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Friends of North Plains and CPO-8
Objections to Periodic Review Work Products 1 and 2

Work Product #1 Objections

Work Product #2 Objections

(Cover Letter)

June 26, 2001


Periodic Review Specialist


635 Capitol St., NE Suite 150

Salem OR 97301

Dear Sir or Madam:

Enclosed please find objections to the submitted Work Products and Final Findings for the City of North Plains Periodic Review Tasks 1 and 2.

As representatives of Friends of North Plains and CPO-8, we participated in the 1997 North Plains Neighbor City Study which was funded through the state’s TGM program and has been used as the starting point for the city’s current Periodic Review process. Since the conclusion of the study, we have continued to attend meetings of the North Plains Planning Commission and City Council as well as the majority of work sessions and public hearings that have led to the Work Products and Final Findings under consideration. At these meetings, we have presented both written and verbal comments, including the letters dated 3/99 and 10/27/99 that are attached to these objections.

Although each organization’s Steering Committee has reviewed and approved the enclosed objections, they may not necessarily represent the views of all members of the organizations because a vote of members has not been taken.




James C. Just Brian Beinlich
Friends of North Plains Representative CPO-8 Representative
503 647-5023 503 647-2163
fonp@aol.com beinlich@rdrop.com



Objections (10 pages)

March, 1999 letter (13 pages)

Metro 2017 TAZ Allocations (8 pages)

October 27, 1999 letter (10 pages)

2000 US Census Data – North Plains (1 page)



Objections to Proposed North Plains Periodic Review

Work Product #1


Objection: We object to Executive Summary item #2 which states:

"The City of North Plains shall base their 2020 and 2040 population projections, for planning purposes on the Neighbor City Study and will revise the estimates once every two years from Portland State University’s Center for Population Studies Census."


    1. Executive Order 97-22 mandates that DLCD use State of Oregon Administration Service’s Office of Economic Analysis (OEA) data in coordination with counties to plan and implement programs and activities. While EO 97-22 does not specifically mention cities in Periodic Review, DLCD’s extensive involvement with Washington County and North Plains in coordinating a population projection obligates them to establish OEA’s most recent projections as the basis for a coordinated projection, particularly when guiding Washington County’s position.
    2. The Neighbor City (TGM) Study’s population projections are not based on OEA data. Because EO 97-22 was issued after the Study was completed, the Study’s methods and conclusions must be revised to comply with current law if they are to be used as the basis for Periodic Review.
    3. The TGM Study’s population projections were intended for use in the study only. The final report contains a specific reference to the applicability of the population projections on page 15, which states "It is important to emphasize that the forecasts are for study purposes only." (emphasis added)
    4. The 2000 United States census, which can be viewed as the "final word" on population, became available prior to the adoption of these findings. The census enumerated a North Plains population of 1605, which is significantly lower than the Portland State estimate for 1999 (of 1755).
    5. We assert that basing population projections on the TGM Study contradicts the provisions of Executive Order 97-22. It also contradicts the stated intent of the Study itself.

      We also believe that the City should use the most accurate figures available. Census data is inherently more factual than population projections. Therefore, we believe the City should base its population projections on the 2000 US census data. Ignoring the lower 2000 census figure would have the effect of drastically overstating any potential need for a future UGB expansion.

      We have numerous objections to the Study’s population projections themselves, which are discussed in greater detail in our objections to Work Product #2. Those objections are incorporated herein by this reference.

      Recommended change: We request that the city be directed to develop population projections that use the 2000 US Census as the baseline and that future trends be based on the most recent OEA projections for Washington County and the State of Oregon.



      Objection: We object to Executive Summary item #14, which states:

      "The City of North Plains will expand the availability of attached housing and shall encourage a minimum of 25% of the total new housing types be attached housing."


    6. The TGM Study adopted a rate of 50% attached housing (see North Plains Neighbor City Study, p. 17).
    7. The city did not adopt any specific findings in support of a change to 25% attached housing.
    8. Recommended change: We request that the 50% rate be reinstated.



