February 13, 2012  3:30 PM

Southwest Corridor vision statement focuses on support, connectivity

Reporting from Beaverton

A nascent study looking at the region's Southwest Corridor should "support, strengthen and connect livable and prosperous places," from Portland to Sherwood, according to a vision statement crafted today by a committee of state and local government representatives.

The regional planning effort, launched by Metro last year, aims to integrate land-use, transportation and economic development strategies across parts of Multnomah and Washington counties, as well as the cities of Beaverton, Durham, King City, Lake Oswego, Portland, Sherwood, Tigard and Tualatin. The Southwest Corridor Plan Steering Committee gathered at Beaverton City Hall today to hammer out the plan’s vision, goals and objectives for the socially and economically diverse area, which had a population of roughly 200,000 and 121,000 jobs as of 2010, according to Metro.

"We’re still at a very conceptual level," Metro corridors planning manager Elissa Gertler told committee members, the bulk of whom are city councilors. "These goals and objectives set the framework of what we’re going to measure and evaluate and how we’re going to make decisions over the long-term life of the plan."

A scoping public involvement report published by Metro this month notes that the plan will integrate:

  • Local land-use plans to identify actions and investments that support livable communities, including Portland’s Barbur concept plan, Sherwood’s town center plan, the Linking Tualatin land-use plan and Tigard’s high-capacity land-use plan;
  • A transportation plan to examine potential roadway, transit, freight, bike and pedestrian improvements; and
  • Strategies for improving the built environment, such as economic development, housing choices, parks, natural areas and community health.

Steering committee members devoted the bulk of today’s meeting to ironing out the plan’s written goals and objectives for supporting such a broad range of issues and concepts across multiple municipalities.

Tualatin Mayor Lou Ogden underscored that the regional plan and its overarching vision, goals and objectives should maintain cities’ flexibility to make decisions and secure funding for local projects that don’t have an explicit regional benefit.

"I’m concerned that … the overall corridor plan is one that’s broad enough so that individual locales could have their own local flair, and I’m also concerned that many of the interpretations of the standards might in fact preclude Tualatin’s ability to get funding to do a certain kind of project if we’re not able to prove that it improves health," Ogden said.

Lake Oswego City Councilwoman Donna Jordan asked for Metro planners to strike the word "create" from the plan’s draft vision statement.

"Rather than having ‘create’ in the first statement, it would seem to me that [the plan] ‘supports, strengthens and connects,’" she noted. "Individual communities have to be the ones that ‘create’ what supports this corridor."

Metro staff will rework the language of the vision, goals and objectives based on today’s comments and circulate an updated draft of the document in advance of the committee’s next meeting, on April 9. The agency has not set a meeting location.

"There’s a high degree of agreement, I think, on what we’re trying to achieve," Metro Councilor and committee Co-Chair Carl Hosticka said. "We’ll give the staff the task of trying to put words around that."

On Jan. 31, Metro hosted a forum to allow community members to discuss what they’d like to see in the corridor plan. The agency plans to create an online tool that will enable members of the public to "package" together corridor improvement strategies, explained Metro public involvement manager Karen Withrow.

"What we hope to really understand from people is, as they build these packages, what is it that they’re trying to maximize," she explained. "Are they looking for efficient movement, above all else? Are they looking for low costs? Are they looking for health?

In the fall, Metro will have another series of public-engagement events and period for comments. In December, the steering committee will be asked to identify commitments and an implementation strategy.

Learn more about the Southwest Corridor

Michael Burnham can be reached at michael.burnham@oregonmetro.gov or 503-813-7538. Follow Metro on Twitter @oregonmetro

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