In the past four years since being elected Chair, I have demanded that Clackamas County expand opportunities for local employers by providing adequate industrial land for development. Our residents should not be forced to commute to Washington County to find work. We must do a better job of laying the groundwork for employers to come here and provide family wage jobs.

I’ve also openly opposed METRO’s density mandates. Portland is experiencing one of the worst housing crises in the country. The land use policies dictated by our Urban Growth Boundary and METRO’s density mandates have created a 21st century form of segregation that pushes low income families to the most undesirable parts of the city with less-than-ideal housing. Rental rates are skyrocketing and seniors living on fixed incomes are under threat of being taxed out of their homes. As a realtor, I am concerned that we have shut an entire generation of Oregonians out of the possibility of home ownership. This is not what I want for Clackamas County. We cannot let high density and gentrification spoil our beautiful neighborhoods and threaten our quality of life.

Investing in our roads has been one of my top priorities, but with that comes an obligation to earn the trust and respect of taxpayers so they believe their dollars are being spent wisely on projects that are of top priority. Meanwhile, TriMet continues their insatiable quest for more of your money for transit. Just this past month, the legislature considered a bill that would impose a regressive income tax on low-income workers in our county. I adamantly opposed the bill. Our small businesses already pay too much in TriMet payroll taxes and this recent attempt was a step too far. We should be investing in our 1,400 miles of roads, not allowing TriMet to steal from the paychecks of our workers to fund their pet projects.
Being an “anti-establishment” guy has brought me much criticism…from the Portland bureaucrats to the media to the politicians in Salem. But I’ve never regretted standing up for you and for a better future for our county.

If you find yourself among the “anti-establishment” crowd this May, you’ll find me right there with you. Because I believe Clackamas County deserves better than what the Portland establishment has to offer.