Various projections show that Albany’s population will grow from about 55,000 now to 72,000 or even 78,000 in 20 years. One question that might be worth asking: Is that a good thing?
At 6:30 on March 9, there’s going to be a public meeting at City Hall to consider the Albany’s “capacity to accommodate projected residential, commercial and industrial growth.” Consultants for the city have been studying that topic, and they’ll be asking for “feedback on suggested strategies to address projected growth.”
The conventional wisdom is that population growth happens whether you like it or not, and the smart move is to plan for it before it comes to pass.
Oregon statewide planning “goals” and statutes require local jurisdictions periodically to look ahead 20 years and make sure there’s enough land to meet future needs for housing and jobs. If there isn’t, presumably more land can be made available by changing comprehensive plans and zoning codes, or by trying to expand urban growth boundaries.
Which is why Albany hired consultants to do the current “housing needs and economic opportunities analyses.”
The price of housing now is a concern, along with the shortage of housing that people can afford. You have to wonder whether these concerns might be less if Oregon’s lawmakers had shown more restraint years ago in their approach to central planning. If there was more latitude in how land is allowed to be used, maybe market forces would better balance housing needs and supplies. And the affordability problem might be less severe.
As for whether it makes sense to “accommodate” projected growth in population numbers or density, questions ought to be asked. From the standpoint of livability and economic viability, is there an ideal size that a community should try to achieve or maintain?
For instance: Would anyone say that Albany with 55,000 people is in any way a better place to live than when the population was 28,000 three or four decades ago? (hh)