      Objections to Proposed North Plains Periodic Review

      Work Product #2 and Final Findings


      Objection: The adopted population projections do not meet the requirements of current law and lack an adequate factual basis.

      Facts: In addition to the issues raised in our Work Product #1 objections, included herein by reference, we find the following errors in Work Product #2 and Final Findings:

    9. The adopted population projections are not based on the most accurate figures available to the City, and therefore lack an adequate factual basis.
    10. The Work Product uses a 1999 population estimate for North Plains (1755) that is significantly larger than the official 2000 census (1605) (see attached 2000 census data). Extrapolating, the Work Product assumes a year 2000 population of 1836 (1755 + 4.6%), which overstates the baseline city population by 231 or 14.4% of the official 2000 census population. Correcting this error over the 20-year planning period reduces the 2020 population estimate (by 557 persons) to 3193.

    11. The adopted population projections are not based on OEA projections for Washington County.
    12. Under the provisions of Executive Order 97-22, DLCD is obligated to promote the use of OEA projections by Washington County in their coordination efforts with the city. In coordination meetings with the county, city, and consultants, DLCD did not recommend the OEA projections as the starting point of coordination. Instead, DLCD has instructed the city to use the TGM study as a basis for Periodic Review (see the March 15th, 2000 letter from Don Otterman to Brent Curtis, among others).

      In a letter dated April 10, 2000 to Brent Curtis and Don Otterman, DLCD Portland Metro Area Regional Representative Meg Fernekees made a specific attempt to bring the County and City together on a method for agreeing on a 20-year population projection. However, she erred by not insisting that OEA projections be the basis of that coordination. Any agreement resulting from this process is therefore flawed.

      Note also that the OEA projections for Washington County have been revised downward since the Study’s population projections were adopted. (See March 1999 FoNP letter.)

    13. The Findings and Work Product erroneously assume that the TGM Study provided a 20-year growth rate independent of any specific number or year.
    14. The growth rate adopted at the time of the Study was for the period 1995-2015 only. The full correspondence between the County and the City indicates that during the TGM Study, Washington County specifically agreed only to the set number (3000) in the year 2015 and to nothing beyond. At no time during the conduct of the Study was the idea of a rolling 20-year growth rate discussed, much less adopted.

      Furthermore, Study documents clearly state that all decisions arrived at during the Study apply only to the Study. The Study authors go to great lengths to point this out, noting it in two different places:

      "It is important to emphasize that the forecasts are for study purposes only." (p. 15)

      "The population and employment forecasts were adopted for study purposes only. It is important to note that they are subject to refinement as the city updates its comprehensive plan in coordination with Washington County." (p. 25, emphasis in original)

      Despite contrary contentions in the Findings, consensus in the context of the Study does not constitute Study participants’ support for use of Study conclusions for Periodic Review.

      The one exception may be the City, which under the terms of Work Product #1 (convergence) may be obligated to adopt Study findings in the absence of findings that support other conclusions.

    15. The Work Product and Findings overstate the rate of growth for North Plains during the 1990s by arbitrarily omitting the data for an entire year.
    16. Table 2 on page 5 of the Findings calculates growth rates for several time periods. To arrive at these rates, the following calculations were performed:

      1979 pop. / 1969 pop. = 715 / 757 = -5.5%

      1989 pop. / 1979 pop. = 1080 / 715 = 51%


      To be consistent, the next calculation should have been:

      1999 pop. / 1989 pop. = 1755 / 1080 = 62.5%


      Instead, the calculation that was made was:

      1999 pop. / 1990 pop. = 1755 / 972 = 80.5%


      Note the use of 1990 instead of 1989, which omits the change in population between July 1989 and July 1990. The result is that the final ratio was overstated by 28.8%:

      (80.5 – 62.5) / 62.5 = 28.8%

      It should be pointed out that this overstatement is even greater when the difference between the adopted 1999 population estimate (1755) and the actual year 2000 census (1605) is considered. Relying on an overstated growth rate creates an artificial land need, which leads to the unnecessary conversion of resource lands to urban uses, in violation of Goal 3. Overstated growth rates do not constitute an adequate factual basis, as required by Goal 2 and Goal 14 factor 1.

