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Urban Needs, Rural Government

The question of how our area should best be governed has increasingly been on the minds of both citizens and government leaders—annexation? incorporation? stay the same? With population pressures and urban growth boundary expansions bringing large numbers of people into unincorporated areas of Washington County, and more on the way, it’s time to look at this question from several aspects.

Part one: how did we get here?

Washington County population growth from 1900 to 2006

In this article, we will explore the history of growth in our area, and how “urban” services have been provided to date. We will continue the series by asking whether the current situation should continue, and if not, why not? Finally we will explore some of the various alternatives that may be proposed.

Part two: Annexation in Washington County

Up until the 1950s, the cities in Washington County were small and isolated. “You took the train to Hillsboro in those days,” recalls Dan Cooper, Metro Attorney, who began working for the City of Portland as an attorney in 1974. More-->

Part three: Washington County’s Special Service Districts

In this issue, we’re taking a look at two of the special service districts that provide urban amenities to unincorporated areas, with associated property taxes paid only by residents of the urbanized areas of the county. In a full-service city like Hillsboro residents pay one tax rate to the city’s general fund for all their services and it is up to the city to divide the tax revenues between services. More-->

Part four: Our Urban Service Providers

In this article we will explain the critical services needed by an urban community and how those services are provided in Cedar Mill. In other regions of the country, some cities provide most or all of these services to residents. (Public non-profit agencies are listed in green and for-profit providers are listed in gold.)

In this discussion, a reference to the “urban unincorporated area” (uua) refers to Cedar Mill. The services can be divided into physical services, safety and criminal justice services, and transportation services. Next month we will discuss community services which are typically provided by cities and are mostly lacking in the “uua.” More-->

Part five: What do cities have that we don't (1)?

In the previous articles in our series on the governance of Cedar Mill, we reviewed the physical services that are provided by special service districts, Washington County and private companies. Our region-wide service providers are generally well-run organizations with efficient economies of scale, but their existence has redefined some of the obvious and traditional values of distinct city services.

In this installment, we will begin a look at those services provided by cities that aren’t available to residents of the Urban Unincorporated Areas (UUAs). This month we’ll look at representation, participation in government, and urban infrastructure. Next month we’ll discuss community spirit and identity and economic development. More-->

Part six: What do cities have that we don't (2)?

Last month we discussed  representation in government, and urban infrastructure. In this article, we look at some social and economic services provided by cities such as community development, public spaces and the creation of community spirit and activities, land use planning, and code enforcement. More-->



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Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
12110 NW West Rd
Portland, OR 97229