Current Issues

Rural Reserves Remand

Public Comment Data From Open Houses Released

As noted below, DLCD sent to Clackamas County Planner Martha Fritzie a letter correcting gross misrepresentations made by her at the Open Houses held in June. Of note, these were “stealth” public meetings. The Open Houses to consider removing Rural Reserves designation from ag lands where held in Canby, Wilsonville and Estacada, and none of those cities was notified by the County that the Open Houses were being held. There was no public notice of the meetings beyond letters sent to property owners immediately adjacent to the target properties. The Mayor of Canby had to attend the meeting in Wilsonville because he found out about the Canby Open House after it was held!

In spite of that, public turnout was substantial, and public opposition to the proposal was overwhelming. For each area, Springwater Road, east of Canby and south of Wilsonville, the following question was asked:

Given the changes that have occurred in Clackamas County and the region, it is appropriate to remove the rural reserve designation from this area.

Springwater Road East of Canby South of Wilsonville
Somewhat Disagree / Strongly Disagree Somewhat Disagree / Strongly Disagree Somewhat Disagree / Strongly Disagree
91.9% 86.2% 95.8%

Clackamas County has now published the results, which you can download as follows:

Summary of Data from Open Houses [download in PDF]

Summary of Comments from Open Houses [download in PDF]

DLCD weighs in AGAIN on Rural reserves

Clackamas County has been working under a remand from the Court of Appeals to fix part of the Urban and Rural Reserves designation since February of 2014. That is how long Clackamas County has held up the designation of Reserves, resulting in both the fact that there are no reserves designations in place for the County, and the result that while Washington County is able to move ahead on development, Clackamas County is still fighting legal and political battles at taxpayer expense. The Count of Appeals ruling stated that the shortcoming was specific to the substantiation of urban reserves designation for the Stafford area.

Under the leadership of Chair Ludlow and Commissioner Smith, Clackamas County has taken the position that they will not settle the remand unless they are enabled to “re-study” the Rural Reserves designation because they believe there is a shortage of employment lands. This assertion is at odds with the facts, but still the County effort continues, and as we have documented both Ludlow and Smith received large campaign donations from the Maletis family. This came to a head during the recent Open Houses held by the County in Canby, Wilsonville and Estacada to seek public comment. During the County presentation, Senior Planner Martha Fritzie made the assertion that the re-study of rural reserves was necessary as part of resolving the remand. She was publicly called on that assertion by retired Judge William Riggs who pointed out to her that the remand was specific and not an invitation to restudy the Rural Reserves.

On July 27, Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) sent Martha Fritzie a letter regarding the matter, stating “The presentation at the meetings implied that the reserves – both urban and rural – were open for a new look.” It goes on to summarize that “the order was constructed to allow Metro, Multnomah and Clackamas County to address very narrow and specific findings.” In summary the letter says “DLCD encourages the County to complete their findings on the specific task of the remand for Urban Reserves so that the region can move past reserves and on to focusing on development, employment land and how to fund and serve areas within the UGB.

The message here for Clackamas County citizens is not only that the majority of their Commissioners are holding up development progress for their County and Metro at large, and that they are expending large sums of taxpayer dollars doing this, but that this exercise is now having a negative financial impact on Clackamas County in many ways. Download the entire DLCD letter in PDF here.

Soil & Water Conservation District testimony

June 29, 2016

A noteworthy event occurred at the end of June, from a little know body in Clackamas County. The county’s Soil and Water Conservation District went on record regarding the County Commission’s current efforts to “re-study” the Rural Reserves designation covering 1,625 acres of farm land in Clackamas County. Specifically, Tom Salzer, General Manager, testified before the Commission that “The District believes the County’s current initiative to create employment lands may not adequately consider the long-term value of high-value farmland. A significant amount of the land proposed for reconsideration as employment land is high-value farmland, an irreplaceable natural resource.”

This is a significant development in a county for which less than 25% of all land is farm land, and some of which is among the highest quality land in the country. The testimony was very well covered in an article by Eric Mortensen that appeared in the Capital Press, and is available for download in the Media Coverage section at the bottom of this page.

