Opinion: Pro-Growth? Tualatin should be about SMART Growth

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Tualatin is on the verge of a sweeping change that could permanently alter our landscape – for the worse.

On May 22, the Tualatin City Council will meet to vote on two applications.

These two applications from AKS Engineering & Forestry, on behalf of the Georgia-based developer Vista Residential Partners and Horizon Community Church, attempt to change the zoning restrictions of our beautiful Tree City USA forever.

In the first application (PMA23-0001, Vista is changing the zoning for two lots along SW Norwood Road from mixed low-density residential [max 6.4 units/acre] to high-density high-rise. The proposed development is a four-story, five-building apartment complex totaling 276 units, 30 units/acre. This is the absolute highest density allowable in Tualatin, resulting in a 300% density increase for this location.

So what’s the problem? Surrounding this proposed development are two other major developments that are already under construction, adding 521+ new medium- and high-density units within mere feet. Add to this no comprehensive traffic studies on the total impact to the surrounding roads, including SW Boones Ferry Road (which we know is gridlocked during rush hours), and no immediate plans to alleviate traffic until at least 2030…and we have a huge problem on our hands.

Even more alarming is Vista’s second application (PTA23-0001), where they propose removing the location restrictions on high-density high-rise housing. For good reason, such housing is currently restricted to Tualatin’s Central Urban Renewal District (the downtown area). In the downtown area, high-density apartment living makes sense: there are shops, city services, supporting infrastructure, public transport, and less need for parking spaces. Apartment complexes blend with the architecture of a downtown area that is not yet fully built out. But Vista wants Tualatin to allow high-density high-rises to be built anywhere within City limits – which includes, yes, even right next door to where you live currently.

Can you imagine what Tualatin would be like if developers had their way and swallowed up all available land – rezoning residential properties into high-rise apartments everywhere? What would happen to the mature forests and natural spaces we enjoy? What would traffic become?

Meeting Oregon’s need for housing is important – and we’re most of the way there already! Rampant development that tramples on zoning results in daily impacts on congestion, livability, and quality of life. Our communities are being razed to the ground to stuff as much housing as will fit into tiny lots unable to support it.

Growth shouldn’t be for profit only.

The pace of growth should be carefully and critically examined as it strains a system already under stress (and currently inadequate in multiple areas). Development has to be balanced with comprehensive plans, not a piecemeal approach – and only where infrastructure can support it.

Tualatin as a City has already met 92% of our 30-year growth plan…within the last three years alone.

Instead of prioritizing build-build-build above all else, a balance must be struck between growth and quality of life for existing – and future – communities.

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