Political Perspectives on 09/26/12
Host Kathleen Stephenson speaks with Mary Kyle McCurdy, Policy Director and Staff Attorney with 1000 Friends of Oregon and Cherry Amabisca of Save Helvetia, a coalition of farmers, business owners, concerned citizens, neighbors, and residents of the greater Helvetia area who are working to protect the Helvetia community and its neighboring agricultural lands.
1000 Friends of Oregon is challenging Metro’s urban and rural reserves plan. The plan, designating over 28,000 acres as future urban land, was recently approved by the Land Conservation and Development Commission, bringing 1000 Friends to petition the Oregon Court of Appeals for judicial review on behalf of several local farmers.
1000 Friends objects to the urbanization of thousands of acres of the best agricultural lands in the heart of the Tualatin Valley. Despite state law requiring a balancing between urban and rural needs, Metro and Washington County designated these highest-quality farm lands for future urban expansion.
“Inefficient sprawl has been consuming Oregon farmland for decades,” said 1000 Friends Executive Director Jason Miner. “Once it’s gone—it’s gone. We have an obligation to future Oregonians to urbanize this land only as a last resort. Among Oregon counties, Washington County ranks sixth for farm sales, reflecting the Tualatin Valley’s highly productive soils and long agricultural heritage.
Most of the rural reserves designated by Washington County are in areas with no realistic chance of development in the next fifty years, and thus have no need for a reserve overlay. Yet where high-quality farmland met the criteria for either urban or rural reserve, the county and Metro chose urban or undesignated in almost every case.