Salzer stated the District’s alarm at the prospect of losing more farmland and went on to say that “It’s the first time this board has stood up as a unanimous body and said, ‘Wait a minute. Farmland is being threatened and we need to do something about it.”

Public Input Open Houses characterized as “disingenuous!”

June 28, 2016

Clackamas County’s Planning Department organized the three Open Houses on June 28, 29 and 30, ostensibly to seek public comment on the Commission’s proposal to “re-study” the Rural Reserves by creating a need for employment lands. All three were a classic study in doing absolutely the bare minimum by way of public notification in order to meet the requirements of securing public input so they could do precisely what they (Chair Ludlow, Commissioners Smith and Savas) wanted to do.

It turns out that none of the Cities in the County were notified these events were being held. Further, the three Cities in which they were held (Canby, Wilsonville and Estacada) were not notified that there would be such an event within their city limits! The Mayor of Canby found out on Tuesday after the Monday night Open House in Canby, and had to attend the Wilsonville Open House to express his City's opposition. Likewise in Estacada: neither the Mayor nor the Planning staff had any advance notice. Wilsonville only found out because "the bare minimum" was done": flyers were sent to addresses within 200 yards of the properties being proposed for Rural Reserves re-study, and one of them was forwarded to Wilsonville!

Because of that advance notification, the City and others were able to publicize these events in Wilsonville, south of the River in Clackamas County, and to some degree in Canby and Estacada. The result:

  • Canby: over 50 people attended, of which only 1 was a proponent: Chris Maletis
  • Wilsonville: over 300 people attended, of which none were proponents
  • Estacada: over 50 people attended. of which none were proponents

Coverage of the Wilsonville Open House by Jake Bartman was published in the Wilsonville Spokesman, and is available to download in PDF in the Media Coverage section at the bottom of this page. The article characterized the meeting with the word "disingenuous!"

Primary Election Update and the Role of Contributions in the Clackamas County Commission

June 13, 2016

Coin-operated Government in Clackamas County

In this election we’re hearing regularly about Wall Street corruption, big bank money, Political Action Committees (PAC) donations in the millions, etc. etc. Who’d have thought the same kind of thing was going on right here in a Metro county?

Serving the public good instead of the special interests

In May of this year, Wendell Potter and Nick Penniman’s new book Nation on the Take (How Big Money Corrupts Our Democracy and What We Can Do About it) was published by Bloomsbury. The historical premise of the book is built on the Founding Fathers’ serious worry about corruption and its consequence: “the rotting of the fruit of liberty was seen as the dominance of private interests over the public interest. It was the bending of governing priorities away from the common good – a process that would, over time, fatally damage the whole project of a democratic republic. “

They go on to document the corrosive effect of “money’s dominance of politics and governing,” and especially the effect of Big Money since the ‘Citizen’s United’ decision. The facts make the case: big donors wield undue influence over the activities and decisions of elected officials. That’s as true at the local level as it is at the national level, and the result is the same whether the money comes from national or local donors.

So how is “the common good” served when almost all the campaign donations to local candidates come from one or two sources? Can we expect good government, good decisions and good outcomes? Or will we get crony capitalism, undue influence and an agenda supplied by the donors? Consider the OreStar (Oregon Secretary of State web portal that lists all campaign donations as required by law). The campaign disclosures of the two Clackamas County commissioners who have been leading the charge to obstruct approval of the region’s Urban/Rural reserves and to re-zone ag land for development south of the Willamette River on property owned by the Maletis brothers at Langdon Farms is quite illuminating!

The last election cycle delivered

The 2012 election cycle in Oregon saw a lot of local political activity resulting from national-level politics, with a Tea Party emphasis not only on the evils of government and high taxes, but a strategy to work at the local (think County and State) levels to initiate a bottom-up change. That strategy was evident in Clackamas County. As Jeff Mapes reported on OregonLive in January of 2013, the Oregon Transformation Project “helped elect conservatives John Ludlow and Tootie Smith to County office while producing some memorable -- or notorious, depending on your perspective -- billboards decrying "Portland creep”. This was the election that created a straw man out of Metro’s “control” of Clackamas County, as evidenced by Tri-Met’s extension of the Orange Line to Milwaukie.

