On June 2, the West Linn Council approved the regulatory streamlining project. This project is one of the foundational pieces to lay the groundwork for solid economic development in West Linn.
About West Linn:
- We are a vibrant community that wants commercial options.
- Within today’s code, we have burdened applicants with unnecessary requirements, applications, processes, and review.
- It’s the Council’s job to represent EVERYONE – and that includes business owners and developers – not just residential property owners.
About Economic Development:
- Economic development has been a City Council goal for years.
- Starting in 2009 with the Economic Development Task Force, and through the last two years I have been on council with it being the top council goal each year. It is, however, not just our goal.
- Based on a 2012 community survey, it was also the top goal for our residents — tied with financial management.
- We all want a vibrant City with choices — choices to shop, eat, and other general services.
- The Council action tonight is only one tool in our toolbox. We can and should be doing more.
- Business retention and recruitment also needs to be our priority. In the near future, I’d like to see this Council put into action an “economic SWAT” team to give struggling businesses help and recruit ones that residents would like to have. The fastest way to create economic development is to cultivate the businesses that already call West Linn home.
- We have the 2nd highest home-based businesses per capita in Oregon. While some are lifestyle businesses that will never grow out of the confines of the home, others like Dalghren Socks, are looking for that next phase and wanting to expand their presence. Proactively working with these companies will make our economic development goals easier.
About Small Businesses:
- Let’s not forget what our general business makeup is in West Linn – small businesses.
- These are typically owned by a single owner or family based businesses.
- They are the very business that will lead the economic recovery, give our children summer jobs, and fill in the gaps in our needs so we don’t have to drive to other cities as often.
- Many of these owners make large gambles when they decide to open or start their business.
- They invest their savings and retirement accounts, and wonder, will anyone come and be my customer?
- Over the past several years, we have all seen more and more of these businesses fail, commercial spaces all over town have gone dark and local jobs lost.
- It has been said that West Linn is the town where businesses come to fail.
- This councilor is dedicated to change that.
- I want to give that family that has that dream and vision the tools to succeed.
- When they succeed jobs are created and residents have choices to spend their money locally.
- It pains me that great ideas – like the Youth Music Project, or the Teen Center, talk about barriers they faced trying to make their dreams a reality.
- We need to encourage business development – not hinder it.
About Land Use:
- Yes, ‘economic development’ has the word development in it.
- It’s no secret that our development opportunities are limited as we approach build-out.
- But there will be ample opportunities for re-development.
- Is this bad?
- Whether it is development or re-development, it’s easy to understand why West Linn has a bad reputation when it comes to small business development and retention.
- I want this to change. Small businesses bring jobs to our local economy.
- Workers spend money in our stores, buy goods and services, create supplier opportunities and later create a vibrant community that others want to move to.
- These are signs of a healthy community.
- It’s “Economic Development 101” – heads in beds means a healthy, stable economy.
- We can’t fight development if want our local businesses to succeed.
- But we can provide a predictable, understandable code that allows the type of development we want.
About Local Business Challenges:
- During the public hearing we heard from Dale Gibson.
- He simply wanted remodel an existing empty space in a established shopping center.
- The process he was required to go through was ludicrous and regrettable and the fees were simply unjustifiable.
- It has been said before, government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.
- I am here to say I am sorry and we are going to fix this tonight.
About De Novo Vs. On The Record:
- It is time to change our land use cases to on the record.
- The de novo process has created more confusion for residents.
- The application is never “locked in” and residents are scrambling to keep up with changes and are simply behind the curve.
- Locking in the application early will give everyone a fair playing field to read, understand, and argue the applications as they are presented to the Planning Commission or City Council.
- Appeals are then streamlined to specifics within the decision criteria and honor those who participated during the public hearing.
- When I ran for council, economic development was my top priority. Residents welcomed more businesses to shop and employment opportunities. This action tonight will help fulfill my promises to our community.