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An update from the Steering Committee

Hello Friends,

December was a busy month for us, and we took a couple of weeks of much-needed rest over the holidays.  But we're back at it with this update and preview of coming attractions.  It's another long one, and we apologize for that; we really need to be better about doing this more often!

We've been on an emotional roller coaster as the political process surrounding the reserves decisions kicked into high gear.  We participated in three public hearings (Washington County and Multnomah County Board of Commissioners), numerous meetings (Core 4, Metro Council, Washington County Board of Commissioners, Washington County Farm Bureau) and an OPB taping of "Think Out Loud", in which Greg Malinowski (whose farm spans both Multnomah and Washington County) and our very own Cherry Amabisca participated.  You can hear the broadcast at http://www.opb.org/thinkoutloud/shows/or-out/.

Map-Making

Four different maps are currently circulating that show urban reserves ranging from about 18,000 acres to 29,000 acres for the three counties.  Proponents of each map are now jockeying and campaigning to get the most support for "their" map.  We prefer the two maps that take the least farmland: the Liberty/Park map from Metro Councilors Robert Liberty and Rod Park or the Washington County Farm Bureau map.

Two competing maps were submitted by Metro Councilors: The first, created by Metro Councilors Dave Bragdon and Carl Hosticka, designates the most urban reserves, which concerns us greatly.  While this map proposes rural reserves for the area north of West Union Road (which we like!), it proposes urban reserves for the west side of Helvetia Road (which we don't like!) and "undesignated" for the farmland in the rest of the area south of West Union Road.  We can't tell exactly how far to the west the undesignated area goes.  We don't like this proposal because there is absolutely no edge or buffer between foundation farmland (rural reserves) and the "undesignated" area, making it easier for Hillsboro to sprawl into this land whenever they say they need it for "industrial use".

The second Metro map was created by Councilors Robert Liberty and Rod Park.  The Liberty/Park map proposes Rural Reserves for the entire area north of Highway 26 (which we like!) as well as south of Highway 26 to Waible Creek (which we also like!).  As mentioned, this proposal protects the most farmland, and we definitely support it.  Unfortunately, the Metro Council decided to approve the Bragdon/Hosticka ("B/H") map as the basis for further discussions.  We were disappointed to see that Councilors Harrington and Colette voted for the B/H proposal.  The Council then made a few tweaks at their 12/17 meeting and released the revised map as the "Proposal for Public Comment", which will be the basis for discussion during January (more below).

The fourth map was presented by the Farm Bureau at the 12/15 BCC hearing.  The Farm Bureau's map does not have as much detail as the others; however, it very likely proposes the most rural reserves.  You can see all of these maps at http://www.savehelvetia.org/map1.php.

December Hearings

We want to thank all of you who came to the two hearings on December 8th and 15th.  When the Washington County BCC held their second hearing on December 15, they did not notify the public that we were to use the B/H map as the basis for our testimony.  The public saw this map for the first time when copies were available at the hearing.  This created a fair amount of confusion at the hearing.  We were disappointed by Tom Brian's decision to cut off testimony on December 15th after only 30 citizens had spoken, leaving more than 50 citizens in the audience who had signed up but were not given the opportunity to speak.  The large turnout shows the tremendous interest the reserves process has generated in Washington County and we are proud of all of you who took the time to prepare testimony and speak out for saving farmland.  Brian Beinlich's stickers were a hit - we even got Mayor Willey to wear one that said "Save Farmland"!  You can watch our testimony from these meetings in the "Making our case" section of the web site (look under "public testimony") or visit http://www.savehelvetia.org/ourcase/index.php#public.  You can also review the press coverage from December in our "Recent news" section at http://www.savehelvetia.org/news.php.

Council and Commission Scorecard

Save Helvetia's goal of rural reserves north of Highway 26 has received support from elected officials - but not necessarily from OUR area's elected officials!

Metro councilors Robert Liberty, Rod Park and Rex Burkholder voted for the Liberty/Park map that protects the entire area north of Highway 26 as rural reserves.  The councilor that represents much of the farmland in Washington County, Kathryn Harrington, voted for the B/H map that splits Helvetia and doesn't preserve as much farmland.

Dick Schouten, a Washington County Commissioner who represents Aloha and parts of Beaverton, was the ONLY Washington County commissioner to vote for rural reserves for the entire area north of Highway 26.  The elected commissioners for our area, Andy Duyck (west of Cornelius Pass) and Desari Strader (east of Cornelius Pass) voted to split Helvetia with an area of urban reserve (UR-2B) on the west side of Helvetia Road and an "undesignated" area (UR-2A) adjacent to the urban reserve, although after the hearing Commissioner Strader claimed that she was "looking at the wrong map" when she voted for approval.

On the Core 4, Clackamas County Commissioner Charlotte Lehan consistently voted for saving more foundation farmland, especially in Washington County.  We will continue to meet with commissioners, Metro councilors and Core 4 members to gain their support for the map that takes the least farmland for urban reserves and designates the most rural reserves, especially north of Highway 26.

What's next?

We are gearing up for another round of hearings in January before the Metro Council.  These hearings will be our opportunity to comment on the latest proposed map.  The Core 4's goal is to have IGAs (inter-governmental agreements) between each county and Metro by February 25.  These IGAs will outline the number of urban reserves and the location of urban reserves in each county.  We will be focusing on the areas north of Highway 26 that are still targeted for urban reserves and undesignated.  We'll send out a separate notice in more detail about what you can do to help.  Meanwhile, please reserve one of these dates:

Monday, Jan. 11
4:30 to 6:30 p.m. open house   Multnomah County East Building
6 p.m. Metro Council hearing   600 NE 8th Avenue, Gresham
 
Wednesday, Jan. 20
4:30 to 6:30 p.m. open house   Sherwood Library/City Hall
6 p.m. Metro Council hearing   22560 SW Pine Street, Sherwood
 
Thursday, Jan. 21
4:30 to 6:30 p.m. open house   Wilsonville City Hall
6 p.m. Metro Council hearing   29799 SW Town Center Loop E., Wilsonville

We've made excellent progress toward our goal of rural reserves north of Highway 26.  However, we cannot relax our efforts until the final vote is taken at the end of February.  We're in the home stretch, but we will need to keep up the pressure, focusing on specific elected officials.  Stay tuned....

As always, we appreciate your support... it's making a big difference!

The Save Helvetia Steering Committee
January 4th, 2010

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