If 1% of you, our readers, follow the City Council, I would be surprised. It is a bewildering thing to attempt, as there is just so much going on. And a lot of what is happening is highly technical and would take significant reading and investment for anyone to really dig in and get it. The November 15th, 2022, Hillsboro City Council meeting is just one example.
Tonight alone, there 17 action items happening. Everything from Zone Changes and Annexations to new financial contracts and employment policies. I try to review things that are happening a few days ahead of time and submit comments or concerns on what I can. Now and again, a few people do come and support proposals. A few will come and express concerns or reservations. For those seeking changes to what is proposed, it is crucial to point out inconsistencies or arguments that take issue with what the City staff is presenting.
From the City of Hillsboro Website Calender, where all upcoming meeting agenda items can be reviewed, there is this item 7.1. The City is seeking to revise its Economic Opportunity Analysis. Tonight this massive update (270 plus pages) is being brought forth as Ordinance 6249, and it is being given a first reading before the Council and will likely pass in two weeks.
|Hillsboro Comprehensive Plan Update-003-22: Hillsboro EOA: Consider
Planning Commission’s recommendation to adopt an ordinance approving an update to the Hillsboro Comprehensive Plan with an updated Economic Opportunities Analysis by reference, and declaring an emergency. Ordinance No. *6420 is available. (The ordinance was posted one week before the meeting according to Charter requirements and will be considered in one reading.)
Attached to item 7.1 is a 273-page analysis loaded with charts and graphs and a lot of information about this matter. More than any of you want to know. But it is very important because this Ordinance declares an emergency! What does that really mean? That terminology speaks to how quickly the city can pass things. And based on the fine print deep in this staff report there are notes that both METRO and the 1000 Friends of Oregon may be taking issue with aspects of this proposal.
The bottom line to this proposed Ordinance seems to be that Hillsboro is making a definitive case and statement that we have almost used up all of the lands we have zoned for jobs/industrial/manufacturing, and we need more. We apparently need more land for more factories, but do we really need to move fast? If Hillsboro is going to be ready to provide land for semi-conductor manufacturers and related industries and catch the massive benefits of the CHIPS For America ACT, we really do.
Ok, let’s look a little closer- from the City Report:
I. HILLSBORO EOA INTRODUCTION
This report provides an updated 2021 Economic Opportunities Analysis (EOA) for the City of
Hillsboro – addressing conditions of rapid employment growth in recent years including
changing conditions prior and subsequent to the 2020 COVID pandemic, together with an
associated land needs analysis. The updated EOA is part of a larger Comprehensive Plan update
process being undertaken by the City.
EOA BACKGROUND & PURPOSES
As with other cities throughout Oregon, an EOA is intended to serve two related purposes:
Clearly articulate community priorities for economic development over a 20+ year
planning horizon – for jobs, employment land needs, business and associated
Address requirements of Oregon Land Use Planning (Goal 9) and Metro regional
determinations of Urban Growth Boundaries (UGBs), as reviewed every six years
Our City staff at the Economic Development Department can use this updated EOA, being presented tonight, and the City Comprehensive Plan and the Hillsboro 2035 Community Plan, to make arguments in the near future and over time to support the facts that we are almost out of land for jobs and manufacturing. This document is so massive, with so many facets that it would take an expert days to interpret and report on. I am quite certain our City Council has a general idea of what it does but in no way understands the full scope.
Here is an excerpt from Exhibit D, Page 3 of 52 of the EOA:
Hillsboro is a regional job center with over 82,000 jobs across all sectors of its economy.
Hillsboro has been relentlessly focused on growing advanced manufacturing jobs over
the past 20 plus years due to the many economic benefits these jobs provide to
Hillsboroans and Oregonians. The results of a continued focus on policies and programs
supporting manufacturing is demonstrated by the fact that 1 in 4 jobs in Hillsboro are in
manufacturing, and 88% of these jobs are in high-tech manufacturing.
Hillsboro has continuously demonstrated the ability to plan for and deliver economic
benefit and stability to the region and the state, by providing an outsized share of the
Portland Metropolitan Region’s and the State of Oregon’s manufacturing base. In 2020,
Hillsboro accounted for over 13% of the manufacturing jobs in the State of Oregon.
Additionally, in 2020, Hillsboro represented 25% of the Portland Metropolitan Region’s
manufacturing employment, and over 50% of the Region’s high-tech manufacturing.