    17. The Study’s projections were partly justified by invalid assumptions about the study area.
    18. Documentation in the Study’s technical appendix indicates that the Traffic Analysis Zones ("TAZs") used for the study’s projections were #268 & #270. The correct TAZs for North Plains are #269 and 270. See also the FoNP March 1999 letter.

      TAZ #270 contains a very large area outside the City of North Plains. A memo from Leland Consulting Group dated November 18, 1996 finds that the Study’s projections could be supported only if all future growth assumed for the TAZ took place inside the City. Since this TAZ contains an enormous area (Pumpkin Ridge, Mountaindale, Dixie Mountain. etc.), it is reasonable to assume that all growth will not be limited to North Plains. This has indeed been the case– a significant number of homes have been built in areas outside the City since the memo was written.

    19. The Work Product cites erroneously calculated Metro TAZ data. It then uses the miscalculated data as a basis for dismissing it.
    20. Page 9 of the Work Product states that the Metro TAZ data is unreliable because it shows a 2017 population for North Plains that is lower than its actual 1999 population. (Please note that this assumption in the Work Product must also be viewed in light of the discrepancies discussed in items 1 and 4 above).

      This turns out to be the result of two errors on the Metro summary page provided in the Work Product. Examining the supporting data listed by TAZ (which was omitted from the Work Product, but is attached to this letter) reveals that the summary page figures appear to be obtained by adding projections for the wrong TAZs.

      The population figure obtained by adding the data for TAZ 268 and 269 is 1683, which appears to have been mistakenly entered as 1643 on the summary page. However, North Plains is located in TAZ 269 and 270. Adding the projections for these TAZs gives 4724. As discussed in the previous item, these TAZs contain significant rural areas in addition to the city. Thus, this projection will be higher than for the city alone.

      The Findings dismiss the Metro data as irrelevant because of these errors. In fact, the corrected data provides further evidence that the Work Product’s population projections are too high.

      In addition, Metro has refined TAZ data to city-specific projections in another document. Dennis Yee of Metro’s Data Resource Center provided this data to Friends of North Plains, who presented it to the City in March 1999 (see the 3/99 FoNP letter). Despite starting with an inflated year 2000 population for the City (2747), Metro projects a 2020 population of 3139, indicating that Metro expects growth rates for the City to be much lower than the TGM Study assumed.

    21. The Findings fail to take into account the disparity in the size of the data sets under consideration when comparing the growth rate of North Plains to that of Washington County.
    22. The addition of a given number of people to the City, when expressed as a growth rate, will inevitably be much larger than the growth rate obtained by adding the same number to the County. The simple math of the situation dictates that the relationship of the City’s growth to the County’s growth will be overstated. Such comparisons are only valid when the two base populations are more similar, such as when comparing Hillsboro’s growth rate with that of Washington County.

      As in item 3 above, this invalid comparison is used to justify a larger growth rate, which results in an artificially large population projection.

    23. The Findings cite DLCD V. Douglas County, 37Or LUBA (LUBA no. 98-119 November 11, 1999) in support of the City’s decision to base population projections on the recent 10 year trend. This citation does not apply to population projections.
    24. The quote provided on p. 7 of the Findings actually comes from a section of the decision concerned with employment projections, not population projections. Just one paragraph prior to the quote provided in the Findings, the logic behind the conclusion quoted is explained:

      "In essence, the County argues that it can reasonably rely upon recent employment data as a true indicator of the County’s long-term growth potential and need not take into account historical data from the 1980s when the county had a much less diversified economy based on the troubled timber industry."

      To paraphrase, LUBA found that when choosing between long-term and short-term trends, it is reasonable to rely on the trend that offsets mitigating factors that would otherwise skew the data.

      The question for North Plains is whether it is the long-term or short-term growth trends that exhibit analogous anomalies.

      As the following chart comparing growth in North Plains to growth in Washington County reveals, there were two anomalous years of growth in the City during the 1990s:


      North Plains growth

      Wash. County growth

      % N. Plains/Wash. Co.






































