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Damascus Residents Should Reject "Comprehensive Plan"

April 08, 2011 J

Governments create many mechanisms they can use to advance their own agendas and preserve and expand their little “kingdoms.” In the Portland area, one of the primary ways the regional government METRO does this is through the development by local jurisdictions of “Comprehensive Plans.” These documents essentially set in stone the policies the local government is going to implement in the future. Because they are lengthy and complicated processes (not to mention hard to understand for the layman) these plans are usually passed without much scrutiny. METRO knows this, and works with local jurisdictions to insert language that is bad for taxpayers and private property owners.

In the small, relatively new City of Damascus, however, the Comprehensive Plan is not being allowed to exist without public scrutiny. In that community, an AFP-affliated independent activist group called “Ask Damascus” has gathered signatures to refer the City’s Comprehensive Plan – passed in the dark of night late in 2010 – to the ballot in May as Measure 3-375. Given the huge fiscal impact the Damascus Comprensive Plan will have, citizens would be wise to educate themselves.

The Comprehensive Plan has created a tremendous amount of controversy. Just this month, the entire membership of the City’s Citizen Involvement Committee resigned in protest over the lack of public involvement in the Comprehensive Plan and other matters. City Council Diana Helm admitted in a City publication that the City had “forged ahead with the comprehensive plan with little citizen involvement.”

According to METRO, implementation of the Damascus Comprehensive Plan could cost more than $3 billion – yes, with a “b” – or about $500,000 per household. The City has no plan on how to collect such a large amount of money. City Councilor Randy Shannon admitted as much and called it “a political decision.” Councilor Shannon’s comment might remind one of Nancy Pelosi’s insistence that the Congress had to pass ObamaCare before anyone could know what was in it. How’s that working?

Since the City’s founding less than a decade ago, METRO has done its best to use Damascus as a laboratory for its most extreme experiments in government control. Damascus citizens, however, have shown little interest in serving as guinea pigs, passing several measures limiting government power. In May, they are likely to send another signal – $3 billion is too much to pay for a plan they were never even told was being developed or passed.

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