In our continued coverage of the actions and aspirations of Hillsboro leaders, we bring you a New Year update on what is happening in the North Hillsboro area. Now, let’s be clear. This area below, shown in red, is NOT land that is in Hillsboro. This is land that is NOT in the urban growth boundary. This land is still considered prime farmland in the Rural Reserves, which is to say it was not planned to come in anytime soon. But last year, the State of Oregon Joint Committee on Semiconductors, led by Hillsboro Senator Janeen Sollman and others, held hearings and found a way to identify Hillsboro as the primary recipient of massive growth in future semiconductor and industrial land expansions. To be clear, I am pro-jobs all the way. But I am also a lifetime resident of Hillsboro and believe we citizens have a right to continue to live here in safety and without health and environmental compromises. That is not what is happening with these new proposals.
Have a look at the map below. The massive INTEL Ronler Acres Fab, Hillsboro’s, and the State of Oregon’s largest employment facility is in the upper right corner. To the left of that and below is the rest of the industrial areas developed so far in Hillsboro, which have created tens of thousands of jobs. This process has taken many years. But things are accelerating quicker now. Intel has just applied for a Major Source permit to expand that facility and double the amount of carbon and other environmental output they produce- some of which can be extremely dangerous to humans- that is not debated by anyone.
In green are some approximate parcels in Jackson East that the City just voted to purchase. The area is a highly contested one that Hillsboro leadership rezoned to Industrial in the past three years, effectively forcing people off of their mini-farms. In December, the City approved using funds from the North Hillsboro Urban Renewal District to buy out some of these owners. Over 200 acres and about 25 landowners will decide to leave their homes soon or to stay and live amongst chemical plants and chip fabs. Those buyouts are ongoing this year as city leaders work to clean up the mess they created by this forced rezoning. In the name of jobs, these people have to go- that is pretty much the way this all went down.
Now shown in red is the massive land area that Sollman and her Senate crew found a way to bring into play through the Senate Bill 4 Chips Act. Of course, the landowners were heavily involved with Sollman. They also held meetings with Mayor Callaway, Councilwoman Pace, Washington County Commissioners, and everyone who could be influenced to help make this decision to get them rezoned. Do I blame them? Hell no- we are talking about land values that sit at $20K per acre that will explode to $500-700K per acre should the rezoning come. This is billions in potential upside. But when money comes and opportunity knocks, it seems everyone throws out all other reasonable concerns. Our City economic development team is pursuing or has obtained agreements to study the development conditions and lands within the redline. This is a move to ready it for new industry players and to see if the land can be sold this next year to new employers using Chips Act funding. Look for news to break by mid-year on some major announcements.
Concerns I have, and many others do too:
- The Blue Dots on the photo are schools- do we really want Fabs and Chemical plants adjacent to them? I say no.
- Jackson School, Jones Farm, Fishback Creek, and many of our finest housing stock and neighborhoods are all adjacent to this area. Putting fabs and chemical facilities will harm these neighborhoods and the values there.
- This area should be available for expanding our housing. There is no finer place nor easier place to extend services and roads- and US 26 is 2 minutes to the North. That will all disappear when and if these lands are expanded onto.
- The farmland is valuable. That is without question. But if that has to change, these proposed Industrial uses are not what should be here.
The Reality Is-
The bottom line is that the current leadership of the City has agreed that this is what we are doing. I do not see that they have any right or obligation to go outside our city limits and actively try to grow our town. Jobs at all costs and above all else is no way to grow a town. And why do the people of Hillsboro have to continue carrying the load of these new industrial users? Industries that we now know use the majority of all of our water and power and whose workers flood our roads every morning and evening.
One brave person, Councilwoman Kipperlyn Sinclair, recently voted NO on a council action to approve the expansion of the North Hillsboro Urban Renewal District and its 300 Million dollar funding increase. That seemed to shock Mayor Callaway, Pace, and others. I know for a fact that this NO vote was the first one in years at City Council. That should concern all of us. Sinclair’s vote was driven by her concerns that there have been no environmental impact studies as to what this massive industry growth will do to us and our Hillsboro. She is right; others could have listened to her but did not have the guts to do it.
2023 – The Mayor And The City Power Players Pushed The Legislature For Massive Land Expansions Outside Hillsboro
The Herald tracked Mayor Callaway and other City Staff as they charged the Capital with an all-out plan to grab up thousands of acres to our North. See Dan Dias, Hillsboro Community Development and Economic Development Director, stump for inclusion of these lands in front of the Joint Committee On Semiconductors. He wants it all in to promote it worldwide! Caught in the crosshairs are the children and people of Hillsboro who will not have a voice in this matter. Mayor Callaway actually went out of his way to insist that the legislature deny citizens their right under Oregon Law to appeal such massive expansion decisions- and he was successful in that effort.
See Mayor Callaway’s letter to the State right here- Mayor Callaway Letter to State Semiconductor Panel– Below is an excerpt from that letter.
The fact is we are the masters of our destiny.
But we are screwed until enough of us stand up and call out political and financial manipulations, lack of transparency, back door deals, and this foolish blind faith that our leaders have in that we can triple our industrial land base and not pay the price.
Some new leadership is needed in Hillsboro. The current group has proven they can spend money and pass a lot of new ordinanaces. But we need more open discussion and discourse on these life-changing matters. As it is, Council members will not respond to emails or questions, and while we can all get our 3 minutes at Council meetings, they will never respond or engage us. That tells us something is wrong. I know all of these folks, and they are good people. Having said that, none of them are exercising their voices or elected powers to stop high-level staff members in the city government from running these catastrophic policies and agendas. Sinclair tried, and I hope she keeps trying. Alcaire and Martin need to stand up soon, and I hope they do. So far, it has been crickets or words with not much action.
In my view and opinion, they are not proving they can adequately lead us into the future- at least not a future where we can maintain our quality of life as we have known it. I love our town and all we have, and I am not afraid to speak up. In doing so, I have paid a price in many ways and am blackballed on all fronts by our City. The walls are up; you will pay if you fight that fortress on 1st and Main. But in doing so, you will gain a great deal. I encourage you to raise your hands and your voices and be involved. I encourage you to help protect our Hillsboro. Let me know if you are with me! Dirkknudsen@gmail.com
I know our kids and grandkids deserve it, and I assure you I am planning to do more. Not less.
Happy New Year everyone!