Among the public figures for the Oregon Transformation Project was Lindsay Berschauer. As Oregon Live’s Molly Harbarger reported (11/22/13) Berschauer is associated with the Freedom and Responsibility PAC as well as the Oregon Transformation Project PAC. The Transformation Project was funded in major part by Andrew Miller, CEO of Stimson Lumber Company and a strong supporter of ultra-conservative positions. This is a country where every citizen is free to financially support positions of their choosing. However, as the Citizens United ruling has demonstrated, we’re now contending with a financial swamping of the system, all of which has been obscured by the appearance of 501(c)(4) PACs that do not have to disclose their donors.

How does that apply to Clackamas County? And especially to French Prairie? Let’s start by looking at all the disclosed campaign contributions to Chair John Ludlow and Commissioner Tootie Smith. Ludlow’s OreStar disclosures span from February 2012 to April 2016 and Tootie Smith’s span from November 2015 to April 2016. In other words, Ludlow’s reporting is for two campaign cycles, and Smith’s is only for the current one.

Ludlow’s campaign contributions are a whopping $327,600! That’s a lot of money for two campaign cycles at the County Commission level. Of note, over $140,000 of that came from the Oregon Transformation Project (42.7%) and another $8,950 from Lindsay Berschauer or her consulting company Leona Consulting. That’s over 45%. Additionally, $25,000 of it came from Tom or Chris Maletis (7.6%). Add it all up and in the past four and a half years, over 53% of Ludlow’s campaign contributions came from the Oregon Transformation Project or its spokesperson, and from the Maletis brothers.

 » Download John Ludlow’s OreStar campaign contributions in PDF here

 » Download Tootie Smith’s OreStar campaign contributions in PDF here

The current campaign cycle

Chair John Ludlow has disclosed $29,730 in campaign contributions for the period September 2015 through April 2016. Of that, 28.6% or $8,500 has come from a single source – Leona Consulting, whose President is Lindsay Berschauer.

Commissioner Tootie Smith disclosed raising $53,120 for the same period, of which the majority came from two sources: Leona Consulting and the Maletis family. Leona Consulting (i.e. Lindsay Berschauer) contributed $12,500 (23.5%) and Chris Maletis, his wife Kristi, and his brother Tom, contributed a total of $20,000 (37.7%) in the five month period prior to the primary election. That makes up 51% of her total cash contributions from two sources.

 » Download the complete listing of Maletis family contributions to Clackamas County Commissioners in PDF here

Undue influence?

Do contributions of this scale from one or two donors set them up for undue influence? After John Ludlow was elected Chair and Tootie Smith became a County Commissioner the “Portland creep” anti-Metro mantra was amped up to include blocking the entire Urban-Rural Reserves designation, essentially stalling Metro’s comprehensive land use work as well as the land use decisions of several Clackamas County cities. They also began lobbying to change the zoning of the property owned by the Maletis brothers from agricultural so that it could be commercially developed.

The Maletis brothers have been working non-stop at the legislature through several sessions to change the designation of the ag lands they own to enable development. In the past year alone there were five attempts to pass bills at the Legislature to rezone this prime ag land, all supported by the majority of the Clackamas County Commissioners. Commissioner Smith personally testified on behalf of the Clackamas County Commission during hearings at the Legislature in support of various land use bills that would have re-zoned the Maletis brothers’ property.

These speculative land use proposals were opposed by the local cities that did not have the ability to provide urban services, by farmers whose livelihoods would be negatively impacted, and by local neighbors and citizen groups. In addition, unbeknownst to most citizens, the land Ludlow and Smith proposed to “re-study” for removal from Rural Reserves designation in order to promote commercial development has grown from the 660 acres owned by the Maletis brothers (Langdon Farms and surrounding ag land) to over 1,200 acres. That happened because the legislative bills didn’t just include the 660 acres owned by the Maletis brothers, but the entire triangle between I-5 and Highway 551 from the Charbonneau exit down to Arndt Road.

