A number of factors will influence planning for the future of the Highway 43/Willamette Falls Drive corridor. These include Metro, or regional, regulations, State laws, and national and global forces. Some of the factors that will influence the future of the corridor include the following:
Population growth—The City has grown from 2,923 in 1960 to 25,109 in 2010. Regionally, Metro estimates that over the next 20 years the area will add roughly 1 million more residents. The State requires Metro to demonstrate sufficient capacity in the cities and in growth areas to accommodate the projected housing and job growth over the next 20 years. Metro is working with the cities in the region to provide for more efficient use of land and existing infrastructure to help accommodate the projected growth.
Housing needs—Metro projects that the cities and growth areas will need to accommodate up to 26,000 more residential dwellings than we currently have capacity to handle. Metro is in the process of determining how much growth each city, including West Linn, will be expected to accommodate. The State, as part of its efforts to make more efficient use of buildable land, requires that West Linn provide for new residential development at an overall density of at least 8 dwelling units per net buildable acre. Currently, our zoning would only yield about 5 dwelling units per acre on the remaining buildable land.
Fuel/Congestion—Population growth means increased traffic. Metro projects a 70 percent increase in freeway traffic volumes in roughly 20 years and West Coast truck volumes are expected to more than double by 2035. Traffic congestion and delay could compromise the regional economy. In addition, potentially higher fuel costs and greater congestion could pose challenges for communities such as West Linn that are home to a large commuter population.
Climate change—Climate change poses uncertainties for the future. Shifting rainfall patterns and the more severe storms that are predicted, could increase the frequency of landslides and flooding. Drought conditions in drier parts of the nation could result in population shifts to more moderate areas such as ours. In 2007, the State Legislature passed HB 3543, which commits the State to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 75 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
The State and Metro are undertaking major efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, primarily from passenger cars and light trucks. Initiatives related to transportation and reducing the reliance on automobiles could have a significant impact on West Linn.
Choices—We will have choices to make about how to accommodate projected population growth and, in some cases, increased density in appropriate locations. We must also choose whether to create plans and regulations that produce development that protects or enhances community character and livability. We should also consider what higher fuel prices, increased congestion, and climate change will mean for the livability and viability of the community and should prepare accordingly.