      The most striking anomaly is that in the year the city experienced its largest growth (1995-96), the county as a whole had its lowest growth for the 9-year period. Also, the city’s second largest gain was in a year that tied for 3rd lowest growth in the county (1996-97). These two years alone skew the data over the 9-year time frame enough to question the validity of using it for long-term projections.

      Three trends also converged in the late 1980s and early 90s to create unusual growth in North Plains. One is the fact that the City had recently completed a sanitary sewer system, which allowed for the partitioning of parcels that previously needed to be large enough to accommodate septic system drain fields. Second, the forest products industry began to recover (recall that Oregon-Canadian Forest Products is the largest employer in the city). And third, the final large vacant parcel in the city’s UGB was developed, which roughly corresponded to the "bubble" of growth seen in 1995-97.

      In our opinion, the City erred by inadequately considering these factors and by not considering other longer-term trends that may have mitigated them. The nature of an appropriate trend was suggested by DLCD in Oregon Planning Bulletin #98-1 (Feb. 20, 1998), which states:

      "A city updating its forecast will need to coordinate with its county officials to decide what part of the county’s growth should be forecast for the city. The city’s share of past growth is likely to be the starting point for such coordination. For example, if a city had contained ten percent of a county’s total population for several decades, then ten percent of the growth projected for the entire county might be forecast for that city. But if local officials knew that a big new computer chip plant soon would bring many new jobs to that city, they might forecast 12 or 15 percent of the county’s future growth for that city."

      The historical relationship between North Plains’ and Washington County’s populations is represented below. 1970 was chosen as the starting point because it was the first U.S. census year after the City was incorporated. The 2000 column is official US census data.







      North Plains





      Washington County





      NP % of County






      This chart demonstrates that North Plains’ population has historically been about 0.35% of Washington County’s population. It is reasonable to assume that limiting factors in the 1970s and 1980s, including lack of services (most notably sanitary sewer service) and economic downturns depressed this level. Alleviation of these limiting factors allowed for unprecedented growth in the city during the 1990s, which returned the city’s population to its historical relationship with the county’s population. Page 8 of the Work Product refers to this relationship between North Plains and Washington County. In choosing to look at only the short-term trend, the Work Product misses the true relevance of this ratio.

      Applying the logic of DLCD v. Douglas County cited above, it is appropriate to use a ratio of 0.35% of Washington County’s projected population to set the base projection for North Plains because it mitigates anomalies present in the shorter-term trend adopted by the City. Using the latest OEA projections for Washington County (598,800 -- January 1997) results in a 2020 population projection of 2156, in contrast to the adopted projection of 3750.

    25. The City’s Findings and Work Product make the case that a higher growth rate is appropriate because of the city’s location proximate to Washington County’s "silicon forest" and the jobs projected to be created there. In doing so, the City contradicts the very heart of the reasoning behind the city’s designation as a "neighboring city" and the purpose of the TGM study.
    26. North Plains was designated a Neighboring City, and was awarded a grant to conduct the Neighbor City Study, specifically in order to avoid overlapping planning efforts which would cause both the City and Metro to capture the same jobs and population in their separate plans. However, when making the case for faster growth in North Plains on p.9 of the Findings, the City states:

      "The diverse jobs of the digital economy focused in Washington County and are [sic] located proximately to the City – well within 5-7 miles of the City are a substantial number of interesting family wage jobs and the trend is for such jobs to continue to located in this area, nearby the City."

      The City errs when it fails to recognize that these jobs and the attendant growth in population they may create fall under Metro’s jurisdiction. Their plan to achieve a jobs/housing balance within the Metro boundary accommodates this increase in high-tech jobs and its associated population.

      By making the argument that these jobs support population growth in the City of North Plains, the Findings undermine the coordinated planning goals of the TGM study.

      More importantly, this very issue was addressed the last time North Plains planned to expand its UGB. In 1000 Friends of Oregon v. City of North Plains, 27 Or LUBA 372, 378 (1994) LUBA found

      "[T]he challenged decision’s Goal 14 need analysis is flawed because it relies, in large part, upon growth otherwise planned to occur within the Metro UGB, of which the city is not a part. It is impermissible for one local government, such as the city, unilaterally to decide to capture growth otherwise planned to occur within another planning jurisdiction."

