The Future of Oak Grove

23 November 2004

When we moved to Oak Grove, we moved to a unique area in Oregon. The Oak Grove – Jennnings Lodge – North Clackamas community is the largest, most urban non-incorporated area in the state. If we were to form a city, it would contain a population of 36,000, spread over a relatively wide space.

A local citizen committee has been exploring the possibility of incorporating the area, or of annexing one or more sections to existing cities. Last night the committee held a community meeting. Kris and I attended.

I was surprised at the number of people present. When I was on the city of Canby’s budget committee, we rarely had more than five people attend our sessions. Last night, about 150 citizens met to discuss the area’s future. After half an hour of mind-numbing (and pointless) government-speak, we broke into small groups to decide what we want from the future.

In some respects, what we want depends on our age, and on how long we’ve lived here. The older people, especially long-time residents, are opposed to incorporation, and especially to annexation. Younger people, and new residents, are more eager to create a new city. (This delineation isn’t strictly correct; I favor the status quo.)

Among those in my small group were three older men, all long-time residents. To hear them talk, there’s a push to incorporate the Oak Grove – Jennings Lodge area once every twenty years or so. There are also frequent incursions from METRO and other government agencies attempting to exercise greater control over the area. It seems that a large, populous unincorporated area is enticing for some entities; they see it as a potential power base.

These three men — and others at the table — provided a bit of perspective on the entire neighborhood. I asked about a hypothetical bridge from Oak Grove Boulevard to Lake Oswego, and they laughed and shook their heads. It’s a topic that’s been discussed ad nauseam for decades. I asked why the schools in the area are part of the Oregon City school district. They laughed and shook their heads. They explained that River Road used to be 99E before the advent of the Superhighway. They talked about the origin of the area’s redwoods (about which I was already aware, but I humored them by nodding, listening, and asking questions).

Judging from the mood of the room, it seems unlikely that the push to incorporate will succeed. Informal polling indicated that most of the small groups were opposed to creating a new city by about a two-to-one margin. (There were some small groups that broke evenly, however.)

The opposition argument can be summarized thusly: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. There is no reason to change, so why do it? If the area is threatened by some outside force — by METRO or by government legislation — then more people would be in favor of incorporation.

I don’t understand why citizens want to sacrifice the uniqueness of the areas in which they live. In Canby, there seemed to be a relentless drive to become more like Wilsonville or Tualatin, to become a bedroom community for Portland, complete with all the strip malls and expanded housing this entails. In the past decade, we watched the town shed its identity as a farming community to become a characterless cookie-cutter suburb.

Oak Grove and the surrounding communities are unique. We already have the strip malls and expanded housing that Canby so desperately desires, but we’re an unincorporated area. This gives us some freedoms that city dwellers do not have. This uniqueness is important, and ought to be celebrated rather than discarded.

(Rumor has it that more on this subject will appear later today at Clackblog. Also: if you’re from the Oak Grove area and looking for some history on this subject, please read The Story of a Neighborhood That Fought METRO. Also, writing this reminds me that I’ve never finished my lengthy “History of Oak Grove” entry. Maybe I’ll post what I’ve got and finish it later…)


On 23 November 2004 (06:34 AM),
Jeff said:

It’s 4:56 and I’m wade awake.

But apparently not as wide awake as you think you are. :-)

Thanks for cleaning up the spam, by the way — I was not looking forward to cleaning up that mess. Although, I did kind of want to try out MT-Blacklist for the first time. Let me see if I’ve got this right — I want to Blacklist words like Hotmail, AOL, Canby, Alan, JD Roth, Tony…

On 23 November 2004 (07:29 AM),
mac said:

J.D. Could you post a little tutorial on how you use MT-Blacklist. I have it installed, and to despam, I click on the link at the bottom of every spam comment that is emailed to me. Is this the most efficient way to do it, or is there a way to despam multiple comments at the same time? That would be really helpful to us over at Minutus.

On 23 November 2004 (07:52 AM),
JC said:

Thanks for the post. [Couldn’t attend the meeting…family in town, etc.] I’ve always wondered about that railroad bridge that crosses from the park on the river at the foot of Courtney. My brother says he saw people walking across it yesterday.

On 23 November 2004 (08:30 AM),
tammy said:

Thnaks Jd. I had 200 and some odd comment spams at Dishpan dribble when I awoke this morning. When I tried to delete them I discovered they wouldn’t load. I assumed you had been hard at work. thanks a bunch. I get so much spam on that weblog it makes me sick. Even using the blacklist thing is annoying. It takes time I seldom have. It seems I spend endless amounts of time just deleting spam.It seems by now that someone could figure out how to get rid of spam forever.

On 23 November 2004 (09:14 AM),
Lisa said:

J.D., I know that Matt mentioned this tutorial about blocking spam a while ago, but I thought I’d give the link again for others who may be interested:

I recently implemented solution number 10, which is closing comments for old entries. It’s helped immensely, since spammers usually attack older entries. The script that I installed isn’t automatic, though, so I run it from time to time to close entries older than x days. (I know that this may be difficult for you with so many sub-blogs, and your blog requires more comments than mine.)

Between closing comments and using MT-Blacklist, I’ve had few problems. I tried requiring people to preview their comments, but reversed it because it didn’t seem to help enough to merit the annoyance it caused.

On 23 November 2004 (09:23 AM),
Tiffany said:

M&D bought their house in 1986 or 1987 and their street is unincorporated. They were told that it would be incorporated soon. It still has not been. This means that the street is full of potholes that need to be fixed. When the house was robed, there was some discussion about which police force was to respond. I imagine that an ambulance would have the same problem.

If your area has these questions sorted out, then I can understand want to stay unincorporated.

On 23 November 2004 (10:11 AM),
Lane said:

I was hoping to attend last night’s meeting. Alas, I was not able to. I’m glad you were able to attend. I’ve lived my whole live (33 yrs) in Oak Grove, except for 18 months in Cannon Beach and 18 months on the PSU campus. My gut feeling is the same as the majority “It ain’t broke… “. I like the low density of the area, however that lowers the tax base. I hate the strip clubs, however that increases the tax base. We don’t have any manufacturing or large businesses to bring in money to the community, therefore if we were our own city, the money to run the city would have to come from the small businesses and residents. If we were to change our identity (become a part of Milwaukie or Gladstone, or become the city of Oak Grove) it could be better, but I am so distrustful of Gov’t right now that I could just picture a giant clusterf^$&.

On 24 November 2004 (09:27 PM),
John Bartley K7AAY said:

Monday night’s talk-talk heard our locale referred to as ‘we don’t have a name for it yet’. I’ve read it described as ‘the UnCity’ by the Complete Communities gang.

And, boy, if ‘Complete Communities’ ain’t NewSpeak, I don’t know what is.

I could live with The UnCity, but it really doesn’t portray the area well. Instead, I think we’re living in No Name City. Yep, No Name City, from Paint Your Wagon, another fine Oregon icon.

I mean, strip clubs, miles and miles of car lots, The Abandoned Albertson’s, vacant storefronts in strip malls galore; it’s No Name City, all right! And, nothing the planners could do with even the tax levels of the People’s Republic of Portland could fix it.. the only thing we can do is to stay out of the way of the economy, which means no new city to make new taxes and depress growth further.

Whadda ya say? You want to turn the NewSpeakers on their ear, and fix that image in the minds of the public with The Power of the Blog? No Name City, No Name City… I wonder if we could get Clint Eastwood to sing it for us.

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