A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

How does this help with the ‘climate’?

Written November 18th, 2022 by Hasso Hering

In the November sunshine, is this little North Albany maple “climate friendly”? Who knows, and who cares?

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/86235203517.

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)

33 responses to “How does this help with the ‘climate’?”

  1. William Ayers says:

    Question is “What life form has more than four arms and four legs and no brain?” Answer is ” A committee.” Robert Heinlein

  2. M. Richner says:

    “The government is a living body at the center of the nation, which, like all organized entities, tends strongly to preserve its existence, to increase its well-being and power, and to expand indefinitely its sphere of action. Left to itself, it soon exceeds the limits which circumscribe its mission. It increases beyond all reason the number and wealth of its agents. It no longer administers, it exploits. It no longer judges; it persecutes or takes revenge. It no longer protects, it oppresses.”

    — Frédéric Bastiat, [1830]

    Hasso, the quote above may shed light on your question. However, in defense of government workers, they are likely unaware of their role in the veracity of this statement. It is simply the natural progression of governments everywhere.

  3. Hartman says:

    Gee…I never would have guessed that Hering’s skeptical.

  4. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    The future of downtown Albany is pretty clear – taller buildings, increased density, lots of multifamily buildings.

    I’m thinking the soon to be Wells Fargo vacant lot will be a perfect spot to start.

    But getting private money to actually build and occupy climate friendly property may be a challenge. So it’s probably not to early to start thinking about imposing CARA, part deux, so public money can be dangled.

    And if “we” the government can’t lead this horse to climate friendly water, then more power must be exercised – “we” the government must dictate where and how people live.

    “We” the government can solve this climate emergency. All “you” have to do is get out of the way.

  5. Richard Vannice says:

    My experience re committees is that a committee of more than one is inefficient. I received an email from one agency which advised that they had “decided on a name” for their project.
    So much for reaching consensus or seemingly reaching and point where any meaningful conclusions can be made.

  6. thomas earl cordier says:

    HH; please clarify whether these are suggestions from the bureaucratic state or from legal legislative actions signed into law. Animal Farm chapter 33.

  7. Kim Sass says:

    A good first step in support of this concept would be to require all city employees, starting with planning and engineering, to actually live in the city where they are employed. In this way they will experience firsthand the effects of the regulations and just maybe advocate for the communities they serve. Next, prioritize other public supported services (schools, health care, state and counties) and require — or incentivize — their employee living choices. This will immediately reduce transportation emissions and have the longer-term benefit of creating communities that have self interest in their own neighborhoods. Could it also slow down the ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality?

  8. Hartman says:

    I always suspected that Hering was a Nihilist, but today’s screed reinforces that suspicion.

    Witness Hasso’s Ayn Randian tempest regarding climate friendly neighborhoods when he writes: “And if that happens, 20 or 30 years from now, who cares where people live or how they get around?

    It seems abundantly clear. Hering is experiencing the brutal reality of actuarial tables. He’s unhappy about the inevitable (a futile exercise). The Baby Boomer Era is ending. The thought that something other than the status quo might influence the future is a reminder to Hasso, and to the rest of the Boomers … there was a world before you and there will be one after. No need to despair. Enjoy what time you have left.
    Stop pretending that what was once is forever.

  9. Bill Kapaun says:

    And if our City Council had the guts to say NO, what would the state do?

  10. Adam says:

    Well, HH, I agree with you on all points and thank you for bringing them up. Change will and needs to occur but the question is always, how much is it reasonable, how do we do it, over what period of time and last but not least how much will it cost and who pays for it. It’s in the details, as usual.

    This is also a prefect example of an unfunded mandate. Do this and do that and magically find the time and money some place to pay for it.

  11. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    As Hasso alludes to in his first sentence, these are rules. These are NOT laws.

    They come from unelected bureaucrats in the executive, not the legislative, branch of state government. The process is inherently undemocratic and illiberal.

    And city bureaucrats had a seat at the table during the creation of the rules, so no whining is allowed from the City Council.

    These rules lend credence to the “swamp” metaphor for nasty government.

    Pretty soon hip waders will be needed to navigate the swampy “climate friendly” areas of Albany.

  12. Anon says:

    Any reasonable leader would put an end to this failed experiment we so proudly call Oregons state land use plan. Most socialist countries afford property owners more rights than we do here in Oregon. If you like this bologna, you’re going to love the next four years. The madness is just getting started. A year from now we will be longing for the good old days of Kate Brown.

  13. Lundy says:

    Hasso, nice commentary. I believe I agree with everything you wrote except for the part about haircuts; I’ve been cutting my own hair for decades; it’s easy.

  14. centrist says:

    What’s proposed is apparently unfamiliar to you. It’s certainly familiar to me because I grew up with it.
    Folks didn’t need cars because most goods and services were available in the neighborhood. What wasn’t was readily accessible by public transport —trolley, bus, subway/el.
    The planning model of the 60s accented suburban development with no access to public transport.
    So began what have now.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      I’m very familiar with what the visionaries envision. I grew up five floors up with a grocery across the street and dozens of shops — apparel, jewelry, bakery, plumbing, haircutting etc. — on the block and a transit stop down the street. Planners didn’t force people to move where they had more space. People moved into single residences as soon as they could afford it, and because they wanted the additional space and less density, even if it meant raking leaves in the fall and fighting traffic to and from work. As for public transport, it’s great if it’s available every 10 minutes, but not if the bus comes once an hour during daytime only and doesn’t go where you want.

