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Build vertically, not horizontally

It can assumed that an overwhelming majority of Keizer residents don’t think about the growth of the city and where it should go. That’s as it should be. Citizens elect city councilors who hire the city manager and approve his choice for heads of the various city departments (known as city staff). The city council sets policy for the city and the city staff implements those policies.
The Community Development Department is overseeing discussions about Keizer’s future growth. The Housing Needs Analysis/Building Lands Inventory (HNA/BLI) Advisory Committee is the latest iteration of various bodies appointed by the city to discuss the way forward for expected growth over the next two decades. All these groups have been funded by grants from the state.
With the state, the city and various bodies talking about where Keizer will put its expected 10,000 new residents, there is not much reason for current residents to think too much about the issue. However, few issues have greater potential to divide the city. Some people don’t want to grow, some people want to expand the city limits, some people want to grow vertically.
Members of the public should understand that they, as citizens, can attend any subsequent meeting of any task force that is devising a recommendation for the city councilor to consider. Especially sensitive to these meetings should be those whose livelihoods or lifestyle could be affected by development.
There is much talk about splitting the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) Keizer shares with Salem. As a single UGB there is enough land inventory to satisfy land use mandates set by the state of Oregon. The problem is that Keizer has basically run out of room to grow. The state of Oregon says that Keizer must prepare for those additional 10,000 people; the city must also consider what kind of housing will be needed, from single family homes to multi-family residences (apartments) to manufactured homes.
Initial data shows that if the urban growth boundary is expanded north and Keizer annexes that land into city limits, the prices of houses built there would mostly be out of reach of current Salem-Keizer homeowners.
Keizer will continue to be a desired address due to our low tax rate and our schools. Unless the city wants to get into the developing business and become a land lord business, it will have to see to it that the table is set for the types of development that can meet the expected demand.
The city should look into zoning changes that will allow tall, mixed used buildings along River Road. Affordable housing units need to be part of any new development; it’s the city’s duty to assure that everyone can find a place to live in Keizer.
Being creative with development swaps and land swap, goverment can work with the private to build a Keizer for the future that benefits all concerned. (LAZ)