What belongs in an Employment District?
That's kind of like asking, "Who's buried in Grant's tomb?" It's hard to take such an obvious question or the person asking it seriously.
"You're kidding, aren't you?"
I attended a neighborhood association meeting Thursday night where a city planner came to talk to the group about what is going on with the planning effort for the Southwest Employment Area. I have been at almost all of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee meetings, but I wanted to hear if anything had changed since the last meeing in August.
In previous posts I have discussed which business types have the most employees per square foot, which ones have the highest paid employees, and which types of land use result in highest property taxes. There are a couple of trifectas in the group, but the city needs to define its goals for the area before the planners and consultants put together their draft plan. Maybe the public can help with that. (Attend SAC meetings, participate at the upcoming Open House (date TBD), send your comments to the Planning Commission and the City Council.)
The bent nail in this board is the subject of putting housing in an employment district. Haing a place close by for people who work in the district to live is reasonable, but no part of LO is very far away so this reasoning falls flat.
How much commercial or mixed use should be allowed in the SWEA?
From METRO website:
Employment areas include a mix of employment uses. They may feature higher concentrations of office and retail businesses. Retail businesses in these areas primarily serve workers nearby. This distinguishes employment areas from neighborhood business districts and other commercial areas that serve both nearby residents and visitors.
Metro places some limits on types of retail uses cities and counties may allow in employment areas; its goal is to ensure these retail uses are appropriate in type and size to serve needs of businesses, employees and residents of these areas.
Housing doesn't employ very many people. In fact I can't think of any business other than self-storage that employees fewer people per acre. Housing does not qualify as employment in an employment district, so why is housing being considered?
The planner suggested that some day in the future there could be housing in the Kruse Way Employment District sprinkled among office buildings. Huh? I can't imagine that office workers or apartment dwellers would enjoy this arrangement. Just how urban are planners and real estate brokers and developers willing to take us?
A major rationale for combining employment, housing and retail in one area is to create a compact, walkable Transit Oriented Development (TOD). If one assumes Metro's Southwest Corridor high-capacity transit system ever comes to fruition and goes to Tualatin (Bridgeport is being discussed as a station), the SWEA could easily become a TOD with transit close by. And Kruse Way is just a skip over the freeway from the Tigard Triangle which will also be served by the SW Corridor transit line.
Due to limited lands, building capacity (height, square footage) will bs restricted since the bigger the building, the more parking is needed. Parking will still drive how intensely the land can be used.
Will light industrial still have a place in the district? Industrial land is the meat and potatoes of a town, but everyone goes for the dessert. What do you think should happen in the Emplpyment
District? It isn't so easy to answer is it? Unless you have your priorities set.
I can't wait to see how they plan to fund the district.