The most recent outrage occurred last Fall when the majority of Clackamas County Commissioners voted to approve spending almost half a million dollars to “re-study” the Rural Reserves in Clackamas County. Included in the Commissioner’s packet for the meeting, as part of the re-study material, was a map that added a huge arc of ag land west of I-5 from Arndt Road north to the Charbonneau exit. After much animated discussion, with consistent objection from Commissioner Bernard that it was both improper and wasn’t supported by the Urban/Rural reserves study process, Chair Ludlow asked for a motion. Commissioner Smith made the motion to appropriate the funds, Chair Ludlow seconded it, and the motion passed four to one. Included in the approval was the map of so-called “employment lands” in French Prairie that had now grown to 1,200 acres – with no hearing or public input.

The public’s right to know

The campaign contributions to Chair Ludlow and Commissioner Smith illustrate why this November’s election is so critical to the future of agriculture in the French Prairie. If they are re-elected it will allow them and Commissioner Paul Savas, who received $15,000 from the Maletis brothers, to press forward with their efforts to help a few of their wealthy donors speculate on ag land in French Prairie. The public has a right to know who is paying money into political campaigns. The worst consequence of big financial contributions is the undue influence it creates on the part of elected officials. Our best defense is voters who are informed and aware.

Nov. 18 Metro Hearing On Stafford Remand

November 18, 2015

The Metro Council held its second hearing on the Metro remand on Nov. 18, and once again – just like the October 8 hearing – almost all of the testimony was in opposition to the Clackamas County Commission’s stated intent to re-study Rural Reserves in Clackamas County and make some Undesignated, as well as strong testimony yet again to not allow development south of the Willamette River.

The surprise was that Chris Maletis was a no show. At the end of the Oct. 8 hearing he had publicly stated that his positon was being misrepresented and that he would personally testify at the Nov. 16 hearing to clear his name and set the record straight. In the interim it became public that four of the Clackamas County Commissioners (to whom he and his brother Tom had donated $60,000 in the last election cycle) had voted to appropriate up to $457,000 to “re-study rural reserves in Clackamas County” with the specific intent of removing the rural reserves designation from the property owned by the Maletis brothers. The public outcry and media coverage began in advance of the Nov. 18 meetings, and is posted below.

Clackamas County Commission “Employment Lands and Reserves Remand Policy Session”

October 21, 2015

Four of the five Clackamas County Commissioners furthered their agenda of re-designating the Maletis property from Rural Reserves at the Work Session on Oct. 21 by approving the expenditure of as much as $457,000 in taxpayer money to pay for a “Draft General Work Program for Limited Reserves Re-Look, 2015.” The motion passed by a vote of 4 to 1, with Comm. Bernard voting no.

Of note, there was no public notice of this agenda item to make a decision to spend as much as almost half a million dollars to create the argument to undo the current Urban and Rural Reserves designations in Clackamas County. Nor was there any compliance with the clear overwhelming majority testimony at the October 8 Metro hearing to focus on settling the Stafford remand and NOT expand the scope to re-look at Rural Reserves. Instead, the commissioners who accepted large campaign contributions in the last election cycle determined to “double down” in an especially brazen way.

Not to be overlooked is that the proposed land to be studied in French Prairie, as shows in the maps from the Work Session packet, now include the arc of EFU land west of I-5 to Lower Boones Ferry Road. At the north end that includes the property formerly referred to as the “I-5 Farm Store” now owned by Bob Lamphere who wants the zoning changed to commercial so it can be used to store automobiles for his new Subaru dealership in Wilsonville. Also included is the Stroupe property, which was just turned down by Clackamas County Planning for a commercial scale composting permit because the land is zoned agriculture.

Results of the Work Session

Motion to approve proposed Draft General Work Program for Limited Reserves Re-Look, 2015, with a budget of $331,700-$457,300 approved by a vote of 4:1.

