When will Ashland grow up?

Growth pressures are as inevitable as the increases in population that continues unabated in America. In Oregon, growth pressures are further exacerbated by state laws requiring cities to have designed areas for population increases. Desirable areas of Oregon are sure to experience those pressures more than other places, like say, Boring, Ore.

OK, humor aside &

Boring is a beautiful, scenic commuter town just minutes outside of Portland that is experiencing growth pressures of its own &

but with that name ...

Anyway, the point is relatively simple. Growth is inevitable. Those that plan for it can better manage it than those who are forced into a form of uncontrolled growth when their efforts to resist it fail.

This sentiment gave rise to many modern concepts of land use and planning. Smart growth, urban infill, increased density and other concepts are far more desirable than they were 20 to 30 years ago when the mall building boom spilled many American cities into seemingly endless suburbs.

Despite the relative simplicity of the concept, the emotions that surrounds it, again, in a desirable place such as Ashland, has made the issue one of the most prominent topics of division. An Oregon town (Paisley) recently launched a complete recall effort of its council over this very issue. Ashland is not alone in its struggles.

So despite the simplicity of the issue, solutions are complex. Planning for growth &

and in so doing controlling it &

requires a determined effort with a clear vision. What Ashland lacks in vision, at least to date, it has more than made up for in determination to stave off these pressures of growth for as long as possible.

Nevertheless, the difficulty in bringing about a clear vision among our divided city should not discourage our leadership from tackling it. Now that veteran Bill Molnar has been chosen to become the next Community Development Department director, the effort should begin again in earnest. Molnar is as knowledgeable about Ashland politics as he is Oregon land use, so his learning curve is in the past. The state's main options for urban growth can be encapsulated in one sentence. Cities can choose to grow out or grow up &

perhaps even a combination of both.

Ashland has the chance to grow up in the coming months. It can push through the slog and begin to truly plan for the future in a mature, professional and creative way.

As the city emotionally grows up, it can consider the potential to physically grow up as well. reconsidering height restrictions downtown, the city can better balance the pressure to grow out &

i.e., development of the Croman site, potential annexation of land near Exit 19 &

with its capability of funneling economic growth and higher density land use into the downtown.

Share This Story