By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
Anyone with an interest in how Keizer grows – and what it will cost in terms of dollars and livability – should mark their calendars for a city council work session slated Monday, Oct. 22.
From 6 to 8 p.m., the council and members of the audience will have the opportunity to discuss with consultants the findings of a report on what the city’s residents want out of growth and what they should expect in terms of costs. The final draft of the report, which is available online at www.keizer.org, presents a daunting picture of what it would take for Keizer to grow and the repercussions if it does.
Through the study and report, city officials and staff are wrestling with the challenges presented in a 2013 Housing Needs Analysis adopted by the city. That analysis concluded that Keizer would fall short of the land needed to accommodate expected growth for the next 20 years – to the tune of 1,674 residential units or 197 acres.
To annex additional land, Keizer would either have tofind a way to work with Salem to expand the shared Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) or seek to separate the boundary through existing processes or legislative intervention. Either scenario is something of a hard sell because Salem has enough available land to accommodate expected growth in both cities for the next 20 years.
While Keizer is technically responsible for providing enough housing to accommodate expected growth, the shared UGB might give it a way out if state officials ever decided to press the matter.
“The shared land supply with Salem means that Keizer is not on the hook to make new lands available,” the study concludes.
The 34-page report is chock full of relevant information, some of which has been discussed in previous editions of the Keizertimes. The newest sections include a look at additional burdens Keizer citizens would have to carry or pay for if it pursues a UGB expansion.
WATER, SEWER & STORMWATER
Water systems would need to be expanded into annexed areas and upgrades to current equipment might be required to handle additional volume. Some of this cost could be recouped through system development charges paid by developers, but not all of it.
Developers would construct new roads through annexed areas, but the city would be required to reimburse them for that portion of development and commit to long-term maintenance. Existing intersections and arterials might also need to be upgraded to support additional traffic.
Another consideration is access to public transit. The areas where Keizer could most easily expand are also relatively remote from the city core, likely on 30-60 minute bus routes. Those costs would be shouldered by Cherriots, which is already competing for limited state and federal funding. Given the prospect of inconvenience, residents in the annexed areas would be more likely to rely on cars and add to existing traffic.
Keizer’s police department and fire district would likely feel a strain on services preceding a a need for new funding. Additionally, annexed areas would be the furtherest from either agency’s headquarters. While new property taxes might contribute to paying for additional services, Keizer’s low tax rate is not likely to cover the expected need.
Funding for schools is provided by the Salem-Keizer School District, but if the Keizer expands to the north, it could mean shifting students who live in south Keizer to North Salem or McKay high schools and other interruptions in the current feeder system.