The future of Kezier starts now

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The Keizer City Council will hold a public hearing on Monday, May 20, to consider the proposed Economic Opportunities Analysis (EOA), Housing Needs Analysis (HNA) and revisions to the city’s Comprehensive Plan the two analyses would call for.

Everyone who lives or runs a business in Keizer has a stake in these documents.

The state-mandated analyses were completed by consultants and a citizen task force over the past year. The EOA and the HNA peers into the future and reports what the city land needs will be within the next 20 years.

The two studies state the city will  need an extra 253 acres of residential land and an extra 23 acres for commercial uses.  According to the  housing analysis and population estimates Keizer will grow to more than 48,000 people by 2033. That’s a lot of extra people to find living space for. The answer will be a combination of infill, redevelopment and expansion.

Infill development is exactly what it sounds like: filling in land, increasing density. When you see a house built behind another house, that’s infill.  When houses are built very close to each other, that’s infill. Infill is allowed by the city’s comprehensive plan. If the city and developers live by the letter of the HNA we very likely will see more houses and apartments squeezed into our neighborhoods.

Expected housing needs will not be met only by building more on the same amount of land but also redevelopment—replacing a single family house with apartments or multi-family housing. Those opposed to infill and high density in Keizer would support an expansion of the Urban Growth Boundary to the north, annexing that land and expanding the city’s borders.

All this in light of the fact that Keizer added just 20 people to its population last year.  Of course it’s an anomaly; Keizer is still one of the most desired addresses in the Willamette Valley. Which is why city planners and the city council must not forget about Keizer Compass, a citizen-driven report about Keizer’s future written in 2009.

The citizen advisory committee and its consultant developed a comprehensive view of what today’s residents think Keizer should be by 2030. A majority of current Keizer residents say that our city’s small-town atmosphere and quaintness is what makes it a great place to live. Keizer, its leadership and its citizens are doing something right when they can say a city with 37,000 people is a quaint small town.

Future population growth in Keizer will most likely come from those either moving into Oregon or people moving from the Portland metropolitan area seeking relief from congestion, taxes and traffic.

People will move where they want to and if they want to live in Keizer developers will find a way to get them in. The era of the large houses with large yards has waned. As the population ages homeowners will seek efficiency and convenience, not a large yard to mow.

If Keizer is to add thousands more people within the next two decades we should plan for a Keizer that looks different than it does now. There are examples of multiple-storied apartments, condominums and townhouses in the Portland area that are attractive and fit the needs of tomorrow’s homeowner. Rather than pushing out first into prime agricultural land, the city should be a leader in redeveloping parts of the core of Keizer, pushing for mixed used high-density development along River Road. There will always be houses with lawns for those who want that type of living.

Once the EOA and HNA are adopted the real work will begin of devising a plan for Keizer’s future. We have no choice but look at the future with contemporary eyes. To maintain the viability and sustainibility of Keizer we will have to put on our prognosticator glasses and peer into a future that we don’t know for certain, but it’s certain we can plan for any Keizer the future has in store for us.

—LAZ

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