Points made by individual participants:

Dan Chandler (Strategic Policy Administrator, Clackamas County)

  • Clackamas County is on less certain grounds now in terms of Reserves process; “our partner” (i.e. Metro) does not want to play.
  • Whatever Board of Commissioners does, it will have find and weigh factors, which are different than criteria.
  • Legal question is “fuzzy” as to who has jurisdiction to hold hearings: County designates Rural Reserves and Metro designates Urban Reserves. However, Metro does not have jurisdiction outside Metro boundary.
  • It is also unclear how County can change Urban Reserved designation given that Metro designates Urban Reserves; changing Rural Reserves to Undesignated is in the county domain.
  • Designating new Urban Reserves would trigger a “Core 4”-type process involving all counties and Metro.

Chair Ludlow

  • Does the IGA (Inter-Governmental Agreement) with Metro on Reserves still exists?
  • Staff: Yes; if no changes in reserves, no changes in IGA. IGA can be changed if both parties agree.

Martha Fritzie (Clackamas County Planning Department)

  • Limited look at items #1 and #2:
    1. Rural Reserves to Undesignated.
      1. approximately 800 acres south of Wilsonville;
      2. approximately 400 acres east of Canby, and
      3. approximately 425 acres south of the Clackamas River along Springwater Road.
    2. Urban Reserve to Undesignated. Approximately 3,400 acres in the Damascus/Boring Urban Reserve area- or a portion of that area.
  • Limit the public outreach effort: No open houses, no regional coordination; meet only with property owners and governments in the four areas.

Urban & Rural Reserves: BCC Re-Evaluation Areas South of Wilsonville

Urban & Rural Reserves: BCC Re-Evaluation Areas South of Wilsonville

Commissioner Smith:

  • Why take so long to get this effort done? Can’t staff move faster, especially with Metro moving forward? [NOTE: 2016 Legislative session starts Feb 1, 2016]

Commissioner Schrader and Staff:

  • Processes for hiring and RFP take time.
  • Reserves process requires a certain level of public process. A change in process would require approval of by state (CIACC?).

Chair Ludlow:

  • If we can’t get what we want with Metro, then we will need to go to the Legislature.
  • County to press for Sub-Regional analysis

Commissioner Savas:

  • Frustrated at slow pace of work and lack of clear public communications by BCC/County.
  • Wants staff to develop position/policy paper so that he can relay to others who wonder what the county is doing and why.

Commissioner Bernard

  • Large-lot industrial site need is not real so county will get nowhere.
  • Washington County got large industrial development by giving away property-tax revenue; would you other commissioners do that?
  • Reality is that while there is a need infrastructure for development, you need a city for infrastructure.
  • County is wasting money.
  • Washington County successful at Legislature because all parties were in agreement; we do not have that situation here.
  • Gov’t leadership can and does change; this is a multi-year process and effort that can be un-done by the next BCC.
  • Real problem is sub-regional need and voter-approved annexations.

Commissioner Schrader

  • County Commission will be In the hot seat now; Wilsonville folks are very upset.
  • Wilsonville has other long-term plans for urban development.
  • Our partners )i.e. Metro) are in opposition to our efforts – county does not have the partnership with Metro, other cities and Legislature to make reserves changes.

Chair Ludlow

  • It will take decades to prepare the undesignated areas with infrastructure.

Comm. Smith move to direct staff to implement proposed work plan and second by Chair Ludlow. Pass 4:1, with Commissioner Bernard voting No.

Supporting Information

Download the Commissioner Work Session Packet with “all four maps of proposed study areas for” Rural Reserves re-designations here.

Link to the BCC Policy Sessions webpage:

Link to the 10/21/2015 Work Session audio file:

Metro Hearing to resolve the Remand re: Clackamas County Urban Reserves

The Urban and Rural Reserves designations that were made in 2011 as a result of a years-long Metro planning process ended with some unsettled areas. In Washington County there were seemingly unresolvable urban/rural designation tensions that ultimately had to be settled at the State Legislature with the so-called “Grand Bargain.” In Clackamas County the issue was the designation 2011 of the Stafford Triangle as an urban reserve which resulted in the surrounding cities suing to prevent it. Additionally, the rural designation of the French Prairie part of Clackamas County was challenged by the Maletis brothers who own Langdon Farms Golf Course.

