Good Planning Requires Reliable Forecasts: A Victory in Yamhill County

Solid research is required to achieve a proper balance of growth that allows for the right mix of jobs and housing opportunities, ensures efficient infrastructure investments, and protects the vital farmland and forestland that form the backbone of Oregon's economy. The Yamhill County Board of Commissioners wisely recognized this on Thursday, October 27, when they voted unanimously to reject an erroneous 20-year population forecast prepared by the City of Newberg.

 If approved, the forecast would have allowed Newberg to proceed with an aggressive urban growth boundary expansion. Because the flawed proposal included forecasts for every incorporated community in Yamhill County, it also would have facilitated excessive urban expansions in other communities for years to come.

However, the Board of Commissioners agreed with the testimony of 1000 Friends, our local affiliate Friends of Yamhill County, and other stakeholders, who emphasized that the forecast developed by Newberg was based on flawed data and assumptions with little historical justification, and would not withstand legal challenge.

The state requires that population forecasts use practices and standards of a high professional quality. The City of Newberg’s proposed forecast simply did not live up to this standard. (Click here to read 1000 Friends’ testimony to the Board of Commissioners, which outlines the many erroneous assumptions in the proposed population forecast.)

Fortunately, the County has an opportunity to develop a high-quality population forecast, to provide a more reliable assessment of present and future trends. The state Department of Land Conservation and Development recently awarded the County a $45,000 grant to hire a professional demographer to complete an accurate population forecast for Yamhill County and its cities. An accurate forecast will mean that each of Yamhill County’s cities will be better prepared to meet the needs of current and future residents for housing, jobs, parks, sidewalks, schools, and the other elements that make a “community.”  

After working very hard to make these points to the City and County throughout the process, 1000 Friends is grateful for the Board of Commissioners’ prudent decision. We look forward to the completion of a professional, accurate forecast that will provide real guidance for Yamhill County’s future.

Update: We have received notice that the Newberg City Council will consider a largely unchanged UGB expansion proposal at its meeting on March 19: for an industrial expansion of 260 acres of mostly prime farmland. We are reviewing the materials and will continue to be actively involved with local citizens for the next stages of this process.