Clearly, yes. And it is a very undesirable type and rate of growth.
In a recent The Columbian article, former County Commissioner Craig Pridemore was quoted as having said, “You’ve got developers who are fine with this. You’ve got a population, from my perspective, who is fine with this. … Is there a community voice saying ‘Stop this’? No, not from what I hear.”
Nothing could be further from the truth! There are tens of thousands of registered voters and residents in the county who are vehemently opposed to the rate and volume of residential development being facilitated by the county. These residents are making every attempt to be vocal and have their opposition heard. They are largely being ignored.
These residents are primarily Clark County’s rural property homeowners whose land is predominantly zoned R5 (minimum 5 acres per lot) or lesser density designations including agricultural. These home and property owners number approximately 105,000 residents according to 2010 census data and 78,0432 registered voters in Councilor District 4, according to the county’s website.
As a member of one of the county’s largest rural neighborhood associations, I have personally met with and heard from hundreds of these rural residents over the past several months. While not all of them share the same views on the subject, the vast majority of them are alarmed at how this growth is encroaching on their rural lifestyle and ruining their quality of life.
Schools are getting overcrowded, rural roads once lightly traveled are becoming heavily traveled, and arterial roads to I-5 and I-205 are dramatically more congested than they were just a couple of years ago. The county is allowing high-density development to occur on the outer edge of the urban growth boundary at the rural-urban interface instead of forcing in-fill of such housing towards urban city boundaries. This negatively impacts the lifestyle of rural residents and is also contrary to principles found in the Growth Management Act.
For those who think plentiful housing is somehow the solution to unaffordable housing and the homeless crisis, think again. In the long-term, the root cause of unaffordable housing has very little to do with supply and demand. It has everything to do economic injustice.
The residential development “land grab” happening in the county is reminiscent of the robber baron days of the late 19th century. Left unchecked, it will further deteriorate the quality of life of all county residents with the worst impact being felt by the county’s rural residents. At this rate, in a few short years there will be relatively little rural residential living left in the county, and what is left won’t be worth living in. Slow it down.