The Clackamas County challenges resulted in a 2014 decision by the Oregon Court of Appeals and a subsequent remand by the state Land Conservation and Development Commission, supporting the original designation of urban and rural reserves. That leaves resolving the remand as an “open item” between Metro and Clackamas County.

That process began on October 8, as the Metro Council opened a public hearing on its proposed technical fix to the designation of urban reserves in the Stafford area, between Tualatin, Lake Oswego and West Linn. The designation as urban reserve makes the Stafford Triangle one of the areas the Metro Council can look at first for potential urban growth boundary expansions before 2060.

Map of the Stafford Basin urban reserves

Map of the Stafford Basin urban reserves (Courtesy Metro)

Things have changed in Clackamas County, with only one member of the current Board of Commissioners having been in office during the Urban/Rural Reserves process. The four new Commissioners all supported motions to negotiate with Metro to re-do the Rural Reserves designations as part of settling the remand. In other words, they have told Metro that Clackamas County needs more “employment land” and won’t address the remand unless they can open up the previously settled Rural Reserves process? Why? One very clear reasons is to be found in recent Commission meetings where the majority (all except Commissioner Bernard) voted in favor or negotiating with Metro to remove a block of ag land which includes Langdon Farms Golf Course and is owned by the Maletis brother. For full detail and documentation see the Langdon Farms page of our web site.

The Metro hearing on October 8 included Metro planners and attorneys addressing the remand and Metro’s approach to resolution, but the vast majority of the 20 people that testified did so in opposition to opening up the Rural Reserves designation in French Prairie.

These included Mayor Tim Knapp of Wilsonville, Councilor Charlotte Lehan of Wilsonville, Commissioner Jim Bernard (testifying as a citizen), leaders and residents of Charbonneau, the Clackamas County Farm Bureau, 1000 Friends of Oregon, Friends of French Prairie, the Aurora-Butteville-Barlow CPO and other citizens.

A summary of the hearing can be read on the Metro web site at: Metro Council opens debate on Stafford urban reserves, but French Prairie takes center stage

The Portland Tribune coverage of the hearing can be downloaded as a PDF in the listing below.

In the spirit of making access to the opposition testimony as easy as possible (all of which is public record) we are posting copies that can be downloaded in PDF below.

Testimony from the October 8 Metro Hearing

Mayor Tim Knapp, Wilsonville [Download in PDF]
Commissioner Charlotte Lehan, Wilsonville [Download in PDF]
Mary Kyle McCurdy, 1000 Friends of Oregon [Download in PDF]
Jon Iverson, Clackamas County Farm Bureau [Download in PDF]
Tony Holt, Charbonneau Country Club [Download in PDF]
Ken Ivey, Aurora-Butteville Barlow CPO [Download in PDF]
Ben Williams, Friends of French Prairie [Download in PDF]
Eric Hoem, Charbonneau Resident [Download in PDF]
Peter Swan, Charbonneau Resident [Download in PDF]

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Media Coverage

French Prairie Still Needs Rural Reserves
August 3, 2016
[Download PDF here]

County cancels meeting on bid to reclassify farmland
August 3, 2016
[Download PDF here]

Cities pan county’s bid to change zoning of ag lands
July 27, 2016
[Download PDF here]

County failed in transparency over rural reserves
July 27, 2016
[Download PDF here]

Guest Commentary
July 21, 2016
[Download PDF here]

Conservation district fights farmland development
July 6, 2016
[Download PDF here]

Hundreds attend open house on county land re-designation
July 7, 2016
[Download PDF here]

Fix to growth plan OK'd by Metro Council, awaits approval from Clackamas County
February 0, 2016
[Download PDF here]

Development south of the Willamette stirs debate at Metro hearing
November 20, 2015
[Download PDF here]

Metro Council faces decision on Stafford reserves
November 20, 2015
[Download PDF here]

Possible development south of the Willamette River sparks new controversy
November 18, 2015
[Download PDF here]

Metro Council debates Clackamas development
November 17, 2015
[Download PDF here]

Metro Council: Don't increase urban growth boundary
November 13, 2015
[Download PDF here]

Metro, Clackamas County headed for clash
October 13, 2015
[Download PDF here]

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