Hillsboro is also a major contributor to Washington County’s over 38,000 advanced
manufacturing jobs, which dwarfs the national average of 6,254 advanced manufacturingworkforce in an average area of our size based on EMSI data. Current data from EMSI
projects the sector to increase by 7% in Washington County and 9% in Hillsboro for the
period between 2021and 2026 (EMSI – Labor Market and Analytics Data, 2022).
Hillsboro is also the center of Oregon’s Silicon Forest with over 35,000 jobs in the
Computers and Electronics and Advance Manufacturing sectors. Hillsboro is one of the
world’s centers of semiconductor research and development, on par with international
centers of semiconductor research including Taiwan and South Korea. A remarkable
example is the Gordon Moore Research Campus at Intel’s Ronler Acres. This critical
semiconductor anchor creates over 1,000 patents a year, which alone is a level of research
and development that exceeds the total patent output of 21 U.S. states and is a major
reason why Oregon ranks 5th in the nation in patents per capita. The induced economic
impacts of this activity for Hillsboro, the Portland region, and the state cannot be
Recent policy efforts at the Federal and State level have provided attention and
momentum to the computer and electronics industry, one of Hillsboro’s top target
industries. The importance of this work to the State of Oregon, Portland Metropolitan
Region and the City of Hillsboro can be highlighted in the recent report published by the
Oregon Semiconductor Competitiveness Task Force, which was initiated and led by
Senator Ron Wyden, Governor Kate Brown, and Portland General Electric CEO Maria
Pope. Much of the economic opportunity highlighted in this work has not been accounted
for in this most recent Economic Opportunity Analysis update conducted by the City of
Hillsboro. The semiconductor industry expansion presents Hillsboro and Oregon with an
extraordinary opportunity to intentionally create the kind of jobs and investment the state
needs to emerge from the pandemic with a stronger and more deliberately equitable
The 2019 EOA was initiated because the City witnessed a noticeable increase in
industrial property absorption as suppliers to Hillsboro’s Computer and Electronics,
Advanced Manufacturing, and other target sectors including Software and Information
Technologies, expanded with strong growth in all these sectors and more. Additional
demand increases have also been noted in sectors such as freight and distribution, and
bio-technology leading to a reduced short-term supply of land, as well as, rapid
absorption of total land supply.
No mention of the fact that Data Centers have bought up the majority of all of the industrial land that the City had available for the manufacturing and high-tech jobs we are now being told we must have more land for. More on this in a future story.
This Ordinance has been in the works for a long time. You don’t just spit out facts and figures and maps like this and make these complex legal arguments without a lot of preparation. This new EOA and Ordinance started last year and continued to the Planning Commission earlier this year.
From Page 4 of 52 of Exhibit D- City of Hillsboro Packet-
This amendment to the Hillsboro Comprehensive Plan (HCP) Ordinance No. 6249, as
amended as defined by Hillsboro Community Development Code Section 12 is classified
as a legislative amendment as defined by Hillsboro Community Development Code
Section 12.070.060 (B).
The proposed amendments were initiated through approval of the Planning Commission
Order No. 8370 on May 11, 2022, acknowledging that due to changes in land use
activity, growth projections, future needs, an update of the Economic Opportunity
Analysis through a Minor Comprehensive Plan application process was appropriate to
maintain the Comprehensive Plan land use inventories.A public hearing before the
Planning Commission was scheduled for May 25, 2022, in accordance with CDC Section
That section in Red tells us what we need to know. This update is going to open the door to the next massive expansion, similar to the North Hillsboro Tech Park, or Jackson East Subarea A and B where people are being rezoned from residential to industrial regardless of what their desires are.
METRO, 1000 Friends of Oregon, and others are contesting some of the methodologies and conclusions in this new and updated EOA and the Ordinance that will likely follow. Hillsboro staff have answered all of the critiques and responded in kind. You can read all of that and more online in the document right here.
If you ever wonder, “how the heck did all of this happen so quickly” when you are driving in what used to be the Country, know that this is how it is done. It isn’t easy to be involved and understand things like this. More people need to watch and comment, or we get what we get. I expect this one Ordinance to be a crucial part to opening the gate for a very large land area to be identified as future Industrial and Manufacturing. I expect that to happen in the next 1 to 3 years. More on that to follow.
Right now, tonight, we wanted to report on this very important piece of City business in Hillsboro, Oregon.
If the City must grow the way we have been, we need this. But housing can not possibly keep up, nor can traffic and schools. So let’s all be mindful of this. We are a jobs town, even if we do not like it all the time. The City is moving very fast!