By Bob Terry
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While Washington County has the second highest population of any county in Oregon, we still have beautiful farmlands, forests and wetlands. We cannot, however, turn our back on the fact that in the last 10 years we have grown in population by just over 20%. There are over half a million people that call Washington County their home and that number is going to continue to increase – if current trends continue, we will soon catch and pass Multnomah County.
Many people here choose to live outside of cities – in what is called the unincorporated areas. While places like Multnomah County see a continuing decrease in citizens outside of cities (currently only about 12,000 live outside of cities in Multnomah County) here we are seeing a continuing increase in population in the unincorporated areas of Washington County – now well over 200,000 live outside the cities.
We must face facts as they are, not as some would like. Some imagine we can live in their idea of a Utopian Paradise. You are not going to find half the population of Washington County commuting on mass transit and bicycles.
Washington County Commissioners are going to have to balance increased transportation capacity, public services, employment opportunity and housing while preserving the pristine rural areas of the County. Maintaining a balance, with a growing population, is not an easy task and will only become more difficult in the future.
The citizens are facing a crucial vote on May 20th and must be careful not to place anybody in office that has a single-minded agenda. Washington County needs a balanced approach toward its inevitable growth.