Oregon’s state land-use regulators are telling Albany, Corvallis and other cities above 50,000 population to designate “climate friendly” parts of town where people can live so they don’t need to drive to meet day-to-day needs.
This state order is causing lots of work in city planning departments. But what good can it possibly do?
Here’s an announcement that came via email a few days ago:
“The cities of Albany, Corvallis, and Philomath, in partnership with the Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments (OCWCOG) and Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD), are hosting a virtual public meeting … to introduce new state requirements regarding Climate-Friendly Areas.”
The Zoom meeting will be at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 30. To take part, go to https://us06web.zoom.us/j/
And here, from the announcement, is the reason for these requirements: “To help the state meet its climate pollution goals, more development will need to occur in urban areas where residents, workers, and visitors are less dependent upon single vehicle trips. ‘Climate-Friendly Areas’ are intended to be places where people can meet most of their daily needs without having to drive by having housing located near a mix of jobs, businesses, and services.”
To get this done, cities will first have to pick the parts of town where they want this change to take place. Then they have to change their zoning maps by the end of 2024.
As convenient as it may sound to live where you can walk to work and to the store, as well as to the bank, the gym and your hairdresser, this is no longer possible in towns of this size.
It’s not even necessary. As jobs change, most office work can be done from home without going anywhere. Many purchases and other transactions can be done online as well, even if getting a haircut will probably always require going to a shop.
Industrial or manufacturing jobs — the kind that pay well and sustain communities — are never going to be within walking distance of where people want to live.
As for driving, isn’t our state administration hoping to phase out piston-powered vehicles after 2035? According to that plan, fossil fuels should be a thing of the past by the time “climate friendly” neighborhoods get going.
And if that happens, 20 or 30 years from now, who cares where people live or how they get around?
You would think a sane government would consider its actions in terms of benefits versus amount of energy and work expended.
So you’d think somebody would have calculated exactly how Oregon residents and taxpayers benefit from this project of trying to shoehorn future residents, offices, shops and factories into the same neighborhoods.
If they did, what is the benefit, and exactly what difference will this make to the climate? My prediction is that there is no demonstrable benefit, and the effect on the climate, in Oregon and around the world, will be zilch.
Maybe I’m too skeptical. Maybe the people at the Department of Land Conservation and Development have a calculation they can show.
Somebody should ask them at that online public meeting at the end of the month. (hh)