On Monday, December 14, two of the region’s heavy-hitters, Portland Mayor Sam Adams and Washington County Chair Tom Brian, will take a swing at answering some tough questions on the region’s growth as OPB Radio hosts a special live taping of THINK OUT LOUD, OPB’s morning talk show.

For the past two years, the region’s planners and elected officials, from Forest Grove to Troutdale have wrestled with the issue of where in the metro area we could house an extra million people or so. It’s not just about housing. On what land should we build the factories, research firms and live-work spaces that those new residents will need to do their work? And how should they get to those places? Should they bike? Ride the MAX? Will they drive in their SUVs?

On one side of the debate is Adams, who believes the region can create innovative new ways to clean up urban brownfields (land contaminated by pollution) in order to create space for sprawling new industrial or job-oriented development. The only way the region can afford to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and maintain vital infrastructure is by curtailing suburban sprawl. But wait, where are we supposed to build the next Nike or Intel campus? In downtown Portland?

On the other side is Brian, who says Washington County, with its success in attracting SolarWorld, Nike and Intel, could house even more big employers if it was given the chance to convert some farmland into industrial parks.

All of these questions and more have been tossed around during the regional effort, led by the regional government, Metro, to set aside urban and rural reserves.

Urban reserves, the land would be the first in line to become new city land in the event of an expansion of the Urban Growth Boundary over the next 40 or 50 years. Rural reserves would be locked to the land’s current usage rules, creating a earthen time capsule and, planners hope, creating a buffer between cities and natural areas.

The Dec. 14 forum will take place just as the “Core 4” a group of representatives from the three counties and Metro, which includes Tom Brian, get ready to make their final recommendations on which land should be designated as which kind of reserve. And in Forest Grove and Cornelius, the stakes are high: Cornelius officials say the future economic health of the city depends on it being able to bank on urban reserves north of Council Creek. While farmers north of Cornelius say northern encroachment would threaten their livelihoods. And in Forest Grove, planners are looking to add land north of town for an industrial park and future transportation improvements.

The Monday, December 14 forum, is open to the public. Doors open at 6:30pm, show 7-8pm.

About OPB
OPB is the largest cultural and education institution in the region, delivering excellence in public broadcasting to 1.5 million people each week through television, radio and the Internet. Widely recognized as a national leader in the public broadcasting arena, OPB is a major contributor to the program schedule that serves the entire country. OPB is one of the most-used and most-supported public broadcasting services in the country and is generously supported by 120,000 contributors.