      • Bob Woods says:

        Actually, Planners did force people people to be away from those services by zoning large tract of land to be residential only. Builders wanted that because that’s what the market wanted.

        And that occurred beginning in the 1950’s, when no one had any inkling what environmental pressures would occur to the entire ecosystem when US population went from 151,325,798 in 1950 to 331,893,745 in 2021, and world-wide population went from 2,584,034,261 in 1951 to 7,794,798,739 in 2020.

        But what is happening here is to allow that kind mixed use of close-by commercial to be allowable within zoning/development goals easier, because it cuts down on the need to drive to access those services.

        And you’re against that? Golly gee.

        The real problem is clear: A bunch of old fogies that have a harder and harder time coexisting with change. ESPECIALLY climate change, which you would have a much better understanding of if you had accurately absorbed High School chemistry and physics. College level even better.

        Climate deniers are planet killers.

        • Hasso Hering says:

          No point in responding to anyone who throws around mindless slogans like that.

        • Abe Cee says:

          If this sort of change is what everyone wanted, it wouldn’t need to be forced on anyone. Builders would supply it because that’s what the market wanted.

        • Rich Kellum says:

          Bob, Bob, Bob, Bob, Bob…… we send you to school and buy your books and you still evidently did not read them. Ever hear of Daniel Fahrenheit?? he is the guy who invented the FIRST thermometer in 1724 so in a couple of years we will have 300 years of temperature measurement to compare with each other. So you and yours compare geologic time with the 300 years that you could possibly know and then make assumptions, little wonder that you make erroneous assumptions.

  15. Richard Vannice says:

    I happen to be one of “the old fogies” and have a question regarding “coexisting with climate change.”
    If the younger generation (who will become old fogies) is so much more into accepting climate change WHY DO SO MANY DRIVE THEIR CHILDREN TO AND FROM SCHOOL when there is bus transportation readily available?
    Don’t call the kettle black. The denial is across all spectrums not just one segment of society

  16. Cheryl P says:

    What makes this “Climate-Friendly Areas” so ironic is that the city bought the Wells Fargo Building with the idea of redeveloping it for residential and commercial use, but then it was decided that that was uneconomical and so now they are taking bids to tear it down.

    How about turning it into a neighborhood grocery store? Sure there is the Tri-Valley Food Market & Deli on 7th/Ellsworth and the Stop-N-Save on 2nd between Railroad and Jackson, but those are “convenience” stores, NOT grocery stores. The closest “grocery” store is over the bridge into North Albany and while it’s not much more than a mile, that is NOT a walk I would want to make and I speak as someone who went without a vehicle for 10 years and walked three miles to work.

    If you want examples of “Climate-Friendly Areas” look no further than Sun City and Sun City West west of Phoenix Arizona; these were purpose-built retirement communities with self-contained neighborhoods. While slightly less successful due to construction issues, is Anthem north of Phoenix. But again, all three of these were purpose built from the ground up and there was lots of land available to make these happen.

    It’s a great idea…in someone’s dreams, but even if you have the space to build these “Climate-Friendly Area”, what about jobs to sustain them? Of the current working population in Albany, how many people actually work IN Albany? I don’t. My daughter doesn’t. My husband didn’t (he’s retired now).

    • Birdieken says:

      I like the idea of Aldi grocery store downtown. Everyone needs groceries and a store would be essential to any climate friendly plan. A store would be the hub of the community.

  17. H. R. Richner says:

    The State has scientifically decided that cities with fifty thousand inhabitants or more must be subject to totalitarian rule. That’s a tough job. Why don’t we help them by making use of our two zip codes and call ourselves West and East Albany? Problem solved.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      “Problem solved.”

      Right… Now there would be two distinct city govrnments & all the fun that entails. I’m presuming you were simply being overly sarcastic. If not…

      • MarK says:

        Twice the problem with two separate, worthless entities. One is bad enough!

        • Matthew Calhoun says:

          Careful, Hasso doesn’t, “run comments with insults.” LMAO so much for freedom of speech.

      • H. R. Richner says:

        That’s just it, it could be cheaper. All unfunded mandates add up to more than we ever really find out. At misallocating resources, the State is much better.

  18. Jennifer Stuart says:

    If this resulted in a grocery store downtown I would be thrilled. When my family bought a home here in Albany in 2016, one of the things we looked for was a place where we could walk or bicycle to many things instead of driving. We are about a mile or less from the post office, the community center, coffee shops, restaurants, a library, breweries, parks and the river. It has been great. If I could walk to a small grocery store I would be thrilled. Something on the scale of Grocery Outlet, Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods would be so great.

  19. David Shaw says:

    Regarding the legal status of the rules, here is a relevant excerpt from a story in The Oregonian:

    “Oregon cities sue state government over parking reform, climate mandate
    Published: Nov. 21, 2022
    By Jayati Ramakrishnan | The Oregonian/OregonLive

    Thirteen Oregon cities and one county will sue the state government over a climate-focused mandate to overhaul of local transportation and land use rules.

    The city councils of Cornelius, Forest Grove, Grants Pass, Happy Valley, Hillsboro, Keizer, Medford, Oregon City, Sherwood, Springfield, Troutdale, Tualatin and Wood Village voted to sue the state over its new rules. Marion County also joined the lawsuit, the only county government to do so.

    … Local officials who have opposed the rules say they are too prescriptive and stepped on the authority of local governments while exceeding the scope of state authority.”


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