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Cedar Mill News
Volume 4, Issue 7


July 2006

The future of Bonny Slope

by Bruce Bartlett, active in CPO1

I have been advocating for Oregon’s land use laws and watching the effects since the early 1980’s. I expect obvious rationales for choices made to expand the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB). One good choice was the.12,000 acres added to the UGB in Clackamas County, intended to form the new city of Damascus. The process engaged the citizenry, business community, service providers and governmental jurisdictions who all contributed to the final decision, thus the anticipated City of Damascus appears to be large enough to be a viable new community.

However, some choices do not survive much scrutiny. It is with considerable dismay that I have witnessed the addition of 150+ acres to the UGB in Bonny Slope (Bonny Slope Area 93). Admittedly, this is close to home for me, but I doubt if Metro could come up with a much more difficult area to bring into the UGB for development. This view has been underscored by the necessity of postponing the planning of Area 93 until the Ag-Urban study (part of Metro’s The New Look study) is done.

The fragmented, irregular UGB line along NW Thompson Road, between NW McDaniel and NW Saltzman has always been bizarre and is testimony to the effectiveness of the landowners’ resistance to being included in the UGB. It also highlights the disconnect between Portland, and Multnomah and Washington Counties.

The fragmented land in Multnomah County is zoned as a Rural Residential Zone. All land immediately adjacent in Washington County is zoned R-6 (6 houses/acre). Immediately next door in Multnomah County is Forest Heights, most of which is in the City of Portland. From the West Hills Rural Area Plan:

Rural Residential designated areas of the West Hills constitute approximately 2,000 acres, or 10% of the West Hills rural area. Pockets of this designation are scattered throughout the West Hills, generally coinciding with areas of existing smaller lots (1-5 acres) and existing homes. No changes in land use designation or zoning district are proposed for these areas within the West Hills…Rural Collector streets typically have traffic volumes of less than 3,000 vehicles per day. They are characterized by serving as the connection between local roads and the arterials serving a rural area of the County.

From my reading of the West Hills “Rural” Area Plan and viewing the site itself, most of the provisions that attempt to preserve the rural character have been rendered impotent by the mammoth development on all sides of the “Rural Residential” lands. These issues lay dormant until Bonny Slope Area 93 was added to the UGB. (This 150 acres added to the UGB is only half of the land described as “Bonny Slope” in the West Hills plan.) Already the Beaverton School District, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, Clean Water Services and Tualatin Valley Water District provide services for parts of Area 93. The traffic volume on NW Thompson Road as of June 2005 was 3391 and new subdivisions are constantly being built.

Granted this area has had a contentious past regarding the UGB but I would have expected UGB expansions to solve problems, not create a whole new set. Since it creates so many problems in exchange for the addition of a small area of developable land, it sure makes me wonder why Area 93 got added at all. I hope that once The New Look is finished, Portland, and Washington and Multnomah Counties are all reading from the same page. For me, the entire Bonny Slope area is the missing piece that presents us with the wonderful opportunity to create a conscious mixed-use residential/commercial development. Such a development would augment the existing residential developments, providing a pedestrian-friendly, wise-transportation, commercially-viable asset which could be the core of a vital new community.



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Portland, OR 97229