      This is not to say that no one who fills one of these new jobs inside the Metro UGB will choose to live in North Plains. But for planning purposes, it is reasonable to assume that such jobs/housing crossover will work both ways– some will choose to live in North Plains and work inside the Metro UGB and some will choose to live inside the Metro boundary and work in North Plains. However, it clearly demonstrates that the City should not look at activity outside TAZ 269 and 270 when projecting employment and population growth.

    27. The city erred when it adopted a household size of 2.5 persons.

    While we accept that the City is not bound to the figure in its current comprehensive plan, the Work Product and Findings offer no projections for household size specific to the City, despite the fact that these projections have been developed by Metro.

    As discussed above, in making its decision to disregard Metro data, the City failed to utilize significant resources. The data provided to FoNP by Dennis Yee in March 1999 projects the North Plains Household size to be 2.77 persons per household in the year 2020.

    Significantly, this is essentially the same ratio indicated by the City’s data in Work Product #3. In 1999, the city contained 637 housing units and 1755 residents yielding a ratio of 2.75 persons per household. Assuming a 5% vacancy rate, as the TGM Study did, the population could be accommodated by 605 units, yielding a ratio of 2.9 persons per household.

    The Findings cite data indicating that the Portland Metro Area can expect an aging population over the next 20 years and thus assumes the city will have a diminishing household size. The Findings cite no data specific to the city. Nothing in the Work Product or the Findings acknowledges that North Plains already has a significant senior citizen population and has attracted senior residents through the construction of 2 large senior housing projects.

    Given the relatively small population of the city, it is reasonable to assume that these senior housing projects have a significant impact on the City’s average household size. There is no reason to believe, and the City adopted no findings to support, the claim that an aging population will affect North Plains to the same extent as the Portland Metro Area in general. This is especially true in light of the city’s intention to create a city "where children stay instead of leave" to raise their families.

    The 2000 census figures establish the actual current household size:

    1605 persons / 594 occupied households = 2.7 persons/household

    Given that the studies cited above are projecting even larger household sizes, we consider 2.7 to be an appropriate minimum household size.

    In summary, we contend:

      1. that the work project’s population baseline of 1755 in the year 1999 seriously overstates the actual population as enumerated by the year 2000 census,
      2. that, as stated in our objections to Work Product #1, using unrefined TGM Study population projections conflicts with the provisions of Executive Order 97-22,
      3. that several flaws exist in the process by which the population projections contained in Work Product #2 were derived,
      4. that the Work Product and Findings contain significant errors that misrepresent facts and overstate the potential for population growth in the city, in violation of Land Use Goals 2 and 3,
      5. that the adopted growth rate, based on employment growth that is planned to occur inside the Metro UGB, violates Goal 14,
      6. that supporting TAZ documentation was incomplete and misinterpreted, and
      7. that elements of the Work Product were adopted without adequate specific findings in support of the conclusions.

    We believe that these flaws result in artificially inflated population projections that lack the adequate factual basis required by Land Use Goal 2. We also believe that these projections do not comply with Goal 2’s coordination requirement and Goal 3’s requirement that the city "preserve and maintain agricultural lands".

    Recommended changes:

      1. The City should be directed to base all population projections on the 2000 census population of 1605.
      2. The City should be directed to further revise its population projections in conjunction with Washington County.
      3. This revision should be based on the most recent OEA projections for Washington County and the State of Oregon.
      4. The revised projections should maintain the historical level of North Plains’ population in relation to Washington County (.35%).
      5. The City should be directed to limit planning for future economic activity to TAZs 269 & 270.
      6. The City should be directed to revise its year 2020 household size projection to reflect, as a minimum, the current household size of 2.7 and other data and findings specific to the city.
      7. No year 2040 population projection should be adopted unless specifically endorsed by Washington County.


    (End of document)

    This page created 2001-08-28.

    Last modified